Dying Total War Fan Immortalised As Rome 2 Unit

The videogames industry isn’t all sexualisation, lies and Doritogates, you know. Sometimes nice things happen because they are nice things. Case in point, the Creative Assembly giving a fan with not long to live a chance to play pre-alpha Rome 2 code, advise on its development and be recreated as a proud soldier of the Roman empire in-game. Tragically, the chap did not survive his battle with cancer, but this seems a touching memorial.

Eurogamer tells the story of terminally ill 24-year-old-James, who sadly succumbed to his liver cancer late last year. Before that, charity Willow arranged, at his special request, for him to visit the Creative Assembly’s HQ in Sussex to meet the team and see as much as he could of the then-newly announced Total War: Rome 2.

James even provided some handy feedback for the devs. “James was remarkable on the day,” reckoned CA community manager Craig Laycock. “His enthusiasm knew no bounds. He asked passionate questions and offered clear and concise suggestions on features for the game.”

James’ likeness was also captured for a hand-modelled recreation of him playing a Roman soldier in the battle of Carthage. He looks pretty handy with a Gladius to me – hopefully we’ll all get to see him in the finished game.


  1. sonofsanta says:

    That is proper lovely.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:


    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:


    • Hoarr says:

      That’s so messed up. GO SHILL YOUR VIRUSES SOMEWHERE ELSE, BOT!!

      • thrawn says:

        This isn’t legit?!?!? Oh man, there go all my hopes and dreams of making oddly specific amounts of money per month doing ill-defined types and nebulous amounts of work from the comfort of my own home! Woe is me, for my worldview is shattered.

    • Tinarg says:

      Yes lovely indeed! A man dies, a publisher/developer profits. Just lovely!

      If you think I’m exaggerating just look at the comment by Sentient. This is great publicity, so someone at 2k sure is extatic that this poor man didn’t make it or otherwise our beloved gaming press would have no story to tell.
      RPS you really shouldn’t have reported on this or you will be to blame if a scene like this is ever to happen.
      Marketing guy at EvilGame$ Inc. “Go find me a sick gamer! But make sure it’s properly ill, it’s no use if it lives. Maybe get a cancer kid or something. Now, that’d be great.”

      If they only wanted to do some good they would have done so and then shut up about it. No need to make a publicity stunt out of it. This is of no relevance to anyone but the sadly passed away man and his relatives.

      • Swiss says:

        I’m having difficulty finding this story in official TW marketing, could you be specific?

        Personally I care more about the fact the charity will be getting some much needed spotlight, and that everyone is now aware of the memorial.

        You could of course just splerge some anti-corporate rhetoric that’s grasping pretty heavily at straws though.

        • Tinarg says:

          Well the article above states clearly that CA community manager Craig Laycock is giving interviews about this. Doesn’t get much more official than that?

          However I was mostly criticizing RPS for publishing this article, not CA for making this happen (this in itself would be a wonderful thing, if not used for PR). The problem is that this article is not about the charity granting a dying gamer a wish. Read the Headline, read the first paragraph (which is displayed in the frontpage, I doubt most readers bother to read the full article). It’s about Rome 2 and CA. “Because this is a gaming site, your dummy!”. Yes it is. Does that mean the writers shouldn’t be asking themselfs the follwoing question?

          If I publish this article, will someone gain monetarily?

          Or maybe this one:
          How will a relative react if he suddenly sees the face of the one he has lost on the frontpage?

          Not asking or not honoring these questions is worth criticizing and that’s what I tried to do.

      • tossrStu says:

        And if you gave a fuck about anything other than wanting to let the world know how cool and cynical you are, you would’ve realised that this is great publicity for the charity as well; I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d never heard of them until now. But you just keep on sticking it to the man, one dead cancer patient at a time, eh?

      • MasterDex says:

        This is of no relevance to anyone but the sadly passed away man and his relatives.

        You’re wrong. Not only because you forget about the rest of the people out there counting the days they’re still alive, but also because you forget about all the other people this story touches.

        Who cares if it’s any relevance to you? Some of us aren’t as cynical or narrow-minded.

      • Sordarias says:

        I agree, wholeheartedly, Tinarg. After all, we don’t need human emotions such as ’empathy’, nor ‘sadness’ to weigh positively for the developer! Why no, we must stick to ALL evil publishers, because they’re all evil without regard for their fans or consumers, and fight for the almighty dollar, therefore everything do — publicity, marketing, talking like humans — must be considered bad!

        Even if it immortalises a dying man into their game for eternity out of the goodness of their hearts [alongside the charities helpfulness into getting him this dream], it is bad and therefore evil, so a publisher profiting — them being a business — is also evil! A developer cannot, nor does not, EVER do anything out of the goodness of their hearts, and never ever ever ever should profit because the publisher they are under are evil, conniving, game-destroyers!

