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Found 10 results

  1. Extra Credits is an excellent YouTube channel run by people who work in the video game industry and like to share their knowledge and opinions with the wider world in concise, well-made videos. One of their series, Extra Frame, delves into the various facets of video game animation. In a recent episode, animator Daniel Floyd explains in great detail what might have gone wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda's animation that led to such large public outcry against the facial animations, lip sync, and the recently patched eye issues. The veteran animator made it clear that the issue isn't just "bad animation is bad, make it better." Rather, it is a multifacted issue with a number of possible contributing factors - the failure of any one aspect could bring the rest crumbling down and lead to a visual mess. Floyd stresses that players must understand that animation can be done very differently in the video game business. Games like the Uncharted series often custom animate everything from the ground up, but they can do those bespoke animations because they only have to animate about 8 hours of total scenes or interactions. A project like Mass Effect can have upwards of 40 hours of animation to be done, and when you are on a schedule tackling that much work on a custom level becomes impossible. The demands of large-scale RPGs that requires animation that accounts for different player choices results in devs turning toward the use of algorithms. Some people in the gaming community have pointed their fingers as the algorithm approach as the culprit behind Andromeda's visual shortcomings, but that's not quite right, either. Many games use this approach to create baseline interactions that they can then further customize later on in the development cycle. Even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt made use of an algorithm to generate many of its more mundane interactions. So if it isn't the system, what exactly caused all the problems in Andromeda? Daniel Floyd speculates that any number of issues might have occurred. It could be bugs affecting the algorithm tags that are supposed to be telling the character models how to act. It could be that compressing the files to fit on a disc or online for release resulted in a garbling the animation data. It also might not have anything to do with the algorithm at all. Mass Effect: Andromeda makes use of EA's Frostbite engine while the previous Mass Effect series was done completely in modified versions of Unreal Engine 3. Switching engines is always a pretty tricky task for any developer. All the assets and systems used in the old engine no longer apply. To create a new Mass Effect in a new engine required BioWare to start from scratch when it came to their assets and animation. Floyd points out that BioWare already had some experience with Frostbite from Dragon Age: Inquisition, but the new engine might still have presented a significant stumbling block for the development team for a Mass Effect game. Floyd takes time to mention Johnathan Cooper, an ex-BioWare animator, who gave a brief analysis of Andromeda's animation kerfuffle. Cooper explains that, essentially, the gaming audience has become more discerning. Gamers have access to easy sharing tools and game capture and are able to share goofs and slip-ups more easily than ever before. That combines with what Cooper believes to be an overly ambitious and overly confident development team that thought they could go back and tune all the animations by hand (which definitely proved not to be the case in the finished product). These problems could have been eliminated or alleviated with more development time, more money, or a more reigned-in scope for Andromeda. The tools are likely all there to have shipped Andromeda with some fantastic animation, but the visition and expectations of the development team would have needed to be different. Floyd closes out the video with a quote we should all keep in mind going forward as a way to reign in our expectations and our anger when something we love doesn't quite turn out to be as great as we'd hoped: "Game development is just like this sometimes. You set out to do a new thing that you've never tried before or you try to do an old thing in a more ambitious, new way. You plan it as best you can. Sometimes it works out great, but other times things go wrong - you run into problems you could have never predicted. Before you know it your plan has gone awry and you have no way to fix it before the deadline and it just sucks." I'd be willing to bet there will be some interesting postmortem interviews on Mass Effect: Andromeda's development released in the coming years. For now, let's enjoy what we have and perhaps coming patches and DLC can bring Andromeda more in line with BioWare's grand vision.
