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Total War Community Awards: We Need Judges

We are proud to announce the first official Total War Community Awards (The TCAs) – a chance for the community to get the recognition it so richly deserves.

The awards are intended to spotlight and celebrate the endeavours and achievements of the Total War online community. In order to do that, however, we will need an expert panel of judges.

The final committee will consist of members from the community as well as staff from the Creative Assembly and SEGA. So if you run a Total War fansite or forum, or you are a well respected and long serving community member and wish to be considered for the panel, then please contact us.

The categories for the awards are:

Website Awards:
 
Best community website
Best newcomer (approximately less than 1 year old)

Forum Awards:

Best moderator
Best contributor

Creative:

Best fan art
Best-written work
Best mod

Outstanding Achievement Award

For a site or an individual who has made an unrivalled contribution to the Total War community.

And finally…

Of Special Note Award. For a group or individual  who has tickled our Total War funny bone or done something to show how totally Total War they really are.

Prizes are still to be confirmed but there will definitely be some cool goodies and merchandise involved, including exclusive artwork signed by the team. All nominated sites and forums will receive a special logo to display and will feature in our nominee special-edition of the Total War newsletter, blog and site announcement.
Still, we can’t get the ball rolling until we have our committee, so if you qualify and can spare some time then please contact us now with your details.

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Rule Britannia…If You Can

G’day my name is Taamati Hanson-Pou, I am one of the designers working on Medieval II: Kingdoms, the expansion pack for Medieval II: Total War. My work primarily involves campaign design and construction, typing in spreadsheets and drinking coffee. In this diary I’m going to be taking you through the Britannia campaign, one of four new campaigns in the Kingdoms expansion.  In this first part, I’ll examine our reasons for choosing Britannia as one of our campaigns and discuss what the setting brings to the expansion. I’ll also examine the campaign features and how these tie in historically, with the setting and period.

One of the main reasons behind selecting Britannia for the Kingdoms expansion was the history of conflict in the area. There was so much documented history of famous battles and rebellions, it was almost impossible to ignore the setting. Many of the old medieval tales have a very Celtic flavour and, certainly when I think of medieval history, I think of this kind of imagery. We wanted to capture that part of history, where folklore became legend and allow the player to steer the direction of these mighty kingdoms. We also wanted to give the player the chance to take his or her chosen faction and achieve that which no one in history has ever been able to do – completely conquer Britannia.

The Britannia campaign is set at the starting year of 1258 AD. During this period, King Henry III was on the English throne and England occupied parts of Ireland and Wales. As a result, tensions between these parties are tense to say the least. In contrast, the Scots, ruled by King Alexander III, are on good terms with the English at the time. They are more concerned with dealing with Norway as they both vie for control over the isles scattered island settlements.

The reason for choosing this particular starting point is that this period sets the scene for a number of rebellions that occur historically. This gave us the ultimate ‘what if’ scenario – what could have happened if Llywelyn ap Gruffydd had won the rebellion in reclaiming independence of Wales? What if Norway turned their back on signing the Treaty of Perth? These kind of potential events set the scene for our campaign.

Throughout the campaign we have included a number of emergent rebellions and rebel forces, one of which is the Baron’s Alliance led by Simon De Montfort. In this instance, depending on how England is governed, there is a chance that Simon de Montfort and his followers may rebel against England. With the emergence of the Baron’s Alliance, England’s generals and governors will start to question their own position. Loyalty therefore, becomes an extremely important factor in this conflict and a disloyal general at the right place at the wrong time can turn the tide of the power struggle.

The Baron’s Alliance can also actively work with a player that is not playing as the English. The Alliance can give missions to other factions to help the rebellion to get established. The player will be able to choose whether to help them or not, though not without consequence.

Another key gameplay element of the campaign are the permanent forts located on the map. A permanent fort is like a mini castle. Although they don’t allow the construction of units, they often guard key strategic locations. The forts also allow free upkeep for a certain number of troops garrisoned. A number of these have moats, which make them even stronger defensively. If you capture an enemy fort in an enemy region, when occupied, there is an increased rate of devastation on the land, effectively reducing the income of the enemy settlement. Permanent forts also act as good staging grounds for regrouping and attacking. Our artists have created a variety of forts that the player can fight over on the battlefield.

Throughout the campaign we also have a few surprises that may or may not occur depending on the players actions. One them being the emergence of William Wallace and his horde of highlanders to fight for Scotland’s freedom. There are various other ‘Notable figures’ throughout the game, but we’ll keep those under wraps for now.

That concludes the first part of this diary on the Britannia campaign. In the second part I’ll examine the factions included in the campaign and the different play styles they present.

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Calendar Competition – June 07

Named after the Roman goddess Juno, and hopefully marking the beginning
of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, June has arrived. This month’s
Create A Calendar Competition saw an unprecedented number of screenshot
entries. But first, it’s time for something completely
different…

Kicking things off this month we have a
submission from Ruud Kroon in The Netherlands. Six months into the
contest, Ruud is the very first person to send in a photo as his entry,
so extra kudos for that! Here are a few words from the photographer
himself:

“You can see a mother equipping her
husband or son, or a shield bearer equipping his master. I would say
according to the helmet it’s in the middle of the dark ages. It’s a
photo which I adjusted in Photoshop with fade, wet finger, and
brush.”


The
mysteriously named Gardenhose101 sent in this image of a lone knight
atop a hill, as a mighty battle unfolds behind him.


After winning last month’s
prize, Randy Bollinger from St. Louis returns this month with a tribute
to the Scottish.


The
following ghostly forest scene is one of eight sent in this month by
forum member Gebeleisis.


