Randy Pitchford’s BAFTA Duke Nukem Forever Game Developer Q&A – Part 2

Duke Nukem Forever Screenshot 03

Recently, the Train2Game blog attended a very special Duke Nukem Forever Q&A session with Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford at BAFTA in central London.

During the hour long event, the Gearbox Software CEO discussed many issues of interest forTrain2Game students.

In Part 2 of our report, Pitchford speaks about Duke as a character, Game Design in Duke Nukem Forever and potential concepts of a Duke Nukem backstory that were dropped. Part 1 is available here on the Train2Game blog.

The Gearbox Software really made an effort to explain that Duke Nukem Forever doesn’t take itself too seriously, and when speaking about leads in games to day commented that…er… “most of our heroes have become pussies”

“Duke definitely has the biggest ego in the world. He wrote a book called ‘Why I’m So Great’ – who does that? But in his world, everyone loves him… He’s part of this crazy, fun house hall of mirrors universe where he is the centre of all of that goes on”

Pitchford likened the character of Duke, and the Game Design behind him, to Iron Man.

In many ways, it’s a similar thing to Iron Man’s Tony Stark. How awesome was that character? This guy’s super-rich, crazy-smart guy who can do whatever the hell he wants and he’s loved for it.

“What a wild character, and one of the reasons why I think that worked is the reason why Duke is kind of sticky right now. We are really in a time when most of our heroes have become pussies. Most of our heroes have become emo, and they take themselves so seriously.

“And we’re guilty of that too, I mean look at what we did with Brothers in Arms. With that, we really wanted to treat the subject matter with so much deference and wanted to get so real that we took a tone about sacrifice and real human emotion. These characters have real emotions and real problems.

“Duke doesn’t have any problems. He just kicks ass and so we have this world where heroes now are trying to be so human and so believable, that it’s actually surprisingly fresh to have this guy show up again and doesn’t give a crap. He’s just badass, wins, and that’s fine.

And while Duke Nukem Forever may seem simplistic in its nature – following the exploits of a gun toting hero who kicks ass and chew gum – Randy Pitchford revealed that the team had thought in depth about Game Design, and the possibility of giving Duke a sidekick – a gay robot sidekick.

“We were actually playing around with this backstory once where we came up with the concept of a sidekick, and that sidekick went right under a bus. No sidekick could hang with Duke. He was gay, and was actually an awesome character”

Duke Nukem Forever Screenshot 04

Pitchford enthusiastically discussed how a gay sidekick for Duke wouldn’t be there as stereotypical homosexual character for the amusement of the player. But rather to explore how Duke Nukem would react to such a character.

“It was in thinking of an origin story for Duke when we wondered what characters he’d be interested in teaming up with. What kind of experiences can Duke have which can develop a guy like him?”

“Certainly, sexuality is a part of the Duke personality and yet here we wanted to explore how Duke could relate to a peer that might have a different sexual orientation. That was a really interesting theme to play with.”

Gearbox actually decided on a backstory for the character, and from the way Pitchford was speaking, you could tell they’d put a lot of thought into this particular element of scrapped Game Design…and hinted that it’s entirely possible it could return in future.

“I don’t want to spoil it too much because we might go there and I don’t want to ruin it, but I’ll tell you that the character was actually a robot! A gay robot. And the characters actually developed a great bond and depended and relied upon each other.”

“They were successful in Duke’s early endeavours. But at the end, in order for victory against the aliens, the robot’s inner workings – a nuclear generator – had to be sacrificed.”

Randy cheerfully conclused that he found it ironic these in-depth narrative and Game Design ideas were being discussed in relation to Duke Nukem Forever.

“It’s really weird to be talking about this because, we’re talking about Duke Nukem, and these are some really deep storytelling concepts that we were exploring there. But the exploration was very sincere and very real and maybe we’ll come back to it at some point.”

Part 3 of our report will be posted on the Train2Game blog tomorrow.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

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