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Mass Effect: Andromeda - Game Informer reader Q&A with Mac Walters

EatChildren

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Jan 29, 2008
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Fans submit questions, Mac Walters (Creative Director) answers them the best he can. Quite in-depth and long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM2yW3pgiHg

Worth a watch, but here are some cliff notes.

  • Things to improve in open worlds based on lessons learned from Dragon Age: Inquisition and other games like The Witcher 3; importance of balancing quest density and integration. Each planet has its own unique story unfolding, many of the side quests intertwining through that plot and/or the main narrative, instead of just being "go and grind".
  • Reiterates the importance of strong characters driving much of the narrative beats. EG: not just two factions fighting, but context behind the characters running each faction.
  • Still a lot of mystery to uncover as that's core to Mass Effect, but deliberately being tight lipped to prevent spoiling things.
  • Blend of focus; some planets more story heavy, others gameplay. Some about the Nomad, others more on-foot exploration.
  • RE: "It's just like Dragon Age: Inquisition" commentary; tried to correct a lot the criticism they've heard regarding Inquisition's worlds. Not just grinding, pushing more meaningful quests, etc.
  • Won't compare planetary zone size to anything from Inquisition, but notes that most have been built around the Nomad's speed to give an indicator of size.
  • Sarah and Scott Ryder are in their "mid 20s", their first big adventure.
  • Story is about "becoming a hero"; unproven characters getting together and bonding.
  • If you choose to use the default name Sarah/Scott sometimes it will be name dropped in the dialogue.
  • Some hints and nods to familiar canon stuff from the trilogy, but otherwise a fresh start and clean break from Shepard's arc.
  • Exploration is a core theme of the game, thus reduced time sensitive pressure in the main plot. The stakes aren't as high as the trilogy's Reaper plot.
  • Didn't want to repeat character conventions from the trilogy, eg Peebee being somewhat of an opposite to Liara.
  • "Peebee" is shortform for her full name, which will be revealed lately.
  • How your characters are able to understand the Andromeda languages will be explained.
  • For every species that has multiple genders, they will be represented in Andromeda.
  • Implies Vetra (female Turian squadmate) and Peebee have interesting character dynamics.
  • Krogan; state of genophage addressed in the game.
  • Old tensions between Milky Way species remain.
  • Not talking about Quarians yet.
  • Nexus is a "multi-species" effort, unlike the species centric arks. Ark crew can still be multi-species.
  • Native controller support for PC version.
  • No day/night cycles on planets, however "different states" for some of the planets.
  • Encourages keeping saves. Consider Andromeda a series, but not building this as a focused trilogy. Key elements (Pathfinder, Ryders, etc) will appear in the next game. Don't consider it a technical issue, having learned from the previous trilogy. More about vision; not locking themselves into a critical multi-game story arc.
  • Codex is no longer narrated due to size due to a combination of entries from the original trilogy and new galaxy entries. Codex entries can evolve based on new discoveries.
  • Feel the original trilogy's soundtrack inspired some scifi. Wan't some familiar ties but also want to "leapfrog ahead", bringing the OST style forward into something new and not too self referential.
  • Describes the soundtrack composition and technology as a combination of traditional "scored" stuff and procedural-like broken up musical elements that play based on what you're doing in the game.
  • RE: trailers and teasers. Believes a lot of content within the game should be experienced by playing the game, no teasing or spoiling beforehand.
  • Consider the current state of production as the "polish and balance" phase.
 

Neoleo2143

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It sounds great. I think Bioware's got something nice here. Though the scanning was concerning since it seems to be heavily scripted (the second set of foot prints only appears after examining the first set)
 

Jawmuncher

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So that's a no on being forced to do side quests to play the sp right? I swear if I'm forced to explore to find resources for my people to play the story I'm done .
 

jesu

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Mar 30, 2014
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Things to improve in open worlds based on lessons learned from Dragon Age: Inquisition and other games like The Witcher 3; importance of balancing quest density and integration. Each planet has its own unique story unfolding, many of the side quests intertwining through that plot and/or the main narrative, instead of just being "go and grind".

RE: "It's just like Dragon Age: Inquisition" commentary; tried to correct a lot the criticism they've heard regarding Inquisition's worlds. Not just grinding, pushing more meaningful quests, etc.

No one claiming it sounds like DA:I so far...
 

Veelk

Banned
Dec 6, 2008
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Not alone, but yes. Walter worked on every game in the trilogy.
Well, I mean that vaguely recall that a person named mac specifically insisted on all the problems that the third game had against the opposition of the other writers. I just want to know if I'm remembering correctly.
 