Jimmy Bjors from Finland
sent in the following image, depicting a tranquil summer’s
evening.

“This is simply one of my screenshots that
I frequently take during my Scottish campaign. I just loved the setting
and found that one of my knights was slightly astray from his unit – he
seemed to be looking at the beautiful sun. I paused the game and spent
literally half an hour staring at the screen and trying to capture it
from a good angle. It was raining outside at the time, which could
explain why I was so captivated by the beautiful summer setting on my
monitor.

“It never crossed my mind to send it in for
the competition until I realized that I finally had something that
might be worth sending in. I’m no artist after all, so I have to rely
on the beautiful graphics engine.
 
“Using
my very limited Photoshop skills I experimented with different filters
and effects and eventually ended up with the result you see now. I
actually don’t remember what I did to the colours, I was simply
changing different sliders and that was the result (as I said, I’m no
Photoshop expert). I also added a tiny lens flare effect on the
sun.”


Next
up is Bill Bockas from Greece, who sent in this rather graphic
depiction of a battle that took place on 18th June 1053 in Southern
Italy.

“The picture is hand-painted with pencil, and
then edited in Adobe Photoshop. I chose this colour (orange/yellow) to
give it a sense of June, which is a sun shining month (at least here in
Greece :)). The theme is inspired from the rather infamous Battle of
Civitate. Read more here.

“I combined this
inspiration with two of Medieval II’s awesome units, so the outcome was
a Byzantine infantry-man killing brutally a Norman knight.
Enjoy!”


Our
winning entry this month comes from Fatih Koymen in Istanbul, Turkey.
It features a platoon of comedy sized, paintbrush-wielding artists,
probably going off to create their entries for next month’s Calendar
competition!

“Generally my artwork is about comics
and I try to show the ‘Good things in Bad’… ‘the contrasts in real
life’… telling all the truth you can get by  way of being an
artist (a native human). My work does impinge on the general nature of
war and try to find a metaphor between Middle Ages and today. So I’ve
chosen today’s popular game Paintball to refer to the historical wars.
At peacetime when the kings didn’t fight they would like to play Paint
War to get a little rest and also to prepare the army for the next
battle.

“I manipulated a few graphics on Photoshop
CS2 with a Macintosh Imac G5. As a background picture I used a Total
War screenshot. Brushes and graffiti, which I used on the background,
are also downloaded from Internet. Finally I re-designed the
composition that I thought and planned before. Then I added the right
colour values and applied necessary filters to get the realistic
view.”


Great work, Fatih, and proof
positive that the Calendar Competition is a great way for artists to
brush up on their skills. The finished wallpaper is available to
download in two sizes here and is the perfect June accompaniment to any
desktop.


The
conclusion of June’s competition can only mean one thing – July 2007’s
Create A Calendar Competition has officially begun! This month’s
must-have prizes include some signed Total War artwork, a copy of
Medieval II: Total War, plus Rome and Medieval II soundtracks. You have
until Saturday 30th June to get your entries in.  

For full entry details, please click here.

Thank you as
always to everyone who entered, and I can’t wait to see what
masterpieces you come up with next month!

Have a
great weekend.

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Calendar Competition – May 2007

Known to the Finnish as Toukokuu (which means the month of Sowing), May is now officially upon us. As the sun continues to shine brighter in the northern hemisphere, this month sees Victory In Europe Day (VE Day) remembered, La Revolucion de Mayo celebrated in Argentina, an increase floral bouquet sales for Mothers Day in the United States, and Europeans will be treated to the musical delights of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Kicking things off in tremendous style with two entries this month is R. Bollinger.  The first of which features trees in full bloom, with a majestic eagle swooping past a ghostly Richard The Lionheart.  Here is how he created it:

“The image was started using Vue 5 Easel to make the sky, trees and eagle in 3D. Since we are near summer I decided to change most of the leaf colors to mid to light greens representing the transition between spring and summer by use of the color selective range. By now I had gained good depth but the eagle was starting to lose detail in the white areas. Using the dodge and burn tools detail was returned. The image was still looking too flat so I used the artistic/poster edges filter and set edge thickness to 1, edge intensity to 2, and posterization to 6. I really liked the end result and sat pondering in deep thought about the eagle and its power that man has seen in this predator since before the days of the Roman era.

“And how that power feels acting it out in use on the battlefield. Now it was time give this one a name! Looking it over I can see the power of an eagle in the war torn eyes of this man as though, he is ready as a predator to strike his pray from the good cover that summer provides. He is ready for an (AMBUSH)!!!”

In the second scene, troops are galloping into battle and towards the light of the setting sun, as the enemy approaches in silhouette. Here is how the image came about:

“In this summer night-time battle screenshot playing a campaign roll as the Holly Roman Empire. I whipped out the largest army Venice had with a powerful raiding charge backed by a large barrage of flaming arrows.

A night time battle can make the game look at its best by recruiting lots of archers before hand for dumping in a massive fiery chaos on an opposing army. In this image, the general is returning to his army after cleaning up the leftovers in retreat. This was one hell of a fun, fired-up summer night battle with the “Night Raiders”.

Michal Korycki sent in the following artwork and description (in Latin) all the way from Cieszyn, Poland!

“This picture theme is “Inquisition”, the name: “Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis Sanctum Officium” is “Holy Office of Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness”, and “Tu potes deinde es” is “you can be next”, I use latin. And about connection with May:

“In 29 May 1239 – start the mass burning by Robert Bougre, (this date – 180 heretics was burned, in this one Bishop). In 30 May 1431 – Joanna d’Arc was burned at the stake. Also I remember in May began in Spain new wave of Inquisition, the most deadly.”

