"The truth is we screwed up" - Creative Assembly opens up about Total War Warhammer development woes

"The truth is we screwed up" - Creative Assembly opens up about Total War Warhammer development woes

UK based RTS developer Creative Assembly has opened up about the challenges of developing Total War: Warhammer Mortal Empires.

This was to be an ambitious game mode that combined the worlds of Total War: Warhammer and its 2017 sequel. This, did not go well, with the studio publishing a very frank appraisal of the situation.

"There are rather more moving parts to the Mortal Empires campaign than we’d first anticipated, that’s for sure," brand director Rob Bartholomew said.

"At present, we do feel it’s playable and enjoyable, though not under all circumstances. It’s taking time for us to stage implementation of the Norsca content, then tweak that content so it’s relevant to Mortal Empires. There are also some genuine bugs, and rest assured we’re in the process of addressing these. It feels like these two things get conflated a lot, and as a result it’s perhaps getting harsher treatment than it deserves. But for sure, our update schedule for Warhammer II is behind where we (and likely you) would like it to be.

"Chiefly, integrating Norsca into Mortal Empires has given us no end of trouble. If you’re interested in the detail, Mike has some more in-depth commentary on the development challenges behind this."

Creative director Mike Simpson went even further with his frankness of the game's progress.

"The truth is we screwed up," he said. "We got so good at branching and merging builds, we thought we had it mastered. Merging is easy when the things that have changed in one branch don’t coincide with the things that have changed in the other. It gets more difficult when the changes overlap – you most often have to manually intervene to pick which branch is “right”. Typically, merges get exponentially more difficult the longer branches stay apart, as the chance of changes clashing increases.

"We planned to take the Norsca branch from Warhammer I, along with a variety of other Warhammer I improvements, and merge it in to Warhammer II. Because the content in Norsca didn’t exist in Warhammer II, even though a long time had passed, the merge should have been quick and easy.

"There was one tiny problem with this plan, which a bit of deeper might have discovered. It was bollocks."

The complications here have delayed the proposed downloadable content for Total War: Warhammer II. Mortal Empires is coming out this month, the first campaign pack has been bumped from this year into January, while the Norsca race will be coming to the game in May.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.