Empire: Total War Finished

Earlier today you got to speak to Kieran Brigden from Creative Assembly, who answered your questions about tomorrow's big PC release, Empire: Total War, which should be activated by now, actually, if you're on Steam. Already the recipient of a warm welcome in our and other reviews, Empire introduces a host of new features to complete an incredibly vast new strategy game. Thanks to everyone who joined in and look out for more live interviews very soon.

Latest comments (35)

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  • EzyRyder 5 years ago

    The PS3 hasn't got enough memory to deal with the sheer amount of units.
  • Obli 5 years ago

    Creative Assembly: You know the PS3 has mouse and keyboard support? What about using the mLani MoBi? I'd love to see Total War games on the PS3!
  • Britesparc 5 years ago

    @Randell



    Cheers, sounds good!
  • Randell 5 years ago

    @Britesparc



    Yes, you install from DVD then load via steam without needing disks.
  • Britesparc 5 years ago

    @Mr Z & Norkolk



    Agree entirely. Steam is the best thing about PC gaming, and I'm one of those who likes to physically own games, too. I know some people had problems when it launched (I remember HL2 taking about two hours to install!) but right now I think it's the business.



    BTW: if I buy Empire in a shop, does it still authenticate with Steam? So, will I have benefits such as not needing the CD, etc?
  • autogunner 5 years ago

    steam is almost the perfect gaming platform now you haters, it just needs more competitive pricing and and a higher server stess limit. the in game chat and online matchmaking is flawless compared to GFWL and the copy protection is minimalist and does not even require you going online everytime you want to play one of your games.



    I really do not see the problem
  • EzyRyder 5 years ago

    I like Steam, its only real cons imo are the fact that you can not sell your games 2nd hand and that if you buy the game through Steam it is usually more expensive. That aside I think it is a great service, fantastic online gaming community, stable, solves piracy problem and I don't need the CD. it is also very convenient as I don't need the CDs to reinstall and makes patching games a doddle.



  • NorfolkNClue 5 years ago

    MrZ - I agree with you. Steam is rather good, except it is a little bit more expensive sometimes. That said, it' is great. It was awful when it first started, but it's stable and fast now. What's not to like?
  • Olemak 5 years ago

    CountFapula: thanks for pointing out the thing with Viking, I completely missed it when I skimmed through the interview.
  • CrusaderJEA 5 years ago

    I hated the question about the sequal to the console game... Dont give CA any ideas for console games... console games by CA are just a waste of time (no offence) dont wasted the CA's time, its better if they keep making awesome PC titles such as rome or empire... consoles are a waste of time for RTS
  • ShiroBen 5 years ago

    I thought this was a concept review at first glance. I miss concept reviews.
  • matrim83 5 years ago

    Good stuff, enjoyed reading that.



    Its on my must buy list.
  • EzyRyder 5 years ago

    Dont forget Quidco, it is an extra 4% off :)
  • grantc7 5 years ago

  • makeamazing 5 years ago

    Mine came in to Blockbuster last week, but I wasnt allowed to have it :D... not sure I have time to play this this weekend....really looking forward to this..
  • GreatUncleBaal 5 years ago

    Shame about being unable to preload the game - interesting since the purchase page on steam that pops up when you exit the demo says something like "play the moment it's released" - which you clearly can't do.

    I wonder if Steam have cost themselves a few sales with this - people might pay the higher digital download price if they can have the thing preloaded and ready to play on release day, but realistically if someone bought it now it would take all night to download, so they might as well pick up a hard copy for less.
  • ASHBERY76 5 years ago

    The commies did not post my question. :(
  • Olemak 5 years ago

    Too bad I did not have time to submit a question.... I would like to know if there are any plans for a Viking: Battle for Midgard sequel. The game was good fun, although flawed and tiresome in places. I certainly see a potential for a polished follow-up to it.
  • sneetch 5 years ago

    @hiddenranbir

    I meant the services, locked in Steamworks - which MUST be used through Steam.



    Erm... I don't understand... surely every game only uses one service of this type (matchmaking etc)? How has it limited your choices?



