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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Duke Nukem Forever

Guesses about the development of the game:

Duke Nukem Forever is part of a conspiracy amongst the video game companies to downplay vaporware.
Think about it. Duke Nukem's ship sailed a decade ago. Even when this game was announced, people were already sick of the snarky pop culture pastiche. While I think it was an actual planned game some time ago, I think it has been cancelled in reality (probably around the first engine swap). So why does 3D Realms continue to claim that they're developing it? Because by doing so, they and everybody else in the video game development community can benefit from having the ultimate vaporware product. Vaporware usually gets attention, but by having a game that has spent over a decade in development, nothing really seems so bad in comparison. Have an ambitious game get delayed an extra year because you fired the original staff? It won't make the headlines on the gaming websites because in comparison, Duke Nukem Forever is worse. Basically, Duke Nukem Forever gives them free rein to be as late as they want, for as lame a reason as they want, because no matter what, it isn't Duke Nukem Forever. And just to make sure that people continue talking about Duke Nukem Forever, they release the first promotional material for it in little over eight years. Don't be surprised if, when 3D Realms goes out of business, some other company will mercifully buy out their properties and continue "development" on Duke Nukem Forever.
  • 3D Realms have now gone out of business. Time to test this theory!
    • And Gearbox have "taken over development"! Due for release later this year or early next year! Allegedly! Because we haven't heard that every twelve months for the last thirteen years! Until we actually see a product on the shelves, I'd say this one is truly confirmed.
  • The principal player in this scheme, after 3D Realms, is Blizzard. See: Diablo II, Starcraft, Starcraft: Ghost, Starcraft II, Warcraft Adventures, etc. etc.
    • What? Diablo 2 and Starcraft were actually released.
      • Ah, but both were heavily delayed. If there wasn't such a pariah as Duke Nukem Forever, then there might have been more anger with them being so delayed.
  • I actually thought of something like that in early 1997. It occurred to me that we had many screenshots of Prey and none of Duke Nukem Forever, despite the fact that DNF (at the time, based on the Quake 2 engine) was supposed to come out before Prey. I figured that DNF had to be a commercial machination. In 1997, the Quake 2 engine was the most advanced engine ever, while the coolest game character ever was Duke Nukem. A game putting the two things together would have been something nobody could have competed against. Thus, I figured, 3DRealms had to spread rumors about the imminent release of such a game to coerce competing software houses into rushing their games out before this "monster" of a game could come out. Those games would have been unfinished and buggy, which would have damaged those software houses and let gamers wanting more, wishing they could play a solid game... which they would have got with Prey. Ironically, Prey actually came out before DNF.
  • Something I've only recently noticed. In racing events, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. It was never meant to come out at all.
  • To complete a trinity, Square Enix joined 3D Realms and Blizzard five years ago with the announcement of Final Fantasy XIII Versus, which will likely take just as much time to finish as DNF. Just to make sure vaporware is downplayed across the globe, instead of just in western markets.

Being a generic shooter, Yahtzee will pretend the game is still in development hell
It's either that, or he'll stick with thefake review he's already got.
The makers of DNF made a deal with the Devil.
As a result of this deal, when DNF is finally finished and released to the public, the world will end. Thus they are delaying it as much as humanly possible.
  • At some point within the next couple of years, this fact will be forgotten, and the developers will actually get to work on finishing the game, intending to release it around Christmas 2012. This will happen, and the world will end as per certain interpretations of the Mayan calendar.
    • Clearly they shut down to avoid something like this, as it was too much power.
      • They shut down because they realized that they might eventually have to bring on a new team of developers, and part of the deal was that they couldn't mention the deal to anyone outside the team. The new developers might actually finish the game, so they decided to shut down to pre-empt them, however a collection of unwitting fans may still get their hands on the half-finished code (possibly via another Deal with the Devil and complete the game.
  • Alternately: The Deal with the Devil was to secure funding to spend the rest of their lives "developing" a game without ever having to actually release anything. If they went and put a product on the shelves it would defeat the entire purpose of the deal.
    • Alternately Alternately: The Deal with the Devil would allow them to make good games. The condition was that Duke Nukem Forever would never be released. Duke Nukem Forever, if released, would literally be the best game ever produced.
      • Even more alternately: Duke Nukem Forever actually was released, but one of the developers made a Deal With The Devil in order to save his elderly aunt's life. The Devil's condition was that Duke Nukem Forever would be erased from the timeline and no one would remember it.
  • Of course now that they've shut down, it implies the deal is off. Therefore, if Take Two decides to have another company work on it, they could theoretically finish!

