Former BioWare Emloyee Review of company sheds distuburing light on MEA's development

MasterMenace

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Below is a former VFX BioWare Montreal employee's review of the company:

https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/Employee-Review-BioWare-RVW11370424.htm

This anonymous individual's review paints an alarming and disturbing development cycle for MEA. Could his/her reasons be why the game is in the state it is today?

Take a look at some excerpts from below from the review. The link above has the full review.

It's very, very sad.

For example.

  • "Bioware Edmonton and Montreal symbiosis is broken. Lots of conflicts and bro culture."
  • "Lost over 13 leads (game design, art, audio, prog, senior core leads, etc) in 5 years at Bioware Montreal on Mass Effect. Edmonton lost only 3. It is clear that Edmonton has the bigger part of the stick when it comes to purge Leads and Producers who are not aligned with their leadership style."
  • "Putting people on performance improvement program (PIP Program) is the new tactics to get rid of people. Once again more than 10 people in Montreal got slammed with this bureaucratic uppercut to let go people that are not bending to Edmonton leadership styles in the last revision cycle. This approach is used by the Montreal Leadership to purge the mess from the lack of vision cause by upper management in the last 4 years (throwing people under the bus to protect bad core management)"
  • "Renaming crunch to Finaling mode. Which means company pays for your lunch but you have only 30 minutes to eat and then getting back on the keyboard. Was lasting for over 2 months and was a real catastrophy."
  • "Retaliation and harassment is sadly a reality. If you talk and ask questions you will be tag as a trouble maker and end up in a bad position."
  • "HR won't help you out. They will deny the current harassment from Monreal management by ignoring and not documenting the facts. In other words if you leave don't talk. Just let it go..."
  • "Many benifits got cut due to too much time extension to get the game done."

In addition, take a look at the below video comparing the leaked 2016 MEA footage to the current footage.

https://my.mixtape.moe/yugchn.mp4

Notice how the April 2016 leaked version has dramatically better animations, ESPECIALLY the facial animation when that guy starts coughing. What happened?!



In conclusion, it seems MEA had an insanely troubled development due to issues between teams, politics, nepotism, leadership conflicts, and lack of care for the actual developers themselves who had no say. I think this is the reason MEA is in the state it is. Crazy. What happens now? I'm still going to play this game. Mass Effect is my favorite set of games of all time and I will still sink 100+ enjoyable hours into MEA, but this discovery disturbs me. Makes me feel uneasy actually. I feel sorry for the developers who worked so hard on this game and had to endure this at BioWare. Why did this happen like this? Questions. So many questions.

I feel like we need to stop blaming the actual developers. The problem with MEA is much more than that and this review highlights much more disturbing issues about BioWare specifically, not the developers.

Speculate below, but be civil in this discussion.

Edit: Just want to say, this is purely SPECULATION. No one is pointing fingers here. We are all just fans of the series and are curious as to why MEA is in the state is in today. Take anything you read above or in this thread with a grain of salt. Keep this discussion civil everyone. Hope you all are excited for the release tonight as I am. Looking forward to the game.
 

Izuna

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fakeedit: I'm less of a "oh that makes sense" and feel bad for the people had to leave the project.
 

Shoeless

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I was wondering if the spit to two cities was going to have an impact.

I guess I have my answer.
 

Lime

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I'm absolutely heartbroken that Mass Effect was the game that had to suffer because of office politics and internal mismanagement (if the above is true). I also feel incredibly bad for the people who had to work their asses off for five long years and either get fired or end up with a subpar and underwhelming product.
 

El_Chino

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Two questions.

What defines "bro culture"?

Is that clip with low settings on pc or something?
 

10k

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I had this feeling that Bioware Edmonton didn't want to see its baby go to a new studio and almost felt Jaded when Montreal took over and almost resented them for it.

Edmonton is Bioware.

Austin was just made for Star Wars.

Montreal is that spin off red headed step child.

Maybe I watch too much TV.
 

Lime

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OP you forgot to mention the exploitative work practices, renaming of crunch, and the lack of HR doing anything (if this Glass Ceiling thing is true)
 

Sword Of Doom

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That video shows quite the downgrade. From visuals to animations

Edit** not sure what "bro culture" means but it sounds unappealing
 

rdytoroll

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I had this feeling that Bioware Edmonton didn't want to see its baby go to a new studio and almost felt Jaded when Montreal took over and almost resented them for it.

Edmonton is Bioware.

Austin was just made for Star Wars.

Montreal is that spin off red headed step child.

Maybe I watch too much TV.
You're telling me Montreal is Tyrion Lannnister, just not as brilliant.
 

tuxfool

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Honestly, I'd take glassdoor with a grain of sand, it could be true, false or anywhere in between. Problem there is that there are other reviews from the same studio (in Montreal) which are glowing.

The game obviously had problems, but attributing it all to this one account is problematic.
 

Flarin

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That comparison video is absolutely nuts. Did they fire people that did the better animations and just rush to make it passable in the last year? Man what a train wreck.
 

Crossing Eden

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I had this feeling that Bioware Edmonton didn't want to see its baby go to a new studio and almost felt Jaded when Montreal took over and almost resented them for it.

Edmonton is Bioware.

Austin was just made for Star Wars.

Montreal is that spin off red headed step child.

Maybe I watch too much TV.
Consider that you're anthropomorphizing game studios.

Honestly, I'd take glassdoor with a grain of sand, it could be true, false or anywhere in between. Problem there is that there are other reviews from the same studio which are glowing.

The game obviously had problems, but attributing it all to this one account is problematic.
This.
 

Turkoop

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EA heads have to solve this problem. When studios suffer under these issues - especially for a big and a great studio like Bioware - could end very bad for the company. I hope EA will fix this.
 

AlexFlame116

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In addition, take a look at the below video comparing the leaked 2016 MEA footage to the current footage.

https://my.mixtape.moe/yugchn.mp4

Notice how the 2016 leaked version has dramatically better animations?
Okay yeah that is a freaking travesty. How it downgraded so much I'll never understand completely.

Prioritising banging over good writing.
It's funny but you're actually probably right! Bioware kept gushing about the romance scenes.
 

El_Chino

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Okay yeah that is a freaking travesty. How it downgraded so much I'll never understand completely.


It's funny but you're actually probably right! Bioware kept gushing about the romance scenes.
I'll ask again, is that not low settings or something?
 

Pie and Beans

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What I'd heard for a while.

Not sure what exactly happened with the facial animation though as that looks someone quit and took the whole engine with them or mandate they couldn't use his/her work.
 

ElBoxyBrown

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This is the second Bioware studio suffering from "Bro Culture". What is going on?
Dudebro game has developer with bro culture? Not really that surprising really
The last thing Mass Effect is is a dudebro shooter. Which makes the "Bro Culture" even more confusing.
 

OrlanisWorks

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That vid clipis fucking bonkers. The downgrading is worse than anything I had seen before. Looks like Montreal didn't have the skills to continue footing the bills they were handed with ME:A.
 
Jun 28, 2013
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Maybe the game wasn't preforming well on console so they to drastically reduce visuals in a short amount of time resulting in the lack of polish? I mean shit, it doesn't preform well as it is right? Could have been an artistic shift too.

Idk. If that gameplay was real time then just about everything in the final build changed, from character models to geometry.

How long was this game actually in development? That leaked gameplay looks like a vertical slice, but a vertical slice 11 months out for a game that was supposed to release in the fall, and that was supposedly in development for 5 years seems insane. Lot of drama behind the scenes I'd wager.