Pigs will fly on May 3, 2011

“Duke Nukem Forever,” the longest running punchline in the video game industry, finally has a ship date – and all signs are the game will actually stand by this one.  DNF3

After more than a decade in development, an apparent cancellation, an IP ownership transfer and a miraculous revival, the long-in-development game will finally hit retail shelves on May 3.

To understand the impact of this announcement, you have to know a little history about the game. “Duke Nukem Forever” was announced at the end of the Clinton Adminstration. It has been in development for over 13 years, suffered innumerable setbacks and seemed doomed to remain vaporware when developer 3D Realms ran out of money last year and fired the development team.

Gearbox Software, which has a number of ex-3D Realms staffers among its ranks, will finish up development on the game, which will be released on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. (Gearbox is the company behind “Brothers in Arms” and “Borderlands” and is respected by gamers.)

Duke the character is one of the game industry’s icons, but “Duke Nukem Forever” became an industry in-joke many years ago. The laughing stopped, however, when Gearbox brought a playable version to the Penny Arcade Expo last fall – surprising everyone.

The game has come a long way from that infamous 1996 interview, when 3D Realms’ George Broussard told 1Up that the game would be out “when pigs fly”.

The trailer for the game is embedded below – but be warned it contains offensive language and pixilated nudity. Duke has never been a game for the politically correct.