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Naughty Dog animator explains ME's animation

Alpha Phoenix

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May 7, 2015
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FYI, this guy worked on previous ME titles.

Also I completely agree 100 percent. Been saying this all along. Still, was hoping for better animations.
 

Nights Owl

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Jun 25, 2013
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Actually really cool for the guy to come out and say this. I'm not a Mass Effect fan and never was, but I can understand the simplicity of "Making animations for huge games isn't exactly an easy thing when there's so many options for the player to make".

Either way, good game or not, it's extremely stupid to think 1 single person was responsible for the bad to mediocre animations in the game. That's honestly one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

At the end of the day, it doesn't meet expectations in the animation department, but hey, that's not even a main thing that makes a game good in my honest opinion. At the very worst, it's good for a laugh.
 

bananafactory

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Nov 6, 2013
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I still don't understand how scenes like 'My face is tired' wound up at such low quality. That's a very prominent character and a scene almost everyone would encounter. Unless the algorithm didn't work as intended, or it just got missed somehow?
 

Azoor

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Nov 22, 2015
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From what I gathered, Andromeda had a pretty troubled development, animation and many other things seems to have suffered because of that.
 

Jackpot

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None of that explains why characters couldn't even walk properly in scripted cutscenes, which are just as controlled and contained as in Uncharted.
 

PulseONE

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I agree with his assessment at the end, one positive to come out of it is that (hopefully) less AAA devs will skimp on the animation simply because an event isn't important to the main story.

None of that explains why characters couldn't even walk properly in scripted cutscenes, which are just as controlled and contained as in Uncharted.
I've a feeling scenes like that aren't quite as scripted as Uncharted 4

In U4 most cutscenes are fully mocapped with all motions being unique to that scene, in ME:A in some scenes they probably just have the character walk using the built in dynamic walking animations, which as we saw can be wonky af

I've not played the game yet, but from trailers I'm certain the game contains at least some fully mocapped scenes which look far better
 

MarineMountie

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None of that explains why characters couldn't even walk properly in scripted cutscenes, which are just as controlled and contained as in Uncharted.
While what he says makes sense, this seems like one dev having other devs back. Nothing wrong at all with that, btw. I'm sure he knows the animations could be better(much better).
 

Diablohead

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Jun 4, 2006
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We might start to expect higher quality sure, but to see MEA go backwards from what ME had already is tough to look at, let alone all the bugs and poor performing segments.

It's a big job I understand that, i'd honestly prefer that 8 hours of ME quality over 15 hours of current gen if it means that it works as intended.
 

TheRealTalker

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Mar 29, 2013
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very educational

hopefully people read this instead of jumping to conclusions like we usually do while being utterly ignorant about our own arguments
 

Omadahl

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As a complete outsider with no experience in any sort of game development, this is an interesting look at the process. The game clearly suffers from their base algorithm not being touched up afterwards but, as we now know, there was a lot of troubled development. Another year in the oven and a more dedicated/happy team could have really made this game shine.
 

semiconscious

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Jun 30, 2006
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thanks for this. great info. i've been educated! :) ...

so, he's theorizing that what we're seeing is a first, algorithm-based pass, that was supposed to be touched-up down the road, but never was. & that does, indeed, seem to explain things pretty satisfactorily...
 

Zedark

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Feb 22, 2016
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Sounds like a very fair discussion he has given there. Very interesting insight, and it seems the animation issues with the game are probably due to Bioware wanting to do too much rather than just being plain incompetent. It's a valuable lesson for Bioware and other developers that you have to consider carefully how to approach this layered animation quality stuff, or people will be displeased.

Even if you're displeased, though, being an asshat to people, and especially singling out an individual out of a whole team of dozens of animators, is exceptionally moronic.
 

TheKastorian

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Sep 11, 2013
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Great explanation. Yeah, people just don't realize how much time it would require to have all these animations designed manually.
 

