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Month: April 2018

DevBlog: All about items

Introduced with Anno 1404, items have proven to be quite popular among Anno fans, so we decided to significantly expand the system for Anno 2070. It’s a feature which was missed by many Annoholics in 2205, as items did not make a return for the latest game in the series. With Anno 1800, we will not only bring this beloved feature back to the table, but thanks to added functionality it will be better than ever.

All about the items
Most Anno players develop (and tend to stick to) certain tactics after playing the game for a while; some straight forward, others way more elaborate than  simply focusing on trading or total domination of your enemies. As Anno 1800’s core gameplay gains increased complexity as you advance through the game, you can think of items as the control dials to modify your production chains, spice up your tactics with unique abilities and generally being a fun way of boosting your preferred playstyle.

Despite being seemingly straightforward, items can have a major impact on many aspects of Anno 1800. Today, our Senior Game Designer Christian will show you how they work and how items will impact your experience in the age of industrialization.

Let’s get an overview
Most gamers will be familiar with the general concept of “items”, as they are a big part of most of the popular video games out there. Usually they tend to be something player characters can use to overcome various challenges. For a strategy game like Anno 1800, that seemingly simple concept is used a bit differently. In many ways, buildings act almost like characters in Anno games, with their gameplay impact directly influencing the world around them. As you slowly build your empire, ordering the construction of more and more buildings, they directly reflect your actions and impact on the game world.
Most items in Anno 1800 modify the functionality of your buildings. Certain buildings can slot items to make use of the items’ effect in their area of influence. Currently there are three such buildings planned: The guild house impacts production, the town hall is responsible for your residents and city services and the harbor office can, among other things, grant you benefits when trading with other parties. Each building has its own influence radius and you will be able to construct more than one of each of them to affect different districts of your city. There is however a limit to how many of these you can construct, though that limit is expanded as your city grows over time.

One example of such an item could be a hard-boiled constable who will boost the effectiveness of your police force in that district. Other special buildings like the zoo will also make use of items. Here the effect works slightly different, as the zoo can be a major boost to your city attractiveness, without impacting the productivity of other buildings.

An item for any situation
We are currently planning to have a total of four different item categories in Anno 1800: cultural, specialists, consumables and machines. Each of these categories serves a different purpose, and may be tied to different gameplay systems.

Cultural items – the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class greatly expanded the intellectual horizon of the people. Fueled by an interest in history, art and exotic places, cultural items can boost the attractiveness of your city significantly. Your newly opened zoo won’t attract many visitors without exotic animals to show off but acquiring them might be an adventure in itself…
Specialists – Gifted talents, inspiring personalities or visionary scientists. Specialists are unique visitors who might have been attracted by the attractions and marvels of your aspiring utopia. While a seasoned journeyman might simply boost the production of one of your workshops, infamous adventures are up to the challenge of capturing the rarest of animals, while a long-serving captain can turn the tide of a battle with his special abilities.
Consumables – And are there really problems that cannot be solved with some good, old-fashioned dynamite? Consumables are items with a strong influence on the game world but are limited by factors such as time or limited usage.

Machines – Your workers had heard rumors of course, but nothing could have prepared them for the astonishment of seeing an automatic loom working in your sails factory for the first time. Machines reflect technological advancements of the 19th century and how the rise of the machines paved the way for the modern industry. Naturally, they will be at the center of your attention when you want to boost your production buildings and factories.
There are a few more layers to the items system. Military items, for example, are not their own category but will fall under one of the above types, such as said seasoned captain who comes with his own special abilities or special armaments to surprise your enemy with superior weapon technology.

Rarity and gameplay value
Items will have different ratings, which determines how hard they are to acquire and also represent how effective and even unique their abilities are. While the most common items might give you a straightforward boost, rare items might come with unique effects or special abilities.

We will have five different rarity ratings in total: Common, Unusual, Rare, Remarkable and Extraordinary. While you will be able to just purchase common items from traders, the hunt for the most coveted objects and special personalities will lead you through quests and other challenging tasks. The attractiveness of your city is another way of acquiring specialists, as some special visitors might be among the tourists which decide to settle down on your marvelous island.