Frozenprince

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Sep 26, 2013
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Not alone, but yes. Walter worked on every game in the trilogy.

Actually there are some reports out there that he essentially did just lock himself in a room and write the altered ending by himself once the original ending leaked online.

Well, I mean that vaguely recall that a person named mac specifically insisted on all the problems that the third game had against the opposition of the other writers. I just want to know if I'm remembering correctly.

You are.
 

Crimsonsky

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Aug 1, 2013
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Wait, isn't this the guy responsible for the ME3 ending?

Yep, him and Casey. Casey and just about every other Lead, including the Lead writer all left the game. I'm expecting a mess. Should be fun to watch though. The collectors edition is already a mess. Going to be fun stuff in the months ahead.

Persona 5 Goty 2017. Calling it now. I'm expecting everything else to be thouroughly disappointing.
 

Minty_Freshness

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Feb 18, 2016
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Probably more about how the Krogans want to be able to colonize planets in Andromeda and can't because no fertility, i.e. you'll still have to deal with it anyway

Considering they have a lead engineer on the Nexus that's a Krogan, I'm wondering if maybe they tried to find the "best and brightest" of that species for this mission. AKA, try not to be a dick and just breed like gangbusters to compensate for the Genophage.

Then again, being aggressive is pretty much in a Krogan's genes.
 

Zolo

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Considering they have a lead engineer on the Nexus that's a Krogan, I'm wondering if maybe they tried to find the "best and brightest" of that species for this mission. AKA, try not to be a dick and just breed like gangbusters to compensate for the Genophage.

Then again, being aggressive is pretty much in a Krogan's genes.

Yeah. If I remember right, Krogan with the genophage still breed at about the rate of humans. Just not at the rate of insects.
 
Aug 10, 2013
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Why in the ever living fuck would you keep the name Scott Ryder when you can call him Dick or Ghost. And if you call him Ghost you default to making him look like Nic Cage
 

Sou Da

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Jul 26, 2014
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Yeah I actually asked that second question about what exactly there is to discover and if some of that stuff is narrative content.

Didn't actually think it would be picked, on second thought I should have linked the question page to you guys.
 

adj_noun

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May 28, 2013
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How your characters are able to understand the Andromeda languages will be explained.

 

Metroidvania

People called Romanes they go the house?
Feb 1, 2008
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In the cold.
Things to improve in open worlds based on lessons learned from Dragon Age: Inquisition and other games like The Witcher 3; importance of balancing quest density and integration. Each planet has its own unique story unfolding, many of the side quests intertwining through that plot and/or the main narrative, instead of just being "go and grind".

RE: "It's just like Dragon Age: Inquisition" commentary; tried to correct a lot the criticism they've heard regarding Inquisition's worlds. Not just grinding, pushing more meaningful quests, etc.

I'm honestly curious to see how they do this while simultaneously admitting the 'low(er) stakes' nature of the main story. It worked (relatively) well for Geralt due to his nature as a Witcher and how the side quests tied not only to the monsters, but the overall nature of the world and how you (as Gerald) perceive it as you continue to explore.

I want to believe they learned from DA:I, but that first trailer didn't exactly leave me super optimistic.

Native controller support for PC version.

About damn time.
 

Son Of Sparda

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Dec 1, 2014
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Each time a trailer gets me down, Walters is there to lift my spirit again. It all sounds great and hopefully we'll see some of those stuff in action before game launches in the first half of 2017.
 

JeffZero

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Dec 14, 2014
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Things to improve in open worlds based on lessons learned from Dragon Age: Inquisition and other games like The Witcher 3; importance of balancing quest density and integration. Each planet has its own unique story unfolding, many of the side quests intertwining through that plot and/or the main narrative, instead of just being "go and grind".

Blessed. Be.
 

Renekton

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I'm honestly curious to see how they do this while simultaneously admitting the 'low(er) stakes' nature of the main story. It worked (relatively) well for Geralt due to his nature as a Witcher and how the side quests tied not only to the monsters, but the overall nature of the world and how you (as Gerald) perceive it as you continue to explore.
It didn't work that well for Geralt. After lots of relatively grounded fairy tale stuff they suddenly threw him into a huge multiverse of Space Elves and multi-dimensional Ragnarok. We got a teaser with the dimensional travel sequence, some dialogue about Space Elf politics, then they hastily tied everything up with Ciri doing her anti-Ragnarok magic off-camera. It's almost as rushed as the elf temple and Corypheus.

I think AAA CRPG designers love biting off more than they can chew.
 

rockinreelin

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It didn't work that well for Geralt. After lots of relatively grounded fairy tale stuff they suddenly threw him into a huge multiverse of Space Elves and multi-dimensional Ragnarok. We got a teaser with the dimensional travel sequence, some dialogue about Space Elf politics, then they hastily tied everything up with Ciri doing her anti-Ragnarok magic off-camera. It's almost as rushed as the elf temple and Corypheus.

