Have You Played… Duke Nukem 3D?

Always first in line on Orange Wednesday, that Duke.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Even today, the opening levels of Duke Nukem 3D [official site] are exciting places to poke around. Flick light switches, disturb rats in toilet cubicles, have a waz, bounce pool balls around the table, and can kick bins just because. I’d put it up there with Deus Ex and Gone Home on the list of Games Where It’s Cool To Poke At Stuff.

The face-shooting’s pretty fun too.

Realised in 1996 by 3D Realms, Duke Nukem 3D took an interesting turn down FPS History Lane. After yer Wolfensteins and yer Dooms, DN3D and its engine Build stayed in 2D while others raced towards 3D (the 3D rush was a dark time of many bad games), using new computer muscle to focus on complexity in its faux-3D world. You could turn lights on and off, knock things around, blow up walls and sewer grates to open new paths, peer through security cameras, lark about with a jetpack, and play with loads of objects in the world. That’s level design as much as it is technology, of course, but it fostered an interesting mindset of exploration and playfulness. Even today explore-y games’ worlds are rarely this pokeable, and DN3D was supposedly mostly about shooting monsters.

Yeah, I mean, you also you shoot monsters. It has some pretty good and weird guns, that Duke Nukem 3D, and a kicking foot that’s not much use but I adore it as an extension of Duke as a person in a real space. Pret-ty fun shooting, but it’s the weird real-world playground I most remember it for.

I always lost interest. As Duke Nukem 3D meandered through canyons, space stations, and generic buildings, I’d grow bored of key-hunting and switch puzzles and start noclipping through walls then skipping levels. It could never live up to the promise of those first few levels. But what an opening!


  1. Fungaroo says:

    For some odd reason, I still remember you can see a white bronco speeding down a freeway on a TV in one of the first levels. Good times.

    • machstem says:

      Ha! I remember that…which ironically shows my age. :)

    • Collieuk says:

      I always assumed the Bronco on the TV was supposed to represent the OJ Simpson news footage which was still topical at the time. Great game all in all but like many others I found the first episode the best. After that it got samey. Much like Blood, Shadow Warrior and other games of its ilk.

  2. tomimt says:

    I’ve always thought the shareware episode has the best levels of the game. The additional episodes were IMO pretty boring and the level design felt lackluster.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Well, this rule applied to most shareware games. It makes a lot of sense from the monetisation perspective, after all.

      • dethtoll says:

        Damn lack of an edit button…

        I’d also argue that Episode 4 had the best, but also worst, levels. It’s much more inconsistent in quality, which is irritating because the levels LOOK better, they just don’t play better. That fucking amusement park, man.

    • dethtoll says:

      I don’t agree, Episode 3 had the best levels generally. Though I have a soft spot for episode 2’s unrelenting gloominess.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I replayed the whole thing earlier this year, and Episode 2 is still my fav by a long way. While I agree that the first few maps of E1 have the most interesting, interactive layouts, people are wrong in believing that just disappears later.

        Obligatory mention that this is effing fantastic fun in co-op, as most classic shooters.

        • ansionnach says:

          Episode 2 was always my favourite, too. Liked the little touches like the space ship that fired on the station you were on whenever you got too close to a force field “window” and the airlocks with transporters that took you through the vacuum of space. Then there’s how some parts of the space stations become organically more alien with touches like the super-fast lifts. These levels aren’t like real places but they are convincing imagined ones. I don’t agree that they’re dull like others have said. I wonder what they think of Doom? It is somehow beyond criticism. I was never pushed about it and consider it a disappointing follow-up to Wolf3d, although Wolf has aged badly and is probably now a much inferior game.

          • klink-mit-panzerslip says:

            Alien/space ambiance in episode 2 is very nice. But the bars in episode 1 cannot be discarded.

            In the end, I think I’ll forever have in my head the boar/cop grunting sound.

  3. machstem says:

    This was the first game I ever created a mod for and I remember extensively building maps to play LAN with some buddies.

