Immediately after Mass Effect shipped, BioWare knew what it wanted to fix for the sequel -- and the team incorporated feedback from fans and media to try to address "absolutely every issue" for Mass Effect 2.
"Every area needed improvement... We knew what we wanted to change right away," says lead producer Adrien Cho in a new Gamasutra feature interview. "But the other part of the equation was actually taking all the feedback -- I'm not saying some -- absolutely every feedback from press and the fans, and collating all that into a huge list."
From there, they categorized the feedback and mapped it against the team's desired changes, and from there "it became really clear. It became a blueprint," he says. "It made making the sequel really easy."
It helped that the original Mass Effect provided such a "firm foundation," according to Cho, but that doesn't mean it was easy sailing: "I cannot describe just the amount of effort, the tensions," he says.
But with the core ideas in place, it's been easier for the team to target specific areas, like improving the digital acting. Combining "very focused changes" with developing all the game content means that "all of a sudden the game is very different."
"We wanted to make sure that absolutely every issue that was brought up was addressed... so the press had nowhere to go, and all the critics had nowhere to go, because we had made an attempt to hopefully address all those issues in some capacity," says Cho.
Thoroughly addressing the feedback meant more than choosing generalized areas like simply combat or exploration -- it was all about the specifics.
"Because Uncharted Worlds came up as 'We wish it was better,'" he says. Getting specific with the aspects that needed improvement, "we found out that people really like the idea of exploring planets, it's just sometimes the execution where the planet looked the same."
Easy fix, according to Cho: "Let's keep the exploration side and keep the idea that you can explore all these different planets," he says. "What people are really just saying is that they wish the planets looked different and that you didn't end up at the same base all the time. And that made it really clear to say, 'Well, how can we go about implementing that?'"
More details on Mass Effect 2's design and development are now available in our feature interview with BioWare's Adrien Cho.