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Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem at BAFTA

Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford joined members of the UK gaming press at BAFTA's London locale to talk all things Duke Nukem, his thoughts on the industry and the future of the franchise as well as other series. Here's the best snippets from the evening.

1.WHY DUKE WORKS

Duke Nukem Forever

"We're in a time where most of our heroes have become pussies. Most of our heroes are emo and everyone is trying to take themselves so seriously. We're guilty of that ourselves with Brothers in Arms. These characters have problems. Duke doesn't have any. He just kicks ass. We're in a world where heroes are trying to be so human and so believable, it's actually surprisingly fresh to have this guy turn up, be a badass, win, and that's fine."

2.BRINGING BACK THE FUN

"I think we've proven now we can make people feel hurt. We've crossed that line. I felt we crossed it in Brothers in Arms a while back. We actually felt sincerely that emotions like sacrifice and pain were experienced in that game. Cool. We've done that. As an industry, as a medium: great. But wait a minute. I don't want to spend 60 bucks and spend a lot of the time feeling like crap. I want to have a great time."

3.NOT A ONE-OFF

"When I acquired the franchise I didn't do that believing that we were going to commit ourselves to a one-off. The character's absolutely iconic, important and interesting and there's a lot that can be done with him. I haven't had time to think of it - you have to understand; I'm responsible for shipping Duke Nukem Forever. So all the attention has to be on accomplishing that goal. I'm really looking forward the day after its on shelves. Digging into what's next: I strongly believe there's a future there."

4.WOULD A FUTURE TITLE GO CALL OF DUTY?

Duke Nukem Forever

"That's an interesting question because, when I contemplate that I think: "would that be wrong?"

Imagine if when we see it its not what its supposed to be. Let's say we saw trailers and they were trying to be all Call of Duty. We probably would just reject it."

5.RE-ESTABLISHING CLASSIC VALUES

"You realise our games have become narrow. A shooter is now just a reaction-timed skill test. Get a cursor on the other guy and knock him down before he makes you health go to zero. Every test is just a complication on that very simple mechanic.

Sometimes a new mechanic will be introduced; like now you got to stun a guy into a combo, or now you've got to slide off things or jump off the environment.

It's been a while since we had a great game that was comfortable having pacing and variety. That was comfortable going from action, to puzzle to exploration to discovery. It's been a while since we had that. The last great one for me anyway was Half-Life 2. I'm excited for Duke to show up and have some of this because it'll remind us how great that experience is. It'll motivate some more of us to remember that you don't have to do all these one-trick ponies, and instead create experiences that really get us into the fiction."

6.THE FUTURE OF BORDERLANDS...

Duke Nukem Forever

"My understanding is there ARE people who like Borderlands [massive cheers from the audience], We loved it, and it's one of those type of games that rather than being sick of it when you're done, as a studio we were caught up in it and wanted to hang out there, hence all the DLC and so you know we're going to want to spend more time in that."

7...BUT IT'S NOT ON THE CARDS YET...
"I trademarked Borderworlds a few years ago, because I thought that might be interesting, maybe that's a twist for the future, and now people are like "when's Borderworlds coming out?"

I just thought it was a cool play on the evolution of Borderlands, so I trademarked it because I didn't want some squatter to sit on it. But I'm not doing anything with it at this point."

8.BUT HE ENJOYED MAKING THE ORIGINAL.

"We were in a free-for-all there. We had our goal: blend role-playing with shooting. Do some mechanics in a new way that hadn't been done before. That was a gap and an interesting problem to solve. But even though development our tone started serious, we ripped the shackles off entirely, redid the entire art direction of the game to support what the game design wished for...and it was the best decision possible. It relaxed all of us,We had such a great time, and you feel it in the game."

9.ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES

Duke Nukem Forever

"There's this other project announced that we've been silent on for far too long: Aliens Colonial Marines. I know a lot of people want to hear about that so I'm really looking forward to giving all those things attention."

10.EMPATHISING WITH VALVE

"We assume there's a new half Life, that they're even working on it. But clearly their priorities have been different. I think we put a lot more heat on them than they even asked for.

They haven't announced or promoted Episode 3. We love Half-Life 2 and we want more, of course, its natural we want more, and because they said they were going to try this episodic thing for a while and they gave us two we kind of thought there was a pattern, started to expect it. But I wouldn'tt be surprised if that's not even in development.