I think AAA CRPG designers love biting off more than they can chew.

Off topic, but the problem lies with CDPR as the multi dimensional stuff (even the standard fairy tale stuff is explained via the conjunction of spheres stuff) is intrinsic to the witcher verse from the very beginning in the books. It's just that CDPR didn't tie into the books until W3, which was a pity imo.
 

EatChildren

Currently polling second in Australia's federal election (first in the Gold Coast), this feral may one day be your Bogan King.
Jan 29, 2008
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Someone asks about the suicide mission, and Mac states Andromeda's ending is more in line with ME1.
 

Metroidvania

People called Romanes they go the house?
Feb 1, 2008
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In the cold.
It didn't work that well for Geralt. After lots of relatively grounded fairy tale stuff they suddenly threw him into a huge multiverse of Space Elves and multi-dimensional Ragnarok. We got a teaser with the dimensional travel sequence, some dialogue about Space Elf politics, then they hastily tied everything up with Ciri doing her anti-Ragnarok magic off-camera. It's almost as rushed as the elf temple and Corypheus.

I think AAA CRPG designers love biting off more than they can chew.

True, though I was referring more to the side-quest aspect of it, and how they tied both into Geralt's (and thus, the player, to an extent) morality as well as his profession, and how you as the player went about going to fulfill that objective.

Even though they were mostly linear save for some 'choose who to follow/listen to for X/Y outcome', they mainly fit within the world.

Here....I'm a little more concerned, as Dragon Age's open world quests devolved into either 'Kill Bandit group X for Y power/influence', or 'search for X number of items to unlock Y power/influence'

Power was an abstract concept, that didn't always tie itself into tangible changes on the world, at least in a way that really had 'oomph' to the player.
 

- J - D -

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The bit about the Krogan Genophage makes me think we'll have to go through that same drama and angst again when we've already put that ish to bed in ME3. I suppose though that having to re-explore well tread conflicts and interpersonal drama was always in the cards given Andromeda's time and setting.
 

Renekton

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The bit about the Krogan Genophage makes me think we'll have to go through that same drama and angst again when we've already put that ish to bed in ME3. I suppose though that having to re-explore well tread conflicts and interpersonal drama was always in the cards given Andromeda's time and setting.
Bioware could just put in some codex or offhand NPC mention that they picked from the fertile 0.1% of the population for Andromeda. Case closed.

Besides, there was only a grand total of two Krogans angsty about the Genophage: Wrex and Bakara. No other Krogan gave a fk and probably neither will Drack.
 

- J - D -

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Bioware could just put in some codex or offhand NPC mention that they picked from the fertile 0.1% of the population for Andromeda. Case closed.

Besides, there was only a grand total of two Krogans angsty about the Genophage: Wrex and Bakara. No other Krogan gave a fk and probably neither will Drack.

I hope that's the case, but it's too high profile a bugaboo in the ME universe to just leave as a codex entry so I'm pretty sure they'll spend some time on it even if just for acknowledgement along the lines of "Hey, I'm a Krogan so of course I'm going to mention the Genophage" or "hey I'm a non-Krogan race who has opinions about the Genophage".

As for the seemingly limited scope of the Genophage drama of past ME games, I attributed it to the realities of development and limited resources/time. Even still, you had Grunt and Mordin, two additional characters being of either a direct consequence of Genophage research or defined by their involvement in its creation.
 

Staf

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  • No day/night cycles on planets, however "different states" for some of the planets.

This is pretty bad. From my experience day and night cycles is pretty damn important in making the worlds feel alive. But we'l see...
 

Trojita

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Yeah. If I remember right, Krogan with the genophage still breed at about the rate of humans. Just not at the rate of insects.

The biggest demoralizing part is that they still get "pregnant" but the limited amount of Krogans that even make it far enough suffer a stillbirth.
 

Tsukumo

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So their excuse at first was that they wanted to output a barrage of in-game videos close to release date and they fed us teasers for five fucking years, now they want to us to believe they'd rather show the least possible to not spoil "the surprise"...
sure, Walters.
The only thing that makes me slightly less apprehensive about the game is the release of the alpha-test for the multiplayer. It can't come soon enough.
 

Renekton

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This is pretty bad. From my experience day and night cycles is pretty damn important in making the worlds feel alive. But we'l see...
Come to think of it, must life-supporting planets have a day-night cycle?

It would be super cool if they could portray a planet with crazy transitions.