    I even built a scaled replica of my high school at the time and although the assets were not accurate, it was an uncanny experience to shoot up my school. I think I’d of made it on some anarchist black list of sorts in this day and age.

    I even recall being baffled at the fact that I could create multiple levels with elevator access; which made accessing our school mezzanine all that much cooler.

    Oh and a switch of no apparent use allowed me access to a powerful gun and extra armor on the mezzanine so I kept it secret :)

    • draglikepull says:

      DN3D is also the first game that I ever built levels for. I don’t even remember if I ever shared them with anyone, but as a budding young game designer, I thought the tools were amazing.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Sweet! A friend of mine did the same with our high school. No mezzanine, but 2 floors in general and various high-up rooms in the auditorium. Loads of fun to run around!

      I was more into Doom and Quake modding, but I created the general structure of my parents’ house in Build. What a convoluted/obscure but cool editor…

    • The_Sleeve says:

      I learned to use the Build engine and create my own Duke3D levels as well, and I actually used those skills for a middle school class project. I must have been about 15 years old at the time. We were doing some kind of imaginary business planning project and so I created a really detailed pizza shop in the Duke Nukem 3D engine, complete with fire burning in the pizza ovens. There was no easy way to do a screen capture of the computer at the time, so I borrowed a friend’s video camera and pointed it at the computer monitor, then recorded a walk-through of the level and gave the tape to my teacher. It took every ounce of my self-control to resist the urge to fill the pizza shop with stripper poles and alien victims.

    • Sunjammer says:

      Build engine was amazing. Me and a friend would make massive rambling levels where each of us would make opposite “forts” filled with weird traps to ensnare the other. Being able to make colossal mid-air hovering space dudes on toilets never quite got old to me.

  4. Dicehuge says:

    Did anyone else switch on noclip and walk into the mirrors. That was one trippy dang experience.

    • machstem says:

      There was a glitch you could perform to do it but I did it without knowing wtf was happening.

      You brought back a good memory I’d forgotten about

    • The_Sleeve says:

      Yes! You could also achieve the same effect in the level editor by creating two mirrors within sight of each other. The engine didn’t handle multiple reflections and I seem to remember a crazy, glitchy hall of mirrors effect.

  5. Hunchback says:

    Soon, on RPS, “Have you played… Pacman?”


    • Hunchback says:

      Which in a couple of years will actually be a relevant question… Oo

    • April March says:

      But that’s not a PC game!

      (You know what else is not a PC game? Pacman Battle Royale, which is an arcade game for up to four games and pretty fun.)

      • ansionnach says:

        There were plenty of official and unofficial PC versions of Pac-Man. The first official one was by Atarisoft and wasn’t really up to much. The earlier clone PC-Man was a better bet. Both were PC booter games so did not need an OS (like many Amiga games). If you have a 5.25″ floppy drive you could probably still boot it today… or you could use DOSBox.

        Pac PC and Ms. Pac-Pc are very good freeware versions of the game for DOS. There were also very good (perfect?) official versions of both Pac and Ms. Pac in Microsoft’s Return and Revenge of the arcade. Both of these were for Windows 9x, but the first was 16-bit so it’ll only work on modern 32-bit Windows. Tested Ms. Pac from Revenge on Windows 7 64-bit and it works perfectly. I think there have been other official versions since.

    • Warduke says:

      No kidding.. I wish there wasn’t such an emphasis on making these articles “daily” and instead focused on periodic publishing on a smaller set of truly quality games.. These “Have you played” articles have started feeling like article spamming in order to fulfill some artificial commitment… and shallow articles at that.

      • JFS says:

        I agree. One such article a week, well-written, would probably suffice.

      • ansionnach says:

        I don’t fully agree with you but one or two a week would be often enough for me. I don’t mind the brevity of them, or that the games might not be considered good by anyone (although Duke is great!). Perhaps if it was once a week or even more seldom there could be a nice long write-up about the history of a certain game, information on clones, remakes, freeware versions. Could be quite interesting. As it is, it’s often more the comments from us that are the interesting bit to read.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Pretty sure the comments are the point in this instance. Which is fine. If a brief little article a day is serving as a prompt for interesting discussion then that’s great.

