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Where did my inventory go?

Refining gameplay in Mass Effect 2.
by Christina Norman on 9 July 2013

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Transcript of Where did my inventory go?

Designer
Programmer
Christina Norman
Gamer
Geek
christina@bioware.com
I worked
on this!
This too!
twitter.com/truffle
Who am I?
What is this
talk about?
Big gameplay changes
But why did we change it?
What was the design process for change?
Sold well
80+ awards
What kind of game is?
Action-RPG
New IP
91 metacritic Xbox 360
89 metacritic PC
Many Fans
http://fav.me/d1nvxoo
http://fav.me/d1s8z6z
http://fav.me/d1wiy9s
http://fav.me/d2j0cnc
http://fav.me/d1unm5h
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more fan art @ deviantart.com
Asari
cosplay
FTW!
Reviewer and Fan
Feedback
We knew we could
make a better Mass Effect
Didn't achieve everything
we wanted
Motivation
for Change
Designers always want
to redo everything...
More Satisfying
Combat
Accurate, Powerful Weapons
Useful Cover
Intense Feel
Better Inventory
Less "junk"
Upgradeable
Weapons
Equip your whole
squad easily
Great GUI
Better Balance
Less "broken"
combos
Reward shooter
and RPG skill
Progression should
feel satisfying
+ Other Stuff
Texture pop
Frame rate
consistency
Squad AI
Enemy AI
Tutorials
Elevators
Overall stability
Make conversations
more active
Level layouts
Combat scripting
Auto-saves
Design changes from
ME1 to ME2
Review Analysis
96 Reviews analyzed!
Quantitative Analysis
Qualitative Analysis
Common themes determined
Real Time
Balance is part
of Quality!
Vehicle
My Team
Preston Watamaniuk
Lead Designer
Christina Norman
Gameplay Lead
Noel Borstad
Eric Fagnan
Corey Gaspur
Jason Attard
(Like the A-Team but better at design)
Solutions brainstormed
What kind of game is?
Critically Acclaimed
Selling better
than Mass Effect
Shooter-RPG
Sequel
96 metacritic Xbox 360
94 metacritic PC
http://fav.me/d2haio9
http://fav.me/d2jndvd
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New & Old
Fans
Not everyone liked the changes
Why are
ME1 & ME2
So Different?
Our Goals For
Mass Effect 2
Building Great
Shooter Gameplay
How Do We Make
Mass Effect 2?
Evaluated Results
Combat?
C+
Cover unimproved
Guns better
but still not
a shooter
Still hard to
play in real time
Inventory?
F
Upgrade GUI
Balance?
Too early
to tell...
Many Systems need to be rebuilt.
Prototyping
Using ME1
Basically ME1
with accurate
weapons
Data changes
only
Nothing
proven
One of 4 GUIs planned
that would "maybe" fix inventory
Very expensive
to prototype
High Level
Plan
Need a
Gameplay Team
Reponsible for
adhering to
gameplay vision
Build Shooter
Combat First
Shooter focus
reduces risk
Other features
depend on
shooter combat
Bring focus to
gameplay
development
BioWare is strong
on RPG and story
First Step:
We Turned Off
Our RPG Systems
Shooter combat must be
fun without being propped
up by RPG mechanics
Focused everyone
on shooter combat
Most important move
of the project!
We Analyzed
Competitors
BioWare devs
lack shooter
experience
We must learn
from great shooters
Shooter players
at BioWare are
a valuable resource
Encouraged
Feedback
Built Better
Weapons
Cover
Improvements
Camera and
Animation
Tuning
Player
Input Delay
Player Input
Loss
Control scheme
standardized
Cover is
not safe
Fixed Major
Cover Issues
Aimback
Real-Time
Powers
Class Design
Hard to aim
in cover
Controversial Changes
No sacred
cows
Forget Labels
Make A Great Game
Don't worry about
Shooter/RPG balance
Quality is what
is important
Gameplay must
support narrative
Where did my
Inventory go?
Thou shalt
not have an RPG without
Inventory!
Mass Effect 1:
5 squad members
+ Shepard
Complex inventory
Mass Effect 2:
12 Squad members
Shepard
Managing gear must be easy
What could be
simpler than
no inventory?
Why is
there ammo?
Possibly the most controversial change in Mass Effect 2
The IP
says no
ammo!
Most debated
feature during
development
Heat Sinks
Stopped bullet
spraying
We could make
weapons more
powerful with
limited ammo
IP explanation:
geth heat sink
technology
Encouraged using
different weapons
Building for Intensity
Every class
feel different
Vanguard Gameplay
Mass Effect 1 Gameplay
Mass Effect 2 Gameplay
Example Issue
Assault Rifle Accuracy
Mass Effect 2
