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3D Realms' Ion Maiden Revealed, Runs on Duke3D.exe's Build Engine

3D Realms is reviving the engine that Duke Nukem 3D was built on. What a time to be alive.

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Shackers may still be debating if the Duke Nukem franchise is ready for a reboot, but 3D Realms clearly thinks it is time for another game built of Duke Nukem 3D's Build Engine. The company has announced Ion Maiden with a brand new trailer showing off all the "hand-crafted pixelated glory". Please take a look.

Check out the official PR statement:


Welcome to ION MAIDEN!

Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison earned her nickname as a bomb disposal expert for the Global Defense Force. When transhumanist cult mastermind Dr. Jadus Heskel unleashes a cybernetic army on Neo DC, Shelly decides it’s time to start chucking bombs rather than defusing them. Her journey will leave trails of blood and gore in huge, multi-path levels filled with those famous colorful keycards and plenty of secrets and Easter Eggs to discover behind every corner. Order Ion Maiden now, and get access to the exclusive preview campaign TODAY!


It remains to be seen if this game will live up to the hype, but Shackers who enjoy games that run on Build Engine may want to give this game a shot. Ion Maiden is available now on Steam. It is also for sale with no DRM at 3D Realms official website. The game is priced at $19.99 but is on sale until March 7 for $17.99.

Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    February 28, 2018 8:00 AM

    Asif Khan posted a new article, 3D Realms' Ion Maiden Revealed, Runs on Duke3D.exe's Build Engine

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:09 AM

      I feel like they're a little late for this but at the same time I'm kind of interested at seeing whether 3D Realms can put out anything worth playing.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 8:17 AM

        The new episode in the Duke Nukem World Tour was pretty solid and it used some new tricks in the Build engine. I know this isn't the same thing (Gearbox hired the "original episode designers" for the new episode, this Ion Maiden game presumably doesn't feature the original designers but the original company, in name at least) but it could have potential.

        Maybe there's something to be said for the idea that when you know the tech already you can just use it to make an awesome game.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 8:19 AM

          I imagine it's basically pennies on the dollar dev cost and time wise. Throw a little marketing muscle behind it and they will probably make a decent profit on under 100k copies sold.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:00 AM

        3D Realms is a Danish company now. The dudes that made the ROTT remake bought the company.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:10 AM

      OK so they tried to make a new Duke Nukem game and got shut down by Gearbox (no idea what they were thinking since Gearbox owns the Duke IP but maybe they thought they still had the right to do one more game or something)

      Now they're going to get shut down by Bruce Dickinson.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:16 AM

      THIS LOOKS AWESOME.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:19 AM

      It looks good. I hope it delivers.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:22 AM

      Interesting

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:24 AM

      So it's a prequel to http://store.steampowered.com/app/353190/Bombshell/ ?

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:02 AM

      This...actually...seems interesting.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:03 AM

      Fuck it, I'm buying. I want to support this kind of stuff. Making new BUILD engines is a great idea and something we need more of!

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:09 AM

        I really wish they'd make more expansions for Duke 3D...the new one in World Tour was great. I'd definitely pay $20 every 6-9 months for a new one if they could crank them out at that level of quality :(

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:03 AM

      Fucking bought!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:05 AM

      Looks like it will be cool for approximately 1 entire level. Build is ancient technology, I can't imagine it being compelling in 2018 for more than an hour or so.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:06 AM

        I still love replaying Duke3d campaigns. You crazy!

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 9:08 AM

          Remember our Duke3D Shackbattle? That was fun!

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 9:09 AM

          How much of that is nostalgia. I like Duke3D as much as the next guy but I recognize the genre has made a lot of critical strides in the past 20 years.

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 9:22 AM

            I think the gameplay of Duke3D is better than a ton of modern shooters. Level design is also excellent. Games could learn from My Buddy Duke.

            • reply
              February 28, 2018 9:27 AM

              Ok I'll press you on that. What modern shooter has gameplay worse than Duke3D? They didn't even have first person control figured out, no mouselook. I think even some piece of crap like Aliens: Colonial Marines probably controls infinitely better than Duke did. And even in the "no-mouselook" realm of shooters I think Doom is way more fun to the modern gamer with its emphasis on dodging projectiles.

              Again don't get me wrong Duke3D was a formative part of my childhood but no way in hell am I gonna play much more than Hollywood Holocaust if I wanna go back and take a nostalgia hit. It was great for its time and that time was 1996.

              • reply
                February 28, 2018 9:35 AM

                I guess I mean the rail-shooter nature of COD games. You rarely have to backtrack.

                • reply
                  February 28, 2018 9:38 AM

                  In terms of level design and specifically the COD games we are absolutely agreed, Duke 3Ds levels are way more interesting.