          I do like the idea of delving more into the history and legacy of particular games though.

          • ansionnach says:

            I quite enjoy the discussions so the existing format works for me. It could be improved but I wouldn’t say it’s important that it happen. I even enjoy the ones that have taken a swipe at some of my favourite games as it makes me go back to re-evaluate them. Alice did lay off the criticism, of course. One interesting thing I found was a bug of sorts that I’d never seen before: with the parental lock on there was a spot where one of the infested women hadn’t been removed from the game fully – I couldn’t see anything but something blocked my path. When I shot at it one of those floating heads came after me. I played through levels 1-5 of Lunar Apocalypse so it was one of those levels. Was also somewhere you didn’t really need to go – I just noticed that I couldn’t walk into an alcove along a wall.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      And probably a fair few people wouldn’t have. Duke Nukem 3D is 19 years old. The idea that everyone reading a PC gaming site has played The Pantheon of Classics is v. wrong.

      And, as others have noted, the article’s sparking people talking about it and sharing their memories – it’s Have You Played? not You Should Have Played.

  6. 2Ben says:

    Yeah, my first ever LAN game! Started around 6pm (after screwing around with the IPX protocol, coaxial cables with cable terminators etc.) and ended playing when the sun was up again. Didn’t feel any time had passed at all :)

  7. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Yep, I played it back in the day. The first levels are incredibly good, the rest is not , blah blah blah, same opinion as everyone here.

  8. DevilishEggs says:

    Yep, also Ken’s Labyrinth. It’s interesting to note that Duke3D wasn’t the first Build engine game but was just one example in a spate of them. Others were Tek War, Powerslave, Blood, Shadow Warrior, etc. Ken Silverman still updates his website. In recent years, he’s been tinkering, as a hobbyist, with a voxel engine.

    • machstem says:

      Thanks for the link. I like seeing where devs end up in life. :)

      • ignare brute says:

        Going on his website is like a jumping back in time, at the time of Duke3d release.
        Anyway, from there, you learn that the guy started to develop Build engine when he was 18yo. I wonder if it can still happen, someone this age developing more or less on his own such a significant piece of software.

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    We used to have a kid in school who’d always correct folks on word meaning and grammar.
    Everybody thought yeah we know but who cares but he had to do it anyway. This forum is full of such guys.

    • anHorse says:

      Shame your school didn’t have a guy making sure everyone used the reply button correctly ;)

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        Risingson says:

        And I am actually feeling pity for the poor boy. He must have been bullied hard by the rest of the illiterates. And he will never be thanked for what he did to improve the use of language.

        • Sin Vega says:

          “An illiterate can’t read, Princess. I was merely grammatically slack.”

          “Ten thousand curses.”

  10. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Okay, RPS, help me out:

    There was a “build engine comic” I enjoy backed in the day – that is, somebody made a web comic using screenshots from custom Build Engine levels, with at least one guest appearance by John Romero’s Head. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      A 20 second Google search found nothing. I am sorry, but this comic never existed. You must be an insane person. #badnews

    • MadTinkerer says:

      This is why it’s important to save the web content you like the most. Sometimes really good stuff is abandoned or neglected and in rare cases the creator snaps and deletes everything and threatens lawsuits against anyone who tries to distribute his old stuff, even if it was originally available for free, even if he’s properly credited (I’ve seen that happen more than once).

  11. Flea says:

    First ever game that I played online against a friend. Back in the time of pay-by-the-hour internet, created a game and my friend from the neighborhood joined. Ancient history :)

  12. EhexT says:

    Still a fantastic shooter, with a tremendously fun arsenal that really highlights what modern shooters have lost. Where’s the trip-mines? Where’s the remote detonated pipe-bombs? Where’s the mighty feet, shrink rays (including self-shrinking with mirrors and miniature scale level elements!) and the wonderfully deadly-to-yourself rocket launchers?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Where’s the holoduke, the steroids that let you outrun rockets, the freakin’ jetpack?

