HYENAS Trailer

First look at the brand new FPS which I worked on last year




Immortal Empires Trailer

Immortal Empires for Total War: Warhammer III has been revealed!




New Studio & Mocap Facility

Today Creative Assembly unveiled their new third UK Studio Sierra Place, new Motion Capture facility and interior design refresh on the existing studios (Spartan House and Spire Court). Something to look forward to after the Pandemic is over!

More details can be found here




Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla was today officially announced!

More details to follow on my games page




Released: Assassin's Creed III Remastered

Today, my latest game Assassin's Creed III Remastered was released on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4!




Announcing: Assassin's Creed III Remastered

Today my first game at Ubisoft Barcelona has been announced! a Remaster of the classic Assassin's Creed III! Not much more information is public at this point, but here's our development team:

AC3 RM Team




Moved to Ubisoft Barcelona

I am excited to announce that I am starting a new chapter of my life and my career by joining Ubisoft Barcelona!

It is literally a dream job for me. when I decided I wanted to work in the games industry Ubisoft was always the top of my list of where I wanted to go. Now I'm here. If you are passionate, dedicated and committed to your dreams, you can make them a reality.

This is a big step for me working and living abroad for the first time, but one I am glad to take. New challenges, new opportunities, new people and a greater chance to learn and to grow.

Ubisoft Barcelona




Released: Rise of the Tomb Kings

Rise of the Tomb Kings is now live, and at the top of the charts!

Number 1 Locally:
Local Number 1

Number 2 Globally:
Global Number 2




The Best Place to Work in the UK Games Industry

An article on gamesindustry.biz sights Creative Assembly as the "Best Large Company" in their "Revealed: The Best Places To Work in the UK games industry" article.

Gamesindustry.biz article

Gamesindustry.biz article




Kotaku - Total War: Warhammer Has Gotten So Good

On 19th July 2017, Kotaku looked back over the 12 months of new content we made for Warhammer.

I had a blast learning all the new various strategies that went along with this, which I've found has been one of Warhammer's real strengths: the ability to finish it then immediately want to restart as someone else and experience a very different way of playing the same game. The fun I had has me suddenly looking forward to the upcoming release of the Norsca pack, something I'd completely overlooked untilnow, who are also promising to shake things up (you can, for example, defeat then tame the giant monsters of the north and have them fight for you).

Here's a link to the article: Kotaku - Total War: Warhammer Has gotten So Good by Luke Plunkett

Kotaku article




Rock Paper Shotgun Review (Warhammer 1 DLC)

On 28th April 2017, acclaimed hardcore gaming site "Rock Paper Shotgun" took a retrospective look at the Warhammer DLC projects which I've been working on for almost a year now. I'm happy with what Fraser Brown wrote, so decided to share it here:

Rock Paper Shotgun Article - "Revisiting and rating Total War: Warhammer and its DLC" by Fraser Brown

Rock Paper Shotgun




CA Sofia

3:30 AM on the morning of April 4th 2017, the engine of the taxi rumbles outside my door. The night is clear, with a slight chill and half sleeping, I roll my suitcase into the back of the cab, and we make our rout around Horsham to pick up three of my colleagues. The headlights are enough to arise them, as we trundle off in the night towards the sleepless airport terminal.

After the usual rigmarole of airport security, we settle in the artificial hue of a noisy Starbucks and down the largest buckets of coffee we can, in a hope to stave off the tiredness and stir ourselves for the journey ahead.

We make our way to the departure gate at 5:10, ahead of the closure at 5:25am. Briefly crossing the runway as the precession of passengers and hand luggage climb the mobile steps aboard the aircraft in a cold pointy rain.


The plain climbs sharply and for the next three and a half hours, we are airborne. South easterly across the channel we sore over Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Serbia as the day breaks. Mountains and clouds become visible and eventually as we descend, trees, buildings, roads and cars rise into view and we settle on the Bulgarian runway on Tuesday morning.

