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Month: November 2018

DevBlog: Back-Room Politics

Hi, my name is Andrea, and I’m the Game Designer for Anno 1800’s Diplomacy feature. I’m pretty new to the Anno team, as I only joined in January of this year. Since I grew up with Anno, starting with Anno 1602 when it came out, I am still super thrilled to now work on this series myself! How cool is that?

I love city builders and management games, and adventures in the broadest sense. Recently I played They Are Billions, Project Highrise, The Red Strings Club and Deltarune.

The 19th century – a century of back-room politics
Creating a metropolis from rags to riches is one thing, doing that while competing with other characters over territories is where the Anno series stands out. During your journey through the world of Anno’s depiction of a 19th century, you will meet many different ambitious or even ambiguous personalities. It is up to you if you approach them as an opportunist seeking a profitable trading alliance or as a ruthless warmonger trying to dominate the other factions.
To breathe life into the world of Anno 1800, every single character not only has a standing with the player character, but also with each other, ranging from love triangles to hate relationships.
Every non-player character populating your island world has its own unique personality traits, and our diplomacy system allows you to interact with them in various ways: from forging alliances to raging relentless war campaigns.

How will the world remember you? – Anno 1800’s reputation system  
The motor of our system is fueled by reputation, which represents your standing among the various second party characters as well as Anno’s ruthless pirates. Neutral factions are an exception as they are not in an active competition with the player and therefore are not part of the diplomacy system.
But more than just a rating for the players standing, reputation also takes the relationship between the non-player characters into account. The rating itself is in constant flux, as war driven actions of one character will constantly affect the opinion and therefore the reputation with another second party who dreams of a peaceful economic utopia. The longer the game goes, the more likely it is both characters will break their treaties, and even start their own personal war against each other.

Reputation is also the deciding factor for any diplomatic action in the game, which allow you to negotiate different treaties with the second party characters or pirates.
Here a quick look on our Anno 1800 diplomacy window. 

Raging war or forming alliances – Treaties
There are four different treaties in Anno 1800. The success of signing a treaty depends on the reputation between characters as well as on their personality. A leery character might be way more open in engaging in a trading agreement than a selfish baron. Let’s have a look:

“Alliance” – Allies will protect your ships and harbors when under attack. When you declare war on somebody, your allies will follow you into war. Forging an alliance usually requires a high reputation between the involved parties.

“Trade Rights” – Easier to achieve as an alliance, this treaty allows you to trade goods with the involved party.

“Peace” – A peace treaty ensures that both parties are not engaging in any combat actions against each other. The treaty is effective until one of the two factions breaks the peace condition, namely by declaring war.

“War” – When declaring war on a party, your ships can attack all vessels of the other party. Any trading relationships cease with immediate actions, and other parties who might be in an alliance with your now declared enemy might also support the war effort of their ally. So you better check twice who might be your enemies!

In addition, there are pacts in the game which are agreed on only for a limited amount of time. While such a temporary pact is effective, both parties are unable to declare war on each other. This pact cannot be broken by either of the parties before time runs out. This is very helpful when you know that for the next minutes a surprise war declaration of that double-minded brute Alonso would ruin your day.

Family ties and popularity contests – Diplomatic negotiations
The likeliness of negotiations being successful is determined by the reputation rating. Naturally, it is in the interest of the player to change the standing with a character to have a higher chance for negotiations to result in the desired trade agreement or even an alliance.

The other party might just agree, or just say no. As a third option, the other party might request money in addition to the new treaty. This depends on the other character’s traits and his or her own “point of accepting” this treaty.

Depending on the character themselves, they might also ask *you* for a treaty instead. This will of course only happen with friendly characters that want to make progress through this treaty – or who only want to protect themselves via a Non-Aggression Pact for example.

For all decisions, depending on it being a military or an economic issue, the diplomacy parties will consider how much stronger or weaker they are than you. Friendly and easy characters will not deeply care how much wealthier they are than you when thinking about accepting trade rights. Strong and stern characters on the other hand will carefully think about a request for peace, and only accept it if they are way inferior to you.

Changing your reputation – Diplomatic actions

So how do you influence the other parties’ reputation towards you? There are four direct ways:

  1. Flatter – A compliment here, a compliment there… Just don’t overuse it so that the other party gets tired and will even dislike you more.
  2. Insult – A good way to ruin your reputation. But hey, maybe you want them to declare the war on you, so it might save your standing with other characters who won’t blame you!
  3. Offer a gift – Who doesn’t like money offered for free? Well, some characters in Anno 1800 actually don’t like to be bribed, so you won’t get far with them by using money.
  4. Complete a quest – For some, actions speak louder than words. Finish a quest for them to win their favor. But don’t abandon or fail it! That certainly wouldn’t be please your would-be friend.

Apart from these direct actions, there are also some several passive, let’s say “hidden” actions. That’s also why we are not going to spoil too many examples here…

Artur Gasparov, the visionary architect, will love the effort you put into an impressive museum. On the other hand, his standing to you will sink if you build a lot of factories – pollution is a gross and detestable thing for Artur.