      (Serious Sam does break out a jetpack occasionally, but only within DESIGNATED FUN ZONES.)

      • April March says:

        You know it. Modern games just don’t give us a lot of system to play with. Can you imagine a modern shooter, even one of the best, giving us a jetpack? That requires an immense sense of trust in the designer’s ability to create a level that remains fun even when you can skip through parts of it (or when you run out of fuel and have to remain on the ground).

    • ansionnach says:

      Yeah, it’s a great game. All of it. I’d still rate it as about the best FPS I’ve ever played. Not sure where this only the first few levels were good philosophy is coming from. Still, it’s an improvement on Alec’s assertion in their 50 greatest FPS list that only the first level was good.

      Just played through the first five levels of the second episode to refresh my memory and they’re pretty good. You go around space stations and the moon with some areas becoming more alien. The music is consistently excellent and really sets the mood. It’s my favourite episode, the fourth one (the Plutonium PAK expansion that now comes as standard) is great as well. Not sure after that: the first episode starts out really strong, and is very good throughout, but there’s a dull enough level in a canyon and it’s pretty short. In the levels I just played the third one of Lunar Apocalypse is weakened by its over-use of those blasted flying explosive pods that rush you. They’re dropped on your head all over the place. It’s something I’d criticise a lot of early FPS games for, including Doom, which I was never a big fan of. It’s good and an adrenaline rush but I wouldn’t go any further than that. Wasn’t a fan of the dark sameyness that was quite common.

      The weapons in Duke3d were and still are great. Each has its uses, even when you have them all. The foot is useful for kicking vents open and finishing off enemies. Funny factoid many may not have seen: in the original registered version (without the fourth episode), you could kick with both feet at the same time while running!

      Had the parental lock off when I played it just now. Doesn’t really change the game much. Scott Miller stated in a Matt Chat interview that they were looking to be controversial for its own sake. This was always pretty obvious. It never really worked for me even when I was sixteen but it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a great game. Other 90s games that similarly courted controversy like the Mortal Kombats were never very good… so now they both look laughable and play badly. Duke3d is still just about the best FPS you can play. I’d suggest that everyone find out what they think.

      • Ravey says:

        A lot of old FPSs are still fun, but only a few stand out to me as truly great games. Great games are typically deliberate, elegant and original e.g. Doom, GoldenEye 007, Half-Life and SWAT 3. The reason I like those games is that they all had a vision beyond making a fun / creative / innovative clone of another game.

        Doom and GoldenEye are probably the only 90s single-player FPSs I’d seriously recommend playing in this day and age.

        Not System Shock. Not Rise of the Triad (ludicrous). Not Dark Forces. Not Terminator: Future Shock. Not Duke Nukem 3D. Not Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri.

        Not the mighty Quake, the excessive Blood, the wondrous Unreal, the punishing Rainbow Six, the disasterous Trespasser, the trendsetting Half-life, nor the brilliant SWAT 3.

        Not Redline, Requiem: Avenging Angel, or Kingpin: Life of Crime.

        Because all the creativity and innovation in the world will never outweigh poor vision or design!

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          About a third of the stuff you listed there I would HEARTILY recommend, and most if it I still play. Never liked Goldeneye though so I guess you and I are just polar opposites.

          Doom is gold though.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Actually now that I re-read your list I’d recommend nearly all of them. And if you’re trying to tell me that Terra Nova wasn’t deliberate and original (I’ll give you it wasn’t the most elegant) then I laugh in your face!
            But politely because this is quite a nice place and wouldn’t it be a funny world if we were all the same?

          • Ravey says:

            It’s not that GoldenEye is perfect and the other games I mentioned are bad. Those games are arguably more important, unusual, interesting, fun, creative and/or innovative. However, I’d argue that none of them were well-considered. Most of them have been surpassed by better games.

