One gamer got to grips with computer game Total War: Rome II more than a year before anyone else is likely to get a go, as part of a Special Day organised by the Willow Foundation at The Creative Assembly’s studio in Horsham, UK.
James was just 24 and had liver cancer. James had been through an incredibly tough time at this young age and was undergoing chemotherapy to stop the spread of the disease when he got in touch with Willow.
James was a massive fan of the Total War game series and Creative Assembly (CA) were thrilled to invite him along to the studio for the day and take him behind the scenes of game production, as well as an overnight stay. He was shown around the whole studio, seeing all the elements of game creation - design, art, animation and programming. He became the first person in the world outside the studio to get his hands on Total War: Rome II.
“It’s pretty rare for us to open the studio doors to the public as we always have a lot of secret stuff going on,” said Craig Laycock, Community Manager “ and James and his brother William pretty much saw it all. It just so happened that we announced Rome II the day before, so it seemed kind of fitting that he should be the first person in the world outside of CA to play it, even though we are so far from release”.
And did he enjoy it? “He certainly seemed pleased, despite how early the code is…“ said Craig.
James got to play a very early version of the game before anyone else and the day after the game was announced to the public
James also got to meet and chat with the design, art, animation and programming teams to discuss the new features going into the game and take a sneak peak at what they were currently working on.
One of the most exciting things from the day was the opportunity for James to appear in the game. A series of high resolution photos and measurements were taken of his face in order to convert them into 3D likeness.
These images represent the steps taken to convert a normal photograph into a 3D character model featured in the game.
This once in a lifetime opportunity gave James something positive to focus on, a welcome break from the rounds of hospital appointments and gruelling treatment - something other than the daily challenges that living with a serious illness presented for him.
Spending time having fun with his brother, he was able to return to the young man he was before his diagnosis - carefree and happy. This unique experience enabled James to create precious memories for his loved ones to treasure forever and he has now been immortalised in the game forever. Sadly James passed away just a short time after his Willow special day.