Duke Nukem Forever: Randy Pitchford Interview (Part 2)

Duke Nukem Forever mulitplayer, narcissism, primal fantasies and Borderlands 2: welcome to the second part of the Randy Pitchford interview.

You have previously said that DNF multiplayer would be more fun than say Call of Duty, can you delve into that?

Well, they’re different games. One of the neat things that Duke Nukem does offer, that we don’t get a lot in other shooters, is this kind of pallet of weapons that create opportunity for different kind of strategies to come into play. Normally when we come online in a shooter we have to be very skilled and we have to be playing it a lot, as long as everyone else, because we have to earn all of the perks and give us equal play fields.

And if we are not very good and we don’t have those perks we’re not going to have that chance, even if we might see the guy first he is just going to have to many advantages, he is going to be better than us at aiming and he is going to get us. What’s new about Duke Nukem Forever is even though it is silly, and its an action game, and its a shooter, its actually got some intelligence behind it.

You can find other clever ways to out-smart your opponent, even if he has more raw skill than you. For example, one of the things I like to do is; I’ll find a spot with a security camera pointing at it and I’ll lay some trip mines and some pipe bombs in the area – things that I don’t think other players will see when they are running through. I’ll go somewhere else; and I’ll hide; and I’ll look at that security monitor; and I’ll see somebody; and I go “click”; and I’ll get them. And you know, that pisses people off.

You know what of the other things to do that is fun? Is using the Holo-Duke to create this simulated image miniature of Duke that fools the other players into thinking that that’s where you are. So I’ll create a little trap, I’ll find a spot where I’m going to spawn the Holo Duke and I’ll be able to tell where the other payers focus on that and where they shoot at that. I’ll be waiting in a kind of hiding nook where I can see the Holo-Duke but no-one else can see me, and I’m waiting with like a shrink ray or something. Once I see them coming and I’ll start unloading, I’ll just shrink them really quick and then I’ll get to step on them because they’re little bitty. And its fun and there is nothing more humiliating than being stepped on, so its great.

So what is neat is the strategies that come into play and we find that no longer is it that only raw skill can win the day, how clever thinking and using the environment and using the tools can also provide victories. So its a lot of fun.

What aspects of DNF would say is the strongest?

The story is amazing. We know Duke from his attitude and his character. Duke is the King and there is only one Duke Nukem. But however strong that is, and however important that is to the positioning of the brand and the reason we all gravitate towards this iconic character, however great that is, its actually the gameplay and the game design which wins.

It is rare that we get something that is rich, that is varied, that is memorable. Like when I play, there is moments that I have, where you just got to talk about it, cause we just don’t ever see anything like that. It astonished me when I dug into that content that 3D Realms did, crafted there, and that is its strongest thing.

Fortunately, when the game launches very soon, everyone that experiences that will feel that, and that will be what’s talked about. Right now, what we are focused on is the personality of the character because people haven’t played the game yet.

Its a pretty big game. Isn’t that interesting? Its really not just the length of the game, its the value, is like that entertaining. Its like “I have something to do right now, maybe I’ll play a video game. OK, what game do I want to play?” A great game? You wanna go for it. And a great game, whether its short or long, you know its great when its over you are sad, whether it is short or long.

Duke is one of those games that is engaging and entertaining, and you kind of just need to see what is going to be round the next corner because everything surprises you and you feel really gratified by overcoming those challenges. Its one of those. Its turns out instead of doing that, it actually is a really valuable experience

And that leads into the pacing. You were said that DNF is three times as long as Call of Duty, so the pacing will ensure that people won’t get bored.

Isn’t that interesting? Yeah, yeah the pacing is like that. Its not an exact formula. You kind of feel it but right around the time when it was like “Ahh, I can’t believe I survived that” and just when you are feeling kind of that catharsis of calming down you realise the next step is also like “OK lets see, I’m just going to kind of walk down” and instead of throwing more tests and challenges, you kind of get a bit more that makes you think, a little bit of exploring and get to wonder at something awesome happening. And so we kind of manage that kind of pacing based on what was last thrown at you.

Do you think some guys see a bit of themselves in Duke?

I don’t know if a guy sees himself in Duke. Like if you can think of a fantasy that we’ve had; I want to be an astronaut and go to the moon; or I wanna be a world class boxer and win the belt; I want to be like Mike Tyson; or I want to win the world series of poker and make millions of dollars.

Duke has done everything, he’s done all those things and he saved the world and so he’s absurd. Like, there is no person like him but he kind of encompasses the sum of all those primal fantasies and as a consequence, its kind of an interesting proposition to spend time in his boots.

Its kind of a fun pitch, so I don’t know whether we see some of ourselves in Duke because there is also a bit about him that is kind of absurd. You know, I like to be a little more humble than Duke. Like some kid asked him to sign his autograph in his memory book and he says maybe one day you will grow up to be as awesome as me. He is really full of himself, he really he owns it, so we get a kick out of that.

So, its really interesting to have to a guy that is so self referential, he is really this narcissist but he is in a world that is also figured out how to be self deprecating, so its kind of of fun.

So, that’s why so I don’t know if see some of ourselves in Duke but we certainly get the fantasy that it represents and its a funny escape. Especially when in our own life’s we might chose to carry ourselves differently, maybe with a more reserved, more humble moral compass. Its kind of fun to escape into Duke’s world, its kind of a safe place to play out those fantasies and have a good time with him.

I’ve spoken to a fair amount of younger generation gamers who are looking forward to DNF.

(laughs) Duke has kind of become like the Chuck Norris of our industry.

You have commented that you think today’s heroes are emo and that Duke is a breath of fresh air.

Its true! Its especially odd because he started out as a cliché, so its very crazy that he has become the out-layer.

OK Borderlands 2. What teaser can you give us? Any news?

Well, um, nothing to announce but we will. We love Borderlands, so we clearly spent a lot of time in Borderlands, spent a lot of time with game and the DLC. I don’t think anyone should assume they have seen the last of it but at this point we don’t have anything to announce and right now our focus is shipping Duke Nukem Forever.