A fan-made, Unreal Engine 3-powered remake of Duke Nukem 3D has received the official green light from Gearbox Studios.

Duke Nukem is probably the most famously unrepentant meathead in the history of the videogame industry, conjuring images of boobs and pee, bad language and worse behavior. His reputation precedes him, perhaps deservedly so, but what’s sometimes overlooked amidst all the hullabaloo about the infamous character is the fact that his last game, which dates back to 1996, was an absolutely brilliant FPS.

You may have missed it; after all, it’s quite likely that many people who buy the upcoming Duke Nukem Forever weren’t even born when Duke Nukem 3D came out. But you may still have a chance to play it, without having to horse around with DOSBox or put up with a dated experience, thanks to Duke Nukem: Next-Gen, a fan-made do-over of DN3D using the Unreal Engine 3. The project is still in the very early stages but it has made one very big milestone: It’s been given the green light by Gearbox.

“A few weeks ago, I played with the idea of a Duke Nukem 3D revision, made on Unreal Engine 3 Tech. Knowing that every other Duke project, not based on 3Drealms own technology (Build), has been knifed and canceled, I didn’t think it was possible to do,” project lead Frederik “Fresch” Schreiber wrote.

“But I still went for the idea and made a ‘test map’ of what it might look like. Afterwards, I took some screenshots, posted them on this board, for everyone to see – And all hell broke loose! Suddenly, the ‘news’ of a next-gen remake was all over the internet, even though the development wasn’t approved by either Gearbox or 3Drealms.”

Thus inspired, Schreiber decided to seek the official approval he needed. “Thinking that Gearbox might have a better relationship to Take-Two, than 3Drealms, I contacted AdamF, who passed me through to PJ Putnam, Vice President and General Counsel of Gearbox Software,” he continued. “Luckily Gearbox was interested in supporting the project, which resulted in a personal non-commercial license to Duke Nukem.”

Fan projects are almost always an iffy proposition. The vast majority of them die on the vine and there’s always the risk of having the official approval unapproved at the last minute. Whether this one ever actually sees the light of day is impossible to predict at this point, but Schreiber wrote that Gearbox is “interested in supporting the project,” which certainly can’t hurt.

There’s no word on when the final release will be ready, but the team has set an “internal release date” for the multiplayer demo, which will include “a few maps, weapons, items, etc.” and will be ready “sooner than you think.” One thing’s for sure: It probably won’t take as long as Duke Nukem Forever. (Oh yes, I had to slip that in there.) The development team is still trying to plug a few holes, so if you have some talents and want to contribute, or if you just want to keep up with what’s going on, you can find out more on the Gearbox forums.

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