During its development, like all games, System Shock 2 had gone through many changes. Several elements were either altered from their original design and intentions, or outright removed altogether.
The original pitch document contains a basic overview of the ideas and game type that they were attempting to make. It is included with some version of the game.
A radio interview with Ken Levine overviewing some aspects of System Shock 2's development. It is included with some versions of the game.
OBJLOOKS.STR, lines 89 and 91
Tool_p1: "The CraftTech Electron Spanner is an over-engineered device is generally found in one of two-states: Broken or about to be broken. Essentially useless, the spanner profited TriOp well until it was discovered that well-placed officials in the UNN were authorizing their purchase at around 4000% of market value." Tool_p2: "The CraftTech Welder exhibits one serious design flaw: it simply doesn't work. However, to save political face, the unit ended up on numerous TriOp starships and installations. More or less, a paperweight."
The game features many useless objects, so why cut two cracks directed at bureaucratic waste?
OBJNAME.STR, line 145
Vacuum_suit_n83: "A vacuum suit."
There is no vacuum suit in the game. The finalized object name list does contain an entry internally known as
Vacc_suit, but this is shown to the player as "A hazard suit". Likely cut when the mission to depressurize an entire deck was cut.
OBJNAME.STR, many locations
Sodium_citrate_n981: "Sodium citrate" Inert_Chemical_8_n986: "An inert chemical" Barium_nitrate_n129: "Barium nitrate" Gallium_tetrachlroide_n146: "Gallium tetrachloride" Calcium_hypochodriate_n137: "Calcium hypochodriate"
These are obviously chemical compounds, and doing research in-game often requires the player to find chemicals...but all the used chemicals are elements, not compounds.
(These are just a few examples, as the file is littered with them.)
OBJNAME.STR, line 234
Lead_Pipe_n20: "A sturdy lead pipe"
Likely a holdover from the original game, where the initial weapon is a lead pipe. The starter weapon here is a wrench.
This implant did not make it into the final game, but can be obtained by console cheat codes. Its effect is the same as the Speed Booster hypo, and is cumulative with all other speed-enhancing objects and powers. Using this implant, SwiftBoost, and a speed booster hypo simultaneously enables you to run fast enough into walls to kill yourself instantly. As with all other implants, recycling it yields ten nanites.
Another implant that was removed from the game, but can be summoned via console cheat codes. It makes the player somewhat harder for annelids to detect. This implant requires Arsenic to research; its removal leaves arsenic as the only useless chemical in the game.
Six games for the MFD Game Player are available; another five were removed from the game.
Deck 1 (Engineering) -
Lines 273 & 274
LogText7:"To: All Engineering Staff\n\ This ship's safety systems are a total mess. I told those idiots...In the event of total failure of the reactant coolant systems, you leech the contaminant from the deck by a controlled rapid decompression. You can do this by opening the shuttle bay doory. There's a control system in command control that controls the shuttle door protocols. You can override these protocols with an systems override chip 45M/dEX. The chip's stored in auxilary storage 5 in the coolant tubes, keycode: 34760.\n"
The final game has you purge the radiation by overriding the fluidics monitoring computer, which also requires hardware override 45M/dEX.
Warning about the fuel scoop
EmailText4:"Stop where you are...if you heat up the engine core with the Fuel Scoop open, you could flood the catalyst chambers with reactant and incinerate the entire ship. Head down to the Fuel Scoop and set the scoop modulation to 4523. Careful...modulating the scoop will send out a class B alert to the security system...you might get some company.\n"
This warning is not present in the final game, and indeed there is nothing to be done with the fuel scoop.
Deck 2 (Medical/R&D) -
No notable changes.