But being rewarded for your picturesque metropolis with exceptional personalities is only one of the new features to collect items in Anno 1800. How you can get your hands on the most exotic antiquities, animals and other rarities will be a topic for another future blog.

While there are various different ways and tasks, all of them will be solely acquired through gameplay.

Final words
Complexity is an important pillar of Anno 1800 and with that in mind, we wanted to expand the functionalities and variety of our item system. The new system gives you tools which are not only fun to play with, but we also wanted to ensure that acquiring rare items will be a fun task in itself; be it through challenging quest, as a reward for your great efforts to make your city beautiful or by other means which we haven’t even talked about yet!

With the release of the game, we will have a vast amount of different items, from the must have basics to pieces with quite a unique character. We are interested in your ideas about the new item system- what do you think is a must have or do you have some truly inspiring and creative ideas to share with us?

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Union Update: Islands and decorations

Spring is the time of plans and projects, as they (and also Tolstoy) say. And indeed, sunny Spring has finally arrived in Mainz, thought we can assure you that is not keeping us from working full steam ahead on Anno 1800. After last week’s DevBlog about city attractiveness has found a lot of acclaim with you all, we are taking a quick sidestep this week to cover a basic yet important topic in Anno 1800: items

In some ways, this is a Pandora ’s Box, as items can have quite an impact on several of the game’s features, including next week’s topic. For that DevBlog, we will return to the topic of city attractiveness, with a closer look at what draws tourists to your island, and what benefits they offer.

The net month will bring several bank holidays for us here in Germany, which is why we will skip next Monday’s Union Update. We are looking at some busy weeks after that, as we are in the middle of the preparations for our next AnnoCast, the next set of focus group testing of the game and much more.

An updated look at the community island
We already showed you all the effort that goes into creating one of Anno 1800’s islands. Once the closed the voting on our Community Island Vote, our level artists were itching to get started. During the first steps, the original winning concept from GmExpresso had to be slightly altered, as we made some changes to the access points to the plateau and the beaches to give them additional emphasis. The real work began with the digitalization of the island. For starters, the island was created in a basic three-dimensional form via World Builder, defining the rough terrain.

With the basic layout done, things moved on to the editor, requiring lots and lots of manual work and loving attention to detail. Going layer by layer, our barren island was populated with vegetation, rugged rock faces and fissures in the terrain. During these steps, every part of the island receives additional manual reworks- from the coast and forested areas to the jagged peaks of the mountains.

The version of the community island that you see here has not yet passed final approval, as it is missing the last round of quality improvements. As part of that, we will add some more small environmental details to make sure that our community island looks great. The same is also true for the islands we have shown you previously, none of which have received the final polish and approval yet. With that said, we cannot wait to show you the final Anno 1800 islands in the future!

Community Q&A

PPF99 The question for me right now is how the AI will judge what an „attractive city“ is. Will it be enough to plaster empty lots between factories with flowers, or will it be necessary to combine these with other decorations into large-scale parks?
Answer: Beauty is famously in the eye of the beholder. Your city’s overall attractiveness is influenced by many different factors, of which decorations are one. Creating a system that judges attractiveness by a set of very strict rules (for example via layout and geometry) could limit player’s creativity, and would likely end in all “attractive” cities looking similar to each other. The way the system calculates the attractiveness gain of ornaments is the ratio between decoration and population. If you city grows bigger, you will need to construct more decorative objects and parks to keep your culture bonus.
We will share more information about the behavior of your visitors very soon.

Theatralix I am still unclear on what the exact benefits are. Is having the most attractive island just (as hinted at by the blog) another endgame goal besides economic domination or having the strongest fleet?
Answer: Raising your cities attractiveness and luring in visitors is more than just a (admittedly very lucrative) source of income. It will also affect some diplomatic interactions with other characters, and give you access to some rare and helpful items. Who knows, maybe your city may end up being so attractive that some of your visitors will be tempted into permanently settling in and sharing their skills with you?

Rick_Rickleston Will some of the factors taking into consideration or city attractiveness also be visualized in the game? For example, air pollution? Will areas with higher pollution look a bit shabbier and run down, as in Anno 2070? Seeing the environment changed by pollution was one of my personal highlights of that game?
Answer: Visual feedback, such as fumes from your nearby industry or city ruins will be an important indicator for the player to detect pollution or other unpleasant influence on your city.

