Starting off a conversation with BioWare’s Michael Gamble about Mass Effect: Andromeda, I immediately landed a low blow, talking about fan reception to Mass Effect 3‘s ending.
I could practically hear him wince over the phone.
“You know what? I joke a little bit on it, and there are a number of us from the trilogy who are on Andromeda. The scars never really fully healed,” Gamble said, tongue firmly in cheek.
Gamble, Producer on Andromeda, said there’s been a lot learned from the original Mass Effect trilogy — and its lack of actual choice when compared to the franchise as a whole — but nothing that’s hampering development of this new title.
“I would say that there’s definitely not a cloud over Andromeda. Not by a long shot,” he asserted. “We made the conscious decision very early on in this game to start new. To make a fresh approach at what Mass Effect is, and in doing that, over the years of development, I think we’ve left that cloud behind pretty substantially.
“Now, that’s up for the players really to decide when they get the game, but what the game is based on — the sense of exploration to Andromeda, the characters who are in it, the types of characters, the types of things you can do — it all feels very Mass Effect. But, I don’t think it has any of the associated issues with what the trilogy left behind. It’s something that excites us, it encourages us, and I think that what’s done is done, literally, for the trilogy.”
Gamble applauded the way in which BioWare approaches game reviews, adding that it provides a perfect way to begin design on new titles.
“We have a very structured process by which a couple of us will get together after a game is done, and we’ll lick our wounds,” he said. “We’ll look at the reviews, and we’ll talk to the fans, and we’ll go to the conventions, and figure out, ‘All right, what are the things that need the most work?’
“We’ll come up with that list. It’s literally a list, and then when we’re making the new game, that list stays on our wall, and that list stays in the vision documents, and in the statements, and that’s where it lives for the duration of the game.”
He could provide a clear example of this process between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda.
“When we started Mass Effect 2, we looked at all the notes on gameplay and combat for Mass Effect. That was our focus.
“For Mass Effect: Andromeda, similarly, we knew we wanted to make more open, larger, explorable areas, and of course we wanted the Mako to be part of that. It was the first thing we hit for the Mako, and we just made that thing drive, handle, and play a lot better. It wasn’t anything to be proud of to bring in a similar-playing Mako experience [from the original Mass Effect] into Andromeda that we saw before, so we had to basically redo it from start, and now we have something that we’re really proud of.”
Mass Effect: Andromeda heads to Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4 next year. Expect more from Gamble in the coming days.