The Halo Trilogy is really Duke Nukem Forever.
As explained by this comic
  • Therefore, Halo: The Fall of Reach was ONI propaganda to cover up the Chiefs origins.

Duke Nukem Forever is suffering from Seiken Densetsu Syndrome.
Seiken Densetsu, of course, being the infamous FDS vaporware title.

Duke Nukem Forever was never intended to be released.
"Forever" refers to how long the fans would wait.
  • Jossed by being actually released.

Duke Nukem Forever is not a video game.
Duke Nukem Forever is a game, but not a video game that exists in a physical support like a hard disk or a DVD: it is a game that people play by posting about this supposed video game in gaming forums and writing articles about it in gaming sites or magazines. The aim of the game is not to think about a video game titled Duke Nukem Forever and the game is lost instantly whenever such thought happens. This means that gamers have been playing (and losing at) Duke Nukem Forever since 1996 (that's when a sidescrolling shooter titled "Duke Nukem Forever" was announced).
  • Dammit, I just lost Duke Nukem Forever! Bastard!
    • You forget that you're temporarily immune from losing the game once it is explicitly mentioned.
    • Actually, you just won Duke Nukem Forever. You win by realizing that this is, in fact, what Duke Nukem Forever is.
      • Jossed by being actually released.

Duke Nukem Forever will be released in 2011
Recently, the other high profile Vapor Ware title, Chinese Democracy by Gun N' Roses, just came out. It took 14 years. Since it seems like there are a lot of parallels with Duke Nukem Forever, it seems only natural that it will line up in development time.
  • I just hope there's another free soda tie-in.
  • As of the Gearbox announcement, this is looking considerably more likely. Cue Nighttrain.
  • HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.
  • Mind = BLOWN
    • Confirmed.

Duke Nukem Forever was released in 2003
It's just that no one told you. No, really. Sorry about that, by the way.
  • I had a copy of it once. No really, I did... but I, um, lost it somewhere. Probably down the back of my sofa. But it was awesome. 10/10. Best. Game. Ever.

Duke Nukem Forever will cause the End of the World as We Know It if it's released.
It's not a video game, but a signal to the Great Old Ones that the stars are in alignment and that their time has returned. As long as it's not released, the Old Ones will never receive their signal and will slumber forevermore. It's 'vapourware' because some brave heroes defeated the mad cult behind the other games (which, using mind-control, had created a massive wave of popularity surrounding them) and it's taken this long for interest in the latest release to die down sufficiently so that it can be safely disposed of.
  • Well then, it looks like the human race is due for explosioning.
    • Jossed by being actually released.

Duke Nukem Forever will be released on December 21, 2012.
Just because For the lulz.
  • Jossed by being released on June 10, 2011.

Duke Nukem Forever will be released as a Virtual Reality simulation.
Which means that we won't be seeing it reaaaaaly long time XD.
  • In a way, confirmed. The PC version supports stereoscopic 3D, which can be displayed with head-mounted displays.

Before DNF will be released - few other Duke Nukem games will appear.
Just so fans won't lose hope =)
  • Confirmed. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass was released for the Nintendo DS. And it sucked.