I think those of us on the outside, we're making more assumptions than Valve's ever shown of us. Maybe I can see that more because I know what that's like...but ideas emerge and assumptions start to be made by others when they look on from the outside. So I think we might be doing that to Valve. And given what Valve has offered all of us - let's cut them some slack. Those guys are going to entertain us. Let us let them spend their time on where they think they should spend it."

11.ON TRYING TO GO DIGITAL

Duke Nukem Forever

"I always love when I go to a Pixar movie and before the movie starts I'm treated to this awesome little short that I didn't expect. It didn't effect my purchase decision, but it's entertaining and its value. And they're always great. I always thought there was a place for that in videogames.

We've attempted this a couple of times, people that have joined the studio have had the beginnings of a game or something brilliant, that really should be in this bite sized package. There was something I was going to do with these guys that are part of the studio now, that we were going to include with Borderlands. But the thing that happens is that the guys become involved in the projects and it becomes more interesting for them to do the big things that to stay confined in the those little micro experiences.

If these guys would rather influence Borderlands itself than their little thing then I'm not going to stop them, I'm going to pour fuel on that fire...But I hope to one day play with that premise."

12.GENERATION GAPS

"Our parents had to deal with the problem of rock and roll. The older generation thought rock and roll was going to bring down the whole of western civilisation, turn us into corrupt horrible individuals, But even that generation gap had this interesting component; the older generation at least understood the value of music. They had their own, but disapproved of the new - of the content, tempo, pace, lyrics, But at least they understood music as art.

In our generation gap, the older generation had no point of reference with videogames. But what we're discovering is that the people that are policy makers today, which tend to be the older people who weren't raised in the videogame culture. But they were part of those other generational gaps - so there's a lot more tolerance today. We realise its expression, its totally art. It's entertainment - and things are going to be cool."

13.THE OLDEST PART OF DUKE NUKEM FOREVER

Duke Nukem Forever

"The oldest piece of content is a pig cop statue that's on display at Duke Burger (Duke's franchised himself into a fast food chain where you can get a Duke meal and a Duke Nukem action figure).

He's in the Duke Burger and there's a pig cop stature that's like the thing you talk to to order, like a drive thru, and that's probably the oldest asset in the game. It was made around 2006, 2007. Not that old, it's within this generation. The reason why it was left was because he's a little lower polygon than the rest of the stuff and a little plastic, which what he's supposed to be given the context of what he's for. It felt fun and cute to leave that in."

14.DUKE'S CREDITS

"The credits are astonishing. But I think we made them skippable.

It's really important because there's been so many people working on it over the years. There must have been people that contributed over the years that we couldn't possibly identify, so we invented this web portal so people could let us know; past publishers, contractors that might have been involved for a short while ten years ago. It generated a huge volume of people.

Gearbox did its own list, as did the publisher. We asked George Broussard to craft the credits for 3D Realms, so they've got their own section. He did a great job.

When I see the names of the people that have been involved in this project, if they're not part of it today still, these guys are some of the best game makers in the world. There are people there that are now at Valve, there are people that have worked on Uncharted - there's people there that have worked on all our favourite games. And you can see all that, that legacy, that whole family tree that came out of Duke Nukem Forever."

15.THE LEGACY

Duke Nukem Forever

"I was at the Empire Casino in London at a table with Steve Gibson, Vice-President of Marketing at Gearbox, sitting at a poker table. And in typical table talk fashion, one guy at the table decided to ask what everyone does.

Now inevitably once you say you make videogames, they want to have a conversation. I just wanted to play poker. I say "computers" to try and pass it off, but Steve goes "we make videogames". Of course, the guy starts asking which ones. Steve replies "well, I'm just a marketing guy but," and he points to me, "this guy worked on Duke Nukem 3D."

This dude stood up at the table, extends his hand for me to shake, just as he exclaims: "Oh my God! The first tits I ever saw!"

That game had that impact, and you know what? I think it's going to happen again.

16.THE FAILED FIST-BUMP
After the Q&A, Randy joined a Duke look-a-like to unveil one of the limited edition paintings down to commemorate the game's release. Sadly, an iconic meeting of fists between creator and character didn't quite go as planned.

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