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Read about how we restored this map from the November 1999 screenshot of Area 51. One of the first screenshots showing off DNF using the Unreal Engine!

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Introducing the Screenshot Series - Restored Historical DNF Maps

What is the goal?

As the team has been getting back into the groove of things after a much deserved break, many of us find little side projects to get back into the groove of development.

So today we have started to release a small map part of the Screenshot Series of maps!

These Screenshot Series maps aim to restore the original screenshots revealing Duke Nukem Forever in the Unreal Engine such as in the December 1999 issue of PC Gamer. Along with other notable media when the build of the game we are working on was revealed to the world.

Cover of the December 1999 Issue of PC Gamer


This won’t be something that will occur very often so there is no timeline on the next release, but you can expect more Screenshot Series maps in the future but of course we also want those amazing moments from screenshots and trailers to be experienced for the first time in the actual game too! So we will essentially restore all those moments but some will have to wait! Also these are small maps, so don’t expect a full level with a gameplay loop, puzzles etc.

What is today’s release?

Today’s Screenshot Series map is from November 1999, 3D Realms released the first screenshots of the Unreal Engine build of the game online. That same month the December issue of PC Gamer mentioned earlier was released as well. This issue of PC Gamer along with 3D Realms’ website ushered in the first screenshots and details of Duke Nukem Forever running using the Unreal Engine. With the recent 1998 assets that had been discovered and the one map in those assets that we restored being from Area 51, we decided to continue on with that theme! If you haven’t had a chance to play one of the first maps made in the Unreal Engine for DNF you can play it today and we wrote up a historical piece reviewing the history of the map.

Restored 1998 Area 51 Paul Richards Concept Art Map Details


With work already focused on restoring the Area 51 map found from 1998 we chose this classic screenshot to replicate:

Area 51 November 1999 Screenshot


For many fans this iconic screenshot was one of the most exciting ones released in this batch of 11 screenshots. Duke has always been known to use many iconic lines from other similar characters like Ash from the Evil Dead series. Seeing Duke wielding a chainsaw just like Ash’s was extremely exciting to see and a melee weapon other than the Mighty Foot was enticing as well from a gameplay perspective.

How did we recreate it?

Despite the 2001 build of Duke Nukem Forever we are working on being 2-3 years after this screenshot was taken, this area in the 2001 build was incomplete and also used in a different way. Here is what the map looked like when we started:

2001 Build Version of the Map

original map

As you can see, when comparing it to the screenshot, there is a lot missing. No greys, broken textures and smks, missing geometry and if you were to turn around you would see there is no wall behind you as well. Many textures were misaligned and used improperly, so if you look at our final screenshot and play the map itself, you will see how we ensured to align the textures as accurately as possible.

The greys were also a very exciting part of this screenshot, even with one seemingly waving at Duke! The greys were to be a big part of Area 51 and the overall story of DNF during the 1999-2001 period. Our restoration will ensure that it is the same here! There is a lot of amazing concept art by Paul Richards of Area 51 and the greys such as this:

Greys Concept Art


Green on the dev team was able to hunt down some of the assets we hadn’t found yet, like the red DNA smk. Spider-Man adjusted the textures, added better lighting, the greys (including the waving one!) and ensured to make the starting point of the map the perfect spot and start with that chainsaw in hand. Dez adjusted some geometry on the upper balcony and did a final pass on the lighting, along with some ambient sounds.

2023 Restoration Team Screenshot Series Map


What do you think? It is extremely accurate to the original screenshot with some minor differences. One being how Duke holds the chainsaw, in the 2001 build he does not hold the chainsaw in that way either attacking or idling, so there is a slightly different angle to the chainsaw. The only other difference is that the grey models changed a lot since 1999, so they are not 100% the same. Other than that the map is perfect!

Our intention is to use this map in the Restoration Project, and the work done to this map will be used as the 3D Realms intended in the 2001 build. It is used as a skybox for the Area 51 map where you escape outside of the computer, starting the map in the CD tray! If you haven’t played this map it is part of the Area 51 chapter of the 2001 build and is named !z5l2_3.dnf, all the original 2001 build maps are included with the First Slice so you can take a look at how it was used in 2001 and a better look at the shape it was in during that time.

2001 Build Use of the Map


Now that the map is fixed it will display properly here for this scene when we start working on the Area 51 chapters (I guess this means we already have begun!) along with it being areas that Duke can explore.

Play it today!

This small map is available today! This first Screenshot Series map is being released to the community today! The map includes all the new additions to lighting, props, AI friendlies, geometry and more to make it as accurate as possible!

All you will need to do is copy and paste this map file into your “Maps” folder wherever you have the First Slice release installed. No other items needed, just this one .dnf map file that isn’t even 1MB in size!

Download it here!

The map filename is:


Use the console at the Main Menu to load up the map! We hope you enjoy another amazing piece of Duke Nukem Forever history restored and preserved in its original screenshot form for you to play today!

ApornasPlanet - - 4,120 comments

Hail to the kings!

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FlippedOutKyrii - - 3,521 comments

Always wanted to see the context for Duke wielding a Chainsaw in a lab surrounded by Grey Aliens since seeing it in a gaming magazine from 2000 lol.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+4 votes
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