We find a taxi to the hotel amongst the haggle of drivers queuing outside the terminal. As we ride into Sofia, the large concrete blocky buildings and general dilapidation hark back to the soviet era. The Cyrillic signs and advertisements are unfathomable and a reminder that we are a long way from home. We arrive at the Grand Hotel at 11:00am only to find that we can't check in until 15:00. We trundle our cases down the street to find somewhere to eat, more to kill the time than out of hunger. We decide on an America diner style restaurant called "Happy" and yawn into the oversized menus before ordering something familiar and waiting for the hotel to open.


We decide to go to the office, rather than hang around. Using a paper map from the airport, we find our way to the metro and did our best to decipher the word "Business Park", where we know CA Sofia was located. Without too much bother, we reach the business park, and follow the human traffic inside. We kept our eyes peeled for a "CA" logo and follow some people unwittingly into the office building.

Dropping our bags and suitcases into a conference room, we are given a tour of the facilities and a history lesson on the company, and introduction to its remaining employees. The building is branded with a combination of CA logos, Total War artwork and left over concept art from their previous Crytek project "Arena of Fate". A stand out feature of the office was a large balcony, the team use for smoking and generally unwinding with a remarkable view of the towering Vitosha Mountains.


Some of the CA branding:

Rome II

CA Logo

Obviously for confidentiality reasons, I can't cover too much of what we spoke about and planned in detail. After work we went to a traditional Bulgarian pub with live folk dancing and traditional music. A few of opted for a local dish which translated as "St Georges Lamb" (slow cooked lamb with couscous and celery).


We stayed at The Grand Hotel, Sofia. The ground floor was a renovated library building, and the upper half a modern glass facade. The library style section was protected by conservation laws. Inside was palatial, and the rooms were absolutely huge. The interior was old fashioned but classy. There was lots of art and sculpture in the lobby and bar areas.


On the second day, we worked usual office hours. Our team from England were set up in a meeting room, and we'd bought laptops to work on. We helped the CA Sofia team and lent them our experience where necessary. It was useful to hear their plans and expectations and help guide them. We ate another Bulgarian traditional food that had been mentioned the previous day for lunch, called a Baniza. This oily pastry was ordered in especially, and we obliged in eating it. Personally I wasn't a fan. We were told it's usually eaten as a hangover cure, rather than a usual part of the diet, which explained it. We had several variations, one with creme cheese in it. It was crumbly and greasy, a bit like an English sausage roll, but with a different centre.


In the evening we wondered around the capital city, still in the shadows of the mountains. The streets were wide and strewn with covered outdoor restaurant areas. We ended up going to another "Happy" dinner, near the metro station, where I took this picture of these "Happy Fish":

Happy fish

After the third day in the office, myself and one of the artists from England took the metro back and walked around the city on our own for a while for sightseeing. We found some roman ruins covered by protective glass domes, and looked more closely at this Illuminati style Statue of Sveta Sofia in the centre of the city. We observed the street art and architecture, before meeting back with the others at the hotel around 19:00, for our final evening out before we got the plane back the next morning.

Here's some pictures from our sightseeing.

The Court BuildingCourt Building

Statue of Sveta SofiaCourt Building

A muralCourt Building

We teamed up with a large group of designers and producers from the Sofia office and went to an Armenian restaurant. The menu had some odd choices and I opted for a horse steak (when in Rome...)

CA had again arranged for a Taxi back from the airport, and I got home in the afternoon sun around 14:30. Overall the experience was beneficial, and it was a pleasure to help mentor other game developers.




Top of the Charts

Many of the games I have worked on have reached number 1 on the Steam Store sales chart. Here's some screenshots :

The Grim & the Grave (1 September 2016)

Grim & The Grave No1

Wood Elves Number (December 7 2016)

Wood Elves No1

I am privileged to work with such talented people, to make these games so popular.





We flew to Venice on 26 November 2016 for a short holiday. Having visited Rome earlier that year, we wanted to see more of Italy, and Venice is very different and interesting to see. We got a boat from Marco Polo airport (which was slightly unusual, but expected) out to the Venetian Lagoon. It was pitch black as the boat bumped and swayed its way to the islands.

