System Shock 2's Surprise Ending — for Ken Levine, AnywayS

Widely acclaimed when it released in 1999, System Shock 2's cinematic conclusion nonetheless disappointed Irrational Games creative chief Ken Levine. The reason: The video that was shot wasn't anything like what he had scripted.

"Due to miscommunications or differing ideas, a different cinematic video was created from the one that I originally scripted," Levine says in a behind-the-scenes story Irrational published on its Web site yesterday. "We didn't have much to work with. It was like when you look in the cupboard and you're trying to make soup, and you have a bag of salt and couple of pinto beans."

Levine says they bulled ahead anyway, having to rewrite parts of the game's story to fit with the video they'd been given. "We completely ran out of time and that cut scene wasn't the right ending for the game," he says.

System Shock 2 was developed by Irrational and Looking Glass Studios, which led to some tension during the project's creation. I'm wondering if this wasn't also a manifestation of that. The anecdote is one of several about the shooter's development, what could have been in the game, why it was left out, and how they arrived at the finished product. Like, for example, they considered a zero-gravity level, but the technology they had in 1998 would have made its development prohibitively time-consuming, especially for something that wasn't a core feature of the game.

Although the game is more than 10 years old, it is a classic that some may wish to play, so, consider yourself spoiler alerted.

What Might Have Been [Irrational Games]