                • reply
                  February 28, 2018 9:51 AM

                  I don't mind some backtracking here and there but the labyrinth style of maps used in DOOM and Duke3D are definitely are not my jam. Running around the same room 20 times trying to find the hidden doorway is not fun.

                  I played Quake for the first time a few years back and found the map deign to be far better. There was some exploration and backtracking needed but the map layouts themselves were not confusing to navigate.

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 9:28 AM

            Take the Brutal Doom campaign. It's all 90s level design and the of the best shooters I've recently played. It's so much fun.

            • reply
              February 28, 2018 10:23 AM

              Its built on a proper balance of monsters/weapons gunplay, doom is fundamentally sound, brilliant even. Duke3d isnt, its gimmicky, derivative and 90's in a bad way, it would have been interesting to see how the genre evolved with the more interactive direction duke went in 2,5d vs the full 3d post quake and the barren polygon limited worlds for the next 7 years following (though again quake is still better and has aged better as well just like doom).

              This looks like something that’s should have been released in that window of time and maybe its cool but I wouldn’t bring up duke3d to champion it.

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 10:10 AM

            A fun game is a fun game

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:13 AM

        Wet blanket alert!

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 10:04 AM

        People like shitty 8 bit graphics they will like this too

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 10:08 AM

        Why not? I've played new Doom levels in the past year that were fantastic.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 10:28 AM

          Its amazing what these people manage to wring out of the game. If they would recruit mappers/modders for a game on a source engine I would love that. It really needs someone who understands how to design a map, enemy placement, pacing weapons/ammo limitations and the cacowards every years show off the talent pool available.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:09 AM

      Uhhhh....H0LY FEEK!!!!!!!!!!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:16 AM

      If you BUILDTM it, they will CUM.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:18 AM

      (Also AITOO who is disappointed that it's not IRON Maiden? Blasting my way as Eddie through Egyptian tombs and padded cells and Stukka-filled skies would have been great).

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:24 AM

        I would appreciate that as an apology for Ed Hunter

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:40 AM

        Has there ever been a good Iron Man game? :(

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          February 28, 2018 11:23 AM

          Invincible Iron Man was pretty good on. GBA, but it was way too fucking short. Really bummed that the two console games based on the movies were as underwhelming as they were, because the Captain America game was fucking legit (aside from the framerate)

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 11:05 AM

        I was singing ... Run to the Hills ... as I read this

    • Zek
      reply
      February 28, 2018 9:27 AM

      I'm all for retro games, but using an ancient engine for it sounds like a publicity stunt. Surely you could more easily build the exact same thing from scratch in Unity or something.

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        February 28, 2018 9:58 AM

        It wouldn't have the same feel. The movement in the Build engine is a thing unto itself, I'm afraid.

        • Zek
          reply
          February 28, 2018 10:59 AM

          Difficult to replicate perhaps, not impossible, but much in the same way 2D indie games don't actually obey the limitations of the SNES - does it really matter? Very few people truly have a flawless memory of the gameplay feel of their beloved classics, let alone actually prefer it that way.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 10:37 AM

        They already made a game with this character using Unreal 4 and it doesn't look like it did too well. Hell I never heard of it till it was posted up above.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:38 AM

      Day 1 purchase.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:42 AM

      Ok that is pretty awesome they are reusing the Build Engine!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:42 AM

      Is that Jen Taylor voicing Bombshell?

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 9:59 AM

      I eagerly await some early feedback on this.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:04 AM

      Sure, why not

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:05 AM

      YO THIS LOOKS FUCKING SICK SIGN ME UP

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:07 AM

      I can't wait to load my VESA driver got this!!!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:08 AM

      Has 3D realms ever made a game for Windows?

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        February 28, 2018 10:26 AM

        I thought you were being sarcastic but then it occurs to me that that's a tricky question actually. It depends on what you mean by 3D Realms because they've farmed out a bunch of their development over the years.

        Like, if you consider 3D Realms the developer (as in, no other companies involved) the old Build engine games were DOS originally. Duke Nukem Forever was in the works for Windows for many years but 3DR stopped development and laid off all their employees before it could be finished, Gearbox goes on to finish it along with Triptych, which was a bunch of 3DR staff and I don't think exists anymore.

        Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project was on Windows but they farmed out that to another studio. Looks like they did the XBLA port though.

        Looks like the Megaton Edition of Duke Nukem 3D was on Windows but besides being after the DNF layoff era, looks like even that was farmed out to a developer called General Arcade

        Prey 2006 was on Windows, and preceded the DNF layoff, but again it was outsourced, this time to Human Head Studios.

