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12/25/2017 20:31:46 •••

5 Years, Everybody

ME 2 is my 2nd favourite game, and the ME world is probably my favourite period. I was initially excited when MEA was announced, but increasingly had a sinking feeling as more information came out.

When it came out, all my fears were realized. First, the glitches. This product is broken. I ran into multiple gamebreaking bugs, and the animations... dear god, the animations. I had characters cloning during cutscenes, randomly looking in the wrong direction, Ryder speaking with a distorted voice WITHOUT a helmet, and generally ruining any attempts at gravitas with sleepy, lifeless faces.

The story and characters, aka the primary reason to play a BioWare game, are also fucked. The squadmates are at best pale imitations of previous characters, and at worst are Liam. There are a grand total of two new races, both of which lack the creativity of the old ones and just generally feel generic. The kett are a less threatening version of the Reapers, and the angara are just plain boring. A whole, alien galaxy, and we get more Rubber-Forehead Aliens. Yay. The main villain is a joke, and I never found myself invested in the story. Everything is solved with bullshit space magic, and the remnant vaults appear to have been ripped straight from Halo. This is compounded by some awful writing.

I thought this game was supposed to be about exploring a new galaxy? The story is constantly undermined by a focus on militarism (the Initiative has an awful lot of firepower for a peaceful, civilian project), and these supposedly new frontiers are all already settled. The game makes a big deal out how all the outposts have failed, but the outcasts are doing fine with fewer resources. Also, it was established in ME that only a small fraction of the Milky Way was charted; who the fuck thinks its a good idea to throw their life away on a boondoggle like the Initiative? And where did this new super-technology come from?

The meager number of planets also lack creativity; why the fuck are there TWO desert planets? You really couldn't come up with another biome? Volcano. Swamp. Ruins. That's just off the top of my head. Exploration is a chore, with the Nomad being clunky and awkward, and most of the sidequests are boring, lifeless fetch quests. And they somehow managed to make scanning for resources WORSE.

The story squanders a number of potentially interesting ideas in favour of an utterly forgettable black and white narrative. First contact? Already done. Setting up colonies? Literally pointless. AI merging with organics? Just peachy. Dissent among the enemy faction? Just more 2-d villainy.

What the fuck happened? They had FIVE YEARS to fix this shit, and this is the best they could come up with? Andromeda is a trainwreck, a blight on a great series by a studio that appears to have been staffed by baboons. I sincerely hope MEA never has the balls to show its glitchy, poorly animated face again.

But hey, at least we still have Anthem, right?

Right?

11/15/2017 00:00:00

Little known fact: due to human interference with their natural habitats and eating habits over a 100+ year period, a large majority of baboons can now subsist only on a diet of caviar and rare truffles. The vintage Chianti that some of the more common varieties of baboon are growing an ever-increasing fondness for hardly helps matters.

When you hire a development team consisting solely of baboons in this day and age, well...

11/15/2017 00:00:00

For the record, they essentially wasted the vast majority of those years trying to build No Man\'s Sky, only in the Frostbite engine. The current game is the product of one-and-a-half years\' work, thrown together at the last minute and shoved out under the door to recoup losses.

11/15/2017 00:00:00

Yeah, I\'m aware of the game\'s history. That doesn\'t change the fact that the project was completely mismanaged, hence the \"baboon\" comment. They pissed away years and millions on a pipe dream, time and money they could have spent polishing the game and delivering a product the community could have been proud of. Instead they spent three years jerking off and shat out a rushed, buggy, half-assed ME wannabe that made the series into a laughingstock, and may even have killed one of my absolute favourite franchises through sheer incompetence. You\'ll have to forgive me for being bitter about that.

11/16/2017 00:00:00

I mean, Iím bitter too. But repeatedly asking how five years could result in such a disappointing product seems the wrong tack to take if you well know how.

11/16/2017 00:00:00

It was more rhetorical than literally asking. Just b/c they spent 3 years with their heads up their asses doesn\'t change the fact that they had all the time in the world to turn in a decent product.

11/16/2017 00:00:00

Um spending 3 years on the wrong track _does_ mean they didn\'t have all the time in the world to make a decent product?

Also I hope you\'ve never complained about lack of innovation in the game industry, because this is the cost of innovation. Sometimes you spend a lot of time and energy on something new and it doesn\'t work out. Valve and Blizzards closests are full of games they failed to make. Because they both have money printing machines, they just chose to not release the failures.

Look at the Titan MMO. Even longer work for a game that never got released!

And Andromeda\'s developers had never made an RPG before. The bit they had experience making - the combat - turned out pretty well. Tbh, I\'m sure Andromeda 2 would have turned out better.

Its the lesson EA haven\'t learned. Naughty Dog didn\'t start out making Uncharted 4. They made Uncharted 1 (and years of games before that). CD Projekt didn\'t make The Witcher 3, they made The Witcher 1, which IMO, was riddled with crud writing.

Don\'t hate the developers, hate the system.