After his debut in February’s competition, Gary Kendall from Southampton returns this month with a vibrant image that’s bursting with colour:

“I read somewhere that May Day marked the end of the harsh winter months, welcomed the beginning of summer and optimistically looked forward to the bright and productive months. Also, the flowering plant, The Lily of the Valley, is traditionally sold in France in the streets on May 1st. This was the inspiration for my entry this month. To cut a long story short it was created in Photoshop using a load of different layers and blending modes.”

Another fantastic effort Gary – keep up the good work!

Finally, Cezare White is back this month with our winning Medieval II shot. The intense colours of the horses are very striking against the bleached out background as the soldiers charge into battle:

“The main image consisted of a screenshot taken within the game. I have applied various filters and effects, using my favourite tool… Photoshop. I wanted to create a scene where the red and the rain stands out. “Rain falls before the blood pours” sort of a scene. All the troops ready for battle, spears up. Adrenaline pumping. It’s quite easy to make a decent image from a screenshot, when the in-game graphics are superb to begin with. Very much looking forward to taking more.”


A fine wallpaper image I’m sure you’ll agree, and one that’ll brighten up even the dullest of desktops. Here is the finished wallpaper artwork in all its glory, which is available to download in two sizes here.

I would once again like to thank everyone who entered our competition this month, and take this opportunity to announce the start of June 2007’s Create A Calendar Competition! You have until Monday 31st May 2007 to get your entries in, so take your time to come up with something original and creative. Once again, think about events happening in the month of June and any historical battles that took place. This month, one talented person will win a copy of Medieval II: Total War, Rome and Medieval II soundtracks. They will also receive a personalized piece of Total War artwork signed by the artist. For full entry details, click here.

For readers who have been following this competition since its conception, I have recently added a Create A Calendar Gallery to our MySpace Profile. Featuring all the great artwork that has been submitted since January, you are invited to leave comments and feedback for any images that you like.

Here is an extra little treat for those of you who have read down this far. After months of watching from the sidelines, SEGA’s own Alex Friend has been begging to get in on the action and submitted something rather special (don’t laugh) for your enjoyment. Curiously entitled “The inner workings of a tortured soul and his struggle to come to terms with the death of his friends in battle are tragically played out in the Didsbury May Day Festival celebrations”; here is some more info from the artist (and I use that term loosely) himself:

“I made it using my heart and soul man, heart and soul. (And Paint). I came up with the concept about half an hour ago. It struck me as a thought provoking and hard-hitting piece. After at least 32 seconds meditation I decided the concept could not be kept in the inner sanctum of my mind. It had to be shared. Paint was there for me to produce and share my masterful genius. It relates to the Month of May by having a May Pole as the central subject and the lynchpin by which this work is held firmly together, both in my heart and, no doubt, in the minds of the many viewers when it is first exhibited in the hallowed pages of TW.com and then, more than likely, while winning the Turner Prize at the Tate.”

Bless him. Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking image with us Alex, but please don’t send anything in for June’s competition!

Thanks for reading,

Mark O’Connell
(aka SenseiTW)

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Kingdoms: Community Q&A

Hi guys,

 

To kick
start our new Official
CA Discussion Thread
on our Forums, we asked the community
what they would like to find out more about regarding Medieval II: Total War
Kingdoms. 

Your replies were fast and plentiful, and before long we
had four pages full of great questions.  Instead of just picking out a
couple of questions from the list, Brendan Rogers (aka Caliban) from CA Oz
stepped in and kindly answered 31 of them!  For the benefit of those who
may have missed it, here is the Q&A in full:

“Hi everyone,

 

I
thought I would stop by and answer some of the questions raised in this thread.
I’m really sorry if I haven’t answered your question, I will try and answer the
most commonly asked questions.

How will you be able to control
multiple armies on the field?
Via the control multiple armies
feature. You will have to option to control the reinforcement armies before you
enter the battlefield. From there you can swap between armies and issue orders
to your reinforcements.

 

Will
you be able to fight the new factions against the old factions in multiplayer?


Yes,
in multiplayer and custom battles you can choose most of the older factions to
play as.

 


Will the new “control
reinforcements” option be available in the “core” (original)
campaign?


We are currently looking into
it.

Will
boiling-oil be brought back?

Yes
Boiling oil will be back and available in all campaigns except Americas

 


Will
there be historical battles?

There
will be some multiplayer scenarios as well as some single player scenario
battles. But no historical re-creations.

 


Will
there be a multiplayer mode?

Yes,
you can play multiplayer battles in each campaign as well as the hotseat mode.

 

Will
money will be a problem for the Teutonic Order, which can only build castles
?

Castles
will be the main source of unit production for the Order, however we are now
looking at giving them the ability to upgrade their cities to increase their
income. The outcome will be decided based on balance testing.

 

The
English will have troubles with the 2h bug again, or will the patch fix that in
both games ? 

The
2H will be fixed in 1.2 as well as any future releases including Kingdoms.

 


The
game will have a new soundtrack or use the one from Medieval 2 ?

Yes,
there are new sound effects and so far, 35 new songs for Kingdoms composed
in-house by our award winning Sound guys :)

 


Also,
during the Crusades campaign will European crusading armies appear at random
times throughout the campaign?

Yes,
you will see a host of European factions arrive to take part in the crusade.
Off the top of my head, Venice, England and France.

 


How
many of the features in the expansion will be added also to the original game?