        So the answer I guess is: it depends on where you want to draw the line but in general it's true that 3D Realms' heyday as a first party developer was during the DOS era.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 11:18 AM

          Ok so I’m right? 3D realms never once released a game for Windows

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 12:08 PM

            3D Realms as in the development team in Garland, TX, yes, you are correct.

            3D Realms as in the company that farmed out development of IP to others is a different story.

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 12:11 PM

            Also the gameplay video I showed below indicates they technically farmed this game out too. Wikipedia says 3DR has like seven people total working for it now and while a Build engine game in 2018 probably doesn’t require a ton of resources, it probably still makes sense to farm it out.

            So it’s possible that if 3DR never develops another game directly themselves then they’ll never have developed a game for Windows, ever.

            Although interestingly it looks like this game supports Linux of all things.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:08 AM

      People here will get it and then complain it's too old school for them.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 10:36 AM

        There's some gameplay footage here

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oRDgts3uTs

        It'll be interesting to see where they draw the lne. Like, it looks like they've upgraded the engine with higher resolutions, more color depth, things like the on-screen weapon being high quality, etc. but it's still very much a build engine game.

        It occurs to me it would be interesting to see what the evolution of game engines would have looked like if for some reason developers just kept going on the same engine and codebase instead of periodically starting over. Like, maybe we would have still eventually gotten to Unreal or id Tech level graphics but the path might have been different.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 11:12 AM

          I was thinking it looked a bit like the gameplay from Blood, especially with the grenades taking place of the dynamite. That preview just reinforced my thinking, which is excellent, as Blood felt great.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:31 AM

      I wish i never lost all the build maps i made back in the day. Id love to mess around with all of those.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 10:41 AM

        Are they on FileShack?

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 10:43 AM

          I wish man. This was when i was like 14 or 15. Im 35 lol

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 10:48 AM

            Did you make dhouse? Cuz that map 0wned!

            • reply
              February 28, 2018 12:06 PM

              At first I was thinking that was the complex carnival funhouse map with a tram used for the funhouse cars but it's "Dave's House" which when I saw it, I remembered, because of course I played that map; looking back I probably at least glanced at half of all Duke maps made/hosted prior to 1998.

              I'm also kind of annoyed at the inability to start a multiplayer game without a second player for map testing (even in Megaton and World Tour, not that you can use .map files for multiplayer in World Tour) and am now remembering how I used another computer that could barely run the game to act as a multiplayer dummy.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 11:05 AM

        Yeah I definitely made a bunch of shit in Build when I was like 9 or 10 years old. I would absolutely love to be able to look at that trash again.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 11:20 AM

        absolutely. my entire high school career was spent making levels in build and porting all the other build game's textures into Duke.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 1:37 PM

          Did you make your house and other real places? That must be like why kids love minecraft nowadays.

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 1:44 PM

            Minecraft and BUILD both hit that sweet spot of "spend dozens of hours building cool shit"

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 3:55 PM

            I had delusions of grandeur that I could create a 32 level single player 'total conversion' with my own two hands. Was really copping off of Quake's moving through time with portals...I thought it was some hot shit but it's probably more because Shadow Warrior's outdoor textures were off the hook.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 4:04 PM

        Me too. I had a lot of fun with the Build engine.

        I remember downloading other maps and being inspired. Some people really pushed the engine to its limits.

        I also waited forever for the Starship Troopers TC.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:47 AM

      Nice. Wish I could get it in that cool box...kinda miss big boxes with great art.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 12:15 PM

        This company makes physical editions of indie games

        https://store.theindiebox.com/

        I think originally they did the cardboard boxes but it looks like there’s DVD or Blu-Ray style cases now, plus some special edition stuff. Maybe they’ll do a Ion Maiden release at some point. Also they had a Loot Crate style subscription thing but it’s been discontinued.

        Also there’s some company that puts indie games in Steelbook cases and they sell at GameStop.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:59 AM

      Wonder if they are using an eduke32 based engine or something in house? Does 3drealms own the rights and assets for Megaton still? I know the rights to that were pretty messed up so I wonder if they ended up with it somehow. If so I'd bet they are using its eduke fork which would be alright.

      I don't really see 3drealms putting the work into a modernization of the vanilla engine so I'd be really surprised if it's not eduke based.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 11:00 AM

      I was thinking why this seemed so familiar, is this a sequel to "bombshell"? Did that one ever get released properly? Previews were brutal on that iso shooter and wasn’t there some kind of a lawsuit around it because it was supposed to be a duke nukem game? (destruction or something?).