Azoor

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Nov 22, 2015
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Regardless of how poorly ME might look like at it's absolute worst, anyone comparing it to a game like Uncharted 4 is a complete dumb ass.
Especially when you put in mind that dialog is 70% of what you do in Mass Effect, and these games could take you 25-30 hours to complete.
 

vivekTO

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Oct 10, 2014
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I was try to grab that tweeter thread for past 20 mins with failure :p
great insight on the Whole animation thing going on.

Also If anyone interested ,

Ex Animator at Naughtydog is behind the Cora Culmination scene.
 

RedlineRonin

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Apr 26, 2013
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Good stuff.

If there's anyone I'd listen to on animation quality, it's a guy who works at ND.

Thanks for sharing OP.
 

chrominance

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May 24, 2013
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None of that explains why characters couldn't even walk properly in scripted cutscenes, which are just as controlled and contained as in Uncharted.
That is probably at least partially explained by sheer volume. I think the contrast with Uncharted was made not just to show that individual scenes could branch, but also that you have to create so many more scenes just because of the scope of the game compared to Uncharted.

I also think the animator's comment about the ME:A team potentially underestimated how long it would take to fix everything up is key here. He was talking about dialogue specifically, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if the same applied to walk animations.
 

James Scott

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May 24, 2014
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I'd hope no one was looking to Uncharted 4 as to what to expect from an RPG's cutscenes. But yeah, even compared to Witcher 3 (2 years ago) or previous Bioware games it's an odd step down.
I think the character models (rendering?) are also to blame. Don't think the tired face lady would look good even with good animations.
 

Strings

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I still don't understand how scenes like 'My face is tired' wound up at such low quality. That's a very prominent character and a scene almost everyone would encounter. Unless the algorithm didn't work as intended, or it just got missed somehow?
I mean, that entire moment is just a trainwreck. From the line read, animation, and ESPECIALLY the script.

At least half a dozen highup decision-makers okayed that, which is most baffling...
 

nubbe

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Jun 7, 2004
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Animations is just one part of the technical issues, but a big one in an RPG.
All these small problems stack up to a big pile of doody
 

SwiftDeath

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May 31, 2013
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I still don't understand how scenes like 'My face is tired' wound up at such low quality. That's a very prominent character and a scene almost everyone would encounter. Unless the algorithm didn't work as intended, or it just got missed somehow?
His explanation which sounds reasonable was that Bioware was intending to come back to animations and fix them by hand but didn't have the time.

At least that's my takeaway as he stated they must've used an algorithm with lower quality metrics on purpose
 

see5harp

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May 12, 2009
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Especially when you put in mind that dialog is 70% of what you do in Mass Effect, and these games could take you 25-30 hours to complete.
I suppose you could compare it to something like the Witcher 3, which probably comes close to having as much dialogue and content. Mass Effect does look super jenk but Fallout 4 wasn't exactly a great example of animation either and there didn't seem to be nearly as much vitriol surrounding that (admittedly average) game.
 

chaosaeon

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Feb 6, 2014
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None of that explains why characters couldn't even walk properly in scripted cutscenes, which are just as controlled and contained as in Uncharted.
Yeah, there are scenes every player will see, that are completely contained, and still have that level of low quality. I think he's just trying to be supportive. That explanation doesn't work for things like a main cutscene. Or a 5 year cycle.
 

The Dude

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This is why I personally don't axe a game right away if it's not perfect in ways. I'll dig in and at least see what's up before making a complete judgment
 

nubbe

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I suppose you could compare it to something like the Witcher 3, which probably comes close to having as much dialogue and content. Mass Effect does look super jenk but Fallout 4 wasn't exactly a great example of animation either and there didn't seem to be nearly as much vitriol surrounding that (admittedly average) game.
It's not the character interaction that makes people buy Bethesda games, it's the adventure, so people don't emphasise the character interactions.

ME is very linear in the way you engage the world.
You have mission "hubs" that go from point A to B and the reward for engaging in the hubs are the story and character development.
 

Orthogonal

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Nov 17, 2013
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I mean, that entire moment is just a trainwreck. From the line read, animation, and ESPECIALLY the script.