This
is still unknown as of yet and being discussed due to balance reasons

 


Will
you release the ***** Hot-Seat before Kingdoms so in the expansion we will see
a real Multiplayer Campaign :)


You
can still access the hotseat mode via command lines, but it won’t be fully
implemented until Kingdoms

 


*
Will factions from the core game have new units, any new siege units, ships??


Yes!
But you will all have to wait to find out what 😉

 


Will
Kingdoms be fully modable and will the new features be hardcoded? For example,
could I make Ireland have no family tree or give Norway the ability to change
religions if I wanted to?

In
the Britannia Campaign we know of 5 factions that will be playable, will it be
possible to add (mod) other factions into this?


You
will be able to mod Kingdoms the same as M2 vanilla, there won’t be any
restrictions from modding the original M2 game to the expansion. We are looking
to include more modding features in Kingdoms as well as implementing some
features asked by the community. Some of the new features (most I think) will be
modable.

 


Could
you please add fires and famines to the descr_disasters events list, and also
add floods, storms, fires and famines to the descr_events file for
modding?


It will be added to the long list of
community modding requests. Only some of the requests will make it in because
of the huge amount of work involved to add them
all.

What will the colour of my pants be when I play M2:TW Kingdoms?


Brown, if you’re wearing any.. 

Please
bring Burning Oil back.


Sure
thing!

 


Please
bring Sapping/Under Mining back

I
already gave you one feature, don’t get greedy!

 


Please
answer these questions.


Is
three ok?

Apparently from what they have said in
interviews kingdoms is ment to be the most modable Totalwar project to
date(notice word apparently)

Correct!

 


Well
you be able to switch off/disable the hero’s, or their abilities, for the
people who do not want to play with them?


You
don’t have to use their abilities if you don’t want to. Just don’t press the
button.

 


Will
we see improved AI?

Yes,
the upcoming patch will see a lot of big AI improvements, these will be carried
over to Kingdoms.

 


Will
the option to view cities be available again?

Unfortunately
no, that feature was removed during the engine transition in M2.

 

Is
there any way they can change the name to have the word “Invasion” in
it?


Kingdoms
Invasion? Probably not, sorry

 


Of
the previously listed patch -“bug” repair requests, how many will be
addressed?
There are simply to many to list in one post. If you would (finally)
fix the items listed in either “R&R” or the patch request
posts this should make the day.


We
are well aware of the community bug lists and we have been using these for
some-time to help prioritise our in-house bug list. The upcoming patch will
contain some of the top priority bug fixes, we will be including more in the
kingdoms release as we get to them. I couldn’t give you an exact number as of
yet because we haven’t finished.

 

Campaign
modding – will we be able to add additional campaigns like we could in RTW, or
will we have to stick to modding one of the grand campaigns like we have to in
M2TW?

Yes
it is now possible to have multiple campaigns in the one mod. It requires some
menu work and maps to be placed in the correct folders. This is available in
the leaked 1.2 and will be available in the upcoming patch.


Will
the pope have any power and if so is it just gonna be the crusader and Teutonic
campaign. can he excom faction still?


No,
the papacy won’t be included in the expansion pack, however there will be
dialog from the pope but he won’t have any direct influence over the campaigns.

 


In
the Britannia Campaign, will there only be a map of Great Britain, or will
Norway be included on the map as well (not only as an invading faction)?


Only
the norwegian faction is available in Britannia, however you will be able to
visit them in the Teutonic campaign as most of Scandinavia is featured on the
campaign map.

 Will
the aztecs/native americans have their own distinct voices? I think in MTW2
they use the Mongol voice.


Yes!
The Native Americans will have new unique voices in
Kingdoms.

Will anyone from CA answer this
thread?

I hope
so, it’s getting pretty damn long..

Again, sorry if I didn’t get around to answering your
question/s, I hope this atleast sheds a bit more light on the expansion and
some of its features.

Caliban”

Thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a
Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms related question (and to Brendan for answering
them!). 

Head over to our Official
CA Discussion Thread
now to take part in more discussions!

Cheers,

 

Mark
O’Connell

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Calendar Competition – April 2007

Official British Summertime has begun,
Easter is just around the corner, and pranksters across the land have been
making the most of their whoopee cushions on April Fools Day.  It can only mean one thing – it’s time for
another ‘Create A Calendar competition’ blog!

 

Sami Pesola from Kent kicks things off
this month with a gorgeous shot from Medieval II, entitled “Soldiers of
Eostre”. Intrigued by the name, Sami kindly elaborated:

 

“In my research of the month of
April I found Easter to be the most significant event (at least for the
majority of Christians found in Medieval II.) Upon reading into the celebration
of Easter I discovered that it was based around earlier rituals worshiping
Eostre, who was a goddess of the dawn. Most likely to do with the lengthening
hours and warmer days coming out of winter. 
So I looked for an image I had captured in-game with my Byzantine army –
which, being eastern Christians, I felt was appropriate – and after some
editing with Photoshop I ended up with this glorious sunrise: a fitting end to
the dreary winter months.”

 

Kyle Schwerman returns for a third time,
with a tribute to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic ‘The Shining’.  

“Well, I will dispense with the
pleasantries this time around, as it’s pretty obvious you guys know who I am by
now :) This month I am submitting something decidedly out of ‘character’, but
something that is of particular interest to me, being that I was born, raised
and still live in Florida. Furthermore, if one consults their map of Florida,
(I’m not the only one who keeps a book of maps in my desk drawer, right?) one
can see that I currently live only about a half hour’s drive from St. Augustine
itself, the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed! It
truly is a small world, hehe. I have included one copy of the picture with a
few details on the event itself, as well as a copy following a more
minimalistic approach. Anyways, enjoy!”