Jinkha5 Is there a global attractiveness rating for players? I could see myself building an attractive main island, but prioritizing productivity on my secondary islands.
Answer: We love enjoying the beautiful aspects of the world. So if you take great pains to outsource a large part of your productivity and set up complex supply lines, it is only fair that you earn the rewards. In other words: city attractiveness is measured per individual island, while some of your fellow governors will also take the overall state of your empire into account. 

SersSers2010 What benefits are there to reaching a new level of attractiveness? Will parks have maintenance costs? And how about the decorations?
Answer: When reaching higher city attractiveness levels, you will be rewarded with special items and unlocks. As an example, special ornaments will be only accessible with higher attractiveness tiers. Parks won’t have upkeep costs. The construction space in Anno is a rare resource and because of that, we think that the in materials, money and space is already quite an investment.

Sauerbraten95 You mentioned ruins several times in your blog. Will there be other incidents besides fires that can cause your buildings to turn into ruins, and will players always have to remove them?
Answer: We will discuss what incidents will contribute to your islands insecurity and can cause ruins in the future. For a topic like this, we greatly prefer to show you pictures rather than just words.

FaNt0mIc What has happened to the time-honored Anno tradition of the Jorgensens? Will it continue or not?
Answer: It is true that this is one name that seems to keep popping up in the chronicles of the Anno series. Maybe we should task one of our resident chroniclers to look into this phenomenon…

Endophyte After just going bankrupt again because I wanted to try something new in Anno 2205, I have one absolute no-go for Anno 1800- the save system. Will you stick to just auto saves, or are manual saves back as well?
Answer: We realize that a lot of work can go into one of your Anno-sessions. That is why we want to support manual saves so y can try new things, or relive a momentous milestone over and over again.

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DevBlog: Beauty Building Part 1 – City Attractiveness

Anno is a strategy series that asks its players to manage complex economies and to build vast cities. Since its the beginning, the franchise has always occupied a special place in the hearts of players who love spending hours creating stunning city dioramas from different eras, be It futuristic or historic.

While past Anno games have offered a variety of aesthetic buildings and ornaments to support that playstyle, the focus of the core gameplay always favored efficient city layouts and optimized production chains. With Anno 1800, we finally want to give those players with an eye for beauty the option to turn their beauty building into a valid and rewarding playstyle.

City Attractiveness – Power to the beauty builders
With Anno 1800, we are introducing a new system called “City Attractiveness”, which assigns every island its own attractiveness rating, which will affect various aspects of the gameplay.
Six different criteria will have a positive or negative effect on the overall attractiveness level of your island. Three positive aspects will raise your level when reaching a certain threshold of points, while the three opposing negative ones can cause a downgrade of your city rating.
This will elevate beauty building to an engaging endgame activity where reaching the highest attractiveness level becomes a challenge in itself. Reaping the harvest of your efforts will be quite rewarding, as it gives you access to special benefits such as unique visitors, among them specialist which can boost certain aspects of your city.
Let’s talk about the three different positive criteria first, as they give a good overview how you can actually influence the beauty of your island:

Culture: The cultural rating consist of all the cultural elements you have placed on your island, such as ornaments and cultural buildings. With that, you can not only boost your rating significantly with a well-planned park area, but can also benefit from transforming otherwise wasted spaces between production buildings with small ornaments and decals. Large projects like the world fair or special attractions like the zoo will not only be popular destinations for your own residents, but will as also attract generous visitors to your metropolis.

Nature: The industrial revolution changed not only our society, but also the surrounding environment significantly. With the expansion of modern industry, untouched and serene nature increasingly became a rarity. Every bit of natural landscape left on your island will benefit the nature rating which will naturally go down as your expanding city takes its toll. We will go more into detail about the nature feature at a future point, but we are planning that the player can have a direct impact on that rating by deciding to make room for Mother Nature by removing industry and other buildings.

Festivity: You remember how we emphasized that you are the writer of your own story and that your actions will decide if your people will see you as their progressive savior or as a robber baron? If you care about the happiness of your residents, supporting all their needs and providing them worthwhile distractions and attractions, your people will show their gratitude. Celebrations held by your happy citizen or from events such as the grand opening of the world fair will boost the attractiveness of your city greatly and impress tourists on your island. Similar to city incidents such as the Riot, celebrations will get a lavish visual representation.