        Why, they even murdered my cat for a profit, then stole the cat, cut off its’ testicles and taxidermied them both for money, THEN stole them again and tried to market them as truly life-like plushies! I can NEVER FORGIVE THEM!

        Sarcasm aside, stop being so deafeatist that nothing anyone does is ever a good thing, because they’ll profit from it. It’s as much publicity for the publishers and developers as it is fshowcasing their kindness as well as the charity — one I previously never knew of before this.

        This is called ‘good journalism.’ reporting on such a situation as WELL as the situations the publisher does that puts them in an awful light. You cannot cherrypick the bad stuff the publisher does and never report on the good stuff — it’s just fucking idiotic.

        Die in a fire.

        • Tinarg says:

          This is called ‘good journalism.’

          A person died and CA is benefiting (monetarily) from this fact thanks to this article. Do you deny this fact?

          How can this be called ‘good journalism’? A good journalists would have asked himself the right questions (see my comment above) and then wouldn’t have published this article. Otherwise he is providing incentive to utilise ill people for PR reasons. People do far worse things for money than to grant a wish. I think the motives for granting that wish matter.

          • edwardoka says:

            Pray tell, how, exactly, have CA gained monetarily from this?

            Do you have any sales figures for this game-wot-isn’t-out-for-another-7-months to back up your claims? What percentage of those imaginary sales figures do you think can be directly attributed to an article reporting on a game developer doing a nice thing for a dying man?

            At most you can claim that they’ve gained goodwill, but that’s because they did a good thing.

            You, sir, are a foul curmudgeon.

          • Tinarg says:

            Pray tell, how, exactly, have CA gained monetarily from this?
            Press Ctrl+F and type “Preordered!” on this very page.

          • Sordarias says:

            You are a bit of an idiot that cannot take jokes in the comments aside, aren’t you? It’s like going into a moronic pun thread about ‘adjective/nounface!’ nonsense and going ‘You’re all fuckers! This is my favorite game!’ even when you can tell they’re joking.

            Even if the guy is saying he’s ‘pre-ordering’, they’re not ‘gaining’ monetarily by this article. It is entirely likely the person saying ‘pre-ordered’ would’ve bought the game regardless of this gesture, or is entirely a moron for continuing the awful practice of pre-ordering shit. It’s also, what, 1% of this site, and then in the SAME thread, you have people chastising him/her/snagglepuss as well. You sound like a minotaur in a china shop, mad that he broke a few pieces of China when he’s still earning a ton of money from selling the rest.

            Stop being so blinded by your hatred of ‘the man’ or ‘the publisher’, and deal with the publishers on a case-by-case basis instead of ‘the publisher is ALWAYS bad!.’ jesus christ.

            EDIT: trimmed the fat to make it more legible.

          • hungrytales says:

            People criticizing Tinarg – are you naive or just stupid? It ceased to be only a good deed and got extended to PR and a publicity stunt the moment they went with it to the media. What’s here to argue over?

      • Goregeous says:

        If they were to “just shut up” about it, I can’t imagine it would be as good for the kid. I’m pretty sure he’d be more ecstatic to know that people would know it’s his face and not just a friend of one of the devs. The story gives the memorial meaning. Benefits in terms of publicity are afterthoughts in cases like these. The precedent you think they are creating doesn’t make sense, especially since people LOVE whitsleblowing about terrible people who would try and scrounge a paltry amount of publicity and extra sales out of a story like this for a game like this, and the fact that there are much less messy ways of being a soulless asshat. Not everything is a scheme, and if they sell a few more copies for fulfilling a dying kid’s dream, good for them. That is the best possible reason for attention to go their product. Also, the agenda wouldn’t be exclusive to the dev in your B movie scenario. The sick kid has one too, and it’s his wish. It wouldn’t serve to go out and pluck up a sick kid who isn’t a fan, and I mean fan in the actual sense of the word, like this kid was. People like you are only focusing on one aspect, and yes, messed up stuff does happen, but it isn’t the case every time or even most of the time. Publicity also doesn’t just benefit the game devs and pubs, it helps the charity, and it lets other people who might have a dream like this that it isn’t impossible, in fact very possible and most likely easily doable. The gaming world just went through fucking Doritogate as mentioned in the article. You think if there was a single fishy thing in this story that it would go unnoticed, much less without major outrage? This is the collective gaming community we’re talking about. That would be a piece of bloody red meat. You’re pathetic.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Watch out, we’ve got a cool guy !

        He’s seeing through the corporate bullshift, you can’t fool him !

        Who gives two shit about the guy, the charity anyway ?

        Companies are evil, and soon we’ll get a well-earned “I told you so, gullible mongrels !” from our hero !

      • Nick says:

        So yeah, um, you’re a dick.

        • Grape says:

          So yeah, um, you’re a dick.

