Mass Effect Andromeda's multitude of development issues have been detailed in a new report.
Kotaku's investigation into Andromeda's lengthy development describes a project built by a largely untested studio, on an engine still not suited to RPG development, managed by project leaders which hung on for far too long to gameplay ideas that were ultimately cut.
Much of the finished game, which recieved mixed reviews, was reportedly built in the project's last 18 months.
Andromeda's early years were spent deciding on a setting and scope. A time period of after Mass Effect 3 was chosen instead of a prequel (the correct decision) but Andromeda's scope - for a long time - included a No Man's Sky-style galaxy of procedurally-generated worlds. Somewhat presciently, this idea was eventually dropped as not being fun to play - but after work had been poured into creating it, and trying to work out how BioWare's narrative framework might fit around it.
A similar cut was made to player-controlled spaceflight - something BioWare itself has spoken on in the past.
All the while, the development team in BioWare Montreal was struggling to keep up with changes, especially in the game's animation department. The report describes this section of the team as being continually understaffed. Andromeda was criticised heavily for its unpolished facial animations on release - something which had been flagged as an issue internally.
Another source of disruption was the departure of Andromeda's initial director. The project was helmed at first by Gérard Lehiany, director of Activision's Spider-Man games at Beenox, until experienced Mass Effect writer Mac Walters stepped on board to pick up the pieces. This change in leadership was perceived by some within BioWare Montreal as BioWare's Edmonton HQ stepping too far into its territory. Back in Edmonton, the feeling among some was that Andromeda needed saving.
And these are just the main reasons why Andromeda suffered - there are others, and Kotaku's full report is worth a read to hear more.
Andromeda's legacy now is a Metacritic score some 10-15 points lower than BioWare had hoped, BioWare Montreal downsized by EA and plans for an imminent sequel shut down. It's a sad, sad story for a project where seemingly everything went wrong, and from which there's no current plan to give a much-loved series another chance.
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