The three positive criteria cover a variety of ways how maintaining a pleasant look-and-feel of your city will attract visitors. But rather than just adding attractiveness points in a linear manner, there are also three criteria which will have a negative influence and could even downgrade the attractiveness level of your island:

Inelegance: Certain buildings are simply not a good looker. A strolling pedestrian might not be very font of the scent of a pig farm and the remnants of ruined buildings will damage the scenic look of your city. The system calculates the amount of unpleasant, noise producing and even smelly buildings- the odor of a 19th century soap factory is something for the faint of heart, or stomach.

Pollution: Every production building has a certain pollution factor, indicated by a variety of visual feedback. While some smaller production and manufacturing buildings might only blow a small amount of white smoke out of their chimneys, the black clouds coming from full-blown industrial districts are not kind to the lungs of your residents.

Instability: City incidents such as groups of demonstrators rioting through the streets are a rather unsettling experience. From civil unrest to blazing fires, every kind of incident will have a negative impact on the attractiveness of your city, albeit a (hopefully!) temporary one.

Find your own playstyle
Influencing criteria creates a balancing act, in which every positive aspect has its own counterpart. You can imagine them as three axis: culture against inelegance, nature against pollution and festivity against instability. Here are a few example how this can encourage a certain playstyle:

Culture versus Inelegance: Will you spend time to beautify your city with ornaments and cultural buildings or do you not care about that, leaving ruins or dirty buildings on your island. The fundamental question: are you a beauty builder at heart or someone who does not care about the aesthetic look of your city?

Natural Landscape versus Pollution: While humankind was always interfering with Mother Nature for its own needs, it was the industrial age where exploitation began at a previously unimaginable scale. Do you want to be the magnate, repressing nature for your steaming industrial machine, or an idealist who wants to preserve the slowly dwindling natural landscape as much as possible?

Festivity versus Instability: Are you a progressive thinker, who roots with his residents like a father who takes care of his children or the robber baron who dominates everyone for power and profit. It’s up to you how your residents will remember you.

While every positive criteria has its own counterpart, it does not mean that you have to strictly counter one element with another. Your city can be a true sanctum for culture and architectural wonders while an ocean of industrial chimneys belches black clouds into the sunny sky. As the attractiveness level is an accumulated value, you don’t have to reduce the amount of factories to benefit your cultural buildings; your marvelous parks can also be supported by the natural habitat of a nearby mountain range or by happy citizen celebration their benevolent governor.

You tell your own story – you create your own playstyle in Anno 1800
With our new feature, classic endgame activities such as controlling the worlds economy or military domination get additional company and with that, expand Anno’s gameplay quite significantly. 
We want to create a meaningful gameplay feature for every Anno player, where keeping your city at a high attractiveness level is a challenge with different rewarding outcomes. Moreover, as we always like to emphasize how the world of Anno shall remember your actions, the attractiveness level will affect your reputation and standing with other second party characters.
We briefly mentioned visitors and large-scale projects like the zoo. Only two of the many features, which are not only new to the world of Anno, but are also intricately connected to the city attractiveness of your island. With our next DevBlog, we want to talk about another fundamental, albeit more familiar feature in Anno 1800 but we will come back to you with the second part of the beauty-building highlight in the very near future.

While you probably picture visitors strolling around your parks, leaving a small fortune in your cities treasury, we are curious about your comments on the new feature. As you might see, it is a significant addition to the gameplay and such your comments can become a valuable pool of ideas and feedback for our team. We are looking forward to your comments!

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Union Update: How we make decisions

The impact of the Anno Union on our development decisions
In the past, we have often talked how cooperating with the community is an immense help for us in the development of Anno 1800. Given some of the reactions to last week’s DevBlog, we want to talk about this a bit more today.

Thanks to everyone here on the dev team at Ubisoft Blue Byte Mainz working together, we have so far been able to share close to 70 blogs, as well as streams and events with you all since we kicked off the Anno Union- which is a very rare level of information for a game so early in development. In turn, your reactions and comments to these blogs provide us with a large pool of feedback to work with. It is not uncommon for some of these suggestions to make it right onto our Development Roadmap.