Duke Nukem Forever is a timelord..... that got lost in time
On the plus side I thik its finally found its way home.
  • And his ride is his TARDIS. That's why he's so pissed about it being shot up in Duke 3D.
    • Well, Eleven did somehow manage to be 16 years late to his rendez-vous with Amy, so I guess that's plausible. And keep in mind that Duke always seems to show up at places and moments he's needed, much in the same way the Doctor's TARDIS takes him to times and places that require his help. Hm...

Duke Nukem Forever will be released before Max Payne 3
DNF is on the 2011 calender, but Max Payne 3 is not.
  • Confirmed.

Duke Nukem Forever is going to hang so many lampshades on the development Hell
I mean, it's very noticeable, the least Gearbox is gonna do is note it as well.
  • Considering the "After 12 fucking years it should be," line, this is very much a possibility. That and the first 40 seconds of the new trailer was devoted to lampshading the wait.
  • There's this one link to a 'Tube video where, after blowing up an Exploding Barrel next to one of the aliens, he says "Looks like pigs really CAN fly!" BOOSH!.

SOMETHING will happen so the game becomes vaporware again.
  • I was actually discussing this with a friend, telling him that I would never believe that the game actually exists until I hold a copy of the disk in my hands (I believe in solipsism, long story). He claimed the first thing I would say when holding said disk in hand would be "No, it still doesn't exist."
    • Nope. Jossed.

The next game after Forever will be Duchess Nukem

Duke Nukem Forever is supposed to go on forever.
Hence why it took so long to complete. The designers wanted to find a way of making the gameplay infinite, yet never become tedious. This was abandoned when they realised such a game would take until the end of time to complete, so they just decided to make the version we're about to experience. If they ever decide to do this, the finished project will be called Duke Nukem Eternity. The only people who will ever play it would exist outside of time and space. If God exists, He is finally getting his copy.

The next game will be titled Duke Nukem Go(es to Japan)
Think about it: the third game was 3D; the fourth was 4ever; if the trend of bad puns is to continue, the fifth game has got to play off "One, Two, Three, Four, Go!". Besides, everything's better with Japan and the land is full of babes yet to be... saved by Duke.

Of course, DN 5 won't be released until 2086.

Duke Nukem doesn't actually exist, he's a fantasy alter-ego.
It's not an uncommon story: Weak, pushover, pacifistic nerd dates the wrong kind of woman for him- bossy, abusive, never "puts out" no matter how much he tries to impress her, so he envisions himself as the complete opposite, a guy who lacks all of his respect for women, women fall at his feet and gush over his muscles, wields a gun and fights aliens like it's nothing...because All Girls Want Bad Boys, right? Unfortunately, he never realizes that going to the other extreme won't impress women in real life, either.
  • As a corollary: Duke Nukem is what George Broussard wishes he could be. Evidence:
    • Duke Nukem is muscular; George Broussard is obese.
    • Duke Nukem is a womanizer, while according to a Greek article, George Broussard is a homosexual.
    • Duke Nukem owns a casino; George Broussard's main outlet for job frustration used to be gambling, which leads to the next point:
    • Duke Nukem lives the exciting life of a man who singlehandedly saved the Earth multiple times and is adored by everyone; George Broussard lives the frustrated life of a man who spent 14 years working on the same project and restarting it from scratch multiple times, which drained out all of his creativity and every chance to find satisfaction in his job, while everyone considers him the laughingstock of the gaming industry.

Gearbox wanted to do other Duke games, but had to get DNF out of the way first.
There had already been rumors about Duke Begins and Gearbox, but for any Duke game, Duke Nukem Forever would be like an elephant in the middle of the room, or an imaginary 800-pound gorilla, or choose your metaphor: the theoretical game against which any actual game would be compared, and probably found wanting, and the specter of DNF would be forever hovering over the franchise. Finishing and releasing DNF clears away any unrealistic expectations and allows the team to start fresh and make a coherent project without the shadow of the King of Vaporware looming over them.

