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Duke Nukem: Critical Mass

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PSP
Genre: Action
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Apogee Software
Release Date: May 25, 2011

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'Duke Nukem: Critical Mass' (NDS/PSP) Developer Interview

by Adam Pavlacka on May 24, 2009 @ 9:11 a.m. PDT

Concerned that no recon mission has returned from the future, the Earth Defense Force is sending their best man, Duke Nukem to find out what is going on and to bring the team home.

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!

I'm Terry Nagy, and I'm the chief creative officer of Apogee Software.

WP: Duke Nukem Critical Mass is coming out on the PSP and Nintendo DS over the course of three games. Why go mobile with Duke?

TN: It only seemed logical. The reason why we did this is because the install base for the DS and PSP is well over 100 million units. You don't sneeze at those numbers. You can't not make a game as popular as Duke with that kind of install base.

WP: Now, everyone obviously knows the multiple delays/recent drama behind Duke Nukem Forever, but why has it taken so long for any sequels to come out to the original Duke 3D game?

TN: First of all, let me explain that Apogee Software has no association with 3D Realms Entertainment and the Duke Nukem Forever game. That's all I'll say on that.

The name of Apogee Software was mothballed. I approved Scott Miller of 3D Realms, and I licensed the name "Apogee Software," and so we can share the same history without actually having the same history. Apogee Software can still take credit for all of the Apogee Software games from the past, but we have no association with 3D Realms and the projects that 3D Realms has been/is working on.

WP: So we've got the PSP on one side and the DS on the other. Since the games share the same plot and seem to share some of the same features, what are the main differentiators between the two? Obviously the DS has touch, but how do the gameplay experiences really differ between the two platforms?

TN: The DSes are primarily for the side-scroller, 3-D action type of game, and that's the primary action of the game, whereas the PSP is first-person or third-person action, and the entire game can either be played from first-person mode or third-person mode. The Jetpack mode is third-person only, and it's set in a mode to where Duke is always moving forward, but that is going to change to where Duke will be able to hover and explore the entire area within Jetpack mode. It opens up a whole new level design creativity element for the game. Currently, this is still being tested, but it shows the capabilities that we're able to get on the PSP. With the open, expansive areas, we're able to get up to 40 different types of creatures on the screen at one time, which brings back the heyday of the shooter.

WP: That's on the PSP. How many different types of enemies can you get on the DS?

TN: Since it's such a smaller screen, we haven't really tried that out that much, but we have the capability of getting up to four or five different creatures on the screen at the same time, but you have to remember that these are all 3-D models that are on the screen, so on the DS, you're significantly limited with the amount of polish that you can have on the screen at the same time. Our street levels are extremely complex.

WP: And from a graphics standpoint, how difficult is it working on such small screens, compared to, say, a nice high-resolution computer screen or a high definition TV monitor?

TN: Well, it's definitely a challenge. I've been reading online about some of the comments that were recently released in the Game Informer interview, where people were comparing the PSP version right now to what Duke looked like in the 2001 timeframe. Obviously it's challenging, but we're trying to push the hardware to the highest possible effort we can in order to create the best possible graphics we can. On the DS, we're pushing the hardware to the absolute highest. We're pushing it beyond the capabilities of the machine right now.

WP: Since you licensed the Apogee name fairly recently, I take it that you didn't work on the original Duke. What's it like approaching a property that is so well-known, especially from the outside? How did you challenge yourself to make sure that you did it right and treated the property well rather than just making a game with the Duke name?

TN: I was at 3D Realms at the time when we worked on Duke Nukem 3D.

WP: So you were involved with Duke Nukem 3D?

TN: Not as a developer, if you will, but as a beta tester and submitting ideas. Most of my ideas were shelved, obviously. (laughs) Some ideas did come in. I knew Scott Miller and Scott Broussard back in the day when the original Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem 2 came out, so I know the entire history of Duke. Coming up with a good story line that fits the Duke Nukem universe was a challenge, but it was a challenge that I was up to. When I presented it to Scott Miller at 3D Realms, he absolutely loved it. One the surprises is in Proving Grounds; I can't go into it because it is a big surprise, but it's going to be a thrill. When he heard it, he was really excited about it.

WP: Most importantly, will we see the return of the 8-bit strippers?

TN: Well, there are babes to be saved in the games, but 8-bit? Nah, they won't be 8-bit, but there are babes to be saved. We're throwing different types of story elements in that are associated with the babes, and if a babe says something to Duke, he will respond with an appropriate response. One of the things that we also want to make sure that everyone knows is that there's going to be a full soundtrack for the PSP and full voice-overs for the PSP and DS.

WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?

TN: I guess the only thing I'd like to add is that there will be multiplayer modes for both the PSP and the DS. The PSP will be deathmatch, and the DS will be co-op.


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