            The problem with clones (Duke Nukem 3D), simulations (Terra Nova) and tactical shooters (Rainbow Six) is that they’re unconstrained: the designers were seemingly obsessed with representation, realism, clever technical achievements and gimmicks.

          • ansionnach says:

            I suppose you don’t consider there being a certain genius to the design of a reasonably open-ended game like Duke or System Shock that’s still really good? Going to extremes, how’s about Ultima? Most of those are the polar opposites of “tight” game design but I’d argue that there’s genius in the hub design. Resurrection on death meant it was difficult to end up in an unwinnable situation. I have the utmost respect for tight games. Something like Super Castlevania IV or the Shinobi games are extremely tightly constrained but there’s perfection in the design. When games are made more open they lose that tightness and only true masters can overcome this… but it can be done. Going completely into the stratosphere, the best example I can think of this isn’t even a game – it’s the film The Best of Youth. It’s about six hours long but there’s not a moment wasted. If Peter Jackson or Christopher Nolan gave themselves that much rope they’d hang themselves with it.

            Isn’t Golden Eye decrepit now… and slow as it ever was?

        • ansionnach says:

          I often find that games that “age badly” are ones that always suffered from critical weaknesses but many were initially blinded by something like technical wizardry or hype/excitement. I also like to keep track of whether old games are really worth bothering with today but my results are different.

          Obviously, I’m still quite keen on Duke. Haven’t played Quake in ages but I’d suspect its moments of panic might still be worth experiencing.

          System Shock isn’t even a first-person shooter. It’s really worth playing for the adventure and atmosphere. The combat was always a bit crap. I’d suggest people try System Shock up to the highest difficulty except with no time limit to complete the game. It’s still not very hard. Haven’t played enough Terra to say much.

          Blood is a funny one. Made another attempt at it recently and I can’t see why it’s supposedly way better than Duke. Might be that I don’t really like gruesome horror or its trappings. Shadow Warrior is mindless and can be fun, but is pretty poor past the shareware episode.

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve never been a big fan of Doom. A recent repeat play had me enjoying it more than I did back when it was new and I quite disliked it, but I still wouldn’t recommend it when there are better, similar games like Duke3d and Dark Forces. These are my top 90s, and perhaps all-time favourite FPS games. They took the formula and refined it, adding plenty of imaginative touches and superb level design. Dark Forces gets extra points for not allowing saving between levels. It’s the game that blew me away like perhaps Golden Eye did others. Never really rated that.

          In my view if a game is largely just a clone of another but it improves on it and is more polished then it is the better game and the one I’d more heartily recommend! Sometimes these games may have been disappointing sequels but right now I’d say something like Oh No! More Lemmings is better than it first one.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I would argue that games like Duke or Quake are not “better, similar games” to Doom. We may have called FPSs “Doom clones” back in the day, but those particular ones are nothing of the sort. It’s a very different beast.

          • ansionnach says:

            Can certainly see your point of view. Would never claim that Quake is a better, similar Doom. Dark Forces is in that it added things I like such as story and direction, better level design (less maze-like and more like places that exist for some purpose) and it was more tense because you had to finish each level before you could save. Duke 3d added quite a bit more so it is quite different to Doom but it is still largely about running around at top speed shooting loads of enemies. The fact that I have never really liked Doom much makes my differing conclusion on which are the games to be bothered with make perfect sense!

      • ansionnach says:

        Slight correction: main comment should have said that the parental lock was on.

  13. MikoSquiz says:

    It was a poor-to-indifferent game with a heap of novelty gimmicks lovingly glued on all over it, a fifth-grade sense of humour, and an iconically irritating and uninteresting lead character. I wonder who thought a sequel would be a good idea, and why.

    • Paul B says:

      Yes, but what were it’s bad points? Duke Nukem, eh, what a game. Though I was always more of a Quake fan meself.