The Hotel we stayed at was called The Orion, co-incidentally the same name as the main character in the Realm of the Wood Elves game I was working on at the time. It was located right near the Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square), which is the main public square of Venice.

Although it was dark, we took a look around, and the canals and old buildings were like something from a movie. Here's some pictures we took on the first night:

First Night 1

First Night 2

By the light of day, we could see the beauty of the square.

Piazza San Marco

Gondolas docked on the shore line, and we could see across the lagoon to San Giorgio Maggiore island:

San Giorgio Maggiore

The place was so picturesque we ended up taking photos every few feet. Luciana took this one of me next to the Vittorio Emanuel II Monument.

Michael - Vittorio Emanuel II Monument

We walked around the edge of the coast line, across the della Paglia Bridge, where these two photos were taken:

Ponte della Paglia Bridge

Michael and Luciana - della Paglia Bridge

We continued to explore on foot. The views were striking, and the waters, crumbling plaster and hanging laundry looked like something from a painting.

The Campanile leaning tower and canal

Hanging laundry

Luciana - street

There were many rowers offering to take us around on the gondolas, and we felt like we couldn't miss out on doing this, it's something romantic you have to do in Venice (when in Rome...). It was an interesting vantage point to see the city. From the low water level, the pastel buildings towered over us, as we weaved through the canals.

Michael and Luciana - Gondola

Gondola in canal

The rower took us out into the main lagoon briefly, before dropping us back on the shore.

Gondola at sea

Around every corner was a renaissance delight for the eyes.

Vines on wall

Rialto Bridge

Gondola laundry

Luciana garden


There were many costume / mask shops for the Venetian Masquerade Carnival (the Carnival of Venice), which is held annually to celebrate Lent, forty days before Easter.


Gondola from bridge

During our stay, we also visited the famous Doge Palace. A Gothic museum constructed around 1340.

Doge Palace courtyard

The inside was awe inspiring, with enormous paintings and gilded frames. We went under the palace through a labyrinth of gaol cells, and through an armoury stacked with medieval weapons and suits of armour for men and cavalry.

Doge Palace ceiling

Doge Palace walls

After the palace, we took an elevator up the tall tower called St Marks Campanile, which is in Piazza San Marco.

St Marks Campanile view 1

It was really windy at the top of the tower, but we could see the sprawl of the city and the domes of St Mark's Basilica.

St Marks Campanile view 2

I captured this photo of the sun setting as we took the boat back to the airport. The sun set on a beautiful sinking city and a wonderful holiday.

Sunset sea




Golden Joystick Awards


The 34th annual Golden Joystick Awards was held on 18 November 2016 in the O2 Arena on the banks of the River Themes in London.

I was sent with a small delegation of key developers from Total War: WARHAMMER, as we were nominated for both Ultimate Game of the Year, and PC Game of the Year awards. We dressed up in our smartest clothes and took a train ride together up to London.

Before the show, we as nominees, were taken on a large cruise boat down the river themes, where we were given drinks and canapes and the chance to mingle. There was a large projection screen with a loop of the award categories and nominated games playing, and copies of Future Publishing magazines (Edge, Gamesmaster, PC Gamer etc.) as they were the hosts of the event. This picture is one of the decals on the window of the boat:


The cruise lasted about an hour as we meandered down the Themes, and slowly approached the former Millennium Dome, now known as the O2 Arena. Here's my picture from the boat:


Inside the O2 Arena, the show was set out in two tiers, where the nominated developers and press sat on the ground floor, on large circular tables, and the public sat above on a balcony. This is the table for Creative Assembly:


The show was hosted by British comedian James Veitch. We were served a 3 course dinner, and the show started on stage:


After the hour long cruise and then sit down meal, the award show itself was rapid. The presenters rattled through each category, and bought the winners on stage for about 30 seconds, then swiftly read out the next award. Notably Eiji Aonuma, the producer and manager of The Legend of Zelda series won a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Unfortunately we didn't win either of the awards we were nominated for (Ultimate Game of the Year went to Uncharted 4, and PC Game of the year went to Overwatch, both well deserved). The evening continued with an after party in Brooklyn Bowl (a US-styled bowling alley with a stage for live music).




