These AI-generated Dukes Nukem never asked to be born

AI-generated hyper lumpy, grotesque reimagining of Duke Nukem
(Image credit: @donhonk on Twitter)

I have to be honest here, AI art bots like DALL-E scare the hell out of me, our overly sanguine tech mavericks once again announcing, "Man creating a thinking machine in his own image is rad as hell, actually!" These little man-made horrors beyond our comprehension have given us one unambiguous gift, however: some utterly sublime shitposts.

Case in point: this series of AI-generated Dukes Nukem from the mind of 3D artist @donhonk on Twitter and the thrumming, unthinking creation engine that is Midjourney. Inspired by the tireless Dukeposting of Twitter fixture, @KinoFabino and the recent leak of the 2001 build of Duke Nukem Forever, donhonk set about producing some really messed up Dukes.

This first round really sets the tone. That one in the bottom left with Duke facing away from the camera, "Forever" embroidered on the back of his jacket actually goes kinda hard, all things considered. A little human touch and it could be a poster or box art for a Duke revival, maybe. That portrait in the top left though? You can't convince me that's not just a conservative British politician wearing sunglasses. I'd check with our colleagues across the pond, but they're all on bloody holiday for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee (innit).

"Aging Tory staring down an office harassment scandal" really seems to be Midjourney's touchstone for close-ups of Duke's face. This is not the hero of my youth.

Donhonk gets a little spicy here with my personal favorite piece, "duke nukem trending on artstation unreal engine 5 part 2." I've got to admit I've fallen into the "Nintendo, hire this man" trap when talking about enthusiast mockups of classic games in UE5, and this grotesquely lumpy, shiny Duke emerging out of what seems to be Tetsuo's final form in Akira feels like some kind of gruesome mockery of the form, like those "cartoon characters but in real life" by 3D artist Miguel Vasquez.

And that really cuts to the heart of the matter with these AI artbots, isn't it? They have to be trained on art made by humans by human programmers, and only really sing when used as a tool by creative or playful humans. I've been getting some hearty belly laughs out of these things, but I also can't shake the feeling that they'll somehow wind up as an excuse to pay people less one day.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.