DNF was a Franchise Killer
Going off the above theroy, this seems the only option for this franchise. A quick glance of the reviews on DNF say that it's avrage AT BEST while many others have panned it. Yahtzee said that if he didn't know the history of this game, he says he'd think it was RUSHED, and giantbomb ended it's review with this little comment: "If you're not willing to play a sloppy, cobbled together first-person shooter just because it has some kind of weird historical meaning, though, just forget this ever happened and move on." Despite the sequel tease, it's very unlikely that'll happen. People have been burned by the wating time to be 'rewarded' for a generic, brown, FPS and they won't want to see anything else from The King.
  • A new singleplayer campaign has come out, which acknowlegdes the sequel tease as part of the canon (after Duke declares that he wants to run for president, a Duke clone pops out from backstage). There are also insistent rumors that Gearbox is working on a prequel called Duke Begins.

The game is a Time Lord
The reason that there were so many different iterations of it over the years is that it was regenerating.

What Could Have Been: in 1999, the game was supposed to end with Duke launching a nuclear missile to the Hoover Dam from Area 51
For years before its release, we have known what locations would be seen in the game, and we were able to make an educated guess about the order in which the locations would be visited. Namely: Casino inside -> streets of Vegas -> desert -> Hoover Dam -> Area 51. This 1999 screenshot is set inside a launch facility, which we can infer to be part of Area 51 (the only military base in the game), and shows a missile being launched. The final game had nothing of the sort, except that:
  • the intro (allegedly summarizing the events of Duke Nukem 3D) shows a missile launch that never took place in that game, in a location that looks very much like that screenshot
  • in the end of the main game, a nuclear missile destroys the Hoover Dam
This makes it possible to infer that that screenshot shows the launch of the very nuke that hits the dam in the game, which would have had the same ending, done differently. Duke Nukem (or General Graves) would have realized that they could not win at the Hoover Dam, so they would have reached Area 51 and would have nuked the Hoover Dam from there. The location was subsequently remade with more detailed graphics and finally scrapped from the plot of the game, but shown anyway in the intro as a tribute to the history of the game.

Duke was supposed to fight a Battlelord three times instead of two, but the third fight has been Dummied Out
At the end of the first fight with the Battlelord, Duke rips out one of its horns and sticks it into its left eye.

During the second fight, he does the same thing, but then the Battlelord gets up again until Duke brings its energy back to zero, rips out another horn and sticks it into the other eye.

But a Battlelord has three horns, which means we never see Duke rip out all three of them. This, as well as a peculiar line from Captain Dylan during the second fight, lets us guess that Duke was supposed to meet and fight a third Battlelord, which would have ended up with all three horns ripped off. Captain Dylan's line, which was originally supposed to be pronounced during the third fight, lets us guess what Duke would have done with the third horn: "Come on, rip out his horn and shove it up his asshole!"

Guesses about the plot of the game:

The EDF are why so many of Duke's guns have changed in DNF
After Duke saved the world, the Earth Defense Force was established in order to defend the Earth in case of another invasion. But there was all these alien firearms that only Duke could use just lying around. And there sure as Hell wasn't gonna be anymore invasions any time soon. So they took the time out to modify the weapons for military use.
  • The Ripper Chaingun, as the name implies, is a portable chaingun. "Portable" in the loosest sense of the word as you had to carry all those ammo belts with you at once. So the EDF took the Ripper, and modified it to be like a badass Assault Rifle that takes 50-Round magazines.
  • The Shrink Ray was shown to be a bulky machine that uses resources un-available on Earth. So the EDF invented Earth-based Shrinking elements, and redesigned the Shrink Ray to fire these elements without shrinking itself. That's why it now has a "Portal" look and shoots globs of Shrinking material rather than a ray of it.
    • It's practically confirmed that the Shrink Ray was redesigned by EDF scientists, because it has the same symbol that's present on the walls of Area 51 in The Doctor Who Cloned Me.
  • The Microwave Expander was considered a lost cause. It was just too redundant to be of any use. But then the EDF decided to make a Sniper Rail Gun that uses the Expander technology. The Sniper Rail Gun uses special bolts mixed with Expander elements that make enemies' heads explode on a headshot. Why? Because it's awesome.
  • The Devastator was pretty much unchanged. Just made easier to carry and given a nice redesign. But it was also made to hold 69 rockets despite firing in increments of 2. You can tell Duke was a top designer in the "re-purposing" program.
  • The RPG, aside from a lower ammo count, is essentially the same. Although it can be seen having a form of Heat Seeking in this gameplay montage. Nothing big, the EDF just felt it needed some tweaks.
  • Now for the big one. Time for the hugest change the EDF could ever make to Duke's aresenal. They made the Mighty Boot a finisher rather than a rather weak melee attack. How did they do this? Well they told Duke that smacking a Pig-Cop in the face with a huge-gun actually did more damage than kicking at them. Why? Because using The Boot as a finisher looks more awesome. Duke agreed, and now you can smack Pig-cops in the face with your gun AND boot them in the face!