Steam Dev Days

Steam Dev Days

The Steam Dev Days event was split over 2 days, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th October 2016 in the Washington State Conference Centre, Seattle.

Steam Dev Days

The event started with a Keynote where DJ Powers from Valve described how Valve have intentionally removed themselves from directly publishing all the games on Steam, to allowing developers to do most of the work themselves. They described how they have gone from releasing 5-10 games per month to over 500 now, by removing themselves as the bottleneck.

Steam Dev Days

Next in a talk titled "Philosophy of VR", Joe Ludwig from Valve explained Valves "Open Source" approach to VR. How he believes this new frontier can be best explored by allowing access to it and freedom to develop in it. He described how the "Lighthouse" motion tracking drivers that Valve developed for the Vive will become available to everyone with a simple 3 Clause Licence. He discussed open vs closed platforms in general and how he believed open platforms (which he includes Steam in) are the way to go.

Steam Dev Days

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney also took to the stage, to talk about how Epic are reaching photo realism with their graphics, and pushing more into procedurally generated materials to cut down on art time and improve graphical fidelity. He also outlined how tools in the industry need to change, and suggested game engines (especially level design) should move into VR space, where the artists can more naturally interact with 3D environments. He briefly discussed how architects and car manufacturers have used the Unreal Engine, and how that exposed areas game designers are able to "cheat" and not conform to the realism required for these other fields.

Procedural materials in the Unreal Engine:

Steam Dev Days

Unreal Engine with VR interface:

Steam Dev Days

Tim went on to describe a future where VR effectively became a method of "Teleportation", where a person's physical / bodily presence becomes less and less important. He related this to the "Metaverse", concept in Neal Stephenson's 1992 sci-fi novel "Snow Crash". He predicted that the interface for VR (or AR really, but he said VR) would become as minimal as "a pair of Oakley sunglasses" (In fact, he said "Oakley sunglasses" several times, and I wonder if he's signed some kind of sponsorship deal). Tim's vision also foretold that physical products would start to become meaningless, as why would you need to buy a new super car when you could drive one with exactly the same feeling in virtual reality? (his example)

After the lunch break, the next talk I went to was "Steam 101- Getting started with Marketing Features and Tools" by Valves Tom Giardino. There was very little to take away from this talk, as it was aimed at new developers who hadn't published on steam before. Only the very basics were covered.

The next talk I went to was about SteamVR Hardware. This was very technical and pretty interesting. Ben Jackson described the hardware iterations that lead up to the current "Robin" version, how they started with 2 hard drive motors powering a vertical and horizontal scanning laser, and how they continuously reduced the size of the inner circuits, so now it just uses 1 motor and a custom circuit board:

Steam Dev Days

He briefly mentioned a new controller, Valve are working on ,that will allow the user to open and close their hand to "grip" objects in VR (This wasn't demonstrated):

Steam Dev Days

Ben Jackson continued Joe Ludwig's point from earlier, about needing to keep VR open source, and that Valve want to make the VR Hardware available to as many manufacturers as possible. He said he was going to be running classes at Valve for people interested in learning more about VR and how they can work the Vive Hardware into different projects.

The second day started with a talk about "Games as a Service" by the Awesomenauts developers Joos van Dongenr and Robin Meijer of Ronimo Games. This talk was handy in that it confirmed the practices we are using on Total War are the correct ones. The speakers described the different methods of setting up BETAs, having a spate AppID for the BETA, using the Steam Early Access system for BETAs, and finally settling on using AppBranches for BETAs (as we do on Total War). As a whole, they seemed more flexible on pushing patches out, and then rolling them back if anything goes wrong, than we are. They also seemed to rely on their community to find problems in the BETAs more than having a large internal QA team, sighting that the people in their community can put more hours into the game in a shorter amount of time than they could dream of in-house. Saying that the customers have put more hours into playing the game than the designers. Ronimo Games also have a patch cycle where they expect a hotfix to follow each patch.

