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DevBlog: Residential Tiers

In most games, progression usually means acquiring new skills for your persona, raising stats and expanding your arsenal. In Anno, your residents are at the heart of gameplay progression, as levelling up your population gives you access to a growing catalogue of new buildings and opens up new and more complex production chains. Your city will advance through an era of change and wonders, while you improve your own management skills to become a masterful city-builder.

With this series of DevBlogs, we put the residential tiers and their gameplay role for Anno 1800 into the spotlight. Making the start are Game Designer Christian Schneider and Lead Artist Manuel Reinher, introducing the fundamental ideas behind Anno’s residents.

Residential Tiers, our progression system – Christian
Anno’s core gameplay idea is the concept of “fulfillments of needs”, where you have to provide the infrastructure and amenities for your citizens in order to advance. Residential tiers also work as a threshold, which determines how far you have progressed in the game, similar to the character’s levels in other games.
Reaching the next tier is a rewarding milestone, giving you access to a variety of new buildings to construct advanced production chains. Similarly to your production, your society will advance with each level and their demands will become harder to fulfill – a natural difficulty curve.
Your population serves also as an indicator of your skill as an Anno player. If you just advance in a new tier, only a few basic buildings will be available to kick off your new production but as the amount of residents in a specific class rises, more and more buildings will become available.

In Anno, every single building has not only a distinctive visual character; it also has its own gameplay aspect and interface elements. Buildings of each tier become a tool for environmental storytelling: you click on a tier home and the farmer tells a story from his daily life, and public buildings like the market become a stage for visual feedback.
From a gameplay perspective, public buildings play an especially important role, as they are the center of your attention. Their influence on your city district is an important gameplay indicator, which leads players to have a close eye on your pub and other public buildings. Because of their influence, city districts are often built around a center of public buildings and other eye-catching constructions.

There is also an important change for Anno veterans out there: every citizen tier has its own workforce type, which is required to run the specific production buildings of that tier. If you think about it, it makes sense: farmers take care of rural production, while the working class was born out of the demand from factories for specialized workers. That means that you have to make sure that sufficient workforce of a specific tier is available to run the production of said tier. This change provides a new layer of complexity when designing and managing your city and results in a way more interesting and natural cityscape.

An era of change and our artistic vision – Manuel
When cities grew to metropoles and workshops became factories, our society changed drastically. While aristocrats still fought over colonies in the backrooms of glamourous palaces, the new working class would go on to become the foundation of our modern society. For Anno 1800, the depiction of the century and especially the evolution of classes and society as a whole are important aspects of our artistic vision.

Every new match in Anno 1800 will be a romantic journey through history, starting with the beginning of the industrial age all the way to the end of the 19th century.

Every house, public and even production building for each tier should convey a certain character, and their design should be our way of telling the story of the people of that era. Every single tier is a specific snapshot of a different class and with that, shows how society advanced during the industrial age. A lot of thought went into the different buildings and subsequent events to represent their residential tier properly. Farmers and agriculture where still important during that time but they stood as a remnant of an old age. Their houses are not streamlined by modern pragmatic architecture, allowing them to have a personal touch while you will also able be able to notice that progress is coming to a halt for their production buildings. To support the working class on the other hand, cities needed to make accommodations quickly available and the modern city life changed personality and habits.

At first, your lower tier settlement has a more natural but less structured look and over time, as order and structure will find their way in the metropolis you are aspiring for.
That is the special rewarding feeling of an Anno game, when watching how through your hard work, a small farming village becomes a large city with beautiful higher tier districts, impressive factories and stunning cultural buildings.

Not only the 3D models, the right palette of color and material also defines look and feeling of a tier.

