‘Mass Effect’ Developers Blame Everyone but Themselves for ‘Andromeda’ Bust

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 6:58 pm, June 10, 2017

Riddled with bugs, ugly animations and an un-immersive storyline that pales in comparison to the previous offerings in the series, Mass Effect Andromeda is one of BioWare’s greatest mistakes.

And its developers have only themselves to blame for it—but they’re not willing to shoulder any of the responsibility.

The age of Mass Effect is well and truly over. With the announcement of BioWare’s new game at E3 2017, dubbed Anthem, it’s clear that the studio has no plans to revisit the flawed franchise any time soon—not even with new downloadable content.

“Be patient.”

Developers who made Mass Effect: Andromeda are adamant that the game’s troubled development was not of their own doing. Speaking anonymously to Kotaku, BioWare Montreal developers pointed their fingers at their cohorts at BioWare Edmonton, claiming that the Edmonton devs, who made the original trilogy, were stealing ideas and staff for their own projects—including Dragon Age: Inquisition and the newly revealed Anthem. Meanwhile, the Edmonton developers say that Andromeda didn’t have a strong vision and floundered in pre-production.

As the result shows, developing the game was clearly too much for the Montreal-based spinoff studio to handle, and its development was bogged down not only by inter-office politics but by a lack of staffing and resources.

Next-gen facial animation

The Montreal developers also blamed use of the Frostbite engine, which powers EA’s Battlefield series and Dragon Age: Inquisition, as insufficient for what they wished to accomplish: a large-scale planet-hopping adventure with procedurally generated planets like Star Citizen, Dual Universe and No Man’s Sky. They also blamed the engine for the bad animations, even though neither Battlefield 1 nor Dragon Age: Inquisition suffer from the same flat facial expressions of every Andromeda character.

As YouTuber HellRa1z3r points out, even the decade-old Mass Effect had better facial animations.

It was clear that the developers at BioWare Montreal simply didn’t have the skills to do what other developers (even those at BioWare Edmonton) did—but that didn’t stop them from playing the blame game. They blamed the lack of staffing for the poor animations, despite conversations and character interaction being a primary mechanic of the role-playing game. With several years of development to get their shit together, the studio was unable to muster any organization to prioritize production on the game’s biggest features.

One of the developers let it slip that the writing and scripting for the character dialogue wasn’t even completed by the time they were creating the animations—but blamed outsourced studios for their own fuckup.

“But with the [writing and design] teams still working until very late in the process, that foundation shifts so much that it makes it very difficult to rely on outsourcing.”

Mass Effect: Andromeda is everyone else’s fault except for the people who made it,  apparently. It’ll be a miracle if the studio is ever tapped to make another game.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.