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December 19th, 2007

Return of the King

Even at risk of sounding like a totally no-life nerd – which I pretty much am anyway – I just finished watching the new Duke Nukem Forever teaser trailer for 11th time. And it still gives me the kicks. It has every bit of being a teaser trailer right and does it so well I don't give a damn it shows only super-quick glimpses of gameplay. It naturally helps that those glimpses we get to see are absolutely brilliant.

So, what the hell Duke Nukem Forever trailer has to do with penguin apocalypse? Simple as heck – if there was no Duke Nukem and especially Duke Nukem 3D, there sure as hell wouldn't be TAGAP. TAGAP is at least as much influenced by Duke Nukem 3D as it's inspired by id Software's Doom. This becomes pretty obvious when more lifelike environments kick in, as you can see the same 'gameplay over realism' wibe and similar not-up-your-face kind of scripted events going on.

But it goes beyond that. While back in early mid-90s allowing editing of Doom was more or less an accident – all the original tools were fan-made hack programs, not the real deal – Duke 3D was the first FPS game that shipped with all the same tools developers used to make it. And more importantly, it came with built-in scripting language that for first time allowed creation of proper Mods without screwing up the game executable with Hex editor.

Where am I getting with this? Simple; My history with game development began with Duke 3D. It was so simple to get into; I had no programming experience, but it wasn't required with the .CON editing. The art was all sprites, something I could easily re-draw without super-hyper-expensive 3D Studio Max or Maya. The level editor, Build, to this day remains the easiest-to-use level editor in the entire FPS history. And all these aspects I tried – and mostly succeeded – to implement into TAGAP Engine. Heck, just compare TAGAP Editor to Ken Silverman's masterpiece and you'll know what I mean.

But above all Duke Nukem 3D was the second of those two FPS games that haven't aged a bit. Wolfensten 3D, Marathon series, Heretic – they all feel extremely dated these days, but Duke 3D and Doom shine with their superior playability, intense action and perfect balancing of things. Thus it's no surprise Duke Nukem Forever is still No. 1 of my most anticipated games list. Actually It's been No. 1 since it was announced, only briefly sharing the title with Doom 3 few years ago.

No matter how long I'll have to wait, in Duke I trust.

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin