The Hidden Afterlife of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

The Verge has published an interesting piece on Werner "wesp5" Spahl's work on Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodline's unofficial patch, with a particular focus on his somewhat controversial choice to utilize the patch to also restore cut content from the original game. An excerpt:

Take, for example, the extra quest I mentioned above: "Night at the Library," where your character disrupts a ritual held by the monstrous Sabbat vampires. If you were simply looking through the game’s code, you’d never find a hidden map or list of objectives — the only clues that it had ever existed would be some textures and models that resemble the real-world LA Public Library.

Instead, the inspiration was a postmortem interview with Bloodlines designer Brian Mitsoda, where he briefly mentioned a cut quest involving the unused location. Spahl read the interview, spotted the models, and emailed Mitsoda for more information.

"The library design never even made it into an alpha stage," Mitsoda replied, according to the patch notes. "It was discussed, part of the level was built, but there was never any finalized quest plans or layout. There was some idea of it being a side quest connected to one of the major characters and the Sabbat, but it never really got beyond that."

Nearly everything in the library mission, which includes two cavernous areas and strong ties to the larger Vampire: the Masquerade mythos, is improvised around one developer’s vague recollections. The maps were sketched out by Spahl and built with the help of other Bloodlines modders, and an earlier boss was brought back, delivering an unused monologue from his game files. The raw materials were already there, but their arrangement is pure speculation.

That arrangement is also endlessly mutable. After "Night at the Library" was added four years ago, some players were dissatisfied with the boss — whose voiceover featured a different accent than his other appearances — and Spahl replaced him with a totally new character. He saw a smoke shop and cafe mentioned on an in-game bus map and worked them in, rearranging the quest substantially. You can occasionally find confused players posting in forums, wondering why walkthroughs are steering them wrong.

Spotted on the Obsidian Entertainment forums.