Borderlands Postmortem Interview

GameSpy is offering up a three-page interview with Gearbox Software game design director Paul Hellquist about the development of Borderlands and some of the interesting concepts that almost ended up in the release version of the game.
GameSpy: So, the loot drops and the way that you customize your character largely come down to a skill tree and weapons. Did you ever plan for other kinds of item drops -- like armor, or things that change your character's appearance?

Paul Hellquist: Yep, we had a whole paper-doll system for a little while, where there were Boots of Speed and all those sorts of things. It got really, really cluttered, the game got really cluttered and lost some of its elegance in terms of understanding which parts and which items you were getting, and how they were affecting your character and things like that.

And memory was also part of the decision to remove some of those things, because basically, every gun that's in the game is in memory at all times. Because we never know when it's going to drop. So that uses a lot of our memory budget. When we had all of these other things that you could have, it chewed through our memory so much that we couldn't make cool-looking levels.

So we made some choices, some give and take, to streamline the system as well as free up the memory that we needed in order to make the monsters... have more animation for monsters, get all the creatures in the levels, get them up to the sizes that we wanted. There was constantly give and take between different disciplines and what we can provide. And ultimately I think we ended up with a much more easy-to-understand and more accessible system as a result.
Damn. The game would have been so much better with a larger range of loot types.