Total War: Rome 2 Interview with Jamie Ferguson and Al Bickham
IG: As mentioned in your FAQ, the physics and ragdoll effects aren’t final and may be toned down. What might change with these?
AB: Yeah so we’ve been playing around with the physics a lot and it won’t be as extreme as we’ve shown in the past. We’re still going to have knockdown because it’s great and it looks perfect and it’s a disruptor not necessarily a destroyer, right? So if an elephant charges through guys will get knocked down, but some will get back up again. Obviously you don’t want to stay in hand-to-hand combat with elephants too long. (laughs)
IG: Does mass rating have less effect going uphill and more going downhill respectively?
AB: It does have less effect going uphill than it does going down, so they’ll gain more momentum travelling downhill.
IG: Can the ‘mass’ feature be chained – resulting in several successive knock downs and/or major unit formation disruption?
AB: I think it would be very hard to knock an entire unit down, like several hundred guys, but it’s probably something you don’t want to play for you know. As in any kind of RTS, winning is about local superiority in any given situation and getting your scissors fighting their paper, you’re getting the correct unit match up and that’s the way to win not necessarily about trying to exploit knockdown etc. It’s a nice thing to happen as it will slow a unit down take them out a little bit so they won’t fight as well and there’s the morale thing as well like with elephants which is a big deal (if they run riot).
IG: How have you balanced your design and development time between Rome and the other factions?
AB: They’re all effectively as detailed as each other but some factions are larger than others, so Rome and Carthage are kind of core big Mediterranean factions.
IG: So is it split 50/50 for example?
AB: Well how it works is, you’ve got multiple families in that faction so you can choose to play Julia or Cornelia etc. With the Carthaginians I think it’s Magonids, Hanalids and the Barcids, whereas the other fractions just tend to be themselves, so you know the Iceni are angry Essex boys basically (laughs). They don’t have a sort of internal power struggle the same way that Rome does, as a big republic that likes to talk about war.
IG: Iceni don’t seem to have flaming pigs in Rome 2, can they use flaming sheep instead?
AB: (laughs) Yeah, so look out for that, it’s on the prologue, keep sniffing the air.
Past, Present and Future
IG: Where do you see the gameplay of the Total War series evolving in 20 years’ time?
AB: 20yrs? Wow. Well we’ve had over 100 people working on Total War: Rome 2 for a good two and half years now, I think we’ve done so much innovation and evolution in this game alone that you know, who’s to say where it could be in 20yrs time, (laughs). I’d like to think I’d be lying back on my couch and…
IG: play it with your mind…?
AB: …play it with my mind, yeah, exactly. I think I’d be a much more efficient… yeah my APM is not that hot though (laughs) but I’ll be a much more efficient battle commander.
IG: Are there any concepts or features that didn’t make it into Rome 2 due to time constraints etc?
AB: No, I don’t think so. We’ve scoped it pretty well, and the kind of way we work is that we nail down a really ambitious game design document, but what tends to happen is that features change over time rather than just get thrown away. Sometimes we chuck out a feature if it’s not working or can’t make it work. If it turns out on paper that it was a great idea but in the real world it wasn’t we cut it, but our features just tend to change, they evolve to mean something else in the game. So over time some things change because we’ve got so many campaigns and lots of systems interacting with each other. If one of those is too dominating then we have to change it, so things change a lot over the course.
IG: Did you use any motion capture for the animations? Did you motion capture the elephants or horses?
JF: Yes we use lots of motion capture, we have our own motion capture studio but we didn’t motion capture the elephants and horses. Unfortunately we don’t have the facilities to do that yet, we took that from pre-captured footage.
IG: Could you describe the process of creating the sounds of Total War Rome 2, for example the swords, collisions, voices, music?
JF: We’ve recorded sounds in a recording studio using actual Roman armour being hit and swords being clashed against each other and so on.
IG: How did you go about ensuring a certain level of historical accuracy in the Total War games?
JF: Well the entire team read voraciously and also watch a lot of documentaries, and we consult historians. We look into every element that we possibly can to try and create that feeling of authenticity. Obviously we’re making a game and accuracy isn’t necessarily the most important thing, but it is important enough so that it is authentic. We’re not trying to create a game where history replacates itself because, if that’s the case, you know what’s going to happen so then there is no game and no point. The whole point of the game is to create a counter factual history. That’s always been the point of Total War.
IG: Any chance of Hotseat mode coming back from Medieval II?
IG: In terms of victory or PvP, what options do players have when playing the campaign map in co-op?
JF: We do have a multiplayer co-op campaign and we do have PvP for the campaign map. In multiplayer you can also play any of the battlefields that are in the campaign game just by selecting a position on the map; that will immediately fire up a battlefield that you can play with friends, or you can just play a custom battle against the AI.
We’ve got about 16 different battle varieties that can be combined battle and siege units, sally out battles and all those kinds of elements from every previous Total War game, plus more. The ambush battles were completely overhauled and different to anything we’ve ever done before, as are the combined battles with the ships and land units fighting at the same time.
If you’ve not seen it already, why not have a read of Peter’s Total War: Rome II preview. The game will be released on 3 September.