    If they'd, for example, gone with Battle-Net (yeah, I know, damn near impossible) or Gamespy (god forbid) for their online services then would you be any more or any less limited in your choices? (At least Steam offers decent in-built voice comms and doesn't require half the ports to be opened on your firewall, bloody POS Gamespy).



    That said, I've noticed an increasing number of Games for Windows Live games that require Steam... what are the odds on a big announcement from Valve and MS in the next few months? ;)
  • sneetch 5 years ago

    @hiddenranbir

    Steam isn't the issue. That being the only provider is. It has severely limited my choice as a customer, which is exactly what helps promote fairness.



    It's not the only provider. I don't know where that came from, it's not exclusive to Steam as you can buy it in the shops.



    http://www.play.com/Games/PC/4-/
    3623155/...
    http://www.game.co.uk/PC/Strateg
    y/RealTi...


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Empire-T
    otal-War... The cheapest I've seen (if you're in the UK)
  • sneetch 5 years ago

    I will buy a UK TV licence just to watch a new series of Time Commanders using this game/engine, the ancient battles Time Commander was excellent but this would be even better. The Napoleonic wars alone would provide enough content for a season or two.



    And Steam is fine. Just don't buy it over Steam or anything crazy like that, get a hard copy from the shops/online and you'll save yourself a few quid.
  • HermitArcader 5 years ago

    @GenBanks I'm glad it didn't get asked, cause I don't want devs to think people like horse armour - generous expansion packs all the way. Really good feature, btw is it just me or are these livechats getting better and better? I mean both in terms of the questions being presented and the way they are being answered, good stuff!
  • Erinan 5 years ago

    No, it doesn't (unless you refer to the Steam from four years ago).



    I want to go home and download the game :(



    Thanks for the interview!
  • hula-hoops 5 years ago

    Why would you make the game a Steam exclusive knowing that lots of players avoid Steam like the plague?



    My interest in this game just leaped down the window and splattered all over the pavement. STEAM sucks balls! Jesus, why can't these people see this.
  • rsslcs 5 years ago

    10 questions, no answers boohooooooo Do you have to wait a while?
  • Britesparc 5 years ago

    @hiddenranbir

    Yeah, pretty cool... I asked about five questions! I asked one about doing a WWI-themed Total War, was hoping they'd answer that in the affirmative :-)
  • Britesparc 5 years ago

    Wow, he answered my question about "dodgy" facets of history! A really good answer, too - didn't realise they touched on slavery like that in Empire. It's a very sensitive and intelligent way of dealing with it, I'd say (although I guess Civ handles it a similar way).



    Bravo Creative Assembly.
  • El_Draque 5 years ago

    " without you having to refresh the page OR ANYTHING"



    Lies! I had it in open window for last 10 minutes without a single new post. :)

    Using Safari.
  • Rudovich 5 years ago

    will the loading times in the real game be a little faster, though I don't mind slow, I can wait for a game like this :)

Our live coverage has now ended. Here's what you missed: Updating...

16:01 By Tom Bramwell

A%
Tom "Super Moderating Hero" Bramwell: First things first Kieran, thank you for joining us. Can you tell our beloved readers who on earth you are and what you do at Creative Assembly? And for the benefit of those of us in the UK, can you confirm that you WERE attending the university when you signed up for today's quiz and aren't secretly an ugly accountant?



A%
Kieran Brigden: I am Kieran Brigden Esquire, the Communications Manager at the Creative Assembly. I can confirm that I received my doctorate via a reputable internet university that required credit card details.


16:04 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Blackguard%66102%
Can you tell us anything about multiplayer campaign mode which we hear is in the works?



A%
Kieran Brigden: The multiplayer campaign mode will be a post release feature of Empire Total War. We are going to release it as a beta shortly after the game's come out. The campaign mode allows two friends (or mortal enemies) to play against one another and the AI through the Grand Campaign mode. Players will be given the option of fighting every battle as the enemy, meaning whoever your friend fights wherever in the world it will always be the two of involved in a deathmatch. It's an awesome new feature and one we've been keen to do for a while. The basic code is there, now we're getting the rest sorted!