Unique
mind-blowing
powers
Infiltrator Gameplay
Mass Effect 2
Pausing deflates
intensity
Global
Cooldown
Tactical
Easy to
Balance
Resists
shown on
health bar
Binary
Shoot enemy
to remove
resists
Regenerating
Health
Highly innovative!
(just kidding)
Defensive powers
sap intensity
Enemies
Consistent
Behavior
RPG Systems
Values
Easy to use
not "dumbed down"
Progression must
be meaningful
Design for 360
All features must
impact first
playthrough
Progression should
affect gameplay
"Everything should be as
simple as possible, but
not simpler."
- Albert Einstein
ME1 Level Up
ME2 Level Up
Armor
Personalization
editing color
and pattern
most popular
Added stats to
armor based on
feedback
Works with
gender choice and
face customization
Squad
Inventory
Inventories lead to naked
squad members
And More!
Dynamic
Captain's
Quarters
Mining
Encourage
exploration
Source of fan
humor/parody
Inspired by classic
sci-fi games
Communication
With Fans
Internal
Communication
Everyone assumes
the sequel will
be exactly the same
Team Demos
Be Consistent
One-on-one
talks
Hard-Core Fan
Communication
One change at
a time
Ask players
for input
Honestly participate
in online communities
Encourage
evangelists
Class Videos
Communicate class and
gameplay changes
Very Different Game
Introduction
Design
Documents
Planned features to
reach our design goals
None of these
features made
it to ship
Magic Input Test Gizmo
We found it on
the Internets
Slow
animations
Lead Gameplay Designer, Mass Effect 2
"I found myself constantly surprised...by
how much the game had been heavily
resdesigned."
--- Chris Remo (Gamasutra)
"Nearly every major player-exposed
gameplay system from the first game
was considerably tweaked or
completely redesigned..."
-- Chris Remo (Gamastura)
We knew what
we wanted to build
But not how
to build it
Figure out what
system changes
were needed
?
Can be tasked
with improving
gameplay
Sprint out
of cover
Aim point
preservation
Fixed Major
Weapon Issues
Couldn't tune
for feel
No headshots
No aim
assist
Enemies didn't
react when shot
19 weapons
Heavy
weapons
Fast Iteration
108 Tuning
Variables
Animations
Tuned
Listen to
players
Watch them
play
Took 3
Months
Shooter combat
was good
Turned RPG
back on
We were prepared
to cut classes
Pausing should
be a choice
Mapped 3
buttons for
player powers
Mapped 2
buttons for
squad powers
Use powers
more
Consistent
Abilities
No need to
read health bar
Even I don't know what
all this stuff is
Level up
powers
directly
One class power
boosts combat
and conversation
Research &
Upgrades
Universal upgrades
simple way to
upgrade large squad
Upgrade gear
outside of
missions
E-mail
Light Narrative
Unique Squad
Powers
Bonus Weapon
New Game +
Bonus Power
Respec
Squad members
auto-upgrade
their weapons
ME1 inventory
Was Unpopular
Stats modified
with upgrade system
No negative comments
in reviews
twitter.com/truffle
Christina Norman
christina@bioware.com
This game
is awesome!
This one is
even better!
twitter.com/truffle
Thanks for Coming
Lead Gameplay Designer, Mass Effect 2
http://bit.ly/me2gameplay
Slides at
Questions?
Questions?
Where Did My
Inventory Go?

Refining Gameplay in
Mass Effect 2

Why reinvent
the wheel?
Cooldown
Indicators
Hey look,
ammo!
Lessons Learned
Small Changes
Can Cascade
We wanted accurate
and powerful weapons
We ended up redesigning
much of our core gameplay
Communicating
Vision Change
Is Hard
Reviewers and Players were
surprised by gameplay
changes in Mass Effect 2
Detailed previews and
hands-on access was
not enough!
Improve Quality by
Designing to a
Core Experience
Every feature supports
core narrative/combat
mission experience
Anything that interfered
with that flow was
redesigned or cut
Know Your
Weaknesses
We knew we
were not shooter
experts
We worked hard
and studied great
shooters
Prototyping
more useful
Not so strong
on shooter combat
What does this mean for ME3?
We made Mass Effect 2's gameplay, but
many other team members contributed.
We Wanted...
Mass Effect 3?
What are my goals for
We Should
Keep
Gameplay
Focus
Same team
Core gameplay
We Should
Improve
Richer RPG
Features
Combat-narrative
flow
More Combat
Options
Polish
Everything
More Complex
Enemies
Listening to
reviews and fans
http://benheck.com/for-sale
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