No Duke Nukem Forever 'til 2005?

[UPDATED] The next chapter in 3D Realms' sassy shooter franchise won't be ready until Q4 2004 at the earliest.

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When 3D Realms decided on the title "Duke Nukem Forever," most gamers probably didn't realize they were actually describing its development time. First announced in 1997, the seven-year-old shooter franchise's next installment may now not be released until 2005.

The bad news came straight from Jeffrey Lapin, CEO of Take Two Interactive, parent of Gathering Games, Duke Nukem Forever's publisher. When pressed on the subject by an analyst in a conference call today, Lapin said, "I had a recent conversation with [Duke Nukem Forever's] developer, and they expect the game to be completed sometime at the end of '04 or the beginning of '05."

The news adds another difficult chapter to Duke Nukem Forever's development. When it was first picked up by Gathering (then called GodGames) in 2000, the game had a late 2001 release date. But in August 2001, following financial woes and the death of one of its co-founders, Doug Myers, GodGames' Texas offices were shut down and the company was subsumed into Take Two's New York City operation. Then came the game's infamous no-show at the 2002 E3 and Lapin's announcement this May that Take Two had "pulled the plug" on the game's 2003 release. "We’re hopeful that the team in Dallas will finish the project," said Lapin then.

The big question is: when will they? Though Take Two spent a reported $12 million for the rights to publish Duke Nukem Forever, the game's development is being completely self-funded by 3D Realms, which still owns the franchise. The developer has never officially announced a release date, keeping with 3D head George Broussard's famous mantra that the release date is "when it's done."

Broussard has also been outspoken about his displeasure with Take Two's public announcements about the game. Most famously, he responded to Lapin's May statement with a post on Shacknews.com saying, "Take Two needs to STFU IMO."

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