The second talk of day 2 was about the Psychology of games. This was a fairly interesting talk given by a psychologist Mike Ambinder, who works for Valve. He attempted to link psychological phenomena to games (his examples were mainly in DOTA2 and Counterstrike). He discussed how most player will go with any default option presented to them. He showed how people are better at inventing a reason for having made a choice, after the fact, to justify having made it, than to invest in making the choice in the first place (he used a trick where he experimented on giving people an arbitrary choice between 2 faces, sent them away for 20 minutes, to forget about the choice they made, called them back in and showed them the other face to the one they picked, and asked them why they had picked it (when they hadn't), and everybody gave reasons). Mike showed how narrow a person's focus actually is (saying you only focus on something the size of the end of your thumb at arms distance from your face at any one time, and the rest is constructed). He explained how this is important to remember, and people can often miss things you'd think were in plain sight, simply because it's not where they expect it to be.

Steam Dev Days

The "Early Access Panel" followed, discussing the risks and challenges associated with open BETAs. This was hosted by Alden Kroll of Valve, and the panel was Tynan Sylvester from Ludeon Studios, Arthur Bruno from Crates Entertainment, Russ Clarke from Payload Studios and Will Turnbull from Klei Entertainment. I had expected this to be an interesting discussion, but it was fairly boring and the panel didn't reach any kind of consensus. Mainly talking about their own experiences with Early Access, and how you shouldn't promise the community anything without already having at least confirmed that you can deliver it in-house.

The next talk I attended was also a panel, this one featuring James Schall from SEGA, who travelled with us. This panel was about Healthy Publisher Relationships. Tom Buscaglia from The Game Attorney was very frank and gave good advice to new indie developers, about retaining as much rights to their IP as they can hang onto, and negotiating with multiple publishers before settling on one. The Panel agreed that content is king, and as long as the game being presented to a publisher stands out from the crowd, it's likely to get picked up. They also highlighted how bad publishers (and everyone for that matter) are at spotting the games that go on to be big hits.

All of these talks and more are available here




Relic Vancouver

I visited Relic in their Vancouver Studio on Tuesday 11th October 2016 with two members of CA's Brand Team, ahead of Steam Dev Days. the plan was to share our knowledge and experience with them, as part of the SEGA family and help them strategise their future projects. We had arrived on 10th, when the studio was closed due to Canadian Thanks Giving. Luckily we had the day free to explore the Gas Light district, the beautiful Stanley Park and Granville Island.

Here's a view from the plane as we approached Vancouver:


These pictures are from Stanley Park and the coast.








This crazy whisky bacon doughnut was from Cartems Donuterie:


The studio itself was very low key from the outside, if you walked down the street and didn't know it was there, you'd walk right past it.

The reception inside was more in-line with how you'd expect, with bright green and yellow walls, a huge life sized space marine, and trophies and awards, custom snowboards and katanas adorning the walls.


The studio was split across a couple of floors, divided by project. There were around 150 people total. Interestingly, the cinematics team was comparatively small to ours at CA. They try to use 2D assets wherever possible.

We were shown into a meeting room and presented with the future project Roadmap by Associate Brand Manager Alex Mueller. Relic were trying to define which type of products to make. They had a wide array of ideas, and were narrowing these down. Alex M was interested in hearing how we structure and position our DLCs. We described our templates and how these help us to manage customer and developer expectations.

We also stressed the importance of Free-LC for appeasing customers as we offer them paid for content, which they can generally feel resistance to as a concept. Free-LC eases this contention.

Next we were taken though the plans for the Company of Heroes team by Alex Delamire, the Brand Manager. He showed us some slides about the success of Company of Heroes, a lot of info on their demographics, who plays the games, where and when. Lots of graphs and metrics.

