Creative Assembly immortalises brave cancer sufferer

Creative Assembly immortalises brave cancer sufferer
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

March 19th 2013 at 11:21AM

Likeness of fan will appear in developer's upcoming RTS game Total War: Rome II

A man that recently died of liver cancer has been commemorated by having his likeness recreated for Creative Assembly’s upcoming real-time strategy game Total War: Rome II.

The studio’s community manager Craig Laycock met James, who suffered from liver cancer, last July. He was told that James would not live much longer.

Laycock said he, and intend the whole studio, was inspired by James’ approach to life.

Writing on the developer’s blog, Laycock explained how he and members of his development team were moved to do something to celebrate James’ life.

“The Willow Foundation – an absolutely fantastic charity – got in touch with Rob (our brand director) and asked if we’d mind showing James the studio, as he was a big fan of the series. We were moved, and humbled,” he wrote.

James visited the studio the day immediately after Rome II was announced at “a time of energy and excitement”. The team gave him a tour of the studio and James became the first person to play Rome II.

“What really struck me was how my colleagues reacted to James coming in,” Laycock continued.

“I was inundated with emails offering help with James’s day. The tour organised itself, as the guys around me scrambled to show James what’s going into making Rome II. It underlined what a special place this is, and how lucky I am to work for a studio full of people who care – genuinely care.

“Mauro – one of our character modellers – suggested that he could put James into the game in some way in his spare time. He took reference photos and measurements of James and created an absolutely brilliant representation of James that will eventually feature in Rome II.

“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. He was kind in his approach and brave beyond words – and after just a few hours of spending time with him and his brother, he’d had a huge impact on me.”

James sent a crate of wine to the studio as thanks, despite Creative Assembly’s protestations, Laycock said was “a remarkably selfless act” and one that “was a true marker of the type of man he was”.

“When I recently learned that James had died, it was devastating,” he said. “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 II 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.”

The developer has urged those willing to help young people like James experience things they’ve never had a chance to do before to donate to the Willow Foundation.