          No, the guy is fucking sensible.

          I just read the Eurogamer-comments section, and I was just terrified and deeply disheartened to see so many degenerate fuckwits go “oh, this further enhances CA’s good-guy wibe!” (Actual comment.), “I’m definitely pre-ordering, now! You’ve earned it, CA!” , and other such loathsome idiocy.

          This is so overtly a PR-move it’s not even funny, and should under no circumstance whatsoever be allowed to work. It’s particularly troubling to have several people jump on Tinarg so that they can feel all nice and good about themselves for being brave knights standing up for decency.

          • Blackseraph says:

            Actually what Tinarg did here is an appeal to motive, which is a fallacy.

          • hungrytales says:

            @Blackseraph: and that in turn is the same as to say that calling some motive into question does not necessarily prove anything. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question motives. Your pointing out it’s a fallacy doesn’t prove anything either or if you think otherwise then hello another informal fallacy – appeal to ignorance.

      • sonofsanta says:

        You know who really benefited from all this? The guy who got to see the next release of his favourite game and feel special for a day before he died of cancer.

        Everything else is besides the point.

      • shitflap says:


    • Aardvarkk says:

      This is outstanding. The Guild Wars 2 I am on (Sanctum of Rall) was named after a fan (Roger ‘Oldroar’ Rall) of the game who passed on before it was finished. I think it’s great that developers are doing this.

      • Goregeous says:


      • darkath says:

        In world of warcraft there was also several tombs (two i think ?) in the honor of a dead developper, who passed away during the making of a game. It was quite touching, to find that altar in the barrens :
        link to img27.imageshack.us (there was the letters M.K. standing for Michael Koiter written on that altar);
        Also his name was on a dog tag in one of the SC2 cutscene.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    There needs to be a mod that replaces *every* face in the game with James. I’d happily march into battle at the head of the army of the Senatus Populusque James.

  3. Sentient says:


    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      I’d normally be against such behaviour, but this is one instance where it looks justified.

    • Bones1210 says:

      It’s tempting, only because Creative Assembly hasn’t put out a bad total war game, in my opinion. Maybe less good then their best, but never terrible. So unless they announce that it has to be connected to a server to even play it *cough*….i think your good.

      • Grape says:

        None of the games have been bad, but that doesn’t really help when they’re broken, as was the case of ETW and NTW.

  4. fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

    Great stuff. Well done CA.

    • Cinek says:

      Yep. I’m amazed how well did they manage to re-create a face from single photograph. Truly impressive.

      • phelix says:

        My guess is that they took about 15 photos from every possible angle in a studio with him.

      • Giuseppe says:

        I don’t think they did it from a single photograph. Either they used photos from many different angles to do this and recreated his likeness from that, basically what Phelix said, or they used a 3D scanner to map the shape of his head and, probably, also create a texture map for it. My money is on the latter. 3D scanning technology is becoming increasingly accessible in terms of price and I’m sure a studio like Creative Assembly can afford a top end professional machine.

  5. Nevard says:

    I really hope the game doesn’t end up being crap, for his sake

    • Morlock says:

      Lovely indeed. So how often does this happen nowadays? I remember the memorials for “Lord Brinne” in Ultima: Ascension, Morrowind, Deus Ex and (!) Might & Magic VIII since he was so active in all these online communities (they were much smaller back then).

      • Jorum says:

        There was a memorial to a player in WOW on top of one of the mountains in Barrens.

      • Kollega says:

        There was an NPC in Borderlands 2 based off and honoring the memory of then recently-deceased fan, Michael Mamaril. He can provide you with some phat lewtz if you get to see him.

      • oceanclub says:

        There was also an entire room in Max Payne 2 dedicated to one of the devs; you could get to it by creeping around a window ledge:

        link to youtube.com


      • Lanfranc says:

        I think one of the castles in Mount & Blade was named after a community member who died during the development. Grunwalder Castle, I believe.

        • crizzyeyes says:

          Yes, I was actually active in the forum community when that happened. Everyone was quite sad to see him go, he was a valued and active member of the community. There was some piss and drama that came out of it amongst the forum members, though, unfortunately.

      • Arglebargle says:

        City of Heroes had a Super in the tutorial, one of your contacts, Coyote, who was the character of a beta tester who died during the beta. (I would have said immortalized — damn you NCSoft.)

        I suspect that GW2 has a set of graves belonging to folks in or close to the dev team. Not sure on this, but it certainly had the vibe, and the names mentioned were not their usual fantasy fare.

  6. Hoaxfish says:

    Now he can keep being killed forever… probably best not to interpret it that way.

  7. Njordsk says:

    24, man that sucks.

    Not that I particulary care about his case, but that’s tough for anyone.

    It’s nice from CA, I guess he would have liked to see that.