One very impressive thing Alex D showed us, was how they have integrated the store, news, Twitch steams and mod support into the Company of Heroes 2 Front End:

News & Twitch Streams:

Front End 1


Front End 2


Front End 3

These features allow Relic to communicate directly, and clearly with their community, within the product itself. New information, content to buy or download can be acquired directly from where it will be used, without an external launcher.

We got a chance to try out Relics "VR Room" towards the end of our visit, and got to flail around shooting aliens in "Space Pirate Trainer" and missing pitches in "VR Baseball" on Oculus Rift.





I visited Barcelona between 3rd to 7th September 2016 for an extended weekend with my (now) Fiancee Luciana. We booked it at the end of August, so it was spontaneous. One advantage of living in the UK, especially near Gatwick Airport is that you can get cheap flights on short notice to a huge variety of European destinations. We flew with EasyJet and stayed in an AirBnB near to the Placa Espanya. We mainly chose based on the place being central and having its own pool. Here's my backstroke technique:


The weather was perfect when we were there, hot and sunny the whole time. We arrived in the afternoon and found the place we were staying easily from the airport. The apartment had two balconies, one overlooking the pool, which was in the centre of a square of apartment buildings, and one overlooking the street on the other side of the building. We also enjoyed playing with the resident cat named DouDou:


On the first evening, we went out to explore, and the sun was setting by the time we left the house. We didn't have a detailed plan on where we were going, just wanted to see what was around. We walked past some of the cities monuments until we saw a huge crowd gathering (thousands of people), so decided to see what was going on. It turned out to be a ceremony for an enormous fountain called Font Magica de Montjuic. It was a real spectacle, here's my video of it:


The second day, we explored the city on foot, as we appreciated the sun not having seen it much in England. We visited the Arenas de Barcelona shopping center, which very much resembled the colosseum in Rome and took photos of every statue, fountain and interesting feature we saw like real tourists. We also found our way to the beach using the underground railway, where we spent the rest of the day lying in the sun and swimming in the sea. It was glorious.


Day three, we went to a really cool attraction called the Museu de les Illusions (Musium of Illusion). We saw adverts for it on a map that we were given at the airport so decided to go. It was a clever concept, where images painted across the walls and floor of the expedition and using forced perspective, when you take a photo from a specific spot, would make it look as if a person was in the painting. Here are some examples of Luciana and I:


Spirited Away

Stairway to Heaven

After the museum, we took a tour bus around the city, and a cable car (Teleferic del Puerto) above the coast and port. There were large queues, but once onboard the views were stunning:

Cable Car

Cable Car beach

The cable cart started from the Marina, and stopped at the top of Montjuic (a mountain), where I took a break on the lap of this statue:


On the fourth day, we visited a vast aquarium filled with sharks, penguins and all form sea life. There was an underwater tunnel, with a conveyor belt that took us around a huge shark tank. Also tropical fish, jellyfish and shimmering coral.


We found Nemo:


We also visited the world famous architecture of Antoni Gaudi, founder of the Catalan Modernista movement. His buildings are warped, colourful and surreal:

 Gaudi 1

Another highlight was when we rented electric motorbikes and drove down the coast together at break-neck speeds. Overall, we had a brilliant time.

 Gaudi 2




Rome, The Eternal City

I went to Rome on 20th June 2016 with my Luciana, for a 3 day excursion. I'd always wanted to visit there, and having worked on so many Roman games, I wanted to see the place for real. We were not disappointed.

We booked an entire flat in Vicolo Costaguita, right in the heart of Rome. We were surrounded by sights and traditional restaurants and Italian culture.

The day we arrived, it was raining slightly, but after that it was hot and really sunny. The first day, we went exploring on foot, we were half looking for a Segway tour place we'd seen online, and half just exploring. These next two pictures are from the first day, even the general streets were ornate:

Luciana street

This was the gates of a monastery building that we wondered past. Most buildings seem to have historical significance in Rome, but we didn't find out about this one. We took a tram around its entire circuit, to get a quick view of the center of the city.

