Procedural tech could one day return.
Bioware revealed once upon a time that it was exploring procedurally generated elements for Mass Effect: Andromeda. This was eventually abandoned with many of the planets that players could examine from outer space being remnants of those experiments.
Lead designer Ian Frazier has now told IBTimes UK some more about the procedural tools governing the game in its early stages.
“On the gameplay front I’ll tell you we explored some very different designs early on. As you know in the game you’re the Pathfinder, and you’ve been tasked with finding these worlds to colonise and/or make peace with the natives. Originally we leaned much more heavily into that.
“We were looking at a game that used a lot more procedural tools to have a vast swathe of planets and places to go. We spent a lot of time developing down that road, and tailoring the story towards it and so forth, and we quickly found it wasn’t yielding the results we wanted.
“You can make a giant procedural game, but we were finding that the giant procedural game wasn’t the narrative experience or the moment-to-moment experience we wanted players to have.”
There may be a day where the team returns to that procedural technology. “Oh it’s possible. We explored it on several fronts. ‘Procedural’ is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days, as if there’s one magical procedural tool that does it all. But we had some stuff we looked at for how terrains were generated, or how we placed content on planets. And a little bit of that actually survived and made it into the final game, even though we weren’t using it for the same reason anymore.”
Players can still some elements of procedural generation in-game though, especially with the Storyteller system. “So when you’re driving the Nomad around on the surface, some of the smaller scale conflicts you’ll find are using a system we built called ‘Storyteller,’ which is procedural. It’s a game director of sorts that’s asking ‘how long is it since this player has had a fight? How long is it since they’ve talked to somebody?’ and shifting around the odds of certain micro-events spawning based on that.”
What are your thoughts on the current procedural tools and perhaps seeing heavier amounts of this in the future for Mass Effect: Andromeda? Let us know in the comments.