Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Yahtzee Could Have Written Duke Nukem Forever

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 5 Jul 2011 16:00
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"I heard on Glenn Rubenstein and Brian Brushwood's TWiT webshow on YouTube that you were Brian Hook's first choice to write the script for Duke Nukem Forever, and that you actually turned in a draft and it was all kinds of awesome. I haven't heard this mentioned anywhere else, I was just hoping you could elaborate or deny?"

-Paul H, via email

The webshow in question can be found here and the bit where they mention me is at just after the one hour mark, round abouts. I hadn't actually seen this until Paul H drew my attention to it, but it's certainly made me wonder about what might have been. Yes, at one point a couple of years back I was approached to possibly write for Duke Nukem Forever.

Trust me, I would have talked about this a lot more if it weren't for two things: partly the uncertainty over whether it violated some unspoken non-disclosure arrangement, which I guess isn't an issue anymore if that video I linked can have a former 3D realms developer gab off about it, but mostly because it wasn't a terribly interesting story, at least not from my perspective. Brian Hook emailed me asking if I was available for game scriptwriting, and I said yes, because I was. I was asked to do an audition piece so I knocked up a quick and dirty script for a scene that was basically taking all the piss. And don't ask to see it because it was a couple of hard drives ago.

Until I watched the video above I didn't even know if anyone had even liked the piece at all, which is probably why I don't talk about it. All I got told was that it didn't suit the tone they were going for. I was taking the piss out of Duke himself and they wanted Duke to be relatively straight while the world and the people around him were silly. I didn't submit a revised audition because that didn't make any sense to me at all. I would think the only way an action hero as typically 90's as Duke Nukem could survive today would be with as much irony as possible. I said as much, and thus ended my potential glittering career with 3D Realms.

As I said, a story nowhere near as interesting as one in which I actually did write for DNF. Would have been nice to practice what I preach on that level of development. Hit me up, developers, I've had some free afternoons lately.

Anyway, it was Infamous 2 I reviewed last week and on the subject of game writing it's a pretty impressive example of it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story (of the good run, anyway, disregarding the moral choice bullshit, but even the evil run has some emotional heartache towards the end). I guess it became a little too dependent on magic space energy doing whatever the plot felt like making it doing, but this is a series about a bloke who shoots electricity out of his hands fighting psychic trash golems and South African ice soldiers, so at least you can't accuse it of being inconsistent.

But part of why I enjoyed the story so much is that it actually ended. Without wishing to spoil - a sentence which is fast becoming my personal equivalent of 'I'm not racist, but' - Infamous as a franchise cannot go anywhere after 2. The plot (both of them) comes to a decisive end. And that, I respect. In an industry where shooting for a trilogy seems to be standard business practice as opposed to any consideration of whether the story needs it or not, in which plots being left open for sequels or ending on a disappointing cliffhanger are the rule rather than the exception, bringing things to a definite and satisfying close is a rare and pleasing thing to see. Fair play to Sucker Punch, Infamous 1 set up a sequel and Infamous 2 was exactly the sequel that was promised, bringing the apocalyptic end.

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