How long does it take to make a game? How long's a piece of string? There's obviously no simple answer because every new hardware generation brings greater expectations and puts more demands on developers. However, most would agree that a decade to make a game is a bit excessive.
So here's a celebration - or should we call it a mockery? - of games that went a little over their original release dates, not to mention budgets. Were they worth the wait? Let us know in the comments field at the bottom of the page.
Prey (3D Realms, 1995 - 2006)
To be fair to 3D Realms it was grand ambition rather than bad management that was to be Prey's undoing. The game was first announced back in 1995 with Tom Hall (of id software and Ion Storm fame) heading the project. However, after a year Hall left the company and the project was passed over to Paul Schuytema. While Schuytema kept the alien abduction theme he introduced a wildly ambitious (at least for its time) portal dynamic that allowed players to teleport around levels. These 'space rip' features were demoed to great accalim at E3 in both 1997 and 1998 but technical problems with the engine saw the game stutter to an embarrassing halt.
After much tweaking and re-writing the game was eventually resurrected in 2001 when more potent technology allowed its core gameplay feature to be easily incorporated into the overarching design. Unfortunately by the time Prey was released in 2006 it wasn't pushing any envelope, either visually or technically.
Duke Nukem Forever (3D Realms, 1997 - Present)
Either this is the longest game ever in production or an elaborate in-joke at the expense of the industry - Duke Nukem - "Forever"? First announced in back in April (are we the fools?) 1997 the game still remains in 'development' over ten years later. Though personnel changes and engine re-writes have been blamed for the delays 3D Realms has released very few details about the game bar a screenshot accompanying a job ad on its website in 2007. The game has slipped more times than a greased up piggy on ice that Wired magazine gave it a Lifetime Achievement Award just to get it off its annual vapourware list. 3D Realms is still convinced the game is due for release though 'only when it's done'.
Team Fortress 2 (Valve, 1998 - 2007)
Valve games are a bit like buses, only buses seem to come in twos rather than fives. With the recent release of The Orange Box - which also contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Portal - Team Fortress 2 is finally with us. It was announced back in 1998 as a sequel to the immensely popular Quake mod Team Fortress.
While Valve has always been incredibly protective of its properties news occasionally leaked out about the game during its nine-year on/off development. By all accounts the tone and art style of the game changed from a realistic and militaristic bent to the more humorous cartoon visuals we now know and love. But nine years? You could practically teach a chimpanzee C++ and ask it to create an MMO in that time.
Too Human (Silicon Knights, 1999 - Present)
Announced at E3 in 1999 this five disc epic adventure game was originally to be a PlayStation exclusive. Development was going smoothly until Nintendo agreed an exclusive partnership with Silicon Knights and development was scrapped and moved across to GameCube. Rumours suggest all was fine until Nintendo fell out with the developer because of delays to the game due to artistic differences. All looked lost for this intriguing title until Microsoft announced a partnership with Silicon Knights to produce a trilogy of Xbox 360 games based around the Too Human universe.
However, another twist in the tale emerged in July of this year when Silicon Knights announced it was to sue Epic Games over breach of contract over the use of its Unreal Engine 3. Epic is currently counter-suing Silicon Knights so until the legal wrangling is cleared up don't expect the game anytime soon.
Galleon (Confounding Factor, 1997 - 2004)
After leaving Core Design and Lara Croft Toby Gard famously said he wanted 'a Ferrari for every toe', and while the statement was meant ironically we all appreciated the irony of a man who went from creating a multi-million pound merchandise-shitting franchise inside a year (Tomb Raider) to a broken dud that took over five years to complete. Galleon (don't call it a pirate game) was originally scheduled for Dreamcast and PC but engine and animation re-writes, plus a phenomenal level of delusion, meant Gard's ambitious plans eventually found a home on Xbox. The resulting game was disjointed: levels were cut out and the combat was woeful, but at least it saw the light of day.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. :Shadow of Chernobyl (GSC Game World 2001 - 2007)
First announced in November 2001 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was always going to be late. When a Kiev-based developer tells you it has a hugely enterprising project that combines role-playing, shooting, factions, artefacts and mutants all within an open-ended world you'd better prepare for delays. Over its six year cycle demos were shown year on year to journalists though nothing ever seemed to move on.
Yes, the Chernobyl landscape always looked fantastically atmospheric but where were the monsters? What were you actually supposed to do? Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, the final game was a triumph. GSC Game World is now preparing to release the first expansion and rumours even suggest a console port of this tasty property is in the works. In fact, now the dust has settled the only thing we hate about the game is all the full stops we have to keep typing in when we write the bloody game name.
StarCraft: Ghost (Blizzard, 2002 - Present)
Blizzard is well known for delivering games late but StarCraft: Ghost (main article image) was a disaster from start to finish. Although announced in 2002 you can guarantee it was in production for at least a year before that. It was to provide a more action-oriented take on the StarCraft universe with characters capable of taking on vast alien armies, employ stealth and sniper capabilities.
The game was demoed from time to time but there never appeared to be anything special about the concept and the title never generated the raw interest Blizzard hoped it would. Originally planned for PS2, Xbox and GameCube time soon ran out on the game and in 2006 Blizzard officially gave it the kibosh by announcing it was on 'indefinite hold'. Two words that always guarantee the kiss of death.
Pics of each game can be seen at the link at the top of this story!