The Anno Puzzle – Manuel and Christian

During the industrial revolution, cities grew larger and architecture adapted in order to accommodate the masses of citizens who needed to work in the growing factories. Modern technologies like assembly conveyors pushed mass production, while steel beams allowed factories and other buildings to expand, and that changed the urban environment drastically.
Residential buildings take up space on your island and with that, compete with your production lines over available space. This creates the classic Anno puzzle: how much space is available and how do I allocate it? To represent the setting properly, we realized that things have to get bigger for a proper representation of that era. In Anno 2205, residential buildings where mostly 3×3, 5×5 or 6×6 depending on your citizen tier and region. While the 6×6 fields in Anno 2205 made it easier for us to create organic cityscapes, it limited the amount of buildings a player could place.
In Anno 1800, islands will be bigger and can hold more assets compared to previous titles. With all residential buildings now consuming only 3×3 tiles, it allows you to not only ramp up the amount buildings you can create significantly, it also enables us to make use of bigger production buildings. To fit the style of that era, we wanted these factories to be clearly bigger in size than other buildings; your modern production districts should be impressive feats of city design and modern architecture.

The beginning of a series of blogs
The residential tiers are a substantial part of Anno’s atmosphere, artistic design and gameplay created with passion and love for the franchise and setting. But we won’t just close the book on that topic, stay tuned as we get even more into detail and showcase the different tiers with their historical background, design and their production chains.

How important is the depiction of that era and the detail work, which goes into the different tiers, for you? We are curious how our take on that setting resonates with you and if you like the changes to the classic Anno formula to add challenge and give your city a more natural and realistic look.




  1. S Steinhauzer February 27, 2018

    Apologies in advance for the lengthy rant 😀

    Regarding the “fulfilment of needs” central to all the games, some of them have handled it in different ways. For example, in later games food is a category that needs to be fulfilled, typically with fish initially and later on different additions to that such as meat and spices. In the earlier entries, you instead had several different production alternatives to producing just one product that fulfilled basically all the demand for food.
    This gave choice, but reduced the complexity of supplying your citizens, as even aristocrats could be fed a 100% fish diet and be quite satisfied. On the other hand, in Anno 1404 a nobleman must be fed a supremely rounded diet consisting of all the edible things your civilisation can offer, and if any one thing is missing from their plate there will be a riot. Obviously all the public buildings you constructed for them are the first to be torched…
    Anyway, I hope that in 1800 there might be a little bit of compromise between those extremes, as it seems a bit silly to me at least when the noblemen (or executives/aristocrats/whatever) take to the streets, torch in hand, just because the absolute bottom tier of goods is unavailable. Apparently, fine beef, wine and marzipan just don’t taste the same without a tuna side-dish?

    TL:DR – There should be more fulfilment alternatives available than what is needed, because rioting over lack of fish when you have steak and/or bread, or lack of cider when you still have plenty of wine and/or beer, is a bit silly. Perhaps a reward system for diversity of offered goods instead?

    • E Erulastannen February 28, 2018

      I completely agree with this. I liked how the Impression games handled the goods system I.e Caesar, Pharaoh, Emperor. Instead of needing specific food items for a residential tier, you need multiple types of food.s. You could feed your population with game meat up to a point, but in order for your housing to advance to the upper levels, you would need a second type of food or a higher quality of food (seasoned with salt or spices). You could be feeding your population with five different types of food but only need four, so if you ran out of a certain type of food, you’d still be fine. But in all honesty, I only ever had the problem with dissatisfaction like your talking about if the AI declared war on me and disrupted my trade routes.

  2. M MyLittlePiglet February 25, 2018

    I absolutely love the eye for detail and the amount of attention that you are giving to this aspect of the game. For me, the different civilization tiers are the core gameplay of an Anno game. And it is therefore very important that each civilization tier has its own unique feeling.

    However, I have one question regarding the civilization tiers: will there be any interaction between the different civilization tiers? For example, I can imagine that the higher class people would absolutely despise the lower class people.

    Furthermore, I have a more general question: will the game have some sort of “goal” or “objectives” outside the matches too? For example, Anno 2070 had the ability to “level up” your account by doing various tasks for different factions. I also absolutely loved the idea of the “Golden Ship Achievement” in Anno 1404. Which is really difficult and time consuming to get and which would take hundreds of hours and many matches to achieve, but which bring so much satisfaction once you get it!!

    • E Erulastannen February 28, 2018

      I didn’t like how Noble houses would be willing to upgrade directly adjacent to pesant shacks in 1404. I usually designed my cities so this wouldn’t happen. In 2070 it didn’t seem like this was a big deal though, since the worker houses didn’t visually appear so delapitated and I didn’t imagine that the 2070 would have so much social stratification, which was the reason I liked the futuristic setting better.

