Interview With Total War: Warhammer II Developer Al Bickham


Today we have a very special article for you all. I get the wonderful oppurtunity to interview one of the developers for the game Total War: Warhammer II. TWW2 is a turn-based strategy game set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. If you are a fan of the game, or just want to see some awesome pictures of the game come on in! 

Before we continue I would just like to shed a little light on my history with the game. Age of Sigmar actually got me into the Warhammer Fantasy lore (ironic). I was fascinated with the events of the end times, and coverage of a local blood bowl league lead me to pick up a Dark Elf army and eventually lead me to the TWW2’s prequel. Total War: Warhammer. As soon as I found the game I was hooked. I didn’t have a computer which could handle the framerates of the game so I settled for hours and hours of youtube videos and twitch streams. The minute I saw Dark Elves in the TWW2 trailer I knew I would regret not being able to play it, so I saved up some money and got myself a good gaming laptop. If you play the game shoot me an email at, I would love to get some practice games in on the original before launch date! (Which is 1 week from today!)

About the interviewer:

Al Bickham can be commonly found answering questions about Total War: Warhammer II at various gaming convetions and on all sorts of websites and videos. He is the Development Communications Manager on the team, and works hard to shed light on a game that is set to skyrocket beyond it’s predecessor. You can check out an interview he did along with some other members of the development team above.

Tell me a little bit about your relationship with the world of Warhammer. Do you play the tabletop game? Do you have a favorite faction? How has this relationship impacted your work while developing the game? 

Yeah, in fact I’d say having a personal relationship with Warhammer is utterly essential if you want to make an authentic videogame about it. There’s a whole bunch of us in the studio who play 8th Edition still, and we all have our favourite armies (Ogres are my boys!). You can devour army books, head to the Black Library and beyond for wider reading, and become an on-paper expert in the lore. But you can never quite get the complete flavor of a faction unless you actually play an army inside out. It’s through their unique rules and mechanics, which you only get a real feel for after multiple battles against multiple other armies, that their character really shines out. You need that insight to translate them into videogame form in the most convincing and authentic way.

Speaking of the Warhammer world, I noticed there are a couple of factions still missing from the Total War Warhammer franchise. Do you have any plans in place to complete all of the factions? Specifically Ogre Kingdoms, and the Tomb Kings, the former is one which I have personally been looking forward to seeing on the computer screen (I love me some Ogres).

Ogres – good man 😉 Actually I have a unit of three Forgeworld Rhinox Riders cleaned up in the cupboard patiently awaiting an undercoat, but I’m not sure anyone would want to play against me using them… As it is people roll their eyes at me when I deploy my Mournfang. But yeah – our initial long-term plan was to build each of the 16 races that got an official army book in 8th Edition WFB across the breadth of the trilogy. We’re sticking to that, but we’ve also found opportunities to build flavourful sub-factions and make them playable – such as Clan Angrund, The Crooked Moon, and even a refresh on the Norscans, complete with Fimir and War Mammoths – so we’re definitely pushing beyond our original scope. Simply working with Warhammer has given us an appetite to do more.

I understand Al! The Rhinox riders are such a great model. I use mine as mournfang, and have not had any problems yet.

If you have played the tabletop game how important was it to capture the feel of the experience on the tabletop? Did you work closely with Games Workshop in order to better compliment that aspect of your game? 

Playing the tabletop game is vital – you can’t capture and translate the experience if you don’t feel it for yourself;  I spoke a little about this in my first answer. And we work incredibly closely with Games Workshop. They’re a joy to work with – when we need a lore question clearing up, they’ve always got an answer ready, and in no uncertain terms, we both want exactly the same thing: to make the definitive Warhammer Fantasy Battles experience in PC strategy game form, that people will be able to play for years to come. It’s amazing to work with a partner that shares our ambition and actively helps us to realise that vision.

While we are the same subject of potential future content how does your development team feel about the “End Times” events that Games Workshop used to introduce the tabletop world to Age of Sigmar. Are there plans to make an End Times DLC, or to transition the game into an Age of Sigmar? 

No plans yet I’m afraid – we’ve still got rather a lot on our plate building ‘traditional’ Warhammer! We’re about to launch the second part of the trilogy, then work begins on part 3. We won’t be done evolving the Total War: Warhammer series for a good while yet. As to the future – who knows? There’s some awesome characters and content in the End Times and Age Of Sigmar.

Onto the actual game itself, what are some of your favorite unit/army interactions? Are there any particular parts of the game that you are proud of having developed? (Kudos to the animators by the way, watching a monstrous Dragon Ogre barrel into the lines of the enemy force is easily one of the most satisfying moments any gamer could have)

Regarding animations, the Hell Pit Abomination is a personal favourite – it is REPELLANT. I think if Clan Moulder were to leap off the pages of the army book and into being, they’d give us a whiskery pat on the back (before sinking the knife in to be sure). I’d say the team as a whole though is very proud of the campaign mechanics we’ve built into part 2, which revolve around who gets to ultimately dominate the Great Vortex at the heart of Ulthuan. We’ve taken the trad Total War sandbox game of territorial expansion and the inevitable peace/war cycle, and woven unique narratives into the game for each playable race, which build to key points of gameplay tension throughout the campaign. It’s given us the opportunity to revel in each race’s character and motivations, and also gives the player a distinct and crescendo-style finale to build to. That’s something of a first for the Total War series. It’s tremendously satisfying to play.

There is a large Total War Warhammer online community of streamers, and content creators. Did any of them have an impact on your development of the game? Did you tune certain aspects of the game to make it easier to stream or shoot videos for? 

The YouTubers and Streamers who cover the series are a really good sounding board for our decisions. As they explore the game, they help focus the community into discussions regarding different aspects of design, balance, any and every facet of the game in fact, big or small. They help us get a handle on what people really want in their games, and that helps to influence our thinking throughout the development process. So yes, they definitely have an impact on what we do.

How does the original Total War Warhammer game tie into its sequel? If I purchased the original game will the games work together, or will they act like two separate games? 

If you own both games, you’ll still be able to play the original Old World campaign, or the new campaign for Total War Warhammer II – the Eye of the Vortex campaign – set in the New World. Shortly after launch we’ll be releasing a free update for the game so that owners of both titles will be able to play across a third, grand-scale campaign map depicting those combined landmasses and factions from both games. They’ll be able to start this campaign as any faction they own in the first or second games, including any DLC or Free-LC factions we’ve released over time. They’ll still be two separate games in your Steam list; you’ll be able to play the Old World campaign by launching the first game, and the Eye of The Vortex or the huge, combined campaign by launching the second.

Finally, is there any plans in place for making a Total War Warhammer 40,0000 edition? Because bringing Total War to an entire galaxy would be pretty awesome.

Yeah, it really would! And as you might imagine, we get asked this question a lot;) It’s as I said regarding End Times and AoS – it’s something we’d love to do one day, but we’ve no plans to at present, and we’ve still got a long way to go finishing the Total War: Warhammer trilogy.


About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

One Response to “Interview With Total War: Warhammer II Developer Al Bickham”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius September 21, 2017 1:34 pm

    Great interview, Pablo! I personally cannot wait to play this game, watching Frankie play part 1, it looked like a ton of fun.