Previously competitors in a niche genre space, The Creative Assembly and the formerly THQ-owned
studio Relic Entertainment are now under the same umbrella at Sega. This has fostered a "kinship," The Creative Assembly's studio communications manager, Al Bickham, says – a kinship largely fueled by a similarity in studio cultures.
"I think there's a growing kinship between us that is very heartening. It's fantastic. What is absolutely amazing about us being under the same umbrella is we started to do a bit of information sharing," Bickham explains of Relic Entertainment. "We're at E3, we're at the booth next to each other and chatting and seeing how it's going and all of that. But also we've had delegations from Relic come and visit, see how we do things and we've done the same."
"What's fantastic about the whole thing is the culture of the two studios is so similar. It's so absolutely similar – it's like quality or costs kind of thing, that's how everybody feels about it. And it's just let's do the best job we can. Just the sense of similarity between the two studios is, in one sense, commercially that's a great thing because we're two smart, intelligent studios doing the right thing, but also on a personal level really heartening. It's really cool," Bickham elaborated.
As far as influencing each others' work, Bickham says the two studios offer different experiences: Total War concentrates on war at a massive scale, while Company of Heroes focuses on small-scale conflicts.
Being so close to its former competition has led to inspired changes in Creative Assembly's upcoming Total War: Rome 2
, namely the game's new line of sight mechanic.
"I have to say that I think Relic may have influenced us with that decision, because it's not something we've ever had in a Total War game before," Bickham laughed. "And we had to figure a lot out to make that work properly."
In prior Total War games, you could just zoom out the camera, eye up the opposition's forces relative to your own and wage war. But now you can't tell if the enemy side has units hiding in the brush, on the other side of a hill or hidden anywhere else on the battlefield. There's an element of surprise now that wasn't there in past games.
"This changes the dynamic of battles because it becomes more about scouting and maybe hiding, as well as concealing your units ready for flank attacks and ambushes and things like that. So yeah, I think that the whole true sight system influenced us."