  3. E Erulastannen February 24, 2018

    Hello and thank you for the blog post.

    I just wanted to mention a couple of things. Firstly you said ” a farmer tells a story from his daily life”. I would like to mention that there is too much repetitive speech in Anno game starting with 1404. It becomes such a nuisance that I end up turning off the speech sfx. An example is the sultan’s envoy in Anno 1404… every time you would open the oriental building menu you would get a comment like “these are the only building plans I can give you” or “you are quite knowledgeable about oriental architecture. When you would zoom -in in Anno 2205 the ambient speech was also quite repetive and annoying. If I just want to check on the house’s needs, I wouldn’t necessarily like to hear that story over and over again.

    I like the idea of different workforce types. One thing that games never do well is employees needed for farms. A worker wouldn’t necessarily commute to go work on a farm, unless it was a collective farm or something like that. Couldn’t you add a farm house type building to allow farmers to grow crops at home, and later in the game, add an industrial farm that would require more organized labor types?

    • S Steinhauzer February 27, 2018

      The repetitive speech was an issue well before 1404. When you zoomed in close to the city centers in 1503, the noise would be extreme, as there where only a relatively small variety of comments each building/citizen could give and these were spammed nonstop, creating a really bizarre sound.

      I wouldn’t want the feature removed altogether, but it certainly needs careful tuning. Ideally, there would be enough different voice clips spaced at large enough intervals that repetition becomes a non-issue. Obviously quality voice work isn’t for free, but a man can dream 🙂

  4. h haraserh February 24, 2018

    Impressive stuff…interesting , the visuals and the art looks spot on for that era well done !

  5. C CorsairUplay February 23, 2018

    “Jorgenson and son” in that second picture…

  6. S Soulridder February 23, 2018

    Yeah, finally back at the Anno Union! Took quite some time to go through all those new blog posts to be up-to-date again. 🙂

    I really like the idea of different workforce types. This concept should also work quite well with the different residential tiers and the design that not every resident can move to the next residential tier. Thought I’m wondering how the gameplay get’s more complex with this feature as it doesn’t seem to really change much from how it currently works.

    The change of the color palette makes sense considering the different era that begin to rise at that point of time. Thought I really hope you’re not going for the greyish buildings of the right side of the picture. ^^

  7. e eat_shot February 23, 2018

    ” anno607
    With the new way of employment is it than also needed to have workers on production islands? Or can i transport the workers from the main island to the production islands? ”

    i am wondering this as well, i like to keep things seperate, residents on one island, and farming/production on other islands, in anno 2070 i spread out the farms accros different islands, and have everything (all raw materials) transported to 1 main island that is filled with only production factories, and from there the ”end product” is transported to all the islands with the residents,

    so does it mean that we also have to ”transport” the workers between all islands?
    or isnt that a option and we need to build residents on the farm/production islands as well ?

    hope we can keep residents and production/farms separated on different islands like im doing right now in 2070, the reason i am doing it this way is because it is the best way to manage production and eco balance (dont know if there is a ”eco balance system” in 1800 ?)

  8. w wing_hu February 23, 2018

    Why are the building so randomly/weirdly aligned? This isn’t how a normal city look like.

  9. a anno607 February 23, 2018

    With the new way of employment is it than also needed to have workers on production islands? Or can i transport the workers from the main island to the production islands?

  10. M MMateos19 February 23, 2018

    Now, every time you clicked on one residence of an specific residential tier in a classic Anno game you found a dude that depending on his needs he had a kind of humour or another. I would like to know if it could change, in the way for example it was made in Imperivm Civitas. You could click on any citizen and the information about his life was displayed: what was his name, where he lived,what is his family and how are they called, what was his individual humour. I really would like to see this mechanism. In Anno 2205 was a good idea that you had to have a certain number of workers to build a factory to make it run (it’s obvious that a factory cannot produce without any employee). It would be really cool if a factory had a maximum amount of workers, lets say 20, and that every worker in the factory had a salary, which could spend in his/her needings (the poor people in wheat, the rich people in meat), making the game this way more interactive with the citizens,giving them personality, instead of clicking on a poor house and see how all the needings of the poor are going.Also, first the town hall would have the control of the factories, but when the rich people came, they could buy the factories with their own money . It could be really nice, and I know that’s not the style of Anno but something like this could fit nicely in my opinion.

