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Borland Acquired, 3D Realms Rumoured Closed, May 6 is a Sad Day for Software

It has long been joked that Forever would be how long it would take for Duke Nukem Forever to be released. Famous as what is probably the longest running unreleased in-development software title in existence (first announced in 1997), Duke Nukem Forever may have suffered a terminal blow with the reported closure of 3D Realms, the developer of the title-in-waiting and successor to the ever-popular Duke Nukem 3D.

Before fans of the Duke cry in despair, it pays to look at just what is contained in the available news about the supposed closure. All available reports at the time of writing this article cite a single article as the source for this information (linked to above). Links to a claimed announcement on the 3D Realms forums can not be reached and so leave the news as a single source, uncorroborated report.

This doesn't mean that it is untrue, though without the forums to provide at least some sort of corroboration, it is a speculative claim based on private reporting. It is strange that, for news of such magnitude, no formal press release has been issued by either 3D Realms or Take Two, and here, and certainly nothing on the front pages for the companies at this time. Press releases are present that are dated after the apparent leaking of the news, so it is possible that the whole thing is a hoax.

On the other hand, the news may be under a moratorium until a certain time and date and the leak is going to be verified in the near future. 3D Realms, apparently, is still hiring, something that a closed company wouldn't be expected to do.

The soap opera that has been the development of Duke Nukem Forever seems to have taken another plot twist, but at this stage, there is nothing that can definitively be verified. There are many possible responses to all of this. The forums at 3D Realms could have been compromised and false information could have been leaked that way. On the other hand, with a slow economy, it isn't out of the realm of reality that a sudden closure of the company has taken place.

It may be that Shacknews have got one of the biggest scoops of gaming history, but until open reporting emerges that doesn't cite the Shacknews article as its only source (even the forums at 3D Realms should be regarded as a tertiary source, at best), the reaction of gamers around the world are going to have to hang in the balance. Even the Wikipedia entries for 3D Realms and Duke Nukem Forever have been updated to report the closure as fact, based solely on the Shacknews article.

For some, the news that Borland has been acquired by Micro Focus might be of more immediate importance, coming at the same time as the apparent closure of 3D Realms.

If the 3D Realms news is true, then it makes the 6th of May a sad day for the history of modern computing. Borland, a stalwart provider of development tools (Turbo Pascal and Turbo C will be either fond or hated memories for many developers) and consumer software (Quattro Pro, dBase) from the early 1980s and 1990s is now no longer an independent entity, though the name may live on in some way. 3D Realms, the evolution of the original Apogee gaming company from the early 1990s, likewise is bound to be remembered fondly for the milestone titles that it did release, Duke Nukem 3D and Max Payne chief amongst them.

It would seem that 3D Realms could be all out of gum.

7 May 2009

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