The Holsom Twins are part of a plot to distract Duke so the aliens can conquer Earth without his interference.
The aliens noticed that, whenever Duke encounters one of their operations, he invariably ends up blowing it to hell. Wanting him out of the way, they build two identical fembots to keep him fully distracted until it's too late for him to stop their takeover. Unfortunately, whoever organized the plan never told the grunts about it, and they end up kidnapping the fembots.
  • Jossed. They definitely aren't on the alien's side, considering that they are raped and impregnated by an alien hive, causing them to explode into little alien pieces.

Duke shot first.
Or that's how the Emperor wants it to look, at least. Duke gets a bad feeling in the Duke Cave, and then suddenly there are alien bastards trashing things inside the cave, trying to kill him, drinking his beer, and playing basketball without his permission. Then when Duke clears them all out and mounts his turret, he comes face to face with the Mothership. What happens when this stage starts? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even on "Damn I'm Good" difficulty, the ship will do nothing to Duke - UNTIL HE OPENS FIRE. Then - and only then - does the battle begin.

Doctor Proton was exploiting Duke's popularity for his own purposes.
  • Evidence #1: in the DLC, he is preparing a Duke clone army to fight the aliens in Duke's place.
  • Evidence #2: compare the background voice in the reveal trailer and Doctor Proton's voice in the DLC trailer. They are identical! This means that in universe, he was apparently encouraging people to put Duke in a position of control. The next piece of evidence explains why.
  • Evidence #3: the first room of the DLC has a monitor showing the ending of DNF: Duke Nukem stating he wants to run for president. Then we see a second Duke (evidently, one of the clones made by Doctor Proton) watching the real Duke from backstage. This lets us infer that:
    • that was the clone which kidnapped Duke and imprisoned him in Area 51
    • Doctor Proton's plan was to replace Duke with a clone and then make that clone act like a presidential candidate, while still obeying Doctor Proton. People would have voted "Duke Nukem" and elected the clone, unaware that Doctor Proton would've been the Man Behind the Man.
  • An alternative interpretation of evidence #3: that was not the real Duke making the speech. It was a clone, just like the one backstage. The real Duke crashed somewhere in the desert with the EDF air transport when the nuke went off at Hoover Dam, and he was taken to Area 51 while unconscious.

