Duke Nukem Wiki

The Birth is the fourth episode of Duke Nukem 3D. The fourth episode was added to the game as part of the Atomic Edition and contains eleven levels, including one secret level. The final boss is the Alien Queen.

None of these levels were created from scratch. In the 20th anniversary developer commentary, Keith Schuler explains (and Allen 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."

All of the added levels relied heavily on material from maps that were partly completed or scrapped. For example, the level Derelict was nearly finished and fully playable in the December 1994 prototype, making it one of the oldest levels in the game.

It's Impossible

It's Impossible
Designer(s) Randy Pitchford
File name E4L1
Music Missing? Impossible!
Par time 3:04
3D Realms' time 1:32
Enemies 38 - 96
Secrets 7


Duke Burger
Designer(s) Allen Blum
File name E4L2
Music Preparation D
Par time 4:00
3D Realms' time 2:00
Enemies 30 - 67
Secrets 4


Shop In Bag
Designer(s) Richard "Levelord" Gray,
George Broussard note
File name E4L3
Music Baked Goods
Par time 3:30
3D Realms' time 1:45
Enemies 42 - 89
Secrets 7

Babe Land

Babe Land
Designer(s) Allen Blum
File name E4L4
Music Calypso Facto
Par time 6:32
3D Realms' time 3:16
Enemies 45 - 89
Secrets 4


This level contains a secret exit to Area 51.

Designer(s) Richard "Levelord" Gray,
Randy Pitchford note
File name E4L5
Music Lemon Chill
Par time 2:02
3D Realms' time 1:01
Enemies 20 - 45
Secrets 5

Area 51 (Secret Level)

This level is reached via the secret exit on Pigsty.

Designer(s) Randy Pitchford
File name E4L11
Music Restricted Area
Par time 4:20
3D Realms' time 2:10
Enemies 29 - 65
Secrets 7

Going Postal

Postal 1 A
Designer(s) Allen Blum
File name E4L6
Music Pissed Office Box
Par time 3:04
3D Realms' time 1:52
Enemies 26 - 72
Secrets 4


XXX Stacy
Designer(s) Richard "Levelord" Gray,
Keith Schuler note
File name E4L7
Music Warehaus
Par time 1:24
3D Realms' time 0:42
Enemies 16 - 58
Secrets 3

Critical Mass

Critical Mass
Designer(s) Richard "Levelord" Gray,
Keith Schuler note
File name E4L8
Music Layers of Dust
Par time 3:18
3D Realms' time 1:59
Enemies 13 - 42
Secrets 4


Designer(s) Allen Blum
File name E4L9
Music Floghorn
Par time 5:02
3D Realms' time 2:51
Enemies 66 - 180
Secrets 5

The Queen

The boss on this level is the Alien Queen.

Designer(s) Randy Pitchford
File name E4L11
Music Departure
Par time 10:50
3D Realms' time 5:25
Enemies 34 - 91
Secrets 7

Disputed authorship

Authorship of some of the levels in The Birth has been disputed. Specifically, it is known that Richard "Levelord" Gray partially contributed to the episode, but for reasons that are unclear, he was never officially credited for his work on any of the levels.

Initial dispute

The Atomic Edition was published November 27, 1996, but prior to the project's completion, Gray left 3D Realms to co-found Ritual Entertainment. Although the precise date of Gray's departure is unknown, he opened Ritual Entertainment in August 1996, and in the 20th anniversary developer commentary, Gray says he left before Randy Pitchford joined the team, suggesting his departure may have been significantly earlier than August.

Following the commercial release of the Atomic Edition, Gray publicly criticized 3D Realms for neglecting to credit him. He stated that he believes he deserves most of the credit for some of the levels that were attributed to other developers. In particular, Gray claimed that Shop-N-Bag, Pigsty, and XXX-Stacy were mostly his own work, yet these levels were credited to George Broussard, Randy Pitchford, and Keith Schuler, respectively.

