The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development



Poor Mass Effect. Disappointed even the biggest fans of the series.

Although some people enjoyed the game, it was widely pilloried, with critics slamming its uneven writing, frequent bugs, and meme-worthy animations. The game was in development for five years, but by most accounts, BioWare built the bulk of it in less than 18 months. Yes, the last 18 months! If you’re like me, you’ve been reading about this game being worked on for hype-building years.

This is the story of what happened.


This is a fantastic read.

One problem I have, though, is them trying to blame the Frostbite engine for some of the animation trouble. Battlefield 1 looks amazing.

Maybe I’m missing something.


Does BF1 do in-engine cut scenes or are they rendered?


I thought they were in-engine but apparently they are pre-rendered.


Holy hell, they switched to Frostbite AND switched from max to maya AFTER they’d already started?!?! Of course Autodesk is pushing devs to “switch gears”, they’ve been looking to phase out 3ds since they bought them out years ago. Can’t believe whoever was in charge thought that could possibly be a good idea in the middle of development. Bioware made a semi-new team in a new location, told them to take several extremely sophisticated systems (including the algorithmic animation system) from one engine, rebuild them all from scratch in another engine that was built for beautiful but fairly straight-forward FPS games, make way more content with a different software set (maya), and do it with a smaller team. That’s like switching from a Jeep to a Camaro and then blaming the Camaro for getting stuck when you go mudding. As for Battlefield, even if all of the cut-scenes were rendered at runtime, all the animations would still have been hand crafted since they wouldn’t have to make that many.

Side note: It always cracks me up when devs talk about the technology they use to make their games and kind of make it sound like it’s new or cutting edge when half the time it’s a pretty standard technique or tool. They didn’t really do that in this article, but when they mentioned WorldMachine, it kind of reminded me of other videos an articles that do.


I didn’t buy this game because I had just purchased 3 other games at the time it launched.
I find myself increasingly grateful of this fact. I’m glad my opinion of the series hasn’t been sullied.