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2019.08.30

Welcome back to the Total War Dev Diary – the series where we dive deeper into how we do things around here. This time, we’re heading back to Warhammer with a look at one of the new features you’ll get for free as part of the Empire’s Old World update.

We’ll be letting you know what makes these brand-new siege maps unique as well as giving you an insight into how our designers take an initial idea and flesh it out until they become the battle maps you know oh so well. Each one takes roughly three weeks of work to create and requires the use of some impressive tools such as our in-house terrain tool Terry as well some good old-fashioned pencil and paper. But first…

WHAT EXACTLY IS A FORT?

Forts are a brand-new type of settlement for Total War: WARHAMMER II available exclusively in Mortal Empires that build upon the foundations laid down by our current sieges. They serve as the front line of defence for the mighty and noble Empire, and can be found in several key locations around their borders.

Forts are hyper defensible positions usually found in mountain passes or other key locations, and comprise a strong garrison and a battle map with plenty of defensive advantages to make sure that whoever holds one has the upper hand.

PHASE ONE: PENCILS AND PLANNING

The first step when designing a brand-new map is to try and work out what we want it to be like.

This meant we needed to take a step back, look at our other siege maps, and find areas where we could improve the design to make them even more fun and engaging to play.

As an example, we feel that we should add more emphasis to the areas inside the fort as well as the wall itself, so we’re making a concerted effort to give each new map multiple tiers and areas of engagement beyond the initial battle for the walls to make everything a little more interesting and to properly utilise the space. One of the ways we do this is to provide additional lines of defence that your army can fall back to if the walls are breached.

With these things in mind, the designer creates a rough plan in diagram creation software Microsoft Visio (or with the very high-tech pen and paper) for how the map should look based on how they think it should play and feel. You can see that even in the initial design below, the designer had a multi-tiered map in mind with plenty of raised platforms to stick gunlines and artillery on, as well as having an open space in the centre and stairs that would act as perfect chokepoints.

Alongside thinking about improving gameplay, we want to make sure Forts fit from a lore perspective too, so the design needs to rely heavily on the Empire’s strengths: guns and cavalry. This means that the maps need to have narrow corridors to act as kill boxes for ranged units as well as large open areas perfect for sweeping cavalry charges (and I’m happy to report that there are plenty of both in the new maps).

PHASE TWO: FIGHTING AND FIXING

After the initial design is blocked out, our designer creates a very early version of the map in our terrain editor Terry without any details like buildings and scenery. The map is handed over to our QA team, who then enthusiastically test the map by playing against one another.

They then feedback to the designer, telling them how they found the experience and what could be changed or improved to make the design both more fun and faithful to the faction. We then hand the design over to our artists, who build a version with rough building placements and some preliminary décor.

Helmgart WIP.jpg

PHASE THREE: PAINTING AND PLANTING

The final phase is where everything starts coming together and looking fierce. Now that the testing phase is over and the design is finalised, our talented artists get to work building the battlefield and making it feel like home for the target faction.

In the case of the Empire, they add banners, campsites, signal towers, statues, and much, much more to make it belong uniquely to Karl and friends. When all is said and done, we have a beautiful, multi-layered stronghold, perfect for gunlines, artillery, and heavily armored defenders.

Helmgart Final.jpg

And that, ladies and gents, is how we go about creating our maps so you can go ahead and cover them with the corpses of Karl’s enemies.

We’ll be showing these in action next week, so keep your eye on the prize and your bow close…

Missed our first Dev Diary on character portraits in Total War: THREE KINGDOMS? Read it in its full glory here.

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