One of my all time favorite pastimes isn’t baseball, it’s reading bad reviews of movies and video games. The worse they slam it, the better. So when I saw Gamespot gave Duke Nukem Forever – a game that took 14 years to “make”– a death sentence of 3.5/10, I jumped on it. Then I remembered a great Wired article that made the project sound like the saddest story ever told. Then I saw that 2K Games’ PR guy was fired for defensive remarks about the bad reviews.
What an amazing life the franchise has had.
Duke Nukem Forever has run it’s course – it’s finally over after an agonizing 14-years of development. Now that the shrapnel and bullet casings have settled from the Duke debacle, it’s safe to say there’s a lot you can learn from the guy. The DNF project, team, budget, marketing efforts and aftermath were one of the biggest lessons on failure to anyone with an idea.
Speaking from second-hand experience (ok, I’ve played a lot of games), developing and publishing any major title is on par with releasing a feature film. You’re directing a project that includes cinematic video, special effects, plot, a music score, rich interaction, level design, character development, and a million-dollar marketing effort. It ain’t an easy task, and failure is common. Even still, DNF’s fail was epic amongst them. Here’s some of its biggest mistakes and how they’re relevant (or similar) to the creative business.