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Floating commentary icon

The 20th anniversary developer commentary is a special feature included in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour. Game developers Randy Pitchford, Allen H. Blum III, Richard "Levelord" Gray, Keith Schuler, and Roger Kort contributed to the commentary.

The commentary is accessible via floating microphone icons scattered throughout the levels. When the icons are activated, a snippet of recorded audio will begin playing. There are 206 such snippets in the game, but an additional 30 audio clips can be found in the game's files.

The in-game commentary can be toggled on or off using the in-game menu.

Locations

There are 206 snippets of developer commentary scattered throughout the game. An additional 30 unused audio clips can be found in the game's files.

Identifying developers' voices

Except for Roger Kort, the developers are never explicitly introduced. However, there are many clues throughout the commentary that allow the player to connect each voice with a name.

Randy Pitchford

Playing through the game in sequential order, Randy Pitchford's voice is the first voice heard in the developer commentary. He can be heard introducing the 20th Anniversary Edition in the commentary near the starting locations on Hollywood Holocaust and High Times. As the other developers note, he is curiously missing from the commentary on his own level, It's Impossible.

Allen H. Blum III

Playing through the game in sequential order, Allen Blum's voice is the second voice heard in the developer commentary. He and Richard Gray are the only developers to speak on every single level with commentary. He is easily identified on Hollywood Holocaust during the commentary near the beginning at the bottom of the ventilation shaft and beneath the bridge to the exit button. These are points at which the other developers indicate that his voice corresponds to the creator of the level. On Faces of Death, he also identifies his portrait with his name beneath it on one of the walls.

Richard "Levelord" Gray

Playing through the game in sequential order, Richard Gray's voice is the third voice heard in the developer commentary. His voice is much deeper and burlier than the other developers', making him particularly easy to identify. He first speaks on Hollywood Holocaust, but he and Blum subsequently speak on every single level with commentary.

Keith Schuler

Playing through the game in sequential order, Keith Schuler's voice is the fourth voice heard in the developer commentary. Although he is first heard on Hollywood Holocaust, he does not speak very often until The Birth. He is most talkative on his own levels, XXX-Stacy and Critical Mass.

Roger Kort

Playing through the game in sequential order, Roger Kort's voice is the last voice heard in the developer commentary. His voice is first clearly audible in front of the Blue Access Card panel on L.A. Rumble, when he quickly interjects to ask the other developers where 3D Realms was originally headquartered. He explicitly introduces himself halfway through Bloody Hell.

Highlights

About the developers

  • Roger Kort is a new developer from Nerve Software who ported Duke Nukem 3D to a modern first-person shooter engine for the 20th Anniversary Edition.
  • It is repeatedly noted throughout the commentary that the original 1996 developers vary in their ability to recall details from the game.
    • Richard "Levelord" Gray was the most forgetful and frequently expressed dismay at how much he failed to recall. For example, he could not remember what the message "Under The Knife" was meant to convey on L.A. Rumble and was apparently unable to locate the secret compartment in the next room.
    • Keith Schuler occasionally expressed forgetfulness as well. For example, the other developers corrected him when he incorrectly stated that East Town Towers on L.A. Rumble was the name of a mall in Garland, Texas.
    • Randy Pitchford came across as relatively more knowledgeable. He could remember many obscure details from the development process, and he was the only one who was aware of differences between the Nintendo 64 version and the PC version of the game. The latter information was unknown even to Blum, who had never seen any of the levels in Duke Nukem 64.
    • Allen Blum was generally the most knowledgeable. In the commentary, he reveals that he had played through the game in preparation for the commentary, and he had previously studied every level of the game when planning his maps for the new Alien World Order episode. Historically, he says he was also assigned to playtest every level of the game on the hardest difficulty before the 1996 release, which took him many days and gave him motion sickness.
  • The developers credited George Broussard with many of the game's politically incorrect elements. Although they cannot recall who proposed the sign above the movie theater on Hollywood Holocaust or the sexually explicit concepts on XXX-Stacy, the developers all believe Broussard to be the most likely culprit, as he was apparently prone to adding those sorts of elements to the game.
  • Gray lives with his family in Russia. As a fluent speaker of Russian, he wrote jokes in Russian on all the signs and posters on Red Ruckus, and he included many Easter eggs that are only recognizable to his family and friends back home.

Development history

  • The developers mention Doom 11 times across 6 different levels. Doom was highly influential in the development of Duke Nukem 3D, and many features of the game were included solely because the developers wanted Duke Nukem to be better than Doom.
  • Blum was an early member of the team. He designed most, if not all, of the maps in LameDuke, and he explicitly acknowledges that several of his maps in Duke Nukem 3D began as subsections of E1L6 from LameDuke.
  • Gray was a late addition to the team. He had no involvement in LameDuke, and he remembers that Blum was working on Lunar Apocalypse when he arrived.
  • The sequence of levels in the game does not reflect the chronological sequence of their development. For example, Derelict was one of the first levels Blum designed, and a late draft of the level is playable as E3L2 of LameDuke from December of 1994.
  • Unlike the levels in Alien World Order, many of the levels in the first four episodes of the game were deliberately stripped-down so that they could be rendered at an acceptable frame rate on the computer hardware available at the time. In particular, the main street on Hollywood Holocaust was initially much more detailed. Most other levels were designed with these limitations in mind.

Specific levels

"Hm. Yeah? Weird."

  • L.A. Rumble originally included a replica of the offices of id Software, and the player was able to detonate the entire floor of offices.
  • Compared to other levels in the game, the developers were much more rushed to finish the levels in Shrapnel City because they needed to finish in time for the release date.
  • At the very end of development, the developers hurried to add more content to the first few levels of L.A. Meltdown in order to make a stronger first impression.
  • All of the levels from The Birth relied heavily on materials from older maps that had been partly completed or scrapped. None of the levels were started from scratch. This is made clear when Schuler says (and Blum agrees):

"I don’t think I did either [ XXX-Stacy or Critical Mass ] from scratch. I mean, that was how Plutonium PAK worked, right? It was all a bunch of content that either didn’t make it into the original game or, you know, had been started but not finished. And so we just took all those scraps, and we finished them up."

  • Gray admits that one of the bathrooms on Red Ruckus is a modified copy-and-paste from It's Impossible.
  • Blum based large sections of his Alien World Order maps on real-world locations. Specifically, the layout of the underground puzzles and the outdoor maze on Mirage Barrage were based on photos of ancient ruins. In addition, the outdoor and indoor portions of the building at the end of Golden Carnage are meant to be an exact replica of Fort Point in San Francisco.
  • Because the auto-aim feature affects the "use" action, some switches and Access Card panels are difficult to use while the auto-aim feature is enabled. In the commentary, Allen Blum tells Roger Kort that the bug impacted his approach to level design for Alien World Order. In particular, he was forced to use a "shootable" switch on the boat on Golden Carnage because he could not get other types of switches to work in that location.
  • Gray began Prima Arena as a multiplayer-only map. It was initially possible to travel between the upper and lower levels of the arena using an elevator at one end of the hallway or by blowing through a crack in the floor at the other end. These were later scrapped because they would have broken the flow of gameplay during singleplayer.
Duke Nukem 3D
Episodes L.A. MeltdownLunar ApocalypseShrapnel CityThe BirthAlien World Order
Weapons Mighty FootPistolShotgunChaingun CannonRPGPipe BombShrinkerExpanderDevastatorLaser TripbombFreezethrowerIncinerator
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