 

Known simply as RB, this mysterious and
talented entrant sent in the following oceanic image, along with the following
message:

 

“Please feel free to post this
wallpaper for all to share at a port near you! Made with Vue 5 easel. There is
not much technique to it. The programming does most of work.  I just arrange the view that I’m looking for
with a photo eye.”

 

Andres Gomez, who divides his time
living in London and Madrid, sent in this image reflecting the impact of
religion and tradable resources in Medieval II:

 

“To make it quite basic, it’s April
“resurrection” month so, what other symbol represents something holy
more instantly than the chalice or holy grail… it has also been quite a
“productive” season for the church so that’s the reason for the
diamonds.  Religion and Economy have
always been and explosive combination, also represented are tradable goods such
as cloth, silk and leather (hides).

 

All work done with Photoshop and without
wanting to bore you, it’s a combination of three images, background materials,
cup and diamonds. Each image was treated individually first, giving them a more
drawn effect.

Once that was achieved and all three put
together in one PSD, I began to work on the merging and scaling of the objects.
Several texture layers and light effects, and a final color balance to make it
comic style, easier to implement once all images where treated before.”
  

Greg Larcombe from Wiltshire, England
sent this colourful tribute to April Fools Day.

 

“The image started as an idle
sketch on a note pad at work. I was thinking about April 1st and All Fools Day
which led me on to the medieval jester and for some bizarre reason the lyrics
of an early Elton John song “The King Must Die”. The sketch developed
well so I scanned it in to Photoshop and worked on it as a solid black top
layer. Medieval designs were borrowed from a website to add some interest and
the window was added later, thanks to a comment from a friend at work. The
colour was added to a base layer and I then experimented with some filters,
watercolour, sponge and fresco, a chrome filter seamed to work well for the
armour. I was quite happy with my stylized illustration and showed my children,
they all hated the picture but I chose to ignore them and send it anyway.” 

 

It’s a good job you decided to send this
fantastic effort in Greg, as it has won you the competition!  A copy of Medieval II, soundtrack, and signed
artwork are on the way.  Here is the
finished wallpaper artwork in all its glory, which is available to download in
two sizes here.

 

Thanks to everyone who entered our April
2007 contest. For those who didn’t win this time, I am pleased to announce the
start of May 2007’s Create A Calendar Competition! You have until Monday 30th
April 2007 to get your entries in, so take your time to come up with something
original and creative. Once again, think about events happening in the month of
May and any historical battles that took place. This month, another talented
individual will win a copy of Medieval II: Total War, Rome and Medieval II
soundtracks. They will also receive a personalized piece of Total War artwork
signed by the artist himself.

 

For full entry details, click here.

 

Best regards,

Mark O’Connell

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Medieval II Developer Q&A Part 2

In the first part of our exclusive
Developer Q&A, we learned the favourite factions and building strategies of
the team at The Creative Assembly and SEGA. 
Now in the concluding part of this Q&A, discover our personal
tips for Medieval II success!

 

 

What is your favourite battlefield strategy?

 

Mark O’Connell: 
Mine is to bombard the approaching enemy with a rain of missile fire,
whilst keeping a wall of heavy infantry units on the front lines. As the enemy
draws close, I send cavalry units to flank them and attack from behind.

 

James Buckle: I like to saturate the enemies’
flanks with arrow fire, to weaken them and reduce the width of their battle
line. I can then make my battle line wider and when the two meet, wrap around
on the flanks and envelope the enemy. Once some of their troops start to
waiver, I crash my heavy cavalry straight through them. The shock effect of
this cavalry charge causes them to panic and flee. Once the army is in flight,
I chase them down with my light cavalry to ensure maximum casualties. If you
can inflict 90%+ casualties on the enemy it will create a hole allowing you to
then counter attack and charge in to their territory.

 

Peter Brophy: Good old fashioned outflanking, I’m
afraid.  Form a nice big line of medium
strength infantry, get ’em into the battle and then circle round with my
cavalry and slam into their backs.  I’ll
keep some spearmen in reserve if they try the same.

 

Graham Axford: Cavalry flanking. Split off you
cavalry from the main army and move it to the flank. Once the enemy are
engaged, move them around and attack from the side or the rear.

 

 

Alex Friend: Obviously the need to be flexible is
important but also to know your enemy as much as possible is important. A
little spying never hurt anyone (well, it does, but there you go) in order to
get an idea of what you are up against. If I have an assassin nearby who can
kill an enemy General beforehand, I always take this option. On the field,
standard battle tactics of a typical English army of the time apply. Archers,
foot advance, cavalry charge for the finale, to thrust a gap open, or to
support failing units. I am also a fan of the Zulu bull attack (love the
movie). It is unorthodox with a medieval European army but it does work. Draw
the enemy into the ‘head’, then outflank with fast moving cavalry or ‘horns’
eventually (hopefully) enveloping your opponent.

 

 

Mathew Ray: 
My favourite battlefield strategy is a headlong charge by heavy cavalry
into a very weak infantry unit.  This
tactic may sound stupid, but a weak infantry unit will rout quick and open a
gap for my own infantry to go through as well as make the troops around them
waver.  This also encourages the enemy
General move to that spot giving me a chance to attack him with my very next
charge.

 

John Carline: Get a couple of strong infantry
units, some good cross-bowmen and a few heavy cavalry. Weaken them with
crossbowmen while getting my Calvary on their flanks. When I’m out of ammo its
ctrl a and a double click, charge!

 

Dan Toose: Let the enemy make the mistake. Almost
every aggressive move can be turned into an over-extension if you move your
forces around properly and react to your enemy.

