Duke Nukem Forever, probably the best known example of vapourware in PC gaming, may now never be completed. Developer 3D Realms has shut down, a company employee has stated.
3D Realms webmaster Joe Siegler told 3D Realms forum members that rumours of the company's closure were "not a marketing thing. It's true".
Certainly, the company's website was down at the time of writing. As yet there's been no official confirmation of the closure, but other firms working on Duke Nukem-related games said they were continuing to do so despite "the situation at 3D Realms". So something's up.
If so, it leaves ongoing Duke Nukem Forever development hanging in the air. But then many Duke fans had given up hope of ever seeing the promised shoot-'em-up anyway.
Duke Nukem Forever was officially announced more than ten years ago - 28 April 1997, to be precise - and panting punters have been on tenterhooks ever since.
The first first-person shooter to challenge Doom's popularity on the PC in the mid-1990s, Duke Nukem 3D gained a legion of fans for its eponymous wisecracking hero and explosive action. It's sequel was pledged to contain better graphics, better gameplay and even more mayhem.
But switches from one 3D engine to another, as new, rival first-person shooters emerged - iD's Quake, Quake II and Quake III; Epic's Unreal and its many sequels - held development back, and fans wondered if the game would ever be released at all.
Only brief snippets of in-game footage have ever been shown, along with occasional mentions of release dates, often later said to have been taken out of context or announced off the record.
It's claimed 3D Realms ran out of cash - publisher Take Two Interactive has said it wasn't funding the game's development despite winning the right to release the title when complete. It said it still owns the game's publication licence.
Will it pick up the tab now? That depends on whether it or anyone else believes the work to date is worth preserving. Hardcore fans will want that to happen, but many more one-time Duke players have long since moved on to other titles, other platforms. ®