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 11:01 AM

      I mean it's not like they know how to use a modern game engine so this makes sense.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 11:19 AM

      That trailer made me wanna play shadow warrior

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 2:15 PM

      Early going, but so far this is excellent. It's so much better than Strafe, DUSK, and the rest of the 90s throwbacks. It actually feels and plays like an old Dallas FPS.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 3:15 PM

      Sweet, briefcase duder used Duke3d.exe’s proper name.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 3:46 PM

      I picked it up and played some. High quality build game with some things I don't think I've seen before like an elevator with glass on the sides so you can actually see it coming down before it arrives. Fun shooting and weapons. I like how the shotgun is almost animated exactly like the Duke 3D shotgun, and that is because it was already perfect.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 4:06 PM

        Does a lot of the assets feel similar to Duke? I wouldn't be surprised if they used reference art from the original game and essentially just painted on top of it.

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 4:19 PM

          It's unmistakably a build game which I think causes some things to look pretty similar? Things that look the same are the explosion effects, props like the chairs, destroyed buildings. The level design upfront has a real Duke 3D vibe versus other build games I think. But the textures all around don't feel reused imo. You can tell they're trying to take what they have the license to use (bombshell) and essentially make a new Duke 3D game in a new world with very much the same ideas. Lots of quips, key cards, similar weapons, level design. I haven't played much yet though!

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 8:09 PM

            You just fucking convinced me.

            Maybe if we all buy it, they'll port it to switch.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 4:18 PM

      So buying this.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 4:21 PM

      Is there ultrawide support? Multiplayer?

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 4:58 PM

        This worked in utlrawide for the most part for me. The menu didn't use the whole screen. In game it uses the whole screen, but in some cases it doesn't render 100% right. In any case I will be playing in windowed mode going forward, it was making me a bit nauseous to play full screen, not sure why.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 5:11 PM

        No multiplayer...yet!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 4:29 PM

      I'd think doing low-fi games like this would allow overhead for some really impressive AI?

      I miss Half-Life / FEAR type AI...

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 4:31 PM

      OMG this game is soooooooo good. If you ever enjoyed Duke3d in your life, you should get this.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 5:08 PM

      If you guys like/love this, get Dusk too! http://store.steampowered.com/app/519860/DUSK/

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 5:09 PM

      OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS SHIT

      Just played the first level. It's fucking HUGE. It told me I had 18 secrets left to find when I found the exit (naturally, I didn't leave just yet). The music is great. The sound effects are fantastic. I like the character. The game looks amazing. I'M RUNNING OUT OF SUPERLATIVES HERE.

      CrustaR! Br0! You try this yet? It 0wns your arse!

      I only noticed one problem, occasional stuttering (especially during autosaving). Aside from that it's remarkably solid for early access, especially given the engine it's running on.

      This is what Duke Nukem Forever should have been. It feels like a gift for those of us who were let down by DNF.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 7:45 PM

        Finished a big chunk of level 2. It just keeps getting better. The guns feel and sound SO GOOD. Fuck the wait for the full version is gonna be rough.

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 6:02 PM

      Paging all dognose.

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 6:08 PM

        I already have it, RomSteady gifted me it! Gonna play it tonight :)

      • reply
        February 28, 2018 9:02 PM

        Just played about a hour, got more left to play still, it's great!

        - The good: It looks and feels like a 3DR game from the 90s -- lots of fast action and you can blow shit up and the weapons sound and behave nicely and the voice acting is good and did i mention it is fast? There is vents to jump in and you can go underwater and I didn't find a whole bunch of secrets but I left the level anyway and there is that same sense of "What do I do now" once all of the bad guys are dead, you know you unlocked a door SOMEWHERE but WHERE?

        - The bad: Can't yet remap movement to mouse and I hate WASD, I assume this will be ironed out later, also I had one lock-up at the menu that I had to Ctrl-Alt-Del to fix, and later in the game a few small freeze-ups that were just slight hitches and ironed themselves out, that is to be expected from a incomplete game preview though

        • reply
          February 28, 2018 11:33 PM

          My crosshair was off by default

          • reply
            February 28, 2018 11:35 PM

            I really like the music, I am surprised the file size is so small

        • reply
          March 1, 2018 6:22 AM

          The frame rate seems really weird to me, like choppy somehow. I don’t know if it’s unoptimized, or...? Did you get that feeling as well?

          • reply
            March 1, 2018 10:18 AM

            Now and then it bogged down like back in the old days when 50 enemies were on screen at once

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 6:08 PM

      Waiting for CrustaR's review before I pull the trigger!

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 8:14 PM

      I've played a bit of it. I'm digging it so far.

      I'm going to go back in probably tomorrow. It's really good so far, I think. I need to play more to get a good feel for it. I'm staying cautiously optimistic (I just don't want another Gearbox game, so I can't say if it's a Good Game or not just yet).

    • reply
      February 28, 2018 10:44 PM

      Played through the demo campaign. It is good!

      Also supports ultrawide for those wondering.