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View Full Version : A lesson for the software developers: Duke Nukem



tofu
2009-Dec-24, 05:08 PM
Duke Nukem is a video game that languished in production for more than a decade. I had forgotten about it; assumed it was canceled. According to this Wired article, they've been working on it all this time.

There are several (terrifying) lessons in here for anyone that develops software for a living.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_duke_nukem/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20wired/index%20%28Wired:%20Index%203%20%28Top%20Stories%2 02%29%29&utm_content=Bloglines

word of warning: the game was kind of racy and the article includes profanity and on page four, a line drawing of a female torso.

Bearded One
2009-Dec-24, 05:30 PM
There's an old saying in the manufacturing world that goes something like this:

"There comes a time when you have to shoot the engineers and start production."

rommel543
2009-Dec-24, 05:43 PM
The last 10% of work takes 90% of the effort and time.

Nick Theodorakis
2009-Dec-24, 06:24 PM
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."

--Voltaire

Nick

slang
2009-Dec-24, 06:41 PM
Duke Nukem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_%28video_game%29) was out in 1991, and I don't think it took 10 years. This is about Duke Nukem Forever (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_Forever).

Hlafordlaes
2009-Dec-24, 07:01 PM
I have been waiting all these years, and still fire up Duke Nukem once in a while for stress relief (a user modded high def version). Even downloaded the DNF trailer when it was released in June. Then... oh, well.

...I for one am awaiting the miracle. I also think I'll win the lottery one day.

hhEb09'1
2009-Dec-24, 07:53 PM
Duke Nukem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_%28video_game%29) was out in 1991, and I don't think it took 10 years. This is about Duke Nukem Forever (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_Forever).And Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, which is the starting point more or less for the 12 year clock that they are talking about.

tashirosgt
2009-Dec-24, 10:40 PM
In that link, page four. It was page four that had a drawing a female torso. Yes, that's a female torso all right. But how do we know it's alive?

tofu
2009-Dec-25, 12:16 AM
I can neither count nor spell apparently.

I meant to say line drawing.

tashirosgt
2009-Dec-25, 12:54 AM
Knowing this forum, we will have a big digression upon this type of writing error.

I'll start:

I do it all the time, also. But I don't call it a spelling error. It's when I use a word or phrase that sounds the same as what I mean. I suppose "the" for "they" could be counted as a typing error of omission. What I'm talking about, for example, is writing "their" instead of "they are".

Bearded One
2009-Dec-25, 02:56 AM
They wanted to be on top of the curve but rented the technology from the competition. That was a bad idea, they should have just developed their own new graphics engine to replace their old one.

Veeger
2009-Dec-25, 03:52 AM
It appears Broussard fell for a trap we call "creeping featurism", but in the world of video games, it doesn't creep. One of the things a project manager needs to do is freeze the spec's otherwise the budget will be completely blown and apparently so will the entire future of the company in his case.

Siguy
2009-Dec-25, 04:01 AM
I already knew that they finally killed the project earlier this year, in May.

Probably the most famous piece of vaporware of all time. It might not have always been that way, early on in the development it seemed progress was being made, but now, it seems that it's evaporated. I saw an article on some website that said almost exactly the same thing, but I can't seem to find it.

slang
2009-Dec-25, 11:13 AM
But we'll always have Duke3D and our memories! Good times. Hail to the king, baby! (http://www.dukenukemsoundboard.com/)

SolusLupus
2009-Dec-25, 01:01 PM
Yeah, here's the thing. If you're borrowing someone else's engine, you are, by definition, obsolete. The reason why? Their engine is already out, and someone else is developing a new one. Building a game around that engine takes time and effort, which is being spent on coming up with a new engine.

The goal of Broussard, apparently, was to be ahead of the game. But how can you be ahead of the game when relying on things created by those already in the game -- at least when it comes to visual effects. Actual gameplay is a different issue. Fighting on top of a jet plane? Fighting on top of a truck? Awesome sequences and visuals? Testosterone-laden parody (practically), complete with interactive environment? All of this would have been cool if it had been produced. And if it had been produced, then they could make a sequel with a new engine.

Honestly, I don't think this was much of a lesson. A lot of it's plain common sense.

Oh, there is one lesson to take out of this, that's true for anyone and anything: Having an endgame plan is always good. Have an idea of where you should be at; set yourself a deadline, but don't make it TOO rigid (too many game developers produce undeveloped products just to make a release date). Above all, remember: The more room you leave for adding things in, the more likely they're going to be added in, and eventually the workload is just too much.


Also:


“It’s our time and our money we are spending on the game. So either we’re absolutely stupid and clueless, or we believe in what we are working on.”

"stupid and clueless" and "believe in what you're doing" are not opposing states. Many people do foolish things for strong beliefs. This does not make the action wise, or the belief weak.

Veeger
2009-Dec-25, 04:06 PM
I have long felt that game developers were on the bleeding edge of the technology, pushing more and more instructions with fewer and fewer CPU cycles (see Michael Abrash's "Zen of Graphics Programming"). John Carmack was gaming "god" for awhile, but gaming has just exploded in the last 5 years or so. Doom or Quake looks childish compared to the physics and gaming engines seen today, and yet when they were first published, our jaws dropped. The competition is undoubtedly fierce.

I am not a game developer, but I appreciate the amazing work they do.

Larry Jacks
2009-Dec-25, 07:22 PM
But because the technology kept getting better, Broussard was on a treadmill. He’d see a new game with a flashy graphics technique and demand the effect be incorporated into Duke Nukem Forever.