At least half a dozen highup decision-makers okayed that, which is most baffling...
Exactly, the poor animation was a small piece of why it was bad and the least cringey aspect of that scene.
 

mattmanp

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Sep 27, 2013
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Speculation based on business logic but as to why the untouched animations: the game launched in March for a reason. End of March is end of the fiscal year and most likely EA gave ultimatum that it had to release before fiscal end to get it off their books. Devs would have had to prioritize what was left to finish and animation touchup fell off because of it. If development was troubled and EA wasn't confident another year would be worth the cost then cutting their losses and pushing it out makes sense fiscally.
 

the1npc

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Dec 11, 2011
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Kinda interesting but im more worried about thr embarrassing dialog ive heard. Not dropping $80cnd ob this game sorry bioware
 

thekiddfran

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Dec 12, 2013
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Regardless of how poorly ME might look like at it's absolute worst, anyone comparing it to a game like Uncharted 4 is a complete dumb ass.
We can compare it to Horizon zero dawn and ME is complete trash in comparison

We don't know the budget for ME but I can bet it is higher than the 50 million approx that Horizon cost
 

bananafactory

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Nov 6, 2013
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I think we can assume they maybe intended to come back and touch up a ton of animations, not just facial ones. Jonathan does mention body language so it's possible even walking anims may have been scheduled for adjustment before being left alone.

Either way it certainly seems that despite a long dev cycle, the team would have benefited from another 6 months.
 

eot

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Apr 13, 2012
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Regardless of how poorly ME might look like at it's absolute worst, anyone comparing it to a game like Uncharted 4 is a complete dumb ass.
You don't need to compare it to anything for it to look bad.
 

Oblivion

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So if I understand this "controversy", there were several animators on the new ME, but the Gators/Alt-right zeroed in on the the female one?
 

Spartancarver

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Regardless of how poorly ME might look like at it's absolute worst, anyone comparing it to a game like Uncharted 4 is a complete dumb ass.
The more damning comparison is ME:A to ME 1-3.

ME:A animations are objectively worse.

Horizon is leagues ahead too.
 

see5harp

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We can compare it to Horizon zero dawn and ME is complete trash in comparison
I haven't played through Mass Effect but I have 10 hours in Horizon and I do think the animation work is a lot better in Horizon from what I've seen. The presentation is better than average when you consider the type of game it is. Every single conversation you have in that game isn't perfect though.
 

Strings

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So if I understand this "controversy", there were several animators on the new ME, but the Gators/Alt-right zeroed in on the the female one?
While that entire thing was asinine, deplorable, etc - her twitter bio did read 'lead facial animator on Mass Effect Andromeda' or some-such.
 

Crankshaft

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Feb 5, 2013
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At the end of the day it comes down to time and money. EA and Bioware knew about the animation and someone made the decision that it was ok to ship a AAA game in this state. That person or group is making a gamble on whether the gaming public will vote with their wallets. Will be interesting to see the sales data and how it reflects all this.
 

Jb

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Oct 2, 2009
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Makes total sense.
I noticed how many of the conversations in Witcher 3 were a series of re-used animations + lip sync. They didn't try to make each and every one of them unique but the upside is they also never looked completely fucked up.
 

Azoor

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Nov 22, 2015
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I suppose you could compare it to something like the Witcher 3, which probably comes close to having as much dialogue and content. Mass Effect does look super jenk but Fallout 4 wasn't exactly a great example of animation either and there didn't seem to be nearly as much vitriol surrounding that (admittedly average) game.
I think it didn't receive much scorn because people expect Bethesda games to be badly animated jank lol.
 

MegaSackman

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Aug 14, 2014
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I get everything he's saying but I'm still getting that in Andromeda things aren't good and this explanation don't excuse it, just explains it. Is not that Andromeda couldn't have facial animations close to Inquisition, The Witcher or Horizon, is just things didn't work well.

I'm 5hs into the game and it's a really big issue, absolutely nobody is believable in the game, not even the main characters. I still think that's not what makes the game but it's a really noticiable issue.