  2. Extra Credits is an excellent YouTube channel run by people who work in the video game industry and like to share their knowledge and opinions with the wider world in concise, well-made videos. One of their series, Extra Frame, delves into the various facets of video game animation. In a recent episode, animator Daniel Floyd explains in great detail what might have gone wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda's animation that led to such large public outcry against the facial animations, lip sync, and the recently patched eye issues. The veteran animator made it clear that the issue isn't just "bad animation is bad, make it better." Rather, it is a multifacted issue with a number of possible contributing factors - the failure of any one aspect could bring the rest crumbling down and lead to a visual mess. Floyd stresses that players must understand that animation can be done very differently in the video game business. Games like the Uncharted series often custom animate everything from the ground up, but they can do those bespoke animations because they only have to animate about 8 hours of total scenes or interactions. A project like Mass Effect can have upwards of 40 hours of animation to be done, and when you are on a schedule tackling that much work on a custom level becomes impossible. The demands of large-scale RPGs that requires animation that accounts for different player choices results in devs turning toward the use of algorithms. Some people in the gaming community have pointed their fingers as the algorithm approach as the culprit behind Andromeda's visual shortcomings, but that's not quite right, either. Many games use this approach to create baseline interactions that they can then further customize later on in the development cycle. Even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt made use of an algorithm to generate many of its more mundane interactions. So if it isn't the system, what exactly caused all the problems in Andromeda? Daniel Floyd speculates that any number of issues might have occurred. It could be bugs affecting the algorithm tags that are supposed to be telling the character models how to act. It could be that compressing the files to fit on a disc or online for release resulted in a garbling the animation data. It also might not have anything to do with the algorithm at all. Mass Effect: Andromeda makes use of EA's Frostbite engine while the previous Mass Effect series was done completely in modified versions of Unreal Engine 3. Switching engines is always a pretty tricky task for any developer. All the assets and systems used in the old engine no longer apply. To create a new Mass Effect in a new engine required BioWare to start from scratch when it came to their assets and animation. Floyd points out that BioWare already had some experience with Frostbite from Dragon Age: Inquisition, but the new engine might still have presented a significant stumbling block for the development team for a Mass Effect game. Floyd takes time to mention Johnathan Cooper, an ex-BioWare animator, who gave a brief analysis of Andromeda's animation kerfuffle. Cooper explains that, essentially, the gaming audience has become more discerning. Gamers have access to easy sharing tools and game capture and are able to share goofs and slip-ups more easily than ever before. That combines with what Cooper believes to be an overly ambitious and overly confident development team that thought they could go back and tune all the animations by hand (which definitely proved not to be the case in the finished product). These problems could have been eliminated or alleviated with more development time, more money, or a more reigned-in scope for Andromeda. The tools are likely all there to have shipped Andromeda with some fantastic animation, but the visition and expectations of the development team would have needed to be different. Floyd closes out the video with a quote we should all keep in mind going forward as a way to reign in our expectations and our anger when something we love doesn't quite turn out to be as great as we'd hoped: "Game development is just like this sometimes. You set out to do a new thing that you've never tried before or you try to do an old thing in a more ambitious, new way. You plan it as best you can. Sometimes it works out great, but other times things go wrong - you run into problems you could have never predicted. Before you know it your plan has gone awry and you have no way to fix it before the deadline and it just sucks." I'd be willing to bet there will be some interesting postmortem interviews on Mass Effect: Andromeda's development released in the coming years. For now, let's enjoy what we have and perhaps coming patches and DLC can bring Andromeda more in line with BioWare's grand vision. View full article
  3. Mass Effect: Andromeda releases later this month bringing players into BioWare's sci-fi universe once again. The spacefaring adventure might hit stores on March 21, but those who subscribe to EA's Access service will have 10 hours of pre-release gameplay time beginning on March 16. A similar perk is available for PC users through Origin Access. Unfortunately for PlayStation 4 owners, EA Access is exclusive to the Xbox One and no options are available to PS4 players to get in on the early slice of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Interestingly enough, that 10 hours of gameplay won't be completely unfettered. Players will be limited to a handful of story missions on a single planet before additional progress becomes locked. At that point, players can either explore or restart Andromeda. Mass Effect producer Fernando Melo expanded a bit on the limitations of the EA Access game time on Twitter. For more Mass Effect: Andromeda goodness, check out the trailer for BioWare's new space epic.