Sometimes we are looking for concrete focused answers to our questions, while at other times we are seeking a large amount of more unfiltered thoughts from the community. By inviting community members to the studio, we get an additional spotlight and point of view on certain situations. Sadly, some commenters reacting to our last DevBog read this as the comments in the Anno Union being less relevant- we want to absolutely emphasize that this is not the case. We received hundreds of comments with ideas and suggestions on the topic of land-based combat, all of which we filed for reports that were presented to the team for analysis. Personal discussions and focus groups with Union members are an additional feedback loop beyond – not instead of – online comments for us. We also try to ensure that we have a good variety of player types and age groups for such discussions, to give us a good range of opinions on the topics.

We consider community feedback for all of our decisions; however, in most cases it cannot be the sole deciding factor, especially when it comes to features that based on their complexity would affect countless other aspects of the game. With the Anno Union, we are inviting players to become part of our team, and to influence certain game content and features through their feedback and votes. However, a project of this size and logistical complexity cannot be realized without some decision makers who bear the responsibility in the end. To succeed, we have to carefully balance many creative aspects with the realities of their associated production costs and timelines. The hardest decisions are of course always those where we know that they will disappoint some of our fans. Unfortunately, implementing all the feedback and especially the many all-new ideas and suggestions from the community is simply not feasible within a realistic timeframe and budget.

Was land-based combat never considered before and how are you not able to find a working design?
Since the beginning of the project, we have considered different ways to integrate land-based combat to the game as an enriching addition to the gameplay. Despite our efforts, we had to realize that fully developing this part of the game would not be possible to integrate without necessitating steep cuts to other parts of the game. The early decision to cut out land-based combat allowed us to create a more refined naval combat system and to expand on many other features of Anno 1800’s core gameplay and content.
After last fall’s announcement and the resulting feedback, our team started to work on several concepts based on our experience and expectations from our communities. Creating a working design concept is only one thing; the accompanying production effort and ressources are an entirely different beast. Even if we would technically be able to just copy the land-based combat from Anno 1701 or 1404, it would still result in a major effort to adapt the system for Anno 1800. We are not talking about balancing of the production chains and creating the underlying game logic for the combat system, we would need to spend major resources on coding, creation of assets, animating of units as well as changing all system, which are affected by the land-based combat.

Where’s the information on the naval battles?
After the introduction of our basic concepts back in November, it has been our goal that the next update on the naval battles will not just describe them in words, but also shows it in action. Videos and screenshots will ensure that the next DevBlog on the naval battles will not only put you in the right mood, but will also give you a proper understanding of the feature. Despite this, it was very important to us to be transparent with the community, and to share the news on the omission of land-based combat as soon as possible.

Similar to the classic Anno games, naval battles will take place In the middle of your colonized game world and will offer enough complexity and tactical variety to ensure that both battles on the high seas, and around your harbors are exciting and varied. We have to ask you for a little more patience until we can give you a detailed look at how all of this will work in Anno 1800. Your many comments have already given us some very valuable feedback, and some suggestions and ideas are already being implemented into the naval battles.

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DevBlog: An update on military in Anno 1800

Today, we want to give you an update on the status of military gameplay and land-based combat in Anno 1800.

Last Fall, we kicked off the topic of military gameplay in Anno 1800 with two blogs here on the Union (The Art of War Part One and Two), where we examined the history of combat and its various incarnations in the series over the years. We also announced that we had decided to focus on a great city-building and economic experience, as well as on expanded and more in-depth naval combat, while not adding land-based combat to Anno 1800. However, as a result of the passionate community feedback to this announcement on the Anno Union, we promised that we would revisit this decision and to explore possible ways to add land-based combat.

Since then, we spent a lot of time discussing your reactions while also inviting Anno veterans from the Union to the studio to discuss the military aspects of the Anno series. Based on the extensive feedback from our communities, we worked on possible game design approaches that would allow us to add land-based combat that would meet the expectations of our fans, while not having a negative impact on the quality and scope of our other planned content and features.