This just confirms the old IT axiom that managers should never be allowed to read tech magazines.

slang
2009-Dec-25, 11:33 PM
This just confirms the old IT axiom that managers should never be allowed to read tech magazines.

Not just in IT:


Hospital Administrator: And what are you doing this morning?
Obstetrician: It's a birth.
Hospital Administrator: Ah. And what sort of thing is that?
Dr. Spenser: Well, that's where we take a new baby out of a lady's tummy.
Hospital Administrator: Wonderful what we can do nowdays.
[...]
Hospital Administrator: Ah, I see you have the machine that goes ping. This is my favorite. You see we lease it back from the company we sold it to and that way it comes under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.

darkhunter
2009-Dec-26, 01:43 AM
At least my experiences with the higher ups not knowing my job were good--they would accept the fact I knew what I was talking about and listen to what I had to say.

It helped most when I had the technical manual and wlaked them through a process step by step to show that a certain incedent was user error, and not the equipment being maintained incorrectly--and I was able to sho where they had damaged the equipment by it being incorrectly positioned. :)

Celestial Mechanic
2009-Dec-28, 05:34 AM
I hope the same thing happens to Micro$oft when the time comes to develop "Windows 8". Maybe we'll be able to get some work done for a few years! ;)

Celestial Mechanic
2009-Dec-28, 05:37 AM
Anybody remember Ted Nelson and Xanadu? There's a software project that has been vaporware since the 1960s! :eek:

Trebuchet
2009-Dec-28, 07:12 PM
It's not just software, either. Look at the Moller Skycar. That's been "any year now" since the '80s. And it's not just small companies, major aerospace companies have had more than their share of projects going nowhere. Look up the A-12 "flying dorito".

korjik
2009-Dec-28, 09:54 PM
Well if we are going that way I will do the obligatory fusion power reference:

Fusion power, 10 years away, and it always will be.

:)

IsaacKuo
2009-Dec-28, 10:05 PM
Fusion power isn't always 10 years away, it's always 20 years away. 10 years is too short--that means whoever is funding it stands a good chance of still being around long enough to expect results. Anything more than 20 years is too long, it makes it sound "pie in the sky". 20 years is just about perfect.

Fazor
2009-Dec-28, 10:12 PM
As someone who loved Duke 3D (even playing night-after-night with a friend via direct dial-up, long before the internet helped make multiplayer gaming easily accessible), I've "followed" the development for DN:F for years. Never feverishly; my interest in it died off after the first few years of development. There's plenty of other great games out there.

It's hard to say if 3D Realms was really that obsessed with making the game be the most advanced game there is, or if they maybe were milking the whole thing to get investment dollars. If the former, I feel bad for the guys (Particularly Broussard, as it really sounds like he's got a mental illness such as OCD). If the later, then I feel worse for the dev team, who were just pawns that got the shaft.

Either way, it doesn't really affect me. I can live without a new Duke Nuke'em, the same way I don't need another Nirvana album sans Kurt. Sometimes the classics are better when they remain classic.

tdvance
2009-Dec-28, 11:04 PM
I think a major problem with DN4 was the goal to have THE BEST game around, when it is released. Only problem is, that is a moving target....in 1999, one can begin building the best game of 1999, but when 2003 rolls along, well gee....time to start over! (not completely, but a major software re-org at least).

I wonder why they just didn't put it on their home-developed PREY engine, which was pretty good (at the time--of course, now we have Crysis, but I don't consider that so much better as to consider the prey engine obsolete--you can make up for the tiny engine improvements with....you know, gameplay, the whole reason Dukers preferred Duke3D to the technically better Quake).

swampyankee
2009-Dec-28, 11:39 PM
Duke Nukem is a video game that languished in production for more than a decade. I had forgotten about it; assumed it was canceled. According to this Wired article, they've been working on it all this time.

There are several (terrifying) lessons in here for anyone that develops software for a living.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_duke_nukem/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20wired/index%20%28Wired:%20Index%203%20%28Top%20Stories%2 02%29%29&utm_content=Bloglines

word of warning: the game was kind of racy and the article includes profanity and on page four, a line drawing of a female torso.

Shockingly, software developers -- at least sane ones -- know about this sort of problem. For an even better story, check out the FAA's attempt to replace the air traffic control computer system.

slang
2009-Dec-29, 01:14 AM
Probably any software developer who has worked for several years at some company will have seen at least one such product, with varying degrees of persistence at "getting it finished at all costs".

Fazor
2009-Dec-29, 04:11 PM
I wonder why they just didn't put it on their home-developed PREY engine, which was pretty good (at the time--of course, now we have Crysis, but I don't consider that so much better as to consider the prey engine obsolete--you can make up for the tiny engine improvements with....you know, gameplay, the whole reason Dukers preferred Duke3D to the technically better Quake).

I think that's one of the things that's led to the current lawsuit. The OP's article talks about how they were such a small company and ended up getting stretched beyond their abilities in trying to keep up with the technology of other cutting edge games / engines . . . yet 3DR still was able to complete other games.

I don't know.

Currently I'm playing 'Borderlands' on XBox. I think it has some Duke-ish elements. Typical shooter gameplay (with lite RPG / character development and loot items thrown in), but has a weird, colorful, off-kilter (and adult) humor to it. The characters don't seem to be as fully developed as Duke was, but same idea.

DNF had an opportunity to jump in and seize / continue to define that market. I think by the early to mid 2000's, they realized they had lost that chance, as other companies moved in and were able to at least mimic it. Maybe Broussard just couldn't handle the competition? Either way, it's a shame, but more so for the devs that worked on it and are now up a creek and all outta bubble gum.