Animation & Mass Effect Andromeda

A Very General Overview

Congratulations! You’ve survived another unbelievable week in the world of gaming.

With Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, and Nier Automata, March has felt like an overwhelmingly positive time for the games industry, but the last few days have seen that good sentiment tanked by outcry over the upcoming launch of Mass Effect Andromeda.

If you’ve somehow missed it here’s the brief: Mass Effect Andromeda, a new stand alone addition to the Mass Effect series, launches later this week in the US and European markets. Review copies are already out there, along with roughly ten hours of game that’s been made available for subscribers to EA Access. However, the discussion around the game has become almost exclusively centred on the quality of the character animation, both facial and full-body. It’s now easy to go online and find footage of goofy walks, derpy faces, and unnervingly twitchy eyeballs. The backlash against the studio Bioware has been quick and severe, with many gamers outraged that a AAA game can have such poor quality work, a situation exacerbated when some of the developers came out and said there were no plans to improve the animation with a launch day patch, and being vague about them ever being corrected saying: “that ship has sailed”.

Unfortunately for some it wasn’t enough to direct their anger at Bioware as a company and  they needed to find an individual. Of course the person they picked was a woman, an animator and former cosplayer, and of course vitriol and death threats followed shortly after. This has prompted Bioware to issue a general statement decrying threats against their employees and promising to support the staff affected.

Watching a lot of this unfold was particularly interesting for me. I’m fairly vocal about being a gamer but increasingly quiet about my once-life as an animation student. Seeing a lot of assumption and misinformation bouncing around I wanted to step in and try and clear up a few things – very generally as I was not involved in this particular project – but hopefully try and give a better understanding of how some of these things work and where they can go wrong.

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