By now it’s no secret that Mass Effect: Andromeda did not turn out how the fans or developer BioWare expected. But what exactly happened in between when the game was conceived back in 2012 and when it released earlier this year was likely to be a mystery. That is, until some anonymous members of the development started speaking up.
In a series of interviews with Kotaku, members of the Mass Effect: Andromeda team paint a picture of an ambitious project foiled by technical limitations. In fact, Andromeda was aiming to be a No Man’s Sky type experience before No Man’s Sky was even a thing.
Unfortunately, that ambition and the reality of delivering a finished product never aligned properly for BioWare, and so the project was dialed back substantially. The team faced numerous challenges including working with the Frostbite engine and finding ways to marry storytelling with a procedurally generated solar system, and inevitably concessions were made.
What was initially supposed to be a system of numerous explorable planets was eventually dialed back to 30 planets and eventually the 7 that made it into the game. And each of those planets had a handcrafted touch, built from the group up to support the main story and side missions. It was a far cry from the initial vision of Andromeda, but it was a realistic goal.
Speaking of the story, things didn’t really start progressing on that front until late 2015, which is unheard of for a story-driven game. The lack of a firm story also played a role in why the animations in the game felt off, since the animation studios didn’t have defined scenes to work with. It also didn’t help that the animation team on Mass Effect: Andromeda felt understaffed according to the anonymous sources.
Ultimately the anonymous members of the Andromeda team suggest that it was a confluence of events that led to the game’s poor quality. There’s no one thing that could be pointed to as the source for the bad animation or the lack of a massive scope, but rather it was many things that piled together to make for a messy situation.
Even if Mass Effect: Andromeda is a disappointment, the story of its development is a great cautionary tale of trying to work outside of one’s own means. There was clearly a rush to get the game done, and so numerous issues snowballed into something bigger.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.