Luciana gate

We walked down the River Tiber, with its huge murals down the banked walls showing scenes of Roman mythology. I remembered a part of the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare (which I read at school), where Caesar almost drowns racing Cassius to swim across this river. Seeing it in real life, I can tell why, the waters were rapid and murky. Later that night we walked down the bank where there was a long sprawling market, with fairground style stalls and bars. The city seemed so much more alive at night than the small market town we lived in back in England.

The first tourist attraction that we visited was the Pantheon, built in 118 AD, it's an archetypical Roman structure made of huge blocks and held up by towering white columns. We went quite early in the morning, but the piazza outside was heaving with people, even a brass band playing. We went inside briefly, but it was weird gawking around where some people were trying to pray, so we didn't stay long

We decided to walk towards the Colosseum, as we'd seen it in the distance from the taxi that we got from the airport on our arrival. As it turned out, we didn't make it there until the next day. On the way we came to the imposing Altare della Patria, a marble white building decked in military statues on horses and chariots and winged angels.

Altare della Patria

We ventured inside, and followed a trail of artifacts and busts and paintings telling the military history of Rome. Here's a picture of one of the hallways. Strangely the statue of the cavalry man pointing at the end was a replica of a brass casting, and was quite flimsy.

Inside Altare della Patria

We reached a balcony high in the Altare della Patrica, which offered an impressive view of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. I took this photo of Luciana here.

Luciana Altare della Patria

On the second day we had a tour of the Colosseum, which we'd booked before we left England. It was a good job we had, because the queues were really long, and we got straight in. Once out tour guide got us inside, we went off away from the group to sightsee. Here's a selfie:

Michael and Luciana inside Colosseum

The Colosseum was impressive and looked truly ancient, especially the interior. The center where the gladiator fights took place had no arena floor, and you could see down to a maze of tunnels which would have been beneath.

The area around the Colosseum was equally impressive and it was wondrous to imagine how many generations of people had walked around these same epic monuments. The Arch of Constantine shown below, for example was built in 315 AD, and the Colosseum itself in 80 AD!

Michael Arch of Constantine

This panorama was the best landscape picture I took, and shows how close together some of these sights are.


Beyond the colosseum, we climbed the steps around the Roman Forum (Foro Romano). These crumbling ruins are at the heart of the city, and some as old as 800 BC, really impressive.


We took the underground train network, and eventually found the famous Trevi Fountain. Lots of tourists and people throwing money in the fountains general direction. In spite of the crowd, the fountain was tranquil to look at and artistically beautiful.

Trevi Fountain

That night, we ate out at a restaurant almost literally on our doorstep, and took these photos messing around in the street.

Luciana Car

Luciana Bike

The final day we took a tour bus and passed some of the further away sights, including the Olympic stadium and the sight of the Circus Maximus (where chariot races were held). We got off the bus near Vatican City. Here is the bridge leading to the Vatican City and the round building is the Castel Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel).

Castel Sant'Angelo

St. Peter's Basilica was mobbed with people. There was some kind of charity motorbike parade that day. We didn't end up going inside, because we had our bags with us, as we'd checked out earlier.

St. Peter's Basilica

We continued the whole bus route, through the modern areas of Rome, with the expensive shops and modern metropolitan style. The final sight we went to was Le Domus Romane Di Palazzo Valentini. This was an underground museum, where cleverly they used projectors on ancient ruined villa to fill in the walls and mosaics to show how they would have been when it was lived in. It really interesting to see how lavish the house was in the past, and how it was destroyed by an earthquake and eventually buried under the city. The museum became cooler as we got deeper under the ground, and we saw lots of relics from the ancient domicile. The museum also told the story of a battle written around the circumference of an enormous column. The tour ended right outside the Altare della Patria, facing the column from the story.

Going to Rome was a brilliant experience. Something I would recommend to anyone. You couldn't move without stumbling across an ancient wonder, and the main sights are close enough together than you can walk between them, or take a short tour bus around. We loved the atmosphere, the liveliness of the people, and the timeless decadence of the architecture. There are so many thing we enjoyed in our short stay, which I haven't even mentioned in this blog. Rome earns it's famous nickname as The Eternal City, and a place and time I will never forget.




