Mass Effect Andromeda Development Took Only 18 Months

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We know that Mass Effect: Andromeda was in development for over 5 years. But, from the released game, we can conclude that the game was missing many key elements and had a slew of graphical problems and bugs of various kinds.

Kotaku did a very in-depth report on the the game’s issues and mentioned that the game’s bulk took only took 18 months to develop. There were many problems which the development cycle faced which included a directer change and a slew of other technological problems.

The development of Andromeda was turbulent and troubled, marred by a director change, multiple major re-scopes, an understaffed animation team, technological challenges, communication issues, politics, a compressed timeline, and brutal crunch.

During the 5 year long development cycle, the team wanted to implement a set of features but the game was re-scoped many times; from the initial project of introducing space exploration and procedurally generated planets, which was something they were unable to do in the original game.

“The goal was to go back to what Mass Effect 1 promised but failed to deliver, which was a game about exploration,” said one person who worked on the game. “Lots of people were like, ‘Hey, we never fully tapped the potential of the first Mass Effect. We figured out the combat, which is awesome. We figured out the narrative. Let’s focus on bringing back exploration.’”

Another of Lehiany’s ideas was that there should be hundreds of explorable planets. BioWare would use algorithms to procedurally generate each world in the game, allowing for near-infinite possibilities, No Man’s Sky style. (No Man’s Sky had not yet been announced—BioWare came up with this concept separately.)

Things didn’t pan out for the company and the number of planets you could visit went down to 30, which was later re-scoped to just 7.

Almost every video game goes through some sort of scope change during development, as designers and artists start sacrificing their babies in order to ship the game on time, but Andromeda was unusual. Typically, a massive rescope like this would have happened during pre-production, so the developers would have time to pivot and plan things out before starting to build the game. “If there’s one thing that should’ve happened in hindsight, the cuts that were made should have happened earlier,” said one person who worked on the game. “So there would’ve been less of them. I think in general the team tried too hard to execute a game that was not doable.”

For more updates, stay tuned.