    • mouton says:

      I dunno, it is the same for everyone, ultimately. It’s just that usually you get desensitized by dementia.

  8. Nihil says:

    This sort of thing is actually more common than I had thought. I remember reading about the shrine on top of a mountain in the Barrens in WoW which was dedicated to a concept artist who sadly passed away having worked for blizzard in the past. It actually came back to bite Blizz in a funny sort of way further down the line when a very dedicated WoW player died, prompting a petition on the forums to get a memorial placed in the game for them. Blizzard eventually decided not to allow it so that their game world didn’t become littered with memorials to WoW gamers who passed away.

    It’s a difficult one in some ways because who is to say person x suffering from Terminal thing y is more or less worthy than person Z suffering from…hang on why did I start at x? You get the idea.

    All that said, good on CA. The guy was a fan, it’s a nice touch.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I suppose there could be a graveyard or temple or somesuch thing that allows people to submit names to be added. This way you have an option to create a memorial for a player, but it doesn’t create too many things. Alternatively, there’s the park bench analogue, where you can add a small plaque to public items in places that meant something to the deceased. Unsure if WoW’s texture resolution would allow this, but it’s another non-intrusive method. In something like Minecraft it’s easier because you can just build something yourself, but I suppose MC servers are more fragmented and possibly transient.

    • TWChristine says:

      link to youtu.be

      Looks like there’s actually quite a bit of memorials in the game. Though I agree, how do you decide who gets a memorial and who doesn’t? In the end though, I guess it’s their game and their decision..

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      There was this one guy who did have a his character immortalised in game, though (I think). He was terminally ill as well. I believe his character (a Night Elf hunter female, I believe) is at the Aldor Rise in Shattrath.

  9. frank3n says:

    Cannabis Oil Cures Cancer – do the research, spread the word:

    link to facebook.com

    • Morlock says:

      Facebook is such a poor reference for scientific results. Try this:

      link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

      A critical look at the evidence:
      link to scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org

      • One Pigeon says:

        Excellent links Morlock.

        That facebook page is horrendous and bears many similarities to websites promoting homepathic remedies.

        Frank3n you might want to employ your own words and ‘do the research’ before linking to websites of salesmen rather than researchers.

        • frank3n says:

          Scientific results? That’s great. Much fancier than a simple Facebook page, but hey, you *did* spend an entire 10 minutes perusing the site before getting vocal about it. Don’t discredit Rick Simpson. As with other things in life, some people gotta have their Grey Poupon, but most are okay with regular mustard. And in this case the ‘regular mustard’ Facebook page has something the other sites do not: tons of personal testimonies from real people (Cathy Jordan, anyone?). Also, that ‘scientific” UK link states:

          “…at the moment there isn’t enough reliable evidence to prove that cannabinoids – whether natural or synthetic – can effectively treat cancer in patients…”

          The US government has known for decades that cannabinoids aggressively attack and destroy cancer cells. Just do a search for tests done in the 60s and 70s, which the government quickly denied ever took place. How about US patent #6630507 filed by the US government, laying claim on “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants”? In a nutshell, it’s way more profitable for governments to outlaw the use of cannabis than it is to allow it.

          And to Pigeon: List one thing that Rick Simpson “the salesman” is selling on his site. He’s a warrior on the front line of this battle, waking people up and trying to get the laws changed around, that is all. So in turn suggest you do *your* research. Stop believing the government spin, stop being ignorant of the facts. We can choose to be a part of the change if we only open our eyes. Or we can continue living in ignorance. Because hey – it’s easier, yes?

          Cannabis Cures Cancer

    • Bhazor says:

      Just… no… seriously.

      • xStahl says:

        “This is seriously not the time or place for this nonsense.


        Any TIME and any PLACE is for this non sense, as you say. There’s enough evidence that shows cannabis has an effect on cancer as many terminally ill people no longer have cancer so letting people know that they might have a chance against cancer is not non sense.

        Please leave your high horse elsewhere, seriously.

    • Eukatheude says:

      It doesn’t cure cancer, or at least it’s largely unproven. It DOES help with nausea and pain, though.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      *checks url bar.. notices it isn’t actually the daily mail* *looks confused* *shakes head and leaves*

    • wodin says:

      Two words..Bob Marley

  10. Duffin says:

    24 years old. What the fuck. :(

    • Hunchback says:

      My cancer was operated and removed exactly on my first birthday…

      Never too young, never too old. Fuck cancer, eh :S

  11. Haplo says:

    All the sad feels. So many sad feels.

    May you trample Carthaginian heads beneath your sandals in the next life.

  12. Hunchback says:

    And suddenly the end-scene of Gladiator comes to mind

  13. ZHsquad says:

    Man, people need to show some kindness. At least he got his wish. And it’s a pretty damn awesome wish too!

  14. overgrownpath says: