The 'huge cost' of non-humanoid aliens in Mass Effect

They may have blue skin or scales, but many of the alien species in Mass Effect are essentially humans with a palette swap. Apparently, BioWare considered having a non-humanoid squadmate join Shepard, but discovered that it would have taken away from the rest of the game.

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They may have blue skin or scales, but many of the alien species in Mass Effect are essentially humans with a palette swap. Apparently, BioWare considered having a non-humanoid squadmate join Shepard, but discovered that it would have taken away from the rest of the game.

"All party members needed to use a humanoid skeleton," BioWare's Dusty Everman said. "If we'd ever tried to use a non-humanoid, the cost would have been huge. Instead, we took all the development effort that we could have put towards an odd squad mate and made a larger, more polished game."

Casey Hudson explained that any alien squadmates "had to function like the human characters." Primarily, they needed to "be able to carry a gun."

However, the Mass Effect universe is home to other, odder species. For example, one of the most beloved aspects of Mass Effect 3 was its Blasto easter egg. The galaxy's first Hanar spectre, many fans wouldn't mind seeing the next game in the franchise offer such a unique character a starring role.

"For Mass Effect we developed a set of additional aliens, that would mainly be featured in the Citadel," Casey told OXM. However, "each developed a bit of a following, so over the series we found ways to make them play more important roles."

From The Chatty

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    May 9, 2013 12:30 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, The 'huge cost' of non-humanoid aliens in Mass Effect.

    They may have blue skin or scales, but many of the alien species in Mass Effect are essentially humans with a palette swap. Apparently, BioWare considered having a non-humanoid squadmate join Shepard, but discovered that it would have taken away from the rest of the game.

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      May 9, 2013 1:45 PM

      They must have run out of the money they saved for -polishing- around the last quarter of the second game.

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      May 9, 2013 1:49 PM

      It's harder to sympathize with non humanoids.

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      May 9, 2013 1:51 PM

      It's tough to create a non-humanoid alien that would maintain sexual compatibility with a human. And what good is a shipmate that Shepard won't shtoop?

      Unless it's some sort of hentai penis-tentacle monster... that would work.

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      May 9, 2013 4:28 PM

      Multiple unique skeletons meaning multiple animation sets of hundreds of combat/interaction/etc animations bloating memory is a bitch. It's weird but animation information

      A certain game I worked on had the most stupidly complex skeletons and unique ones for every kind of enemy, sometimes even ones that seemed identical but of just different scales. We had to cut the shit out of combat encounters in it because we couldn't afford more than one or two kinds of complex enemy in most maps. Maps that could afford 3 or more were visually gutted for memory. Was fine on PC, but consoles... noooope. Really could have used ongoing competent technical art direction that worked with the game designers on that one.

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        May 9, 2013 4:30 PM

        * ...but animation information is a much larger part of the memory footprint of a game than most people think, on par with texture and mesh information. Yeesh. Complete a sentence why don't you.

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        May 9, 2013 4:58 PM

        Plus, if they were relying on Mocap, anything non-humanoid suddenly makes for a really bad fit.

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          May 9, 2013 4:59 PM

          Unless you want to do horses or something. Then you just need a large stage that you don't mind stinking up for a day.

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        May 9, 2013 6:09 PM

        Good, empowered technical artists are such a boon to production. Your pretty assets count for shit if the workflow to bring them into the game is broken or they are massively overbudget.

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        May 10, 2013 6:21 AM

        Animation data huge? Yeah, right. You're talking out of your arse.

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      May 9, 2013 5:11 PM

      i never know how to follow these sorts of shacknews articles. this is an article about an article right? theres never a bit that says click the OXM article for more, so am I meant to follow the link or just be content with the paraphrasing? sorry if this sounds harsh but it just feels wierd

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      May 9, 2013 6:05 PM

      I understand the trade off but their was a lot of potential that was lost there

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      May 10, 2013 7:49 AM

      I call BS. They were too scared to explore nonhumanoid-human sexuality. This is where King Kong got it wrong too. Should have been Queen Kong. Would have loved to see a movie focusing on lesbian cross species relationships.