16:05 By Tom Bramwell

Q%drunkymonkey%30004%
Does the Creative Assembly team play many mods of their games, and if so, what have they learned from them, and has it led to any improvements to the series as a whole?



A%
Kieran Brigden: One of the great thing about the TW series is the modding community. There are some very impressive mods out there, from AI enhancements to full-scale total conversions. We always watch the mod community for ideas and indeed talent. Our very own Jack Lusted was a modder prior to joining CA at it was his modding that brought him to our attention.


16:10 By Tom Bramwell

Q%filsoofj11%313172%
Hey, what kind of improvements have been made on the AI? The recent reviews all say that the AI has been improved by a lot, and you guys have brushed [on] the topic in the past, but can you narrow down exactly what has been done to make the AI better both on the battlefield and the campaign map?



A%
Kieran Brigden: As far as the battle AI (or battlefield AI) is concerned it is a total change. AI uses a state-based approach in general; this means a kind of 'chess game' to the way it plays. One move, followed by a set of possible next moves and so forth. This can lead AI to being predictable and repeated. With the Battle AI in Empire we use a system called a Goal Oriented Action Planner (GOAP). This means the battle AI is constantly looking at a list of 'objectives' or plans, which it will prioritise according to what is happening. This means as things (like protect the general) go up in priority (because you're flanking his army) it will react more dynamically.


16:10 By Tom Bramwell

A%
Moderating Hero: Quick follow-up to the multiplayer campaign question - Any indication when that will be released? Will there be a public beta or anything like that?



A%
Kieran Brigden: There will be a beta phase for the multi campaign. We're still finalising for logistical reasons whether it will be public or invited, and it will be done when the feature is ready for roll out. Which is, as soon as it's ready.


16:11 By Tom Bramwell

Q%beerio%128833%
The demo had unconscionably long load times for both the battles and to start the demo itself. Was this, as rumoured, an artifact of the compression used to keep the demo small? And how do the load times in the actual game itself compare? If they're as long as the ones in the demo I think I'll be cancelling my pre-order, as waiting a couple of minutes for a fight to load up is not really on given the number of battles in a campaign.



A%
Kieran Brigden: That's a fair point. Since the demo build (which is incidentally very dated now) we've knocked a large amount off the loading times at the start, and to and form, battles. This is the basic process of optimisation, it takes time and is often done very close to release. You should notice a significant difference in the load times, somewhere between 30-40 per cent and in some cases more than half.


16:13 By Tom Bramwell

Q%pevergreen%313146%
Are there any plans for the pre-order bonus units (Death's Head Hussars, Amazon Warriors and the HMS Constitution) to be made available for download for a fee or free?



A%
Kieran Brigden: This is a possibility, but it won't be for a good while if we decide to do so. The pre-order units are an incentive for those buying those editions so we want them to remain unique for a while, but I wouldn't rule it out a way in the future.


16:14 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Gremmi%14030%
As your advert appears to look like Sean Bean, can we look forward to any hero units 'inspired' by fiction? Say, a Lieutenant Sharpe and the 95th Rifles, or Captain Jack Aubrey aboard a capital ship?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Haha! The Sean Bean figure! Yes, I think he's been given that nickname internally too, although that was never the intention during design. I don't want to spoil it but there are various historical, fictional and indeed 'Easter egg' figures who pop up at certain times, in certain regions and with certain factions.


16:15 By Tom Bramwell

Q%IainMcKenzie%128266%
Could we ever see another series of Time Commanders? It was cool for featuring game playing on mainstream TV and for having school teachers and accountants put in charge of armies. Could you please ensure the BBC are sent links showing the new awesome of Empire?



A%
Kieran Brigden: We'd all love for there to be another Time Commanders but it has to be by licence-payer demand (hint hint), so the BBC would want to make a series like it. The BBC have indeed shown interest in Empire and have been here covering it today of all things! But yes, as far as a TV series goes, some kind of 'Big Brother' X-factor style Total War would indeed be fun. It's a case of watch this space.


