"The truth is we screwed up," said Creative Assembly's creative director Mike Simpson as part of an extended apology and explanation regarding the delay of a new game mode for Total War Warhammer II titled Mortal Empires. The addition of Mortal Empires would effectively combine the campaigns of Total War Warhammer I and II into one colossal campaign that will dwarf previous Total War campaign maps.
Essentially, the Total War franchise has had a lot of experience merging content across different games in the same series. They went into Total War Warhammer II's merger with Warhammer I content with the expectation that it would go just as smoothly as it had with past titles. They started merging the content of the two games and quickly began running into problems. Simpson explains that the sticking point has to do with the studio's confidence in their process that happened to overlook the file containers the data for the game was stored within. "We got so good at branching and merging builds, we thought we had it mastered. [...] Although the data itself didn’t clash, improvements to the infrastructure of WH2 meant the containers the data was going into had changed significantly."
The team was set on adding the Norsca from Warhammer I to Warhammer II, as well. This meant that as the bugs of merging the two games together grew, the Norsca specific problems reared their head more and more at every step of the process. Simpson elaborated on the challenges they encountered and the various approaches they used to attempt to overcome them:
The first attempt to integrate Norsca in the routine way caused an immediate tsunami of bugs. We smacked our heads against it, realised it was unsolvable in a short span, and had to back out. We started on a second, more careful approach, which has been glacially slow, with deeper and deeper issues with the integration tools and process becoming apparent at each stage.
Modding Norsca into the final game, just as a modder might, would be much quicker and easier. But adding content to the final game rather than the source, which takes a great deal more careful implementation, would produce the same problems as modding; every new game update may break it. It would be a bodge.
The changes to the database structure between Warhammer I and Warhammer II and the ongoing code and database changes for Mortal Empires made it very difficult to un-tangle the Norsca content, once it had been copied across to Warhammer II. As the weeks passed, we realised that it would probably be easier to re-implement Norsca in Warhammer II, rather than straighten out the Norsca content copied over from Warhammer I. And so, having lost months, we’ve now decided to pick the next point where all the branches are back together (after the next major content update), and then re-implement Norsca from scratch in Warhammer II. This won’t be quick, but it is guaranteed to work.
And so we add one more thing to the long list of dumb mistakes we’re never going to make again…
All of that being said, Creative Assembly has revealed their revised schedule for Warhammer II. December will see the rollout of the Reprisal Update for Mortal Empires that will bring a bunch of new fixes and tweaks for Old World Legendary Lords and Chaos alongside a new game mode that hasn't yet been announced. January has been designated as the release month for the first campaign expansion pack. This will contain new elements for Eye of the Vortex and Mortal Empires. Finally, Creative Assembly aims to have the full implementation of the Norsca in Warhammer II sometime in May.
What do you think? Was this a good apology from the Total War Warhammer II team?