In one interview, Gray claimed that XXX-Stacy was "mostly mine" and that Pigsty was "99.44%" his original work. Emphasizing the degree to which Gray felt the latter map was his own work, he added that Pigsty was his favorite creation and that, as far as he could tell, Pitchford merely added the hanging jurors at the end of the level. In another interview, Gray described his fellow developers in extremely vulgar language and stated that, if George Broussard "hadn't screwed it up so much, I'd say that [ Shop-N-Bag ] was mine, too."

Signature on Critical Mass

Following these public statements, some players observed that Gray's signature appears in the top-right corner of the map on Critical Mass. For this reason, players have argued that Gray deserves credit for Critical Mass as well, though Gray has never publicly taken credit for the level.


With the release of LameDuke in early 1997, it was discovered that it was not unusual for the Duke Nukem 3D level designers to repurpose each other's designs without giving each other credit. For example, Gray's Hotel Hell in the final game appeared to have been largely based on Allen Blum's E2L6 from the December 1994 prototype. Other maps attributed to Gray, such as Rabid Transit, also showed striking similarities to maps created by Blum in LameDuke, such as E1L5.

Prototype screenshots

In 2014, Richard "TerminX" Gobeille was given a collection of data from the development of Duke Nukem 3D. In the time since then, he has posted online several screenshots from work-in-progress drafts of the disputed levels. Each of these screenshots depicts the map blueprints at various points during development of the Duke Nukem 3D prototypes.

The screenshots from Pigsty seem to make the strongest case in Gray's favor. Although it is unknown whether any of these iterations were modifications by Pitchford in which he failed to remove Gray's signature, the last two versions clearly show that negligible changes were made when Gray's signature ("SUYT" in the top-right corner) was removed from the map.


Early build of Pigsty


Later build of Pigsty


Last build of Pigsty with Gray's signature


Final build from one month later, where Pitchford replaced Gray's signature with his own (not visible in this screenshot)

The following maps are also believed to have been authored by Gray:


Early build of Shop-N-Bag


Later build of Shop-N-Bag


Early build of XXX-Stacy, titled "El Segundo" in the development files


Later build of XXX-Stacy, which happens to be the last iteration with Gray's signature


Early build of Critical Mass; Gobeille noted that the map has a development history extending back to LameDuke, when Gray had not yet joined the team and Blum was the only full-time level designer

20th anniversary

Despite previously saying he would "never forgive them," Gray appeared to be on friendly terms with the other Duke Nukem 3D developers when he returned for the 20th anniversary. In fact, he collaborated with Pitchford on Bloody Hell, a map featured in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour. His positive relationship with the other developers was further evidenced in the developer commentary.

In the 20th anniversary developer commentary, Schuler claims and Blum concurs that the purpose of the Atomic Edition was to salvage materials that did not make it into the April 1996 release. The two developers further explain that their maps in The Birth were not started from scratch but instead relied heavily on scrapped or unfinished materials that were gathered across the studio. It is unclear in the commentary whether Gray was previously aware of this; elsewhere in the commentary, Gray explains that he left 3D Realms even before Pitchford joined the team, suggesting he may have left before the developers solidified their plans for the Atomic Edition.

Silence during Schuler's commentary

In Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, Schuler leads the developer commentary on XXX-Stacy and Critical Mass, and he takes credit for both levels. Gray, who is audibly present in the room throughout the commentary, is never heard objecting to Schuler's assertions. Although it is possible Gray's objections were cut from the commentary, strong disagreements about the development process were not removed from other parts of the commentary, such as on L.A. Rumble.

Current status

The degree to which the various developers deserve credit for each of the levels remains controversial, but most Duke Nukem fan sites have tended to side with Gray. Some online guides (such as this one) clearly disparage Pitchford's claim to have authored Pigsty, and users in the Duke4 forums frequently express dismay at Gray's mistreatment and hope to play his original versions of the maps someday. Gray has not publicly spoken on the issue since the release of the 20th anniversary developer commentary, but his relationship with the other Duke Nukem developers appears to have improved over time, as evidenced in a one-on-one fireside chat with Gray and Pitchford in 2019.

Duke Nukem 3D
Episodes L.A. MeltdownLunar ApocalypseShrapnel CityThe BirthAlien World Order
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