Video edit mocks awful animation in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Originally published at:

…and yet this somehow looks better than the animations in the new Mass Effect…


edit - Video inline! thanks TobinL. Also, the game is ruined for me, cannot unsee Shrek.


I lack an adequate PC to play it right now, but DA:I was already amazingly bad (neat art direction though). The old saying was that Bioware lacks gameplay, but makes up for it in writing. However, in DA:I, the writing was pure garbage as well. Eep.


I must have that Portsmouth Sinfonia VST!

put the link by on a line by itself with no spaces in front of it.


A video game whose hype far surpassed anything that could ever be delivered? This is the first time I have ever heard of such a thing!

I look forward to the 10/10 reviews


If writing equals “boning your companions” … then yes


ug don’t ruin it for me

Meh - realism is extremely over-rated, and not worth striving for. Also “ZOMG Fake!” is not an informed criticism of craft.

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Wow, expectations have really changed… When I last played games peoples faces were 6 polys, didn’t move, and they spoke only in subtitles. I feel bad for the 22 year old devs who aren’t sleeping because the internet is shitting on an unreleased game while the production cycle crushes them.


I’m gonna argue with you on that. They went from some rather neat stylization that meshed rather well with the jumbo weapons and spikey armors and other junk in 2 to shiny “realistic” character models that didn’t mesh with anything, the same jumbo weapons and rather a lot of inconsistency in everything else. There’s some nice stuff going on in DA:I’s visual design. But I’ll be damned if I could figure out how any of it was supposed to fit together.

The issue here is not that it doesn’t look “real” its that it doesn’t look good. I agree realism isn’t the best thing to shoot for. It tends to be a lazy substitute for proper art direction. And tends not to look as interesting or as good as something more stylized. But it’s Bioware who have decided to discard that in favor of chasing visual realism. Something that didn’t work out in their last major release. Dragon Age Inquisition was in a lot of ways, bizarrely ugly. Its attempts at visual realism were often times clunky, and unreal looking. Bugs and clunkyness in the engine were common. And we’re seeing the same thing here. Its not good when the eyeballs on the character you talk to seem entirely disconnected from their head. Its not good when their jaw seems to be disconnected from their body. Its not good when a character model suddenly squat walks like no human could, in an endless circle, and gets stuck on the environment.


Or to put it more succinctly, the uncanny valley: the closer you approach realism, the more disconcerting the differences become.

That said, I’ve only started playing DA:I this year (and spent way too much time in the Hinterlands), and while I don’t find the game ugly in general, the character animation definitely has issues. I’m going to make a wild guess that there wasn’t Serkis-level talent behind their mocap.

Its not just the uncanny valley. That’s certainly one of the reasons realism isn’t always smart. And that’d be an issue when the engine on the more recent Bioware games is working. But the bigger issue here is the points at where it doesn’t, and a lack of consistency or even any overarching idea behind the visual design. Its especially startling given that around the midpoints of both these series they had taken a rather large step in the direction of good, thought out art direction.

As for the rest of DA:I. There’s definitely some good stuff in there. But its really kind of a slog. The writing is often humor and charmless. Most of the material is grindy, bland stock RPG stuff. The main story line is alright. But its like paint by numbers Bioware “you’re the one save the world” epic story telling. I was incredibly disappointed with it coming off 2. Which was a mess, but a very interesting mess. And then I was even more disappointed with it when I picked up Witcher 3 just a month or so after finishing it. That game really has made every other open world RPG series out there look kind of Bush league.

I think the major issue is that Bioware shed a lot of important staff members before and during DA:I’s development. Including some of their best writing staff. Rumor is that those that remained at the company, and ended up working on that and the new Mass Effect came from the MMO side of the business. And it shows.


Which is exactly what I said. Badly written softporn, basically.

I humbly submit


No disagreement here. I think DA2s art direction was Bioware’s high point. Your pic is a good example, I’m still pissed that Hawke in DA:I wasn’t “my Hawke” from DA2. But DA:I still holds up IMO. Though most companion quests were absolute garbage.

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I will admit that I wasted a few hours tinkering with Hawke DA:I to make her look like she did in my DA2.

That said, my inclination to backup my saves and start skipping the small stuff is getting stronger than the enjoyment I get from traipsing about the wilderness. Though I doubt I’ll actually be able to resist the urge to do everything I come across next time I play.

I had some fun with it. There was some interesting stuff there. I might eventually play the DLC if EA ever discounts it (which they typically don’t). But my overwhelming impression is one of bog standardness. The major thing I kept thinking while playing it is “jesus I’m bored”. It is my least favorite Dragon Age game. Though I’m outside the norm in that DA:2 is my favorite Dragon Age game. They all have their issues, some of them massive. But DA:2 tried, and mostly succeeded (until the third act), to do something a little more interesting and ambitious with it. Story wise anyway.

I think the Hawke character is a great example of its short fallings. Not just visually, but writing wise. Even “serious” Hawke in DA2 had charm and sense of humor. His appearance in DA:I was pretty obviously bolted in to give some sort of I don’t know for those interested in the abandoned plot from 2. But its so robotic. “I am the Hawke! I am telling joke now! Allow me to summarize what has happened since the player last saw me”. Its all very weird and emblematic of the issues at the core of the game.

And everything I’m hearing about ME:A sounds like its more of those issues.

I suspect that, for the facial animation at least, there’s actually no mocap going on at all. This looks like algorithmically-generated lipsync, which matches phonemes in the audio playback to associated mouth shapes. For games with a ton of dialog, it’s way less time-consuming to do it this way than to have to mocap (or, god forbid, hand-animate) every line, and when done well, it’s fairly convincing. It looks terrible here because the tweening from mouth shape to mouth shape has atrocious curve easing (look at the way the mouths snap from shape to shape), and the devs didn’t seem to bother writing any code to animate the rest of the body beyond blinking and wobbling in place.

Guild Wars 2 (which came out in 2012, for reference) uses the same sort of computer-driven lipsyncing technology in their in-game cinematics, but they also have a library of expressions for the body and the face itself that they layer on top of the lipsync to actually give the characters more life. It’s still not perfect, but at least in GW2 when a character says something in an angry tone of voice, they actually have a scowl on their face and gesture threateningly.

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