Mass Effect Andromeda

A lot of people are looking for answers to the question of why the quality of Mass Effect: Andromeda's animations were so low. Well, one former animator who worked on the Mass Effect series has attempted to shed some light on the situation.

That's current Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper, who previously worked on Mass Effect, and offered some insight on Twitter into the situation regarding the poor animations that people have been complaining about in Andromeda.

He explains that given the amount of dialogue and characters in Andromeda, they had to opt for a quantity over quality situation, as opposed to Naughty Dog who goes for quality over quantity for titles like Uncharted and The Last of Us.

He explains via tweets that designers have to sequence the animations like DJs spinning samples on a turntable. Animators and mo-cap crews compile or put together the animations, and then the animation programmers have to sync up the different animation sets with the dialogue.

For some games they create animation sets, different emotive gesticulations and responses that automatically play while a character is talking. Guerrilla Games used in Horizon: Zero Dawn and CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3.

Cooper explains that in engines like Frostbite 3, the engine powering Mass Effect: Andromeda, there are tools to help designers easily sync animations up with dialogue, the same as the tools in the Red Engine that were used to sync up the facial animations with the dialogue in The Witcher 3. He explains that not all dialogue sequences are hand-animated and that many are automated through the algorithm that matches animation sets with voiced-over dialogue.

While this explains the process behind Mass Effect: Andromeda, it doesn't necessarily explain why the quality is lower than other games running on the Frostbite game engine. For instance, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst is also running on the Frostbite, and has some remarkably good facial animations and lighting and takes place in an open-world sandbox. Faith interacts with a lot of different characters over the gameplay experience, and the quality certainly wasn't as bad as Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Well, some stated that it was because DICE is more familiar with the Frostbite than BioWare. However, even Dragon Age: Inquisition had higher quality animation sequences, and it was also running on the Frostbite. Others have stated that BioWare just didn't have enough time, or that the studio didn't have enough experience.

At least in this particular scenario, thanks to Cooper's explanation, we have a better understanding of how the tools were used to make Mass Effect: Andromeda and an explanation of how quality control is handled at other studios with other games.

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