Friday, November 2

Bioware talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy


Bioware's Ryan Warden talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

You may have heard that the Mass Effect series is going to be bundled up into one pack across a range of gaming platforms. Sounds like it was a mammoth task to get it all together. Here's an article that was post on the Bioware Blog. 


I’m Ryan Warden, the External Producer for Mass Effect Trilogy. I’ve been with BioWare for almost 9 years now – first as a tools programmer, then working with external teams to coordinate the translation and foreign-language voice recording for the Mass Effect series. Lately I’ve been working to help bring you Mass Effect Trilogy for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.

We began work on Mass Effect Trilogy in earnest last April, shortly after Mass Effect 3 had shipped. The trilogy was complete, but there was a slight complication — there are people who had missed out on one (or more) titles in the series. From day one, we had announced that Mass Effect would be part of a trilogy. Jumping into the series at a midpoint could be intimidating. One thing you should know about our development team is that we’re all very passionate about the trilogy, the entire Mass Effect universe. So we started looking at ways to take away any intimidation or barriers players new to the franchise might feel, while also providing an amazing overall experience at a great price for the holidays. So the Mass Effect Trilogy was born.

Now I know that may sound like an easy thing to do, but it actually took a lot of talented people and a lot of effort to make this happen – for every version of Mass Effect Trilogy. Even for the platforms we’ve launched all three games on before, reissuing a game isn’t easy. There isn’t a switch in the game code that you can flip and suddenly it runs on newer, completely different hardware architecture or a new online client. There is no such thing as “just a port.” Luckily, we have great partners at Microsoft and EA who were instrumental in helping us make as seamless of an experience as possible for all three games.

Then there was building the original Mass Effect for the PlayStation 3.

Fortunately, we had a huge head start because of the work we had done with Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 for PS3. With that said, the original Mass Effect game was built completely differently than its successors, as we’ve learned a lot of lessons since then about how-to and how-not-to build a game. To be completely honest, I thought that it was unlikely that we could port Mass Effect in less than a year. It might take three years. Maybe even twenty-three! Fortunately, the team at Edge of Reality, an external team we’ve worked with in the past on many projects, thought otherwise. So we decided to try.

There were some complications. The audio technology that we originally used was no longer supported by its developer… and the engine didn’t support the PS3. “No problem,” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution. The levels and art assets in Mass Effect were massive and streaming into memory would probably have to work differently on the PS3 – which is NOT a trivial issue. “Shouldn’t be a problem’” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution.

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