MAC and Linux Ports

I managed a small group of programmers at Creative Assembly, called the "Special Projects Team". One of our projects was to port Total War: ATTILA, and then Total War: ROME II to MAC and Linux. The ATTILA port was released first on 10 December 2015 with Age of Charlemagne:

Attila Mac & Linux

Usually Creative Assembly outsource MAC ports to a third party, but this time we wanted to do it in-house. This was the first time we'd worked on these platforms and distribution methods (MAC App Store), so required the programmers to learn a lot of new techniques e.g. porting from DirectX to OpenGL, and we had to buy new hardware (MACs, Steam Boxes).

It was hard work but very satisfying to see the game on all of these platforms




GDC 2015

I attended GDC 2015 as a representative of Creative Assembly, and eagerly ceased the opportunity to learn from other developers, and network. We took a 15 hour flight over Atlantic Ocean and across the continent of America to the west coast of San Francisco:


We stayed in the classy Hotel Nikko at 222 Mason St, San Francisco. My Room was a huge suite, and comfortable. I stayed there for 5 days all together. We were right in the heart of the city, and within walking distance of the conference. We mainly ate out at American Dinners and steak houses, I especially remember a good meal of buttermilk biscuits, mashed potato and meatloaf we had at Cheesecake Factory (I was aiming for the authentic American dining experience), and eating a steak the weight of my arm at Mortons Steak House. Each day I had lines up back-to-back talks that I wanted to go to, mainly on the subject of Production, but some programming and marketing ones too.


Aside from the talks, there was a large show floor, where developers large and small could tout their wares. I've never been to E3, but the show floor had that kind of vibe, larger than life stands, loud music and big crowds. Here's a couple of pictures I took of the show floor:

Show Floor 2

Show Floor

CA also had a stall in the recruitment area, where we tried to pick up budding and experienced developers:

CA Booth

Alien Isolation (a game from our Console Team) was nominated at the Game Developers Choice Awards, so we participated in that. The venue was impressive and legendary game designer Tim Schafer (Double Fine) hosted the event. He was entertaining, and had the room in stitches. Here's a picture of the stage, before the show kicked off:

Game Developers Choice

As a SEGA Studio, we also went to our publishers part in downtown San Francisco. As a SEGA nerd, I really appreciated the Sonic and Monkey Ball themed bento boxes and cocktail menu:

AiAi Bento

Sonic Bento

Sonic Bento 2

Drinks Menu

It was good to meet some of the higher up SEGA employees, and we hang out with President / COO SEGA Europe Jurgen Post.

On 4th March, I headed out to the Valve party on my own, I met up with a friend from my university course, I'd arranged to meet there. The party was held at 1015 Folsom:

Steam Party

Inside, it was more like a night club than a game developers part, the free bar was surrounded, and people were dancing and enjoying themselves. There was a second room with a stage and a band called Glitch Mob playing incredably loudly

Valve Party

Inside, it was more like a night club than a game developers part, the free bar was surrounded, and people were dancing and enjoying themselves. There was a second room with a stage and a band called Glitch Mob playing incredibly loudly, I didn't stay in there very long, because we couldn't hear each other talk, but it was fun.

Glitch Mob

One of the highlights of the trip was when we hired bikes, and cycled 20 miles around the bay area and across the golden gate bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge Side

Golden Gate Bridge

The talks in the conference were hit-and-miss. Some things I took away from it, I used in job going forward. Other things were inspiring but I have been unable to use in my job so far. For example in the Croteam talk "The Talos Principle Postmortem", they briefly described a "World Bug System" (you can see this in the GDC vault here at 29:00. This system allowed testers to report bugs from within the game itself. We haven't had time to implement this at Creative Assembly yet.

I also really liked Ashley Bennett of Electronic Arts talk called "Get Ready for Launch: How AAA Titles Do It", which you can watch here. I liked how he formalised the release process.

Overall, GDC was a valuable experience, and I will aim to go again some time.