Last summer, a 24-year old Total War fan got to tour The Creative Assembly and play Total War: Rome 2 before anyone else. His name was James, and he was visiting the studio as part of the Willow Foundation's Special Day initiative, which gives terminal ill people the chance to do something amazing for a day. While on his tour, James got to see all aspects of Rome 2's development, interview members of the staff, make suggestions for the game, and even get his likeness immortalized in it.
Unfortunately, soon after James' visit ended, his battle with liver cancer did too. Upon hearing the news, Total War community manager Craig Laycock shared his thoughts on James and that day at the studio:
What really struck me was how my colleagues reacted to James coming in. I was inundated with emails offering help with James' day. The tour organised itself, as the guys around me scrambled to show James what's going into making Rome 2.
James was remarkable on the day. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. He asked passionate questions and offered clear and concise suggestions on features for the game.
When I recently learned that James had died, it was devastating. Even though I had only spent a few hours in his company, it was absolutely devastating, because he was able to show us all here in the studio how passionate he was for our games.
And although he won't get the chance to see Rome 2 released, he will live on in some small way in our game - and every time I see him I'll be reminded of what a great guy he was.
In many ways, James represented what's best about working in video games: crafting games that people enjoy and that stay with them. It's why we all do what we do, and why we're so passionate about it. He really brought that home to us.
James may be gone from this world, but he'll always live on in Total War: Rome 2 as a Roman soldier. He can be seen in the picture below taking part in the Battle of Carthage, with The Creative Assembly portraying James with remarkable accuracy.
Total War: Rome 2 is due to arrive later this year for the PC. The Willow Foundation was established by Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson and his wife after they lost their daughter to cancer.