 

What is your favourite unit?

 

Mark O’Connell: The trebuchet.  Not only is it a devastating long-range
weapon, but it also launches diseased cows at unsuspecting foes, which I still
find quite entertaining.

 

James Buckle: Definitely the Longbow. Not only can
they fire farther and with more power then most other missile units, but they
can plant rows of stakes to hide behind. These are great for stopping front on
cavalry charges in open field battles or for barricading streets when defending
sieges. Never underestimate the battle winning importance of a well placed
pointed stick.

 

Peter Brophy: Anybody with a two-handed sword.  You’ve gotta be pretty rock hard to go into
battle with one of them.

 

Graham Axford: Bombard. Cheap and very effective.
Just one is enough in most circumstances.

 

Alex Friend: No surprise I guess – cavalry. I love
to follow them as they pound along at full change and clash with the enemy,
those clashes are truly epic moments in battle.

 

Mathew Ray: 
Norman Knights!  They not only
look mean, but fight twice as hard as any other unit.  The Normans when fully upgraded with weapons
and armour are nearly unstoppable and charge into the toughest melee with
vigour.

 

John Carline: Probably the General’s bodyguard, I
don’t think you can beat their maneuverability mixed with their heavy charge
and good morale.

 

Dan
Toose: Dismounted Gothic Knights – Two-handed swordsmen with
evil-looking helmets. They’re not my most successful unit, but I love the
aesthetic. 

 

 

Any general tips for success?

 

Mark O’Connell: 
My personal approach is to build up large armies early on, then conquer
as many nearby rebel settlements as I can. 
Using castles as a buffer to protect my inner cities, I use all
plundered money to further increase my forces and continually expand borders. I
also ensure that churches are established as soon as possible to maintain a
good relationship with the Vatican.  On
the battlefield, Archers ranged attacks are great for weakening the
opposition’s defences, but a reserve of heavy infantry can make all the
difference towards the end of a battle.

 

James Buckle: Maintaining a good forward momentum
is very important. As soon as you slow down and back off, you give the other
factions room the breath and time to recover. You should be relentless. Lay
siege to a settlement and as soon as you have enough siege weapons, storm the
walls. Once you’ve taken it, immediately look to the next one. If you’ve gone
more than 7 turns without taking a settlement, you’re going to slow.

 

Peter
Brophy:  Don’t expand your
empire too fast, use waves of expansion. Between each wave, disband your army
to save cash.

 

Graham Axford: Move quickly, taking settlements
with large armies, especially when the enemy are elsewhere. Build large sea
fleets early on and keep them maintained and in your ports when not in use.
Take out the pope and vote your own one in. 
Defend plazas with crossbowmen and walls of heavy infantry.

 

Alex Friend: For a European Empire, get your
priests out there into your lands. At first I kept mine inside the cities
thinking they would take care of things from there, but if they do, heretics
become rife in your lands and the Pope steps in. I find by doing this they also
become more powerful and more up the ranks and eventually make it into the
College of Cardinals, more often than not they can become a strong candidate
for Pope as a result.

 

Mathew Ray: 
Keep the Pope in check as often as possible. Using an assassin if
necessary!

John Carline: Don’t follow my favorite
battlefield strategy.

 

Dan Toose: Expand quickly, and make a grab for as
many settlements as you can in the early game. Settlements = power. The more
you have, the quicker you can build forces. Also, if you’re playing as a
Catholic faction, consider giving the Pope a region that’s on the edge of your
empire, or difficult to hold – It’ll do wonders for your relationship with the
Papacy, and that can make things a lot easier for you.

 

I hope you have all enjoyed reading
about our Medieval II gaming strategies, and learning a little more about the
team.  We will undoubtedly have more
Q&A’s in the future, so keep the great feedback and questions coming.

 

 

Until next time…

 

Mark O’Connell

(aka SenseiTW)

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Medieval II Developer Q&A Part 1

Medieval II: Total War has been out for
a few months now, and I thought it’d be interesting to pick the brains of the
talented folks behind the game at The Creative Assembly and SEGA.  You’ve played the game, discovered your
favourite faction and have your own battle strategy.  Now lets find out theirs (and indeed mine)…

 

Before we get started, how about a
little introduction?  Could you please
tell us your job titles, and how long you have worked at The Creative Assembly
/ SEGA?

 

The Creative Assembly UK:

 

Mark O’Connell: I am the Online Marketing Manager
at The Creative Assembly, and started working here in September 2006.

 

Peter Brophy: 
I’m Peter Brophy, Marketing Artist at The Creative-Assembly.  I’ve been at CA for a whopping three years.

 

Graham Axford: 
QA Manager. 6 years approx. My first project was the Shogun Expansion
pack.

 

James Buckle: James Buckle, Senior Tester. I’ve
been here since Mongol Invasion, a little over six years.

 

SEGA UK:

 

Alex Friend: My name is Alex Friend and I am the
Online Community Manager for SEGA’s core titles, including Total War. I have
been at SEGA for two and half years now.

 

The Creative Assembly Australia

 

Mathew
Ray:  Matthew Ray, I work as
a QA tester at the Creative Assembly in Brisbane.  I have worked at the office for around 6
months.

 

John Carline: John Carline, Senior Artist I’ve
worked at Creative Assembly for over 4 1/2 years, originally at the UK studio
and came to Australian studio to work on Medieval 2.

 

Dan Toose: Designer. Been at CAOZ for almost two
years.

 

What is your favourite faction and why?

