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Duke Nukem Forever: 'This is Duke like it's supposed to be'

Randy Pitchford talks about bringing Duke back from the dead...

After 12 years in development hell, Duke Nukem Forever has been rescued by Gearbox Software, helmed by Randy Pitchford who worked on the original Duke Nukem 3D, released back in 1996.

He's incredibly passionate about bringing the project back to life, and with Gearbox's expertise gleaned from games including the superb Borderlands, it looks like it might have been worth the wait after all.

How do you live up to 12 years of anticipation?
I can't worry about that. I think if I did, I might fall into the same trap the 3D Realms guys did, where they wanted to keep redoing it and making things better.

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I'm not sure anything can live up to 12 years of anticipation. I'm committed to following through with their vision. If I commit to the expectation, we'll be doing it for another 12 years. I'm doing the responsible thing.

Are you worried the legacy will overshadow the actual game?
I don't know, we'll see. Obviously I made the decision I did to get involved, but I bet on Duke and I believe it'll work out. We'll see what happens. I can't worry about that too much, I just need to focus on the mission.

Duke's been around since 1996. How are you making him relevant for 2011?
Duke is still probably the most iconic action hero in video games. Whenever the mainstream press talk about games, they always show Lara Croft and Duke Nukem.

But the thing is, I don't know why he's so iconic and why he stuck around for so long. I mean, he's totally one-dimensional. And he is just an amalgamation of all these extreme action heroes.

It's odd because a lot of our heroes today have become very human. They're emotional and complex and deep. Everyone's taking themselves so seriously.

It's odd that today, even though back then he was this huge cliché, Duke feels fresh and stands out. I'll tell you this; there's a lot of love and attention for Duke, and it's not because of all the games that have come out. The fans have kept him alive, somehow.

Can you get away with more now than you could in the '90s?
I don't know, there's certainly more people watching. With Duke 3D there were no real rules. We were all self-regulated. Technically we are still self-regulated with the ESRB and PEGI, but we've set those establishments up to manage their own priorities.

Their job is to inform us of what's in the game with such precision that our governments are happy to let them do what they do. They take their jobs very seriously, and as a consequence there's a line.

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If you cross it, you're considered 'adult'. If that happens you won't be sold in stores. Duke will dance all over that line and push it. And maybe the line will move. Entertainment is always pushing back the boundaries and if culture accepts that, the line moves.

And if it rejects it, then the line goes back a bit. I think right now the lines are moving out and the boundaries are getting further away. We're in the information age.

Nobody can really be offended any more, because we have computers that are connected to the internet and are a magic window to infinite porn and violence.

Society has never been injured by information. I think the best way to advance and make the world better is to be free.

Have you brought anything from other Gearbox games to Duke Nukem Forever?
The best thing that we're bringing to Duke is our experience in making console games. That's what we're bringing to Duke. Each time we make a game we commit to what that game's identity is.

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