Given the community feedback to Anno 2205, our main priority for 1800 is to deliver a great city-building game that offers fans all the gameplay depth and replayability that they have come to expect from the Anno brand over the past 20 years. At the same time, we also need to ensure that everything that is added to the game meets the high quality standards that we as a development team pride ourselves on. Sadly, none of the possible scenarios and game designs we have worked on over the past months would meet the quality bar we are aiming for without negatively affecting other features. At the same time, cutting back on the gameplay depth of the core economic aspects of Anno in favor of a military system that we know many of our players do not use would be a disservice to our mission to deliver a stand-out city-building game. Therefore, as a team we have decided to stick to our initial plan of focusing on improved naval combat, and will not add land-based combat to Anno 1800 for its launch.

We understand that this is not what some of you in the community were hoping for, but with the Anno Union, we are big believers in transparency and being upfront with our players, even when delivering news that we know some of you will find disappointing. We look forward to sharing much more information about all aspects of Anno 1800, including the improved naval combat and how island take-overs will work, with you all in the coming months, as we get closer to the game’s release.

The Anno 1800 Team

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Union Update: Web update, island contest and more

This week in the Anno Union, we have some teases for upcoming content coming in April, an update to our website backend and the final winner of the island contest.
Reaching the third residential tier allows players to advance to the mid-game of Anno 1800 and with that, the gameplay opens up significantly. After last week’s DevBlog, we are now able to talk about some of these features, which add several layers of gameplay options and complexity to Anno’s gameplay formula. During Spring and the season to come, many DevBlogs will cover these features in detail, demonstrating our teams focus on versatile gameplay and quality.

As we speak about residential tiers, the detailed feedback regarding the public building for our farmers was incredibly valuable for us. It was not just the different suggestions from the Anno Union, but also the detailed discussions which gave us some great ideas what you expect and see fit for the first residential tier. We will give you an update about that soon and are eager to invite the Anno Union for future content discussions.

Changes to our web backend
We will perform a web update on our Anno Union backend tomorrow. The update will roll out

Tuesday 10th of April at 9 AM CEST/ 3AM EST/ 12AM PST

This process should not take longer than one day. During the update process, the Anno Union website and its content will not be accessible.

While the update will not add new content or functionalities to the website, it is an important preparation step for the upcoming second Anno Union web content update, which will bring some significant improvements and changes to the website. We are looking forward to sharing more details about the upcoming new content, visuals and functionalities of the Anno Union community hub in upcoming Union Updates.

Our Island Contest has a winner!
It was probably as hard for you all to decide which of the finalist you would vote for as it was for us to pick the final list out from the almost 100 submissions. While we usually give a week’s time before we close a contest, GMExpresso’s island has a strong lead with 41 % of all votes, followed by MW.TRIBUNS Island with 26%.

A big “thank you” to all the participation in the Island contest, from everyone sharing their submissions to every single vote given.

Our team is eager to work on the community island based on GMExpresso’s design. To be able to put as much love into that project as possible, we decided to close the vote today.
As always, we will provide updates on the status of the island and already working on the next community vote.

Anno 1602 20th Annoversary
If you missed our Anno 1602 20th Annoversary stream, we got you covered! Join us on our trip down to memory lane, when veteran gamedev and new talents came together to celebrate two decades of Anno. Watch the recorded broadcast here, in full 4:3 pixel precise definition:

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DevBlog: Artisans, the beautiful minds

Head into your local coffee shop, the one with the vapers and twee chalkboards outside, and you might see a stressed-looking fellow dancing between customers, trying not to let his meticulously-managed coiffure and beard slip a pixel. Ask him for “just-any-tea”, and you may expect a look of disbelief, for this fellow is an Artisan, a perfectionist, and a romantic.

So indeed are Anno 1800’s Artisans. Flitting between on-the-knees despair and giddy delirium in the blink of an eye, they are the embodiment of romanticism in the 19th Century. It is distant dream-like idylls, wood nymphs, cherubs and the livid demons of purgatory from which they take their inspiration. Their work is art. More than the product of an education and practiced technique. So bound are they to their craft, they feel there is no choice but to pursue it, even if it means living in abject poverty.

And yet they have, for the moment, escaped that net. They have crawled up from the abyss – the world of cramped factories and back-breaking labour – and found some sense of dignity and freedom of expression. As a consequence, they are living out a contradiction – being eternally grateful while maintaining unreasonably high standards (for themselves as much as anything).

