Duke Nukem 3D

From DoomWiki.org

Cover image of Duke Nukem 3D.

Duke Nukem 3D is a first-person shooter developed by 3D Realms and released by GT Interactive Software on January 29, 1996. It is a sequel to the platform games Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II, published by 3D Realms. Along with an official expansion pack, known as Plutonium Pack, several third party expansion packs were also released. The game has been ported to several platforms, some of which include new levels and/or major changes in the gameplay.

The story features the protagonist Duke Nukem fighting against an alien race. Along with Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, Duke Nukem 3D is considered responsible for popularizing first-person shooters. It uses the same basic gameplay dynamic from Doom, although the atmosphere of the game is different: Duke Nukem 3D incorporates a fair amount of crude adult humor and sexuality mixed in with a variety of environments, ranging from realistic urban areas to space stations.


Duke Nukem 3D is the third entry in the Duke Nukem franchise, following Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II, which were 2D platformer games for MS-DOS developed and published by Apogee Software. Duke Nukem 3D took the series into the third dimension as a first-person shooter, pitting the eponymous main character fighting against an invading alien race dubbed Cycloids, monstrous beings who have begun overrunning much of the Earth as well as space stations in and around the Moon. The game followed a similar structure as the original Doom, with three unique episodes (the first of which being shareware) that can be selected from the main menu: L.A. Meltdown, Lunar Apocalypse, and Shrapnel City.

While Doom and Duke Nukem 3D feature similar technology, Duke Nukem 3D could in most respects be considered technically superior. The player can jump, crouch, and aim vertically. The rendering engine features slopes, overlapping and moving sectors, arbitrary scaling of textures and strong scripting capabilities. Most of the game behavior is stored in external script files (dubbed .CON files) which can be modified to change almost any feature of the game. The registered version of the game came with an editor, Build, which included a 3D editor mode. Build is also the name of the game engine which powers Duke Nukem 3D, an engine originally created by Ken Silverman and first released in 1994 which powered a number of other first-person shooter games, such as Shadow Warrior, PowerSlave and Blood. The Build engine utilizes portal rendering to display the game world, in a way similar to the earlier alpha versions of Doom, but differing significantly from the finished version of Doom which utilized BSP for faster performance.

Duke Nukem 3D was followed by an expansion pack, the Plutonium Pack, which was later bundled in the re-release for the main game dubbed Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition. In this version, a new episode is included (The Birth), bringing the total up to four, as well as seeing the addition of a new weapon and several new enemy types. More content for Duke Nukem 3D would be released over the years, including: an additional episode (Plug n' Pray) exclusive to the Sony PlayStation version of the game, a new episode (Alien World Order) exclusive to the 2016 re-release of the game, as well as numerous officially licensed expansion packs, notably Duke It Out in D.C., Life's a Beach and Nuclear Winter.

References to Doom[edit]

The E1L3 secret featuring a dead Doomguy
  • A reference to Doom is included in Duke Nukem 3D. E1L3 contains a church. Standing in front of the cross at the front of the church, there is a switch. Pressing this gives a red tint to the room while the horizontal bar of the cross lowers until it appears to be fully inverted. Smashing the left stained glass window reveals a secret passageway, that may contain an Octobrain. Walking down the passageway, a slaughtered marine can be seen, after which Duke comments, "Hmmm... That's one doomed space marine."
  • This scene was parodied in the computer game Blood — in the carnival level, a hidden room behind the tight-rope showroom contains a mutilated Duke Nukem hanging from a chain. Caleb immediately says "I've got time to play with YOU!". Actioning Duke swings the chain as Caleb utters, "uhh, shake it baby!"
  • In Sunsoft's unofficial add-on Nuclear Winter, one area of the level "Land of Forgotten Toys" is a parody of Doom's E1M1, complete with a sign reading "This Building Condemned". The player is teleported to that area and cannot access any other rooms with the exception of jumping out the windows next to the armor pedestal, where an important yellow card, a teleporter back to the rest of the level, and some dead Doom marines can be found.
  • A special utility to convert Doom-based WAD files into a format playable by the Build engine, WAD2MAP, was included on the Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition CD. The program itself is currently available on various websites.


Much like Doom and Doom II before it, Duke Nukem 3D also saw the establishment of a rather large and prolific modding scene which, while never managing to reach the output quantity that Doom has seen, has produced a wide variety of custom maps and mods of various types, starting in 1996 and continuing to this day. Unlike Doom, Duke Nukem 3D came bundled with its own map editor, Build by Ken Silverman, which allowed people to immediately try their hand at designing a level as soon as the game was released, whereas it took some time for map editors for Doom to be released publicly. In a similar manner to what happened with Doom, Duke Nukem 3D's source code was eventually publicly released under the GPL on April 1, 2003. This led to the porting of the game to multiple systems and the appearance of advanced source ports which are used to play the game today: among these are EDuke32 and Raze.

