Your answer about cut content reminded me of one of the early Star Wars games (sorry, can’t remember the title). Evidently Obsidian cut a lot of content that was later added back by modders. Are you familiar with this? How was this possible?

You’re talking about Knights of the Old Republic 2. KOTOR 2 had a troubled development cycle. The publisher, LucasArts, had a pretty aggressive release schedule planned for the KOTOR games which basically made it untenable for the original KOTOR dev Bioware to handle making the sequel within the time frame LucasArts wanted. Bioware’s leadership suggested offering the title to Obsidian due to their good working relations on past titles. LucasArts signed Obsidian to build KOTOR 2.

A horned lizard tries to run quickly while sliding in place. Caption: "GOTTA GO FAST"ALT

LucasArts originally gave Obsidian 14-16 months after the launch of KOTOR 1 to finish KOTOR 2, which should have put them with a tentative release date of early 2005. Obsidian went into development being extremely ambitious with their planning for the game’s scope… overly ambitious, the leaders would later admit in interviews. This caused them to run aground when LucasArts moved the ship date up from 2005 to the end of 2004 - they were already significantly behind schedule due to their overly ambitious project scope; losing several months of development time they were counting on was not something they predicted.

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When the new ship date came down, Obsidian had to make a bunch of very hard decisions in order to ship something. The partially-built endgame content was locked off from the game but left on the disc. This is, in large part, because leaving unused assets on disc usually ensures more stability than it risks by removing those assets in case any of them are behind-the-scenes dependencies for other assets or game features. It’s also because it takes a lot less effort to just lock those assets off than it does to make sure they’ve been fully removed from the disc. Obsidian basically crunched themselves into goo in order to cobble together a whole new, different, simplified ending and ship the game on time.

Archaeologists dig up dinosaur fossilsALT

Those incomplete assets, however, were still locked away on the disc when the game shipped. Time passed and game modders figured out how the game worked. They later discovered those assets in the game files and figured out how to extract them and make them work with the game. They were collectively able to put in the dev time needed to bring that alternate ending content to a playable state. It was actually pretty common in the old days to leave cut (but inert) content on disc for stability reasons. Data miners and modders sometimes found the files, but that content is mostly harmless since it’s inaccessible most of the time. That content got cut for a reason - usually because we needed to find room in the schedule to do something higher priority. At the end of the day, we only have a finite amount of dev time to work on the project, so it’s important to finish the highest priority tasks first.

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