16:18 By Tom Bramwell

Q%tobs%12566%
Why would you make the game a Steam exclusive knowing that lots of players avoid Steam like the plague?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Steam offers us a lot of really good features. Rankings, achievements and automatic patching amongst others. Yes, it's also a copy protection method, and it does help there too, but it isn't the only reason we've chosen to go with it. From a development point of view it also offers us the chance to do a lot more of interest to the player. It's fully integrated into Empire with the ability to chat and invite others in etc. All things we've wanted to do for a while.


16:20 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Anim%313210%
What will the mentioned modding tools for Empire: Total War contain and when will they be released?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Primarily, and of most importance, Empire is moddable without tools. I imagine a large number of people will write their own basic editors for a variety of parts of the game and its also possible to edit it with other basic apps. Our own dev tool-set isn't for public release as its not UI friendly and is internal software, so the answer there is 'soon' but the game is moddable without tools, although there are some functions for which users may want to write their own tools in the short term.


16:23 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Britesparc%49182%
Do you feel compelled, when dealing with historical periods, to censor inappropriate material? For instance, some friends of mine were shocked in Medieval when I showed them you could go on Crusades or wage Jihads. But (as far as I know) you've steered clear of the slave trade, for example. Is this to avoid controversy or because it's a tricky subject to implement in terms of the game mechanics? Incidentally, I'm not actually SUGGESTING you make a game where you can profit from the slave trade.



A%
Kieran Brigden: This is an interesting question. How much of history should we include and to what degree? The crusades are contentious, especially given the current political climate. Slavery too is a difficult issue and there are reasons for us to avoid it. Empire does not ignore slavery - there is a technology that gives you a public order bonus when you abolish slavery which is the result of socio-philosophical research. There are also downsides in terms of production for plantations and farmers in the colonies etc. So we don't totally dodge it, but we don't actively let players trade in slaves no. How many World War II games are there that simulate the holocaust? And why is that? It's because the added realism is not necessarily good for gameplay. These things are difficult social issues which we treat with care but do not avoid for the sake of being PC.


16:25 By Tom Bramwell

Q%willh1990%309502%
"Yalaa, my Sultan wishes you dead!" "If it is a fight you wish, come closer!" and "I only respect strength! Something you LACK!" are just some of the brilliant lines from Medieval II: Total War... Who writes the superb lines that accompany the Total War campaign characters?



A%
Kieran Brigden: We have a team of awesome writers at our disposal. These guys spend a lot of time reading epic novels, watching too much Monty Python and collecting historical diction from other more arcane sources. They are responsible for the fantastic atmosphere of Total War games, the exchange of dialogue amongst characters being top amongst them. Look out for some true gems in Empire's diplomatic exchanges and info popups too. There's also a serious Easter egg language-wise in the info boxes, but I'll let you all find it.


16:27 By Tom Bramwell

Q%random_samurai%313137%
Will there be a hotseat mode similar to the past TW games? I don't want to know about the online multiplayer campaign, just whether there will be hotseat. If not, will it be possible to mod hotseat into Empire?



A%
Kieran Brigden: On hotseat, we're still looking at that. There is the ability to invite players into your games and have them hook up and play thanks to Steam, but Empire, given the multi campaign angle (sorry, I know you didn't want me to include that), actually does it a little different. Code changes like that might indeed be moddable, but given the Steam interface may need to come from us, which is not to say that they won't.


16:29 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Britesparc%49182%
Would you ever consider using the Total War engine for a licensed property? For instance, if someone asked you to do Middle-Earth Total War or something, would it pique your interest?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Something like that would indeed be interesting, and we never discount any options (although we don't have the licence for LotR games) but TW games tend to have to meet certain criteria which can make licences a little difficult. We need a period of great change where several factions could emerge as the dominant power, a period of technological change where new armaments becomes available as time passes and it also has to be a time that lets us to do something new (such as naval battles in Empire) so any possible licence would need to meet those requirements first and foremost to make a fun TW game.


16:32 By Tom Bramwell

Q%lillis%313167%
I have yet to see a negative review of Empire, but even the most praising ones mention the naval combat as a drawback - mainly the problems which commandeering larger fleets introduce. Most reviewers seem to think that it's simply a bit too much to keep track of, and tended towards auto-resolving fleet battles quite often. Did you design the naval system with a steep learning curve in mind?