 

Mark O’Connell: My favourite faction is
England.  Patriotism aside, the English
are in a relatively safe starting position, with the only initial threats
coming from Scotland and France.  By the
time I have conquered France, my army is usually powerful enough to hold their
own against any invading forces from Northern Europe, as I continue to expand
my empire to the south and east.

 

Peter Brophy: I think it has to be the Spanish –
right from the start you’re in conflict with the Moors, so it gets really
interesting, really fast.  There’s plenty
of room to expand into north Africa without angering the pope by attacking
fellow Christian factions.  Also, the
Spanish cavalry looks really cool. 
Looking cool on the battlefield counts for a lot, in my opinion.

 

Graham Axford: Spain, simply because I like the
starting position. I like to seal Spain off, build large cities and then spread
out.

 

James
Buckle: I like the Byzantines. They’re sat between the Catholics
and the Muslims, giving you plenty of people to wage war with and you don’t
have the pesky Pope looking to rein you in when your rampaging half way across
Europe. They also have some brutal cavalry – the Kataphractoi are tanks with
legs and the Vardaroitai can do damage from range or mix it up hand-to-hand and
come out on top. But they also have some tough infantry to give you
well-balanced armies, the Varangian guard are absolute nails.

 

Alex Friend: This may be a little predictable, but
I will have to say England. I am a big fan of the cavalry charge and seeing a
large amount of skilled archers letting loose a barrage of flaming arrows into
the night sky is quite a sight.

 

Mathew Ray: 
My favourite faction is Sicily, they have it all, some of the best heavy
infantry/cavalry in the Norman knights, their position at the toe of Italy is
pretty secure with the Pope to the north, especially if you take out bologna
and gift it to the pope early.  Plus easy
expansion to Muslim areas and easy to get your Cardinal elected Pope as the
more time they spend converting your newly conquered lands the better they
become.

 

John Carline: Favorite faction is France. They have
a reasonably strong starting position on the campaign and great cavalry units
available on the battlefield. Unfortunately being English, I occasionally feel
like a dirty traitor and have to switch to the English now and again.

 

Dan Toose: I thought it would be the French,
because I enjoy going up against the English, but it’s turned out to be the
HRE. I like having infantry with two-handed swords and maces, and the German
faction offers that.
  

When developing your settlements, do you prefer castles or
cities?

 

Mark O’Connell: Castles are essential when
expanding your boarders, as they will be the first line of attack for any
invading forces.  Once they are safer
within the confines of other castles, I convert them into cities to maximise
growth and maintain a healthy economy.

 

Peter Brophy: 
Castles!  My campaign strategy is
to pump out as many units as possible as fast as possible and overwhelm the
opposition.   My empire always seems to
collapse after a while though.  Perhaps I
should try a more balanced approach…?

 

Graham Axford: I like to manage with just cities
and have a few castles on the frontline, then convert them to cities when they
remain under my control.

 

James Buckle: You need a balance of both. I have
cities in the centre of my empire where they are safe, generating lots of trade
and churning out bucket loads of coin. Then along the frontline I have castles,
they can train new units and send them straight into the fight without having
to march across five provinces.

 

Alex Friend: Difficult one this. I can’t choose
between the two as they are equally important. I would have to say I like to
have castles at the edge of my Empire. Invariably this is where I mount
campaigns for my expansion plans and where I am most likely to be attacked by
my enemies. For these reasons, having the best units and best defence on the
edge of my empire makes sense. Cities I like to keep safely in the interior to
improve wealth. As my empire expands I try as much as possible to convert
castles back to cities and build new one’s on my expanded borders.

 

Mathew Ray: 
I prefer cities, that’s how I make my money and my militia units with a
few armour upgrades and stiffened by a bit of professional soldiery, are quite
hard to beat.  Also, the cities in the
latter part of the game produce the gunpowder units that you will need to
survive, especially against the Mongols.

 

John Carline: I tend to go with cities, hoping to
get rich quick and smash my opponents before they have chance to build up a
large force……this doesn’t always work.

 

Dan Toose: Castles, but I seem to always have more
cities in my empire. All great empires need cash!

 

Stay tuned for the second part of our
exclusive Medieval II Q and A, where we will discuss favourite battlefield
strategies, unit types, and revealing our personal tips for success!

 

Take care,

 

Mark O’Connell

(aka SenseiTW)

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Friday At CA

Well I popped over to the CA office in
Southwater on Friday. The plan is for me to go down there twice a month just to
be in the office, soak up the atmosphere, be more face to face with Mark O’
Connell (SenseiTW) and generally be a pain.

So I went down there last Friday
for the first time.

I must admit it makes a nice change of
scenery. Our office in Brentford is pretty swish and the other community guys
and I have some windows, which is nice. It’s always a good change to get out
though and for once I could use the car rather than the hell that has become
our transport service.

Anyway, we got right into it talking
about plans for what we’re going to do for Med II in the coming months while I
tried to get the internet connection for my laptop to work.

Having phoned our
IT department and finally got it working I sat down to some work before we
headed off to lunch.

A good bit of scran later and some chit
chat about the forums and how we can make it better we headed over to CA’s
Horsham office which houses one of the Dev teams…..

I met Ross Manton over there who is the
lead producer. It was great to have a chat and meet some of the team and get a
better understanding of what goes into making the games, from animators, to
level designers, coders, the list goes on.

Anyway this took us to late afternoon
and we headed back to Southwater to finish up for the day. Mark O’C made me
some tea and shared his Go Ahead bar with me. For one of those poncy diet
things I have to say, it was really good and prepared me for the drinking I was
going to do later for my birthday.

Anyway, I plan to update you regularly
on my little trips down the CA’s offices in the country.

