Dear Creative Assembly,
I have actually posted this elsewhere, related to GreenEyedDevil'S field report on your event in New York. Due to the response I have received from many end users of your games, both modders and general community members, I have decided to form this into a petition to you.
First of all,
Thank you GED and CA for making these public tests happen. The fact that CA has connected with esteemed members of this community, and a modder of the highest caliber as GED is, shows that they indeed want feedback. This can only be good news for their game development and their long term company strategy.
That being said…
I am going to play devils advocate here and go straight at this concept of “revolution and evolution”, which sounds great in theory, but I would like to challenge CA to really put it to the test.
Revolution: most of the improvements that you have mentioned GED and I think most people will be very happy with are the improvements to game play and the AI, the multi- player function, graphics etc. This is great.
I can quite honestly state though that most of the game-play improvements you mention have been already, at one time or another, conceptualized and developed (unsuccessfully at times) by the modder community. This was done without breaking legal parameters and with the ultimate and continuing respect for the manufacturer, CA.
I find it disappointing indeed that as the game engines develop, more modder tools are not going to be provided, or that the game will not be more mod friendly. I do not see that as an improvement, indeed, I see that as an accidental (?) and potentially irreversible cutting off of the root and soil from which the development of CA’s games has come- the modding community and the end user’s feedback and creativity.
After a year’s total break from modding and games myself, I recently bought ETW and was very happy to see the steady improvements from RTW and Med 2. The games now have an atmosphere which makes them compelling to say the least. The series has grown exponentially since the first almost stick- like figures we all loved back with Shogun TW, and Med 1, where your imagination was a key ingredient. Now, with ETW and its evolution NTW, it is almost as if we step into a virtual world for hours at a time. Low and behold relatives, wives and loved ones when this game is finally released…
As I sit down to play, I cannot stop myself from thinking…”what if we could…” Perhaps I am incorrigible, perhaps I have some sickness which needs to be addressed, which is brought about by playing your wonderful games. But indeed, I am not alone, for there are rank upon rank of individuals such as I across the globe who sit and wonder the very same thing.
I will go ahead and say it- here are your revolutionaries!
Development of the games has not just come from the CA, but from the constant and sometimes endless “clamour of reform” of the end-user and the flag bearing modding community. For near every innovation you mention, I can find a thread either here, or at The Org site, of such functions, both successfully achieved and not, but continually attempted regardless.
I say it again, the modding community are the true “revolutionaries”. So please, provide us with bread!
CA- your games inspire us to be as such!
The modding community took your earlier games, and at times, turned them on their head in order to make improvements to the limitations of AI, all the while respecting source code legalities and always in deference to the maker that made the games. Sadly, more often than not, our voices were not heard, or were ignored.
CA- you are a leader, and as a leader you must act on behalf of those who support you. To do otherwise is to invite disaster!
With the obvious potentials that these new in game realities create, CA sits beside an enormous powerhouse of ideas that could, if properly nurtured, tap straight back in to the life blood of their company.
I think it is safe to say now, some ten years hence, that the modding community is not a pack of anarchists, nor creating or instigating revolution just for its sake. It will not go away, nor cease to offer creative suggestion to you and provide added impetus to your own company’s development.
Graphical candy can only feed the masses so far and so long. The shelf life of your games, and indeed all games, revolves around the assumed playability of what your games provide, its “worth”, plus a unique feature.
What we want is the “bread” of modification possibilities.
Traditionally, the unique feature of the TW series was moddability.
CA: I urge you not to forsake that.
There are two kinds of games out today: the first kind provide some instant fun, and once the user becomes bored, are thrown away or forgotten. I live in Japan, I see Playstations, Nintendos and mobile phones busy with mindless fantasy games being played every day. I also see such games go in and out of fashion steadily.
Economic concept- limited return.
The second kind are not a static piece of art, but a living, breathing entity, a synthesis of end user creativity and company response. It is the second type of game that can really make its mark upon the world stage.
Economic concept- long term sustainable market presence.
Look at this community- there are people out there still playing mods for STW, mod teams still modifying RTW and Med 2, hoping against hope that the next game engine you provide will allow them to do much, much more on a visual and engine pallete that ultimately allows them to start to create a new reality.
CA- the people need you!
I realize that if all games were indeed the same, and you were the only company to test the waters and encourage modifications, you would indeed be blazing a very revolutionary and potentially dangerous path.
But the fact is- you are not alone, indeed, many such companies that do interact with their end users also head-hunt such communities for talent, and incorporate these people then into their companies as new recruits on a regular basis.
In fact, at this point, I would state that in this sense, you are behind the times, and need to get back to your roots.
I used to describe the TW series with one word- creativity. Please do not lose that.
I hope and pray that you will see the wisdom of becoming a game company of the latter model.
Many of these people here at this web site and others, like GED and others too numerous and too talented to mention, would gladly offer you their opinions, advice and suggestions to you, with little hope for reward. Some would travel across countries and indeed continents to give you clear, concise feedback on how to make your games better.
A yearly modding conference by you would have more attendees than you could hope to accommodate. In sum, your game, your end users and your company could be a living breathing organism of continuing success.
CA, your revolutionaries love you. CA- your revolutionaries are disappointed in you.
To sum up, there are revolutions in name, and revolutions in reality.
I urge you to remember your roots of success, and take the braver path.
It is not, as yet, too late.
Please take this as constructive criticism. Both we, your end users, and you, the producing company, live in symbiosis. We need each other.
With sincere respect,
Marcus Cornelius Marcellus
ex head of Rome Total Realism,
proud member of the TWC community.