A%
Kieran Brigden: This is an interesting point, and one I'm glad to get the chance to address. The naval battles are new. The tactics within them are new. There's a whole depth of strategy yet to be worked out (we're still playing in the office). And I genuinely believe that as people play more they'll master more. Additionally there are a lot of functions that can be used to make controlling large groups more easy group formations and orders are one example and some of the reviews haven't seemed to mention those, meaning its possible they weren't used. That said, it's an area for us to develop, we recognise that this is our first attempt and over time with patches and indeed with any possible new titles we'll continue to polish naval battles. We're proud of them now, but equally we've been doing land battles for years and they just get better and better, so...


16:33 By Tom Bramwell

Q%senso-ji%147491%
Medieval got a (deserved) sequel. Any chance of Rome/Shogun 2?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Let's just say we're looking at all our options...


16:34 By Tom Bramwell

Q%pevergreen%313146%
For the inevitable expansion, is it planned to go down the route Kingdoms took and have multiple new campaigns, the older route like Viking Invasion and Barbarian Invasion with a new campaign, general additions to the Grand Campaign, or is nothing really decided upon?



A%
Kieran Brigden: For the expansion I can say we will be improving general gameplay and features, naturally. We're not ready to announce our expansion plans yet but I will say that if the Road to Independence style 'mini campaigns' are of interest to players and are successful we'd like to do more such things, perhaps as an expansion. But for now, it's just conjecture.


16:36 By Tom Bramwell

Q%jimmy444%313254%
Have the graphical issues concerning ATI 4800 series cards been resolved? There were a number of issues including tearing, blue markers, strange graphical anomalies involving these cards. Will ATI release a driver for these kind of issues or is this included in the first patch?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Hi Jimmy, the ATI cards had a few issues with the old demo code. A lot of that is our old code. Again, as with everything, the game needed some balance and optimisation. To put your mind at ease I have five computers running 4870s, two with X2s and several top-end NVIDIAs. All of them are now working fine on ultra, no bother.


16:38 By Tom Bramwell

Q%nick_stone08%313145%
Why hasn't the team included Africa in the campaign map? As it was a fierce bit of territory for the powers of Europe to fight for.



A%
Kieran Brigden: It was indeed a major theatre of war for the period, and the northern part of Africa is indeed present - what we would now know as the eventual French colonies, and British Egypt. That said, right now, the map is MASSIVE. It is genuinely hard to explain that fighting through any one of these continents and its islands is a whole game unto itself. You won't feel a loss not having that area necessarily, and who knows? Its certainly an area into which we could expand...


16:39 By Tom Bramwell

Q%noobchewer%313133%
Will nations be able to rebel and make a faction? Like the Irish?



A%
Kieran Brigden: In short, yes. Certain nations when they rebel form their own unique factions, peoples like the Scots, Irish, Hungarians etc. There are loads of these for you to discover... as a result of not running the territory properly!


16:40 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Huntcjna%11227%
The historical accuracy of the Total War series is held in extremely high regard. Would you ever look at doing specialist educational versions of the game which tie into historical curriculum either in the UK or abroad?



A%
Kieran Brigden: That's an interesting question. I'm actually doing a radio thing about this on Friday as a recent survey looked at ways to make academic history more interesting perhaps by using entertainment titles. Primarily Total War is a game. It's about fun and playability rather than just historical accuracy, but we do take that seriously. We already have schools and some universities asking to use our titles in lectures and the like and we're usually more than happy to oblige.


16:41 By Tom Bramwell

Q%El_Draque%117355%
Are there plans for a Mac version?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Possibly is the answer to that, I don't want to promise anything at this stage but its something we do keep in mind.


16:43 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Britesparc%49182%
Do you think there's any way to do a console version of the Total War games?



A%
Kieran Brigden: There is a place for RTS and strategy games on consoles yes. The DS version of Civ is indeed good fun, the recent moves by games such as Halo Wars have also been interesting. Primarily it's about control. Most RTS games on console fail because they're ports. You have to design for console from the ground up, and if we ever crack the magic nut of control then of course we'd love to bring TW to a console audience.