Duke Nukem's regenerating ego in the place of health makes sense in universe.
Tile 4484 in Duke Nukem 3D (Atomic Edition) shows the text "Ultimate warrior", with a picture of Duke detailing his brain, skin layer, cells and DNA. This is a clue that Duke has been genetically engineered to be the ultimate warrior and actually possesses a Wolverine-like healing factor. This only appeared in Duke Nukem Land Of The Babes and subsequent games due to Literary Agent Hypothesis.
  • This would also explain why Duke survives the nuke at the end of the main game and his skin shows a force field-like effect when he is walking on the surface of the moon in the final level of the singleplayer DLC.
  • Agreed that his regenerating Ego makes sense in place of health, and agreed again that it must qualify as a super-power. Duke was once part of the military, but while he was always a decent soldier, he and Dylan underwent an experimental super-soldier type procedure. It gave Duke a standard amount of super-strength, perhaps comparable to Spider-Man or Captain America, but his invulnerability works like Kallark's does: the more confident he is, the less anything can hurt him. Duke's powers aren't known to the general public, but he sure knows, which is why he lives such a narcissistic lifestyle: it keeps his ego high enough to make him prepared to fight any minute. Unfortunately, his self-esteem is easily damaged by physical abuse, which is why it goes down for getting hit, even though it doesn't hurt him. If Duke ever had kids, they'd have the same powers.
    • Dylan, on the other hand, just has a really slow healing factor.
      • As a further corollary to this guess: Dylan is the result of EDF experimenting their supersoldier program on a mentally disabled person. The results were disappointing: while he did, in fact, become stronger and more confident, his intelligence did not increase one bit, which is evident from the way he talks (he also admits that he used to ride a short bus). A low IQ also caused his ego-based healing factor to be so slow, because he takes more time to thoroughly understand what is happening around him as well as to understand when he is no longer in immediate danger.

Related to the previous guess:
Doctor Proton is Duke Nukem's father.
Not necessarily in the natural sense, if Duke is the result of a supersoldier program, but Doctor Proton might have been the original leader of the supersoldier program, and he might have used his DNA as the starting point to create Duke. This would explain how he was able to take over Area 51: because he used to legitimately work there. During Duke's childhood, Doctor Proton might have looked after Duke (who probably lived in Area 51 among scientists) and might even have felt fatherly love for him (which would explain why Doctor Proton claims to "bestow love" onto Duke's robotic clones). Probably, he was looking forward to the day Duke would agree to take over the world with him, except that Duke refused. That would explain why Doctor Proton now hates Duke: because Duke was his greatest hope and turned out to be his greatest disappointment. On the contrary, he still "loves" the robotic clones because they cannot disobey him. Duke is unaware of all this (he probably does not relate the man who used to be his father with the current form of Doctor Proton), but in one of the next games, Doctor Proton will proclaim: "Duke, I am your father!

Another of Duke's powers is recovering from alcohol extra quickly, and the "beer" in the game is actually extra powerful.
First, note that even though Duke gets drunk from a single beer, he returns to sobriety in under a minute, meaning he must be extra resistant to alcohol. But then why does he get drunk from a single beer? It must be some kind of super-alcohol that manages to make even Duke drunk (and even then, he's only slightly tipsy) and would probably kill any normal man.

Duke Nukem is a douchebag in the game because, in universe, the game is a report of events being narrated by Doctor Proton.
So that's why the game shows the protagonist as one-dimensional and douchy, and the antagonist as accultured and threatening! Doctor Proton is tooting his own horn, because he is the one telling the story!
  • This would also explain why Duke doesn't comment that, after ripping Doctor Proton's head off, it cannot be found anywhere. You could very well imagine Doctor Proton saying: "And he really believed that could stop me! Me?! I've enhanced my body with bionics from head to feet! All eight of them. So as soon as that dolt turned around, I've used the mobility module in my cranium to leave the scene and reach the closest replacement body. And he never noticed!"

Doctor Valencia's question about the Planck length and the pluton was an attempt to Bluff the Impostor.
It was posed in the form of a challenge ("You can't even tell a Planck length from a pluton") and used to tell a Duke clone from the real Duke. It's possible that, being created by Doctor Proton, Duke clones would know exactly what those things are, so they would fall for the challenge and reply with scientifically accurate definitions. The real Duke, instead, has no scientific background whatsoever (he doesn't even realize that his answer, "I got your Planck length right here", basically means he has a microscopic penis), which let Dr. Valencia tell he wasn't a clone.
  • This could tie in with the previous guess - Doctor Proton narrating the events and saying: "So guess what that dunce said! 'I've got your Planck length right here!', he said! I wish someone was there to tell him what that meant, I'm sure his reaction would have been priceless!"

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