11/17/2017 00:00:00

\"Um spending 3 years on the wrong track _does_ mean they didn\'t have all the time in the world to make a decent product?\"

First off, nice attempt at condescension. Second, you completely failed to address my point. They only had to rush because they fucked around for three years. It\'s their own fault they ran out of time. Bear in mind this is after a delay.

\"Also I hope you\'ve never complained about lack of innovation in the game industry, because this is the cost of innovation. Sometimes you spend a lot of time and energy on something new and it doesn\'t work out.\"

Yeah, no. A competent studio doesn\'t spend goddamn years chasing a white whale. There is a risk to innovation, but there is also such a thing as sunk-cost fallacy. A good developer knows when something\'s not working out; there are plenty of devs who innovate without shoving garbage down their fanbase\'s throats. And BTW, even if I did buy that argument, that still doesn\'t excuse releasing a shitty, cynical, half-assed cash grab. Even ignoring the ethical issues, that does not breed good will; it only tarnishes the brand and alienates the fanbase.

\"Valve and Blizzards closests are full of games they failed to make. Because they both have money printing machines, they just chose to not release the failures.\"

As opposed to those impoverished orphans at EA.

\"Look at the Titan MMO. Even longer work for a game that never got released!\"

How does that go against my point? They knew they had a substandard product, and they didn\'t release it.

\"And Andromeda\'s developers had never made an RPG before.\"

Then why were they given a flagship brand when they were still unproven? Why did they attempt a radical departure from the series\' gameplay without a clue as to how they were going to implement it? Also, they did the Omega DLC, so its not like they were complete virgins.

\"The bit they had experience making - the combat - turned out pretty well.\"

I beg to differ, I found the combat tedious.

\"Tbh, I\'m sure Andromeda 2 would have turned out better.\"

Maybe. Maybe not. But we\'ll never know, b/c Montreal killed themselves with their own stupidity and took the franchise with them.

\"Naughty Dog didn\'t start out making Uncharted 4. They made Uncharted 1 (and years of games before that). CD Projekt didn\'t make The Witcher 3, they made The Witcher 1, which IMO, was riddled with crud writing.\"

Uncharted 1 and witcher 1 weren\'t technical shitshows that turned the devs into a laughingstock. I guarantee you if either of those properties had been of comparable quality to MEA on their first outing they would have never seen the light of day again.

\"Don\'t hate the developers, hate the system.\"

While EA does bear some of the blame for imposing the frostbite engine, that only gets you so far. DAI ran on frostbite and it didn\'t have ghoulish faces. And have you looked up the behind-the-scenes history of this project? I defy you to tell me this was a well-run studio.

12/25/2017 00:00:00

I agree with carkaroth and would like to add one point about Anthem. It is a fact that Bioware/EA shunted some members of the dev team off of Mass Effect: Andromeda to work on Anthem. To borrow and tweak relevant quote from Kaidan in ME:1: "I'm not saying Bioware/EA deliberately ran Mass Effect: Andromeda into the ground so they could focus on and promote Anthem. But in retrospect, they were quick to shunt resources from ME:A to Anthem then give up on ME:A."

12/25/2017 00:00:00

I mean, Montreal only ever worked on DLC. They were slated by EA to make the No Man\'s Sky-esque product and they spent three years working on it for their corporate taskmaster to no avail. They didn\'t have the experience to make the product, but EA insisted on making the game in the Frostbite engine and making it so big. When it became clear that they couldn\'t turn out the product, EA got them to mangle what they had into whatever Andromeda ended up becoming, released it for a quick buck and dissolved the studio when the game did poorly.

I don\'t think the devs had much of a choice. Maybe if they insisted strongly on another game before they wasted three years on the dev cycle, they could have broken out - but EA is infamous for strong arming game devs into cutting their games into visually impressive but dull-to-play \"gameplay experiences\", and when they eventually fail to recoup costs, they dissolve those devs and scatter them internally while keeping the game properties to do with as they please. Montreal did a poor job, but I honestly think that a leading factor in Andromeda\'s flawed existence is EA pushing them into a project they weren\'t comfortable with, then insisting on a game release despite its flaws.

Like this is something EA is infamous for. They recently dissolved Visceral Games because they wouldn\'t alter their singleplayer Star Wars game into a \"community-driven player experience\". They dissolved Mythic Entertainment because Dungeon Keeper Mobile didn\'t do well, because of EA\'s forced microtransaction-led gameplay progression system. EA kills games, then dissolves teams to work deeper in the corporate shit show that is EA.

Of course Bioware Montreal are responsible for making a bad game. But I honestly think that if EA hadn\'t forced the Frostbite engine and asked for what has been described as another \"No Man\'s Sky\" to be made by an unproven DLC developer, this fiasco wouldn\'t have been as much of a fiasco. EA seems like a driving force in this - as much as you can rail against Bioware Montreal for making a subpar experience, I think EA deserves equal blame at least for forcing the conditions that led to ME:A\'s extended dev-time and eventual failure.


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