16:45 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Tullaris%313246%
To many veteran Total War players Medieval II was perhaps too easy. Battles were only lost against overwhelming forces. Do you think winning the Empire Total War campaign on very hard is going to be more of a challenge?



A%
Kieran Brigden: In short, yes. The new Battle AI is a genuine challenge, it will continue to try and outfox you and is much more dynamic than its predecessors. The campaign AI too is a lot more nuanced, especially from the diplomacy side. Something we're doing with Empire as we go is also to continue to evolve the AI through post-release patches and balance fixes, this means where we think it can be improved further we will do so and continue to offer replayability to the player. There is naturally still work to do, but this TW feels much more accomplished in that sense than our previous titles.


16:47 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Jesterrr%303810%
I'm really intrigued by the different equipment, drills and tactics you can research in the game. How does this work in terms of skirmishes and online battles? Also, sometimes I felt that the scope for customising your force in these battles was a little too broad. Has any thought ever been given to creating skirmish scenarios where the player has to choose a force that adheres to some restrictions, i.e. no artillery, only up to 20 per cent of your force can be cavalry, limits on unit experience etc.?



A%
Kieran Brigden: As far as drills and tech are concerned these depend on fighting in the early or late period of the game, as certain techs are assumed to be available in the 'early' period and others in the 'late', although in the campaign the rate at which you unlock them is up to you. By choosing a period certain troops and drills become unavailable or are added. When it comes to adding multiplayer restrictions we leave that to players to discuss, so if you and a friend want a full army on full army battle using only pikemen in Paris, that's your call.


16:48 By Tom Bramwell

Q%michaelius%154878%
Have you considered using 17th century wars in Eastern Europe, Baltic Sea area and Turkish invasions as a possible setting for another Total War game?



A%
Kieran Brigden: There are lots of historical periods that are incredibly interesting and could be used for a TW title. As before, all our titles need to meet the fundamentals required by a game of this nature and scope. The great thing about working form history is (ironically) it's infinite.


16:50 By Tom Bramwell

A%
Moderating Hero: On this note, out of personal curiosity - we see a lot of people commending Total War for its realism, but do you ever get approached by an institution or a historian and told off for anything?



A%
Kieran Brigden: All the time! We get some fantastic lobbies telling us we didn't represent bagpipes properly or that the moustaches are of the wrong style etc. Our designers are genuinely great and eagle-eyed on this fact, but we can't please everyone all of the time. For some people they want more 18th century silverware to be featured and there just aren't enough spoons in Empire for them. It's a weird mix, but we always try and take everything into account and make adjustments where possible.


16:52 By Tom Bramwell

Q%modo_komodo%27915%
Do I need to have a good understanding of Napoleonic warfare in order to progress or can I still win with more generalised tactics?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Yes and yes. Your tactics are your own. If you find a certain combination of weapons that work for you or a unit drill that you like then you will have a fighting style. Every general in history has had their own ideas and tactics and these are what make TW so much fun. Do you want to try and win by throwing a thousand troops into the meatgrinder? Go ahead. Are you a 'throw some donkeys in the mix then hit them with bayonets' type? It's up to you. Or you can use speical tactics of the period - it's up to your playing style. Not that a little knowledge of the period wouldn't help of course...


16:55 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Schaep%313179%
In the previous games, alliances were pretty much useless. The campaign AI always had its mind set on certain settlements, even if they had never belonged to them. This always resulted in betrayal of alliances, even if your faction had overwhelming military strength. Sometimes the AI would even attack settlements with only 1 unit! Has this changed at all in Empire?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Alliances are an element of diplomacy and have received much more attention this time around. If anything it may be the player that ends up having to break long-standing alliances in order to push for a certain province! Now countries' opinion of you rises and falls over time - trade helps increase it for example - and eventually if they like you enough you can form a alliance. There is a huge depth to the diplomatic menu, friends of friends, same religion, an enemy of my enemies, trade, etc. All of these things mean a more realistic diplomatic world. No longer does the AI love you for 50 years only to stab you in the head for no reason when you wont hand over a key region. That said, it can indeed betray you if it REALLY REALLY must, or if you've pushed it that far.


