It's finished: on May 6th 2009, 12 years and 9 days after Duke Nukem Forever began production, 3D Realms has closed and Duke Nukem Forever is no more.

Duke Nukem Forever was the much-anticipated fourth instalment in the Duke Nukem series of first-person shooters, after Duke Nukem 3D. It was said to be a game that would "push the limits of gaming and establish new standards in interactivity, variety, and pure fun." Its release was delayed so many times that most fans gave up hope of ever seeing it, and the developers took a "when it's done" approach to expected release dates, which meant they were, theoretically, off the hook in that regard.

The publisher, Take-Two Interactive, has cut the project's funding; so 3D Realms is without a source of finances, and has closed its doors. Forever's development has ceased, and we may never even know how close it was to completion. Perhaps it was all a hoax or in-joke anyway; the "in-game" footage was admitted to be completely scripted, which lends credibility to this theory.

Take-Two's VP of communications Alan Lewis made a statement, saying, "we can confirm that our relationship with 3D Realms for Duke Nukem Forever was a publishing arrangement, which did not include ongoing funds for development of the title. In addition, Take-Two continues to retain the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Forever."

So 3D Realms could not have turned to another publisher, nor can now-former employees, but the possibility of future development or publication by Take-Two depends on the details of their contract with 3D Realms.

Regarding the infamous time spent in development hell, producer George Broussard has joked that, "there's of course been the hookers and the cocaine, there's been a lot of mistakes, and a lot of lessons we had to learn, and most of all there's been a lot of World of Warcraft."

Talking about very slow progress made in development, an unnamed ex-3D Realms employee said in a forum post; "designer would be assigned a task (build a new map, rebuild an old map, polish a bit of a map, etc.). Designer would work on said task for two, three weeks, a month, all the while lower management would be looking over it and making sure it was going in a "good general direction." Designer would move on to another task. A month or two later upper management would finally look at the work and say, "It's all wrong, do it again." Rinse, repeat."

There is, of course, The Duke Nukem Forever List (see references for URL); it is a list of major accomplishments (mainly in the video game industry, of course) and events that have occurred during Duke Nukem Forever's production. Here is a small sample, paraphrased somewhat:

There are also a few things that have taken less time than Duke Nukem Forever's failed production, most notably: The Beatles' entire career, the design and flight of the Wright Brothers' aeroplane, The US program to put a man on the moon, World War I and World War II.

At the top of the page is a photograph of a yellowed receipt for a deposit on the PC edition, dated October 10th 2001. Its owner has been a patient gamer indeed. Below that, as of two days ago, there is a headstone with a cigar sitting gently atop it, that reads:

Duke Nukem Forever
April 28th 1997 - May 6th 2009

I find it a little bit funny that Duke's final words were his lines from the last teaser trailer, released in late 2007: "I'm lookin' for some alien toilet to park my bricks. Who's first?"

IGN article, "3D Realms No More", by Hilary Goldstein,
Shacknews article, "Duke Nukem Developer 3D Realms Shuts Down", by Nick Breckon and Chris Faylor,
The Duke Nukem Forever List, updated by Eli Hodapp,
Duke Nukem Forever, Wikipedia,

November 2011 update: I spoke too soon. The game was finally finished in a couple of months by Gearbox Software, and the general consensus seems to be that it sucks hard.