Historically, the terminology for Duke Nukem 3D mods has been slightly different to that of Doom. Single maps are generally referred to as "usermaps" (typically lone files distributed as .MAP files with an accompanying .txt), whereas what would be referred to as episode replacements in the Doom community are instead traditionally called "total conversions" in the Duke Nukem 3D modding scene. That can be the case even where the new episodes feature little in the way of new graphics or custom behavior, a sight which is nonetheless common in many Duke3D maps due to the ease of modding of the .CON files with which the game shipped, where new actors can easily be defined and already existing behavior modified in several ways.

For a list of websites covering Duke Nukem 3D mods, see the following:

  • Resources for Total Conversions and Modifications, established by Corvin in 1998, it contains numerous reviews, spotlights and interviews on many historically important Duke Nukem 3D mods. It also has coverage for other Build engine games.
  • MSDN, established by Mikko Sandt in 1999, it contains reviews and news on Duke Nukem 3D maps and mods, including upcoming maps.
  • Arrovf Nukem, hosted by Alejandro Arroyo (Arrovf), this website is available in both English and Spanish and contains links for over 1800 Duke Nukem 3D maps, many with reviews by Arrovf.

Impact on Doom[edit]


  • The Doom II megawad, Memento Mori II, released six months after Duke Nukem 3D, contains some references to this game. The first appears in the mission briefing for MAP04: Ratamahatta, in the form of an ill-fated scout named "Duck Nukem." The second, and more famous one, is in the level itself, where the player eventually arrives at Duck Nukem's grave. The last is in the mission briefing for MAP18: Regulate, featuring an equally ill-fated scout named "Ken BUILDerman," whose name is a reference to Ken Silverman, programmer of the Build engine.
  • A Doom conversion of Duke Nukem 3D's E1L1 theater has been made using new textures and music[1].
  • The mod DN3DooM adapts Duke Nukem elements into the Doom engine, based on the earlier Duke Nukem 3D Weapons and Aliens v6 mod.[1][2][3]
  • The mod Duke It Out In Doom replaces Doomguy with Duke Nukem.[4]
  • The Blood TC (an attempt to port the Monolith game Blood to the Doom engine)[2] contains the dead Duke Nukem in the port of the carnival level.
  • The extensive ZDoom-based mod Knee-Deep in ZDoom contains a dead Duke Nukem shoved into a barrel of toxic waste in Z1M3: Toxin Refinery. The text "Hmm, that's one nuked Duke!" appears on the screen when the player approaches, obviously a parody of E1L3: Death Row where Duke sees the marine's corpse and says "Hmm, that's one Doomed space marine!".
  • The ZDoom source port itself was strongly influenced by BUILD and used code from it for math functions, slopes, voxels, and other miscellaneous features. Some of this code was removed before the port became GPL-licensed, while remaining portions were granted an exception by Ken Silverman.
  • The Raze source port is the equivalent of GZDoom for the BUILD engine games, using bits of code from various BUILD source ports (including Duke Nukem 3D source ports like JFDuke3D and EDuke32) and backed by GZDoom tech.
  • A TC known as Duke Meets Doom is made for Duke Nukem 3D.
  • Another TC known as Hellduke TC is based on Doom.
  • The Samsara and Quake Champions: Doom Edition modifications for Zandronum feature Duke Nukem as a playable character.[5]
  • The soundtrack from Duke Nukem 3D, made by Bobby Prince and Lee Jackson, has been reused in Doom mods such as Alien Vendetta, Community Chest 3, Epic, Epic 2, Hellbound, Kama Sutra, Return to Hadron, etc.


  • The library in the Fortress of Doom features a book entitled "Why I'm So Great Pt. II" by "Dork Norkem". The platform game Duke Nukem II started with Duke in a TV show, presenting his book "Why I'm So Great" and telling his exploits from his first game.


  • One of the imp alert sounds is also used for the Sentry Drone in Duke Nukem 3D (DSBGSIT1 and SNAKRG.VOC respectively).
  • One of the ettin idles is also used for aliens in Duke Nukem 3D (CENT2 and ROAM58.VOC respectively).

External links[edit]


  1. Papadopoulos, John (7 October 2020). "Duke Nukem 3D Total Conversion Mod for Doom Version 1.06 Released." DSOGaming. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  2. Blondeau, Bella (8 October 2020). "Doom Nukem? Modder Brings Duke To Doom." TheGamer. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  3. Reuben, Nic (7 October 2020). "Duke Nukem while you Doom with this crossover mod." PCGamesN. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  4. Johnson, Leif (7 March 2016). "Playing as Duke Nukem in 'Doom II' Is Fun As Hell." Vice. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  5. Staff (5 November 2013). "Blasting Through Doom’s Levels As Duke Nukem? There’s A Mod For That." Kotaku Australia. Retrieved 10 May 2024.