  14. Whelp says:

    I played through all episodes back when it came out, with no cheats. I remember it being hard as fuck, even on normal.

    Years later I replayed it again with a sourceport that supported mouselook and stand WASD controls, it was much easier.

  15. Michael Fogg says:

    I remember reading an essay, which stated that DN3D is essentially a White Power game, because it shows a version of LA without any black or latino people and Duke is the only white ubermensch who kills aliens, or ‘aliens’ who are really stand-ins for minorities (note the ‘half-breed’ theme, like in pig-cops). So overall, yay for cultural criticism! It is importatnt to be aware of the problematic aspects of media we enjoy. It just makes us better people, and the world a more equal place.

    • dethtoll says:

      He’s the only human character in the game!

      • Premium User Badge

        Risingson says:

        Weren’t there strippers? White ones.

        The cultural criticism is valid, you white straight males.

        • dethtoll says:

          They had like, three stripper sprites, one of them happened to be Asian incidentally.

          I suppose it’d be different if it was possible to set skin color in the map editor, but the engine’s sprite coloring was fairly rudimentary.

          • Jalan says:

            Having replayed the game some months ago, I have to wonder if the geisha sprites were intended to be considered human or not. Though it may be something related to eDuke32 (or the version of it I was using at the time), it was baffling to me that when you destroy them they make the glass shattering sound.

          • ansionnach says:

            It’s like that in the original DOS game as well. I’d say the reason they’re made of glass is that it’s a silly game that doesn’t make much sense if you’re trying to treat it seriously and as anything other than a really fun FPS. The treatment of women deserves a lot of criticism. It can be turned off without affecting the game much and it wasn’t a big part of it anyway. If anyone maintains that it’s a bad game because of the controversial bits then they are doing themselves a disservice as a critic… and they’re wrong. They need to play through the whole game right now with the parental lock enabled and see how good it is. In the Matt Chat interview Scott Miller says that they were just trying to be controversial for the sake of it. As was often the case, this resulted in stupidity. He goes on to say that it was a small part of the game. This is also true. It’s pretty much the greatest FPS I’ve ever played and those minor parts that people fixate on can be turned off. I’d argue that they never worked and were never funny, even in 1996 when I was sixteen.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’m pretty sure the geishas were supposed to be barely-animatronic mannequins, given they shattered into fragments, never spoke, had an unnatural skin colour, and didn’t summon more monsters when killed unlike other innocents.

          • dethtoll says:

            I’m actually referring to the girl in the karaoke room in E3M1!

          • ansionnach says:

            Just too a look – she was human alright. As for the cultural criticism, it’s very easy to see things in something that aren’t there at all. Aside from talking about the game, the only “analysis” that Duke3d needs is that it can be puerile and mindless. As with all things there’s such a thing as bad cultural criticism.

    • ansionnach says:

      If what you’re saying is that whoever wrote the essay was dead wrong, then I agree.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        No, they were just trying to show off that they can read.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        I’m saying that one should use judgement and a healthy dose of common sense when making social judgement oriented media criticism, because it’s easy to cross the line into obvious self-parody. The article, if I remember correctly, also had a section about Shadow Warrior (3d Realms next game), which supposedly was an expression of Western fear of Japanese technological superiority and that’s why the main character was old and impotent in comparison to the macho Duke (to disarm the Orient). I mean Shadow Warrior had plenty of obviously racist jokes etc. but come on. You can still probably google this essay, it was done by some professor, long before Tropes vs Women etc.

        • ansionnach says:

          Had a quick look but unfortunately I couldn’t find it. Funny thing is, I didn’t know much about Duke3d when I bought it. I hadn’t even played the shareware version. I did know that you could blow up walls, which sounded pretty cool. I’d also played the shareware version of the first game, which was okay. Not too much later I didn’t buy Tomb Raider because of its obvious pandering. I did later play the first two on loan from a friend and thought they were pretty good games, although they really ran out of steam by their second halves. Seeing all the magazine coverage of Lara Croft and how she was even put forward as a symbol of feminism, I wondered whether all these people lived in some sort of parallel universe. There has definitely been sexism in games and I’d agree that it is very easy to become a parody of yourself. Nice money if you can get it, though…

  16. eeguest says:

    I still remember today when I poked around level Saint Andreas Fault using either no clip or jetpack a text on the wall: ‘ You are not supposed to be here’. Man that was do cool. A message from level designer to me.