As a visionary architect, Gasparov is not really a fan of your unsightly factories!

Alonso, the war-hungry maniac, will grow to like you more when you start a war with another party. And Beryl O’Mara, the lady of organized crime, will not like it if you declare war on her underling Willie Wibblesock.

“You want to declare war on my dear Willie? NOT WITH ME!” In Anno 1800, different characters have various relationships or even feuds linked to their backstory. 

What kind of diplomat are you in the Anno games? Do you want to be friends and allies with everybody, or with just the ones you like the most? Or are you excited for the challenge of war and want to fight everyone? Tell us in the comments!

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Announcement: Upcoming Technical Test (Updated)

Brace for the Anno 1800 Technical Test

As previously alluded to, we are currently preparing a much larger Technical Test than our previous Diary Studies. And if you are be one of the chosen many, you won’t have to wait much longer, as this test will take place end of November!

A few things to keep in mind:
–          It’s a Technical Test: You should expect that some things in the game will (and sometimes even should!) break. This test is intended to give us valuable insights into topics like balance and game performance. It won’t be representative of the final polished game you will be able to enjoy next year (and which will be even better thanks to all of you helping us with this test).

–          NDA: Should you be selected to participate in the Technical Test, you will have to agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). That means that you are not allowed to talk about the game outside our special Technical Test forums, and you are not allowed to post any pictures, videos or to stream the game. We appreciate that you are excited to play the game and to share your experience with others, but given that this is a Technical Test where we know things will break, this is not the time to do so.

–          The Technical Test won’t include the entire game. Players will be limited to Citizen Tiers 1-3, and the Campaign won’t be playable.

We will send out invites to Union members a few days prior to the Test’s start, so keep an eye out to see if you are among the chosen ones. We look forward to seeing many of you in the game, and are thankful for your help in making sure Anno 1800 will be the best possible experience for all Anno fans when it ships on February 26th.

Update: 

Registration

As we are seeing a lot of questions around the registration process for the Technical Test: Anyone who has registered here on the Anno Union using their Uplay-Account has a chance to be invited. You can do so here: https://www.anno-union.com/en/register/

This is also true for new registrations. So if you haven’t registered for testing yet- now would be an excellent time to do so 🙂

System Requirements for the Technical Test

We have also been asked a lot about the system requirements for the Technical Test. So here is what we recommend for participating in the test:

Current Minimum Specs:

CPU: Intel i5 3470 or AMD FX 6350

RAM: 8 GB

GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 670 GTX or AMD Radeon R9 285

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (all 64-bit)

Hard Drive: 46 GB

Current Recommended Specs:

CPU: Intel i5 4690k or AMD Ryzen 5 1400

RAM: 8 GB

GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 970 GTX or AMD Radeon RX 480

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (all 64-bit)

Hard Drive: 46 GB

DISCLAIMER: THERE ARE NOT THE FINAL REQUIREMENTS! As Anno 1800 is still in the middle of development and performance optimization, you should not consider these specs to be representative of the final game. This test specifically should help us to find some areas where we can further improve the game’s performance.

Language

We are also in the middle of game localization, which means that the Technical Test will unfortunately only be available in English. Once Anno 1800 launches next year, you will be able to lead the industrial Revolution in the following languages:

Fully localized text and audio: English, French, German, Russian

Fully localized text: Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Chinese (simplified and traditional)

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Union Update: Time to catch your breath

Has it really only been a week since last week’s Union Update? Time sure flies when you are as busy as we are. The final months of game development can be an exhilarating roller-coaster ride, but there is something quite magical about seeing the different strands of your game finally all coming together. And believe us, with a game as feature-rich as Anno 1800, that means a lot of strands to work with!

Between the actual development and the travel that is often necessary for various team members in the lead up to a big release, we unfortunately sometimes have less time to bring you new insights on the Union (though we have a feeling that you agree that we should first focus on finishing the game).

To cut to the chase – we will not have a new DevBlog for you all this week. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming next week with a look at Diplomacy in Anno 1800.

Community Spotlight
This week, we want to put the spotlight on the Facebook Group “Anno Polonia“, a polish-speaking Community:

Hej Annoholicy z Polski,
Znacie język polski i checie poznać innych fanów Anno z waszego kraju? Sprawdźcie Anno Polonia na Facebooku! Jest to nowa, ciągle rosnąca grupa, dzięki której będziecie nie tylko na bieżąco z Anno-News, ale również będziecie mieli szansę porozmawiać z innymi fanami Anno.

Stream Highlights
However, as we do not want to leave you completely devoid of any Anno-tainment this week, you can relive your favorite memories from last week’s AnnoCast 6 with us:






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Union Update: Sic parvis magna

Yo ho! This week we’ll feature not one but two streams, our game development show AnnoCast as well as our community favorite AnnoAfternoon.

Last week, we’ve shown off our two Pirate captains, Anne Harlow and Jean La Fortune. We were especially happy to see some of the feedback we’ve gotten to their island designs and that you like their stories. Mind you, these will not be the last of the NPCs you’ll get to see!
Furthermore, the blog has shown that many of you are curious about the various possibilities to interact with the different AI characters of the game. A diplomacy blog is currently in the making and will shed some light on the various interactions with future to be enemies, allies or trading partners.