Deck 3 (Hydroponics) -
Changes to research
EmailText2:"Okay, stop where you are. There’s a vial of an experimental material called Toxin-A. I’ve picked up some data from some of the sci staff resisting the xenomorphs. They were developing the Toxin to reduce the growth of the aliens. But I can’t find any data on how you should use it. You must research the toxin with the Crick analyzer. If you don’t have a Crick Analyzer, find one. If I figured this out, they might have to. Remember... Your corpse is useless to me.\n"
There is no Crick Analyzer, and research is done through the Research skill. Since the final game just requires you to have the Research skill for this part, you are given enough cyber modules to purchase the skill if needed.
Deck 4 (Operations) -
The sim units
EmailText1:"My children have co-opted the simulational computers on this deck. They use that power to conceive a mutagen that will transform the meat of your dead comrades into hunter-killer hybrids. I will this not allow this to happen. Destroy the 4 simulational computer nodes...but beware...life grows within the womb of these walls...life that has never seen the surface of the earth...Matters on deck 5 also require your attention. Approach your work as you see fit...but accomplish, human...disappointment is not something I will accept from a mote such as you.\n"
While dealing with the simulation computers is still required in the final game, the number and method have both changed: the final has three computers which must be reprogrammed with associated cards.
Deck 5 (Recreation) -
EmailText1:"They lie in ambush. Hack the computer inside the security station to take control of their defenses. Why do you delay? Obey me.\n"
This warning does not appear in the final game. Also, turrets are hacked directly rather than by way of remote computers.
Okay, Delacroix. Frank and I have got the transmitter almost ready to go. Once its up and running, we’ll be able to warn Earth. As soon as you get the access shunt online later today, we’ll be able to divert enough power from the primary computer core to make the transmission. Until then, we’ve locked off the gym. If something were to happen to us and you needed the access code, think back to the night at the basketball game. You'll find the answer there.\n"
The transmitter requires a code to work, but this code is not a reference to a basketball game and no reference is made to any game while on Deck 5.
LogText2:"Mon ami, there is something you should know about. I have received information from some form of artificial intelligence that is calling itself SHODAN. Yes, SHODAN. Wherever this intelligence actually came from, it has a terrible grudge against these annelids and has saved my life more than once. "SHODAN" has told me that there is a deep cover UNN operative aboard the ship, armed to the hilt and equipped with R-grade cyber implants. This individual apparently lead us to Canopus in the first place and Forrest and Korenchkin were apparently taking their orders from him. I’ve attached a security shot of the operative taken shortly after their revival in Cryo recovery.\n"
A very interesting change regarding the player character. While this log exists in the final game, the extent of the player's backstory is limited to being a UNN operative. This also makes reference to Forrest, a character who was ultimately renamed Diego to tie to the first game. Also, the released game takes place near Tau Ceti, not Canopus.
Deck 6 (Command) -
No notable changes.
The Rickenbacker -
Meson acceleration coil
EmailText2:"t is clear that the secondary meson acceleration beyond this portal has also been sabotaged...if you approach it, you’ll destroy the rest of this ship.\n"
Issues with the meson acceleration coil are still present in the final game, but you are warned about them far in advance to finding the door the the problem coil. There is however an entry in the final game if you attempt to enter the area where the coil resides prior to reversing gravity, but it's SHODAN Access Blocked berating you for being stupid.
The Many -
No notable changes.
Weapon skills are mostly the same, although Alien was replaced with Exotic and Conventional was replaced by Standard. Alien Research was truncated to simply Research, while Weapon Repair, Weapon Modification, and Weapon Maintenance all dropped the prefix.
The Psionic ability stat was originally going to be Intelligence. Likely changed when they found they had no other use for it at all.
A Luck stat is mentioned, but was completely scrapped. Similarly, experience points are referred to despite no such thing existing in the final game.
These three changes happened fairly early in development, with the EXP idea seemingly lasting the longest.
Cyber-assimilation O/S Upgrade was originally called Borg, which was most likely changed due to copyright reasons, although the associated item that it allows you to find on destroyed robots is still referred to internally as "cheeseborger".