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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, Obsidian Entertainment's debut project, and in my opinion one of the finest Star Wars-themed video games out there, was released on December 6, 2004. And in order to celebrate the 15th anniversary since the game's launch, the folks over at Cinelinx had a chat with its lead designer - the one and only Chris Avellone. The resulting interview covers the game's challenging development, scheduling issues, lasting impact, and its massive Restored Content mod.
A few paragraphs to get you started:
Challenges and Decisions
Obsidian faced an uphill battle from the start. The team began working on the sequel and being paid for milestones before having the full contract in place. As such LucasArts “decided it wasn’t wise to send out a build of [KOTOR] to us until that was done.” While an earlier copy of KOTOR would have saved valuable development time, Avellone emphasizes he doesn’t hold it against LucasArts for holding it back, but this left the team essentially guessing at the storyline.
Avellone explains, “When LucasArts asked for our [KOTOR II] pitch; we had to put together story pitches and ideas without knowing a thing about KOTOR beyond what was on the LucasArts website…”
Considering the complexity of KOTOR’s story, and the various characters, pitching a sequel blind was difficult. “Suffice to say, that pitch was pretty bad,” Avellone continued. “Worse, it didn’t contain a lot of the expectations players might have from playing the first game (since we didn’t know what those elements were)!”
When Knights of the Old Republic released a few months into KOTOR II’s development, the team rushed to play as much as possible. Obviously, it drastically changed their ideas for the sequel. Nearly everything from the original script was scrapped, “Not much survived between the first and second versions of the script, but trust me, that was a good thing!”