16:56 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Catafrato%313177%
Do Scottish regiments have bagpipes in the full game?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Again with the bagpipes? Seriously though, all I can say is tartan makes an appearance.


16:57 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Tullaris%313246%
What games from other companies do CA staff like? Do you prefer strategy games such as Europa Universalis, Civilization or are you playing totally different games?



A%
Kieran Brigden: We play everything. There's a strong belief here that you cant just be a PC-based strategy gamer to design good games. Its like a chef only eating olives. We have to look at everything and we do - console game, PC titles, and lots of board games too. We have some seriously obscure strategy board games here. There's a bit of a Left 4 Dead fetish with the QA department at the moment, and every other title gets a look in too.


16:59 By Tom Bramwell

Q%greg99%313208%
Will there be any surprises like in Medieval 2 when the timurids invade?



A%
Kieran Brigden: There are plenty of surprises, but I wont spoil them. There's also a fantastic kitten Easter egg but I've already said too much.


17:01 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Darren%11039%
Not related to Empire Total War whatsoever but is there any chance of a sequel to the rather good Viking Battle for Asgard on the consoles?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Thats a nice question, the answer is maybe. We're looking at a lot of ideas on the console side at the moment. Some kind of sequel to Viking is naturally amongst them. But there will be more on any possible projects in the near future.


17:01 By Tom Bramwell

A%
Moderating Hero: We're getting a lot of suggestions for future Total War games. My favourites so far are Cold War Total War "where you do nothing for 199 turns" and Jurassic Park Total War. Any fantasy scenarios you guys enjoy?



A%
Kieran Brigden: Can I take a minute before I answer this question and say Empire goes live on Steam in Europe in about 60 seconds?



A%
Moderating Hero: Yep!


17:04 By Tom Bramwell

A%
Moderating Hero: Now answer my very serious question about Jurassic Park.



A%
Kieran Brigden: On the question - I love those ideas. My personal favourite would be Caveman total war, where you bash each other over the head for 100 years and then get wiped out by a disease.


17:04 By Tom Bramwell

Q%rsslcs%313249%
Will the game feature a map editor, like the editor that could be unlocked in Rome Total War?



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Kieran Brigden: This one links in with the earlier questions on modding tools - we will offer tools in the future and I expect there will be a user-generated map editor pretty soon after release.


17:07 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Shroomthing%313066%
As I understand, there will be no blood in Empire. What's the motivation behind this? And without blood will there be other signs we can look for to see if a soldier (or a general, since in previous TW games it was always a good thing to retreat your general when he looked "bloodied") is injured?



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Kieran Brigden: As always units have a 'status' when you mouse over them. If the unit is injured or hurt it will be indicated there along with morale. There are also some more obvious signs too - when a unit keels over on his face, he's pretty much a goner. But the relative health of a unit is best seen via its popup status, or its number of men still standing.


17:08 By Tom Bramwell

Q%nick_stone08%313145%
Again of the subject, following your point about the kitten Easter egg, does that explain Mark O'Connel's avatar having a kitten? On topic - why has it been said that it's near to impossible having 15-20 ships fighting each other?



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Kieran Brigden: Question the first - No comment on Marko's kitten avatar. He just kind of likes that stuff, but...maybe. On the second part, it's not by any means impossible. With a good usage of grouping, target selection and good ship-usage there's no reason you should find it hard to control twenty ships. But as before, naval battles require tactics, new ones. And these will take everyone time to master. It's just an added element in that respect.


17:09 By Tom Bramwell

Q%El_Che%23808%
Why wasn't this game available for preload on Steam? Right now Steam is going down because of it, and at least I can't download the game I bought.



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Moderating Hero: We're getting a few of these. Do you know?



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Kieran Brigden: No problem, this is a genuine issue. Sadly it's one that's out of CA's hands. The Steam preload was something we wanted to do but for regional reasons we aren't able to implement. I'm sorry if it's caused a problem for anyone, which I know it has for some. All I can say it was our intention to offer this and we weren't able to do so for technical reasons outside our control.


