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09 APRIL 2011

The death and rebirth of Duke Nukem Forever: a history

"Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997, after its predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D, had rocked the PC market with a hero who liked kicking ass, hanging out with strippers, and murdering alien police officers that were, literally, pigs. It was inappropriate, raunchy, and amazing.

It was also one of the games that gave 3D Realms the success that brought its destruction. Duke Nukem Forever began life as a completely self–funded game; its developer wanted nothing less than perfection, and would chase every update in technology in order to deliver it. The game saw monumental delays, suffered the slings and arrows of a gaming world that was first angry and then tolerant of its favorite whipping boy, had its home taken away, and has since risen from the dead.

Is the public still interested in Duke Nukem? Hell yes it is. This is the story of the gaming industry's favorite joke, and how Duke may finally have the last laugh."

(Ben Kuchera, 7 September 2010)

Fig.1 'Duke Nukem Forever | History of a Legend Episode 1', 2011

Fig.2 trailer from Electronic Entertainment Expo, 1998

Fig.3 video capture of 1991 side–scrolling 'Duke Nukum' version

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TAGS

19911993199619972011 • 3D Realms • action heroalien invasion • Allen Blum • anti-hero • Apogee Softwarecharacter designcomic bookcomputer gameconsolecultural literacydeveloperdigital cultureDuke NukemDuke Nukem 3D • Duke Nukem Forever • Duke Nukem II • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project • Duke Nukum • E3Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)first-person shootergames • Gearbox Software • George Broussard • graphic representationheavy metalhistoryhomoeroticismhumour • Joe Siegler • Jon St. John • kick ass • kick ass and chew bubble gum • lair • Los AngelesmisogynyparodyPC gamesPlaystation 3point of viewpop-culture • Randy Pitchford • renegade • run and gunScott Millerself-fundedself-referentialsequel • SHMUP • side-scroller • spectaclestory • Todd Replogle • video gameviolencevisual depictionWolfenstein 3DXbox 360

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 NOVEMBER 2009

Remaking Film: Hollywood seeks to duplicate past successes and minimise risk by emphasising the familiar

"As in some approaches to film genre, remakes can be located in 'the material conditions of commercial film–making, where plots are copied and formulas forever reiterated'.(14) For film producers, remakes are consistently thought to provide suitable models, and something of a financial guarantee, for the development of studio based projects. In a commercial context, remakes are 'pre–sold' to their audience because viewers are assumed to have some prior experience, or at least possess a 'narrative image',(15) of the original story–an earlier film or literary property–before engaging in its particular re–telling.(16) In the case of cross–cultural remakings, such as The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002)/Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998) or Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001)/Abre Los Ojos (Alejandro Amenábar, 1997) foreign films are dispossessed of local detail to exploit new (English–language) markets. A number of commentators(17) have observed that the remake, along with the sequel and series, has become typical of the defensive production and marketing strategies of a 'post–Jaws'(18) Hollywood. For instance, Jim Hoberman says that 'the trickle of remakes that began . . . with Farewell, My Lovely in 1975 became a flood of recycled Jazz Singing Scarfaced King Kong 'landmarks,' Roman numeral'd replays of old and recent mega–hits, and retired mixed media figures [Flash Gordon, Popeye, Superman, and the like] pressed back into service '.(19)

This 'great downpour' of sequels and remakes, perhaps more perceived than real,(20) is often taken as a sign of Hollywood film having exhausted its creative potential, leading into 'conservative plot structures'(21) and 'automatic self–cannibalisation'.(22) Equally, film remaking is seen as a trend that is encouraged by the commercial orientation of the conglomerate ownership of Hollywood, one which seeks to duplicate past successes and minimise risk by emphasising the familiar–'recreating with slight changes films that have proved successful in the past'–even if this leads to 'aesthetically inferior films'.(23) As instantly recognisable properties, remakes (along with sequels and series) satisfy the requirement that Hollywood deliver reliability (repetition) and novelty (innovation) in the same production package.(24) Understood in this way, the remake becomes a particular instance not only of the 'repetition effects'(25) which characterise the narrative structure of Hollywood film but also of a more general repetition–of exclusive stars, proprietary characters, patented processes, narrative patterns, and generic elements–through which Hollywood develops its 'pre–sold' audience.(26)"

(Constantine Verevis, p.88)

[14] Altman, Film/Genre: 86.

[15] John Ellis, Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video, rev. ed., Routledge, 1992: 30.

[16] Altman, Film/Genre:112.

[17] Tino Balio, 'Introduction to Part II', in Tino Balio, ed, Hollywood in the Age of Television, Unwin Hyman, 1990; J. Hoberman, 'Ten Years That Shook the World', American Film, June 1985: 34–59; Stephen M. Silverman, 'Hollywood Cloning: Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, and Spin–Offs', American Film, July–August, 1978: 24–30.

[18] Thomas Schatz, 'The New Hollywood', in Jim Collins, Hilary Radner and Ava Preacher Collins, eds., Film Theory Goes to the Movies, Routledge: 1993.

[19] J. Hoberman, 'Facing the Nineties', in Vulgar Modernism: Writing on Movies and Other Media, Temple, 1991: 1–2.

[20] Reviewing a sample of 3,490 films from between 1940 and 1979 Thomas Simonet argues that far more 'recycled script' films appeared before the conglomerate takeovers, and perceptions that remaking has increased in the 'new Hollywood' may be governed by comparisons with the previous decade only. See 'Conglomerates and Content: Remakes, Sequels, and Series in The New Hollywood', in Bruce A. Austin, ed, Current Research in Film: Audiences, Economics, and Law, Vol. 3, Ablex, 1987.

[21] Stephen Harvey, 'Can't Stop the Remakes', Film Comment, September–October 1980: 50–53.

[22] Mark Crispin Miller, 'Hollywood: The Ad', Atlantic Monthly, April 1990: 59–62.

[23] Simonet, 'Conglomerates and Content':154.

[24] Ibid., p. 155.

[25] Raymond Bellour, The Analysis of Film, ed. Constance Penley, Indiana University Press, 2000.

[26] See Robert P. Kolker, 'Algebraic Figures: Recalculating the Hitchcock Formula', in Horton and McDougal: 36; Steve Neale, 'Questions of Genre', Screen vol. 31, no. 1, 1990: 56; Altman, Film/Genre: 115.

Constantine Verevis, 2004. 'Remaking Film', Film Studies, Issue 4, Summer 2004

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TAGS

2004 • Abre Los Ojos • audiencecinema • Constantine Verevis • cross-cultural • downpour • familiar • Farewell • filmfilm genrefilm-making • Flash Gordon • Hollywoodinnovation • Jaws • Jazz Singer • King Kong • My Lovely • narrative image • noveltypatternplot structures • Popeye • pre-sold • re-telling • reliabilityremakeremakesremaking filmrepetition • Ringu • risk • Scarface • self-cannibalisation • sequel • sequels • supermantelevision series • The Ring • Vanilla Sky (2001)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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