They are the middle class, the in-betweeners, those tugged in two directions. Mistreat them and they shall throw themselves into spiny thickets, please them, and they shall celebrate you like the god of a classical pantheon.

And for goodness` sake don’t let them recite any of their dreadful poetry…

A design for the beautiful minds of the 19th century
Adept Craftsmen. Swinging middle-class. That sweet glimpse of prosperity for a commonality driven by their creativity. Artisans are aesthetes, their mind enabled by all the new possibilities at the dawn of a new age. But they are also aware that their success is built upon hard developed skills and techniques, not to forget their often underestimated capabilities of running a smart business. Their crafted goods are a marvel of modern techniques and materials, paired with their love for art and an incredible eye for detail. And as the new good middle-class, they build a bridge between the simple country-folk, working people and the aloof elite in their marble towers.

While the look on their face might appear presumptuous, their lifestyle does not come from an aristocratic legacy and their self-esteem surely not just from lucky inheritance. We wanted that the artful folk transmit that feeling of hard-earned skill and prestige, while still being rooted in the common folk rather than an elite build on aristocracy.

Their various crafts was on high demand in the modernizing society, and observing their portrait and other concepts of their character designs should tell that they are aware of that demand.
They demonstrate confidence but have also that skeptical look, wearing an apron during the day and a sassy jacket in the long nights, exploring exotic specialties or being on their quest for inspiration in the newly opened cabaret.

Artisans are expressive, playful and interested in anything exotic and new. They are intellectual and eccentric, but share a grounded nature – this all should show in their residential buildings. If you so will, their houses full of excitement for everything new in this century of wonder. After you spent the last tier creating your industrial backbone, reaching the third tier should feel like a reward for your eyes and represent all the new things awaiting the player.

Gameplay, a bouquet of possibilities
You can say that the first two tiers are still the early game portion of Anno 1800, as you establish the core infrastructure for your city. Unlocking the Artisans as the third residential tier starts the venture through the mid-game, where growing your city to a true metropolis will put your previously developed skills to the test and give you access to new features, which add complexity but also further strategic options.
The Artisans are an educated middle-class with a hunger for the wide world which results in more sophisticated and harder to fulfil needs. Goods become modern and exotic and we want to challenge the skill of the player with more intricate production chains.

The invention of steel beams allowed modern architecture to develop and strive but it was use of mass fabricated glass and ornate windows, which resulted in modern and visionary cityscapes. When reaching the third tier, glass windows get introduced as the new construction material and producing them will be a joint effort of all your workforce types.

With three different workforce tiers, which intertwine on complex production chains, you can now start to use the workforce system to its full potential. Boosting the output of specific productions can make the difference between an optimized industry and spacious production districts. Especially players who want to focus on trading can boost their workforce on specific parts of their production, in order to trade overhead while still giving your city the needed room to grow.  
As more Artisans settle in your city, you will get access to more modern production and public buildings. That added complexity comes with new features and options, new tools to develop and support your own playstyle. Special buildings, items and other technical marvels will be able to boost your production, influencing your residence or raising the attractiveness of your city.

As the third tier is called Artisans for a reason, it surely cannot all revolve around industry and economy. It is the third tier where you can start to make a profit from the attractiveness of your city.
The beautiful minds among your residents will gladly share their craft to making your metropole more appealing and as a result, attracting visitors who gladly spend their dime on the attractions you provide. From ornamental decals or tackling impressive projects like the zoo, you start to have a significant impact on the look and feel of your city.

Plenty of new features on the horizon
Items to customize your playstyle or attracting visitors with big projects like the zoo is only a small teaser on many new features, which will have a significant impact on the gameplay. From planning, construction, modifying and acquiring the needed items, every one of them provides enough material for its own dedicated Devblog. With the introduction of the artisans, we opened the door to the wonders of a new and changing world and with upcoming articles; we will open more and more showrooms to cover the features in detail.
From all the mentioned new gameplay elements, what tickles you fancy? Do you want to know more about how beauty building and attractions create empower new playstyles, or how the modernization of your society provide new technology and ways to customize and boost your economy?

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