  4. Mass Effect: Andromeda releases later this month bringing players into BioWare's sci-fi universe once again. The spacefaring adventure might hit stores on March 21, but those who subscribe to EA's Access service will have 10 hours of pre-release gameplay time beginning on March 16. A similar perk is available for PC users through Origin Access. Unfortunately for PlayStation 4 owners, EA Access is exclusive to the Xbox One and no options are available to PS4 players to get in on the early slice of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Interestingly enough, that 10 hours of gameplay won't be completely unfettered. Players will be limited to a handful of story missions on a single planet before additional progress becomes locked. At that point, players can either explore or restart Andromeda. Mass Effect producer Fernando Melo expanded a bit on the limitations of the EA Access game time on Twitter. For more Mass Effect: Andromeda goodness, check out the trailer for BioWare's new space epic. View full article
  5. BioWare's next installment in the Mass Effect universe looms on the video game release horizon only a scant few weeks away. While we've certainly seen a decent chunk of gameplay and cinematics, much of game still seems to be shrouded in mystery. Today, BioWare pulled back a bit more of the curtain on Mass Effect: Andromeda. As explorers sent to an entirely unexplored new galaxy, players need to establish and secure a new world 2.5 million light years away from Earth. If that weren't already a daunting task, the alien races that inhabit that new galaxy are unpredictable - some might greet explorers with curiosity and open arms, but others are out for blood. Players will need to explore, craft, and fight to carve a new home out of a dangerous new frontier.
  6. BioWare's next installment in the Mass Effect universe looms on the video game release horizon only a scant few weeks away. While we've certainly seen a decent chunk of gameplay and cinematics, much of game still seems to be shrouded in mystery. Today, BioWare pulled back a bit more of the curtain on Mass Effect: Andromeda. As explorers sent to an entirely unexplored new galaxy, players need to establish and secure a new world 2.5 million light years away from Earth. If that weren't already a daunting task, the alien races that inhabit that new galaxy are unpredictable - some might greet explorers with curiosity and open arms, but others are out for blood. Players will need to explore, craft, and fight to carve a new home out of a dangerous new frontier. View full article
  7. The Game Awards showcased a large selection of upcoming titles that captured the imagination of those in attendance and watching via livestream. While all the games shown were indeed hotly anticipated, few titles have as rabid a following as the Mass Effect fanbase who were treated to almost five minutes of gameplay from the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. The 4K gameplay on display in the gameplay trailer demonstrated many scenarios of frantic, fast-paced action that maintains the series' third-person perspective adapted to the fluidity of Dragon Age Inquisition's Frostbite Engine. It doesn't quite seem to be as tactical as past entries, with less of a reliance on cover-based shooting. Most of the actions seemed to be mapped to buttons rather than a mid-action pause screen (though on one occasion the feature does reappear when the player character switches ammo types). The series' trademark dialogue wheel and action prompts remain, clearly shown in an exchange between a provincial thug and the Pathfinder. Players will also still be able to combine abilities to perform combos of some sort. Interestingly, it seems like perhaps stealth will be a more viable way of playing Andromeda than in previous entries - one segment of gameplay shows the player can have the ability to turn invisible in order to line up headshots on unsuspecting sentries. Crafting will be a bigger part of the series than it has since the first Mass Effect title. Players will begin with what they have aboard their ship, but anything else will have to be scavenged and crafted from the materials found on the worlds they find during their exploration. That exploration doesn't come without danger, either. Ravenous beasts prowl the unknown and some are willing to attack on sight. Some planets play host to pirates armed with everything from laser cannons to mechs, others might hold unencountered alien races who might view an intrusion by Council races as an act of war. Once again, Mass Effect offers the thrill of the unknown and it is hard not to get excited at the prospect of revisiting that rich universe to see what BioWare has cooked up in the years since the conclusion of Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect: Andromeda releases Spring 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