  17. shagen454 says:

    Yeah, I remember hiding in drawer in the bar on level 1 and loading the room up with pipe bombs waiting for my friend to come looking for me.

    Do you guys remember TEN (Total Entertainment Network)?

    • ansionnach says:

      Yup. Played Duke on it. Might have even tried some of the other games. Can’t remember what they were.

      • shagen454 says:

        They had Dark Sun: Online on there. I was in 5th or 6th grade – can’t really remember if it was actually any good but I loved it at the time.

        • ansionnach says:

          If the Wikipedia article is correct I doubt I played any of the other games. Played a few on the Microsoft game zone – definitely Jedi Knight and Mysteries of the Sith. Compiled a pack of almost all the skins I could find for JK because the game didn’t manage them for you and you wouldn’t see someone else’s skins if you didn’t have them. It was called the Skinjobs JK Skinpack. Should probably see if I can download it from somewhere to see if it works!

    • The_Sleeve says:

      Yep, I used TEN, but I played Duke most often on Kali, which was an IPX network emulator for Windows. Seems like TEN has been gone since 1999, but Kali lives on with an extremely tiny user base.

  18. dethtoll says:

    This article makes up for its arbitrary exclusion in that awful 100 best FPS games list.

  19. Turkey says:

    It was a good showcase for what the build engine could do, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Blood.

  20. April March says:

    I played Duke Nukem 64. And I used a level skip cheat to play most of it, the first level was the only one I could finish ‘honestly’. Surely that counts?

  21. sebagul says:

    I will never forget the secret level with rotating floor, where you experienced coriolis forces. The only game ever to do that, to my knowledge.

    • El Mariachi says:

      Do you mean centripetal/fugal force? It would have to be one hell of a big room to induce perceptible Coriolis forces. (The toilet bowl thing is a myth.)

  22. Jackablade says:

    I made the mistake of starting with Quake. The level design (as opposed to set dressing) felt pretty flaccid in Duke3D when compared to id’s game. I could never put up with it for all that long before the long, meandering, poorly sign posted levels overwhelmed the fun of the weapons and scenery.

    • ansionnach says:

      Miss-posted my reply while on my phone. It’s below. Was very disappointed with Quake for quite a long time until I learned to appreciate it for what it was rather than what it wasn’t. Duke’s gameplay and interactivity is still more to my tastes but I can see how playing one of them first could have it overshadow the other!

  23. mbp says:

    Duke 3D had sublime weapons and disgusting enemies.

    The sublime weapons included a a freeze ray and a shrink ray. Shrink a powerful enemy and they would run mouse like around the floor as you did your best to stomp them with Duke’s aforementioned boot.

    The gross enemies included a fat slob hovering on a saucer that fired rockets out of its butt and the vilest slime things I remember in any game. Get caught by one of these sewer dwelling excrescences and the slime would ooze down over your screen before suffocating you.

  24. ansionnach says:

    Started with Duke and was disappointment with Quake and its lack of interactivity. Rated the level designs in Duke much higher. Don’t agree that they are poorly signposted. They typically placed security cameras to show you when backtracking was required but you were left to it to explore. The levels in Quake seemed a lot more basic. I now appreciate them both and think Quake really shines(!) with its drab, oppressive atmosphere and moments of sheer terror where you suddenly have an ogre in your face… or are dropped into a shambler’s den. Deathmatch was where Quake triumphed and QuakeWorld was the foundation of the competitive FPS. Duke 3d was and is great in co-op, though. In the end I was happy to have bought them both as they were too different to really compare and both did enough things very well to be considered a true classic.

