Mass Effect Andromeda’s ambition got the better of it, as new report details development woes

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Mass Effect Andromeda development woes detailed

Mass Effect Andromeda isn’t a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly not up to the the high bar the original trilogy set (penny for every time this is true). Andromeda was in development for a long time over at BioWare Montreal, and stayed hidden for an even longer time during development. As it turns out, there were logistical and problematic reasons for this, with shifts in scope, understaffing and more problems plaguing the game the ultimately failed to reignite the franchise.

There’re many issues that brought the game down over years of development, all of which are nicely detailed in a new report by Kotaku. The report goes into real depth on the issues that plagued development, one of the most notable being scope. Andromeda started out as the long after Mass Effect 3 sequel it ended up as, but initial designs for the game were drastically different.

BioWare initially envisioned a game that had procedurally generated planets, a lot like No Man’s Sky eventually went with. The idea actually stuck with the game until late in 2015, with several prototypes and robust frameworks created to support it. But as No Man’s Sky demonstrated, that sort of mechanic ended up not being fun, eventually being stripped out in a massive change of scope. Player-controlled space flight was also removed, and the project itself was fundamentally restarted. Andromeda, as it was released, could almost be thought of as an 18-month project.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg. The animation team was also critically understaffed during the entirety of development, something which was evident when Andromeda launched with a multitude of terrible character animations and bugs. Outsourcing also made issues worse, with logistical problems between Montreal and studios in Vancouver and even South Africa. BioWare Edmonton eventually threw in Mass Effect writer Mac Walters to take over director duties – a move which Montreal didn’t like, but Edmonton though necessary to save the game.

There’re many other smaller issues that all contributed to compounding the mess that Montreal found themselves in, and the entire report is a fascinating deep dive into the often private difficulties massive projects like this face. The result is less so – BioWare Montreal has been downsized, with several developers moving to other EA owned studios to help out with other projects. Montreal itself is now a support studio, and Mass Effect as a franchise has been reportedly shelved for the time being.

Andromeda was ambitious. But sometimes that ambition is what gets the better of the people trying to make it a reality.

Last Updated: June 8, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • But this is what happens when all you are focused on is the release date. To get things out the door.
    When the scope was changed, the release date should have as well and not by just a month or 2. They should have treated it as a new game and re-scoped their ideas around release etc based on that.

    But, as is shown time and time again it goes about how fast they can ship to make the most profit.

    This will also never stop as long as there are so many people who buy day 1 and pre-order. Pre-ordering is what put the industry in the mess it is currently.

    • But but…those dank Pre Order exclusives!

      Also: tl;dr

      • BAH. The human need to hoard items of no value. You are killing the planet to have all those statues made for nothing more than display!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      But… but… you can patch it after release, fix all the bugs, add in important features.

    • HvR

      More what happens when EA start messing with the development studio they buy.

      Bioware soon to become EA “fill in descriptor here” studios

      • Matthew Holliday

        Watching the progression between Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, in terms of “streamlining”, it already is.
        The resistance to EA tendancies, reduces with each game.

        bEAware.

  • HvR

    Think the heading should read “EA fucking doing what they have always done and went for the money”

    They saw the opportunity for money grab with Disney and Star Wars, put the A-team on that and gave the D-team Andromeda, further moved people to the Star Wars money printer and let Andromeda fail.

    Pretty sure Mass Effect is now joining legendary gaming series like Command & Conquer, all the Bullfrog Studio game etc in EA’s gaming mass grave

    PS – All Dragon Age fans, prepare, for terrible 4th one, online browser game or nothing at all

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      $1 MTs for elfroot.

      • HvR

        That is if there is any elfroot in the Dragon Age browser/mobile game

  • Admiral Chief

    Right, so fix it, and sell it to me at a fat discount, ye bastards

  • For the Emperor!

    They think patching in an extra romance option for male Rhyder is going to fix the game…

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda update 1.09 focused on multiplayer, new platinum difficulty mix up enemies from all different factions and new Batarian Scrapper character. More news at http://pupuweb.com/mass-effect-andromeda-1-09-update-added-platinum-difficulty-multiplayer/

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