17:10 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Sailorboy%313264%
"If you have purchased a boxed copy...You will be able to activate your boxed copy of Empire and play on Wednesday 4th March." quote from the totalwar.com. At what time (CET) is the activation to be released on the 4th of March?



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Kieran Brigden: Empire goes live at 1700GMT 1800CET TODAY. For the US its 0900GMT tomorrow.



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Moderating Hero: Kapow!


17:12 By Tom Bramwell

Q%FornicatingBaboon%144571%
What sort of process is involved when deciding on issues of realism versus game balance?



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Kieran Brigden: Good question. It's what works regarding gameplay. Some historical tactics might be fun (line formations and demasting for example) and others are difficult and annoying (tacking, which got dropped). It's about what's fun and realistic; if we can't make it functional and fun it doesnt make it.


17:13 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Blackguard%66102%
Which of the factions has been your favourite to play?



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Kieran Brigden: I'd be tried for treason if I didn't say Great Britain, but on top of that I really enjoy the Prussian campaign and the Indian faction campaign is also a real breath of fresh air in that it's very different.


17:15 By Tom Bramwell

Q%dangerpuss%270859%
How has being bought by SEGA changed the way you develop games? Do you get encouraged to do more console games?



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Kieran Brigden: Being bought by SEGA has actually been a positive for both parties. And I'm not just saying that because Sonic will kick me. SEGA gets a guarantee of solid and critically acclaimed titles from a studio like CA and we get the guarantee of getting to make the games we love for a publisher that recognises their critical and commercial value. We have a whole console team which would be working on console games regardless; the difference is we have SEGA's backing on this too.


17:18 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Schaep%313179%
Would you please comment on why the blood has been cut? Since you seem to have masterfully dodged that in the previous question!



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Kieran Brigden: Thank you for noticing my masterful dodging. The blood hasn't been 'cut' per se. There are age rating reasons, but it's not like we've removed violence. Men are still impaled on bayonets and the like but we don't have intestines running all over the floor as a result. It's technical in some ways, when ten thousand guys are running around on screen having each of them bleed and expel objects and textures is an additional workload. On top of that it doesn't necessarily add anything. You get that same feeling of brutal combat without having the newspapers on your back.


17:19 By Tom Bramwell

Q%modo_komodo%27915%
I really enjoyed your Prussian campaign progress report on total war.com, will you be adding to it? What happened to the Dutch! I must know!



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Kieran Brigden: Haha! For those of you unfamiliar with this, I wrote a report on how the campaign went through the Prussian faction as I was playing it. I might indeed add to it in future, but as I said in my closing statement, the game is yours now and so are all the epic stories that will come from it. As Empire ships I plan to do two things. 1. Sleep. And 2. Spend even longer playing it.


17:20 By Tom Bramwell

Q%Rorsch%50739%
Much of the fun I had with previous Total War games was the brutality of the battles - waiting for the enemy to come, getting charged, charging. In the demo of Empire Total War the battles felt more slow, tactical, calculated. Don't you feel that as Total War moves for more civilised times the game experience will change a lot?



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Kieran Brigden: Yes and no. The age of the musket is also the age of the bayonette and the sabre. Men will still have to clash in massive numbers and smash one another with rifle butts and stab one another with sword and point. It's just more calculated. It's now about firing lines, and drills, shots and volleys and only committing to that brutal, bloody charge when the time is perfect.


17:22 By Tom Bramwell

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Moderating Hero: Right, and now to avoid being brutally charged myself, I'm going to have to wind up! However, we have one last, killer question, which all must face. Would you rather be invisible or have lasers for eyes?



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Kieran Brigden: Invisible. Because then I could go to an army defence lab and steal laser eye technology before being only a pair of glowing disembodied laser eyes. SWEET.



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Moderating Hero: Genius! Thank you Kieran, you've been amazing. Any last words for the Eurogamer readers?



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Kieran Brigden: Thank you so much to everyone thats taken the time to follow Empire and for reading about it and waiting for it. Not to gush but its you that make all this possible, if you like it, discuss it, buy and play it we get to keep making them. Thank you.



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Moderating Hero: Good night!