Mere minutes after we received a whispered tip from a hooded figure soothsaying the news, Shacknews are reporting that 3D Realms has closed shop. The twenty-two year old developer apparently suffered funding issues, according to Shacknews' similarly anonymous source, and staff from the company have been let go.
One of the greats, developing games since 1986 (under the name Apogee at that point), alongside id they were the progenitors of much that makes PC gaming great.
Unfortunately, 3D Realms became more famous over the last decade for what they didn't release, rather than anything they did. The infamously vaporous Duke Nukem Forever became an industry gag during its thirteen years of alleged development, with the company apparently scrapping and restarting the project multiple times. But while it's fun to dig out magazines from 1997 featuring previews of the long-awaited shooter, it's not fair to let that be 3DR's legacy.
Only yesterday they were celebrating the 17th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D - a game they'd published as Apogee, working alongside id in creating one of the most important PC games of all. Their own Duke Nukem 3D went on to reinvent the potential for the first-person shooter, creating destructible environments, and multiple pathways through levels. It's still utterly playable today.
They went on to work with Remedy on both Max Payne games, and with Human Head on Prey, all the while promising that Duke Nukem Forever. New footage of DNF appeared in June last year, then new screenshots in September. But of course this had been part of a repeating pattern, with the game allegedly ditched each time a new generation of FPS engines appeared from other developers.
Who knows where DNF lies now. Rumours were always floating around that the game existed in a playable form, and potential publishers 2K may well have some ability to swoop in and rescue whatever there is. It would be a great shame if the legendary game should officially disappear so ignominiously.
Shacknews reports that this will not affect either Deep Silver nor the recently revived Apogee Software publishers, which means the DS and PSP Duke Nukem Trilogy should still go ahead. Presumably there will be much more news in the morning. Oh, and our tipster would be very upset if we didn't point out that DNF now stands for "Did Not Finish".