I am sure there will
be plenty more I can tell you about in the future and probably some more I
can’t tell you about at all…!

 

AlexSEGA

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Calendar Competition – March 2007

With our Create A Calendar Competition
entering its third month, the frosts are finally beginning to lift and the days
are growing longer. The biggest celebrated event this month is of course St.
Patrick’s Day, but let’s not forget some of the lesser known ones such as
National Goof-off Day (22nd), Make Up Your Own Holiday Day (26th), and of
course, National “Joe” Day (27th).

 

Our first ever Canadian entry comes from
Lawrence Lessard in Quebec, who sent in this image of an army on the march. In
his own words:

“First I found this
image on the internet after that I was using the adobe Photoshop.”

And there you have it!
 

Returning for another bash at the Create
A Calendar crown is Bruce Kyle Schwerman from Florida, who cleverly adopted a
St Patrick’s Day theme for this months offering. With a thesaurus on standby,
here are some words from the man himself:

“I told you
guys my last one would be the first of many :) First of all, thank you, my good
sires, for the honorable mention in your latest Calendar Submission Winners
blog! You do me, a humble lord of England, a great honor by this recognition,
one which I must try to repay in the only way I know how to: with a new
submission! This little nugget took place on March 17th,1185, in Eastern
Ireland, near Dublin. As the good Sir John Weste was chasing down some
troublesome Irish Kerns, he happened to overhear one of them make a very
lively, very timely little quip to a similarly hurried friend of his. Despite
it’s treacherous insinuations and seditious overtones, the magnanimous Sir John
was quite taken with the grim humour of this lowly Irishman. In fact, once he
captured the whole lot of them some 30 seconds later, he extended to them the
unheard-of honor of executing them himself, with his own sword! Aye, and ’twas
lucky for them, too, as the executioner Sir John employs in Dublin is quite
notoriously near-sighted, and prone to using a very dull axe. Anyways,
enjoy!”

Cezare White sent in a whopping five
entries this month, including the dramatic battle scene below.

“They was created in
Photoshop, and are a mixture of quick battle scenario’s in game, the game was
played at 1920×1200 but i had to reduce for the wallpaper compo. Not much was
changed from the images apart from few filters, and colour
adjustments.”

Keep them coming Cezare!

After last months win, Tim Archer has also returned this
month with another cracking piece of art that wouldn’t look out of place on a
Roman postcard!

Jan Bartscht from Southampton
sent in a very witty entry, inspired from one of his recent battles.

“I was playing as the Turks invading Palermo. I had
never used Nafftun in a city battle but thought they might be of use. I was
slowly grinding my way through the city but the large presence of enemy
bodyguard units was taking a heavy toll on my forces. I was slowly but surely
having my army hacked to pieces. In a last ditch effort, I snuck the Nafftun
along the walls and had them rain fiery death on the units below them. Caught between
my forces and flaming pain the enemy forces quickly began to run away but not
before one of the deadly pots hit the general, burning him to ashes. I was
thoroughly enjoying the battle and took a screenshot of the cut scene showing
the general’s rather dramatic death (flaming naptha to the face…!).

It was so dramatic I thought I had to use it for the
competition. Thinking of March reminded me of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and
the way he ignored the warnings of his death “beware the Ides of March”
until it was too late for him to save himself. In the same way I imagined some
old hag warning the Sicilian general to be careful in this battle, but him not
taking any notice until, again, it was too late. I used Photoshop to add the
text and thought I would frame the situation with a bit of humour (as it would
otherwise be a bit depressing) by having the exchange between the general and
his squire. The point of the picture is for fun but I think it also reminds us
that we must be careful in our actions as we never quite know what will happen
next.”

This month’s winner also made an
appearance during January’s Calendar Competition, and has returned in March to
win the prize. Titled “War Blossom”, the winning entry comes from
Arturo Torres Landa of San Diego, California.

 

“In the making of this image I
tried to symbolize two principal concepts. First the season’s fact, the
beginning of spring, as you correctly said, represented by the flowers emerging
from the ground. But at the same time, the flowers don’t represent only the
natural phenomenon. The color of the flowers wasn’t a random decision. They are
red, because they are the remnant, the remembrance, of old battles fought in
that battlefield. Red flowers, dyed by fallen knights, blossoming again and
being swiftly erased by the sword of the defeater. All this happening in March,
the month of Mars, ancient god of war. It’s a cyclical idea just like spring,
like the blossom of wars. As you may see, its little abstract concept that I
wanted to put together (hoping I’ve achieved it 😛 ) in a drawing.

 

About the making, well, first I draw the
main figure, the knight, with a common drawing pencil and colored it with
pastel chalks in paper. I followed the same process with the field, flowers and
sky. Once all were drawn, it took just a minute to scan the whole image,
digitalize it and put on it some effects, like the dust, some clouds and grass,
with Adobe Photoshop. And that’s all!”

Congratulations Arturo, a
copy of Medieval II, Soundtrack and signed artwork is on its way!

So without further ado, head over to our
Competitions
page to download March’s Desktop Calendar Wallpaper in two different sizes!

Thanks to everyone who entered our March 2007
contest. For those who didn’t win this time, I am pleased to announce the start
of April’s Create A Calendar Competition! You have until Saturday 31st March
2007 to get your entries in, so take your time to come up with something
original and creative. Once again, think about events happening in the month of
April (such as Easter) and any historical battles that took place. This month,
one talented individual will win a copy of Medieval II: Total War, Rome and
Medieval II soundtracks. They will also receive a personalized piece of Total
War artwork signed by the artist himself.

For full entry
details, click here.

 

Best regards,

Mark O’Connell

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