  25. Dachannien says:

    I’ve got one word for you, just one word:

    Laser Trip Mines

  26. waltC says:

    “…After yer Wolfensteins and yer Dooms, DN3D and its engine Build stayed in 2D while others raced towards 3D (the 3D rush was a dark time of many bad games), using new computer muscle to focus on complexity in its faux-3D world.”

    Ah, ha…written as faux recollection which the author is, I judge, far too young to have had…;)

    Actually, “the rush to 3d games” was a lot of fun, IIRC. It was quite a thrill with my trusty 3dfx V1 & 2d-card of choice (Matrox Millenium, among others, if I recall) to see those first on-screen rendered polygons…to be able to walk around objects in 360-degree circles and see them from all sides, etc., instead of static objects seen only from the front.

    “Faux-3d world” is an interesting notion as all television and movies are “faux 3d”, even with stereoscopic effects & the glasses–it’s all a “faux-3d world” isn’t it? (Except for the real world, of course.) “Simulating 3 dimensions (the x,y, & z axis) on a 2-dimensional screen (x & y axis only)” is the way I like to look at it. It’s the z-axis, depth, that is simulated on screen, the “faux” part.

    Anyway, that time was the birth time for all that has come since and even today I still cannot stomach the Duke…;)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      The difference is whether it’s a true 3D space being rendered to the 2D screen or whether it’s a 2D projection being “stretched” and rendered on the screen to give the illusion of 3D space. Sectors are not brushes (poly meshes), they are 2D sleight-of-hand that only looks “correct” from certain angles. 3D Polygon meshes can be rotated along any axis without distortion, allowing for any “camera angle” or relative positioning and rotation possible in the real world.

      That’s the difference.

      The reason why “2.5d” was revolutionary at the time was that realtime poly mesh engines had been around for decades and they all had terrible frame rates. Flight simulators avoided the problem by making accuracy to real-world physics more important than gameplay. Before Quake, everything that tried to have filled polygons and action gameplay at the same time sucked at both, or ran on hardware more advanced (and exponentially more expensive) than retail PCs of the time. Most games that looked not-2D actually cheated in some way, or avoided the problem by pretending plain wireframes were some kind of “futuristic display” instead of anything remotely real. Doom & Build Engine style sector graphics was the best illusion prior to the development of efficient 3D engines and 3D accelerator cards.

      It’s possible that if not for Quake, 2D games and 2.5d fake-3D projection engines might have stayed fashionable for longer. Without a true 3D game like Quake to run on them, there was no point in making 3D graphics cards for the home market (minicomputers good at realtime 3D had been around for a while, but they were super expensive). Without those cards, there was no point in attempting something that wasn’t cheating in some way. It was almost accidental that we ended up with the 3D revolution in the mid-90s instead of early 2000s like most tech geeks were anticipating.

      And that’s why Duke Nukem 3D was so important from a technical perspective. It (and Doom) is basically the missing link between terrible 3D and good 3D, even though, pedantically, it’s not 3D projection at all.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I’m 31, and you’re describing the same novelty of 3D that I talk about, which led to many games only notable for being 3D.

    • ansionnach says:

      Can see how both of you could have reached differing conclusions about this time. As far as I’m concerned I think both of them are true… but many games from back then were more lovable back then than they could be now. Games where the main focus is technology rather than gameplay often suffer. Like Wolf 3d.

      Anyway, not even considering age, you owe the lady an apology.

  27. jgrahl says:

    This game was sweet. I even made some maps for it. This required reading a long text document that outlined how mapmaking worked with it’s editor.

  28. velvetvoulge says:

    This was the first FPS my Dad allowed my to play on our first ever personal computer, with the parental locks on, of course. I had so much fun, and at my age, it was pretty damn scary!

  29. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    A kicking foot? No, the game had TWO kicking feet, one you chose as a weapon, one quick kick button, that you could kick with at the same time while you were still somehow running forward!