    • L LiIniko February 23, 2018

      I think it is good. I believe that this option would be cool to fulfill

    • m matt.9305 February 23, 2018

      Well I think that salary and micromanaging is a good things in games that manages relative small cities/populations (i.e. Imperium Civitas and CivCity Rome) but in a games like Anno, it can get over complicated. Imagine a big city with thousands of citizens and each one with their own salary/spending, you can’t control that, and also imagine if in later game you begin to lose control of your factories because your rich citizens begin to buy it from you, say goodbye to your productions chains and ratios.

      • M MMateos19 February 24, 2018

        Totally agreed, but I don’t know, I would be really happy if there was some approach to this idea, a more general way instead of such a particular thing. Also in Imperivm Civitas you could have a really large population and the system didn’t colapse, but I understand your point of view. You know, if everything can be programmed there must be a way to everything, or maybe I’m wrong.

  11. r ruuti0 February 22, 2018

    This Residential Tiers idea sounds excellent!

    I have been recently thinking what kind of upgrade (new feature) would make Anno series even better and couldn’t even think of something like this, but it sound like perfect add!

    It is also very good that you are going to give our cities even further going natural and realistic look.

    I can’t wait that I see it fully some day!

  12. D Dawnreaver February 22, 2018

    I think one of the things that I liked the best about the Anno games and especially Anno 1404 was the amount of detail that was bestowed on the houses of the different classes. So much care and love went into the washing hanging outside to dry to little vegetable fields that were placed in the backyard. Keeping this legacy in mind I can’t wait for the things you have in stock for us for Anno 1800!

    The ideas of different workforces is interesting indeed… Through the pictures and footage so far we could see that there were strikes and possibly riots going on in the game. Is that going to affect the work force as a whole or just the respective workforce of the social class?

    I’m looking forward to playing around with the system, I hope it will be as smooth as silk once people that got into the playtest, have given their feedback and tested it to the breaking point 😀 Can’t wait for the first post about a particular class.

    Keep up the great work!

  13. S Swimming-Paul February 22, 2018

    What an interesting article! I´m very happy to read about the way Anno 1800´s population levels are going to be connected to the class system of the 19th century society. It makes a lot of sense historically and also with the very nature of anno games and their progression!
    Can you tell us how many skins or building types we´re going to get for each population level? In my opinion this is something really serious in Anno games, and the way the cities look. I think Anno 2070 was definetely the best game so far in this sense, because it included a big variety of houses for each level. In Anno 2205 temperate regions I think there were 4 styles of houses for level 1 and 2, only 2 styles for level 3, and 3 styles for level 4. This was a big issue for me because big cities always ended up looking too simple from far away, and there was not enough detail as in previous Anno games.
    The screenshots look STUNNING! Beautiful beautiful graphics and style!

  14. p palemale53 February 22, 2018

    I already imagining a Manchester style residential layout, with the top magnate style housing facing on the main thoroughfares with poorer working class housing backing on them.

    That will be different from the way I built my cities in other Anno games. There I tended to put the toffs in the middle and lesser mortals towards the periphery. So, in terms of the different housing styles you show above, I expect to have the slate and stone type buildings on my main thoroughfares, and terracotta and wood beam type buildings a street or two back, with the divide in the middle of a block.

    I am also thinking of paving the central roads, and leaving the others unpaved.

    It will be interesting.

  15. N Nox_29 February 22, 2018

    The need for a workforce of a certain citizen tier is interesting. If it forces players to keep a high amount of low tier citizens it can indeed make a big difference in the way cities will be built and how they look. Although, in previous Anno games we where already restricted a bit. Not all citizens could level up to the next tier, leaving some lower tier buildings in the mix. Maybe this could push players in making different districts on the island, with every district built with a certain citizen tier in mind.

    We’ll have to wait for more information to know for sure.


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