  8. The Game Awards showcased a large selection of upcoming titles that captured the imagination of those in attendance and watching via livestream. While all the games shown were indeed hotly anticipated, few titles have as rabid a following as the Mass Effect fanbase who were treated to almost five minutes of gameplay from the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. The 4K gameplay on display in the gameplay trailer demonstrated many scenarios of frantic, fast-paced action that maintains the series' third-person perspective adapted to the fluidity of Dragon Age Inquisition's Frostbite Engine. It doesn't quite seem to be as tactical as past entries, with less of a reliance on cover-based shooting. Most of the actions seemed to be mapped to buttons rather than a mid-action pause screen (though on one occasion the feature does reappear when the player character switches ammo types). The series' trademark dialogue wheel and action prompts remain, clearly shown in an exchange between a provincial thug and the Pathfinder. Players will also still be able to combine abilities to perform combos of some sort. Interestingly, it seems like perhaps stealth will be a more viable way of playing Andromeda than in previous entries - one segment of gameplay shows the player can have the ability to turn invisible in order to line up headshots on unsuspecting sentries. Crafting will be a bigger part of the series than it has since the first Mass Effect title. Players will begin with what they have aboard their ship, but anything else will have to be scavenged and crafted from the materials found on the worlds they find during their exploration. That exploration doesn't come without danger, either. Ravenous beasts prowl the unknown and some are willing to attack on sight. Some planets play host to pirates armed with everything from laser cannons to mechs, others might hold unencountered alien races who might view an intrusion by Council races as an act of war. Once again, Mass Effect offers the thrill of the unknown and it is hard not to get excited at the prospect of revisiting that rich universe to see what BioWare has cooked up in the years since the conclusion of Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect: Andromeda releases Spring 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. View full article
  9. From now until September 28 at 6:59am GMT, Mass Effect fans can submit vocal performances to BioWare for a chance to have their voice contribute to the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Those who follow BioWare closely might be reminded of the time the prolific RPG developer put on a similar contest for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Those who wish to toss their hats into the voice acting ring can choose one of two scripts. The first places the voice actor in the role of a self-described "documentary vidmaker" talking through an interview while the other role represents a tough, business-like mercenary talking with their companion. The submission can be audio only or include video as well (though the most important part of the submission will necessarily be audio). When contestants have a take with which they feel happy, they can send a link to their uploaded work to explorers@bioware.com and are encouraged to share that work on social media with the hashtag #ExplorersWanted. Make sure to read the rules to ensure your submission falls within BioWare's contest guidelines. The winning entrant will be notified by November 30 and flown to a BioWare recording studio with paid hotel accommodation while their voice contributes to BioWare's next sci-fi space epic. You can read the full contest rules and download the scripts from BioWare's announcement. Mass Effect: Andromeda is expected to release March 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  10. From now until September 28 at 6:59am GMT, Mass Effect fans can submit vocal performances to BioWare for a chance to have their voice contribute to the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Those who follow BioWare closely might be reminded of the time the prolific RPG developer put on a similar contest for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Those who wish to toss their hats into the voice acting ring can choose one of two scripts. The first places the voice actor in the role of a self-described "documentary vidmaker" talking through an interview while the other role represents a tough, business-like mercenary talking with their companion. The submission can be audio only or include video as well (though the most important part of the submission will necessarily be audio). When contestants have a take with which they feel happy, they can send a link to their uploaded work to explorers@bioware.com and are encouraged to share that work on social media with the hashtag #ExplorersWanted. Make sure to read the rules to ensure your submission falls within BioWare's contest guidelines. The winning entrant will be notified by November 30 and flown to a BioWare recording studio with paid hotel accommodation while their voice contributes to BioWare's next sci-fi space epic. You can read the full contest rules and download the scripts from BioWare's announcement. Mass Effect: Andromeda is expected to release March 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article