Stephen Hornback, an artist known for work on Duke Nukem and Rise of the Triad, has passed away

Hornback left an indelible mark on Apogee, 3D Realms, and the games industry.


Videogame artist Stephen Hornback died of a heart attack last Saturday, November 26 (via Gamasutra). He was 62 years old.

Administrators of the 3D Realms Facebook page shared the news yesterday afternoon.

"He was the first artist I hired in the early '90s and he was a great artist working during a time when the tools and techniques were very primitive," wrote Apogee founder Scott Miller. "My highest respect for him. His work will live on forever in Rise of the Triad, Duke Nukem 3D and several other games."

Hornback's gameography dates back to 1992's Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure by Apogee Software. From there, he continued to work on action titles at Apogee, making a lasting impact on Duke Nukem II, Rise of the Triad, and Duke Nukem 3D, among others.

3D Realms started as a dba for Apogee, a label the company decided to adopt full-time after the success of Terminal Velocity and Duke Nukem 3D. Stephen Hornback created the iconic 3D Realms logo.

Although most well-known for his work on Apogee and 3DR's titles, Hornback contributed artwork for American McGee's Alice at Rogue Entertainment. Later, he worked on Ritual Entertainment titles such as Sin Episodes and Star Trek Elite Force II.

More recently, Hornback served as co-owner and artist of Soldak Entertainment. He worked on two smaller games called Drox Operative and Din's Curse.

Contemporary members of 3D Realms recently Kickstarted old-school platformer Rad Rodgers, and will use the game to honor their former colleague. "We also wanted to pass on the news that we will be dedicating Rad Rodgers to him. Miss ya buddy!" they wrote on Facebook.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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