Streaming Schedule!
Without further ado, here comes this week’s streaming schedule. You can find the Events with their times also listed on Twitch by clicking the links, which allows you to set up a reminder when the streams are about to start.

AnnoCast Episode 06 – SIC PARVIS MAGNA
When
: Thursday, November 8th, 4.30PM CET / 10.30AM ET
Where: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte
In the next episode of our Anno 1800 stream, we will start a completely new settlement, from our first farm houses to the technical marvels of the first industrial revolution.

This week, we will not have a QnA in this blog due to the stream, though you will have the opportunity to ask us questions live during the stream. So what are you waiting for? Let us know your most burning questions in the comments below and we make sure that we take some time during the show to bring you the answers!

AnnoAfternoon – Anno 2070
When
: Saturday, November 10th, 5PM CET / 11:00AM EST
Where: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte
This week, John from the Community Team will fly (swim? sail?) solo on this week’s AnnoAfternoon and continue where he left off two weeks ago. For those who might have missed it: The AnnoAfternoon is now every second and fourth week of a month.
We hope to see the first underwater settlement in the game by the end of this stream and maybe someone will finally show Hector that we have the strongest navy.

Community Highlights
While we don’t have a QnA in this weeks blog, want to show you some cool content we’ve seen from our community:

Bambierfurts Facts Telegram
Where: twitter.com/bambierfurt
Language: German

Many Annoholics count the days until February 26th. Bambierfurt goes one step further and brings you interesting Annofacts daily.

KatherineOfSky’s Anno 2070 Multiplayer Tutorial
Whereyoutube.com/KatherineOfSky
Language: English

KatherineOfSky, or KoS, loves to play building games and recently created a Anno 2070 Multiplayer Tutorial, which might even teach Anno 2070 veterans something new.

RhetioTVs Annolyse
Where: youtube.com/RhetioTV
Language: German

You like the Anno Union but you don’t have the time to read it all? RhetioTV is not only giving you an overview of the latest Anno Union Blogs, but doesn’t shy away from speculating a bit.

Those were just a few examples of what we liked this week. But let us turn this around now and ask you, what Anno-related content you like to check out, when you’re not building cities yourself? Do you prefer to watch a livestream? Have an Anno-blogger you follow? Someone who makes really good Anno-memes that make you smile?
Let us know down in the comments and we hope to see you tomorrow and on Saturday!

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DevBlog: Hoist the colors high

For centuries, pirates acted as privateers for aristocratic powers; henchmen that were often handsomely rewarded in blood money for their merciless deeds. But in the wake of the industrial revolution, the influence of the noble families was slowly dwindling and all of a sudden, stability was a much healthier and more sustainable motor for the modern economy than the disruption caused by constant fighting over trading routes.
The once-predators of the high sea became the hunted, and over the course of a few decades their centuries long legacy became mostly relegated to bedtime stories in romanticized novels.
The age of piracy was over, but the pirates of Anno 1800 won’t fade without a fight.

Overrun, but never outdone
Pirates have always been an important part of the Anno experience and even though the 19th century was the dawn of a new age, buccaneers will still populate your sessions to pester your and the other AI character’s trading ambitions. But more than just a serious threat for your fleets, Anno 1800’s pirates are real characters with their own flair, background and even their own ambitions.
As they are a part of our diplomacy system, they offer more game interaction than just simple combat. Even pirates have their own code of honor, but forming a fragile alliance with the outlaws won’t be easy to achieve. If you are willing to pay the price, they might allow you safe voyage through their territory, but keep in mind that they will remember how you treated them in previous encounters.

At the same time, they are cunning business people, and always have to find a new buyer for their illicit goods. If you visit their islands on good terms, they will not only offer their goods and items but are also happy to sell you some of their previously captured ships – including some real rarities you won’t be able to build in your shipyards.

Anne Harlow – The Banshee of the Old World
Young Anne’s future was paved in gold as her noble lineage guaranteed her a place among the powerful families of the Old World. But fate can be as cruel as it can be generous, even to those living in the ivory tower. Overnight Anne’s once prosperous future fell into ruin as a mad aristocrat convicted her father of treason.
And so, Anne Harlow became a fallen angel roaming the seas to seek vengeance for her family.
With the determination of an avenging banshee, she gathered a following of seasoned buccaneers, willing to follow her to the end of the world.

Anne and her fleet still haunts the waters of the old world, and while her fierce nature won’t make it easy to forge a peace agreement with her, it also makes her somewhat predictable. Once thing, however, is certain: she won’t quietly fade in history before taking bloody revenge on the nobles who ruined her family’s honor.

Jean La Fortune – The Wolf of the New World
It is one thing to fight for yourself, but another to you put your life on the line for someone else. Jean’s story is not so much a personal tragedy as a passionate dream of independence and freedom. And for that, he is willing to take on anyone and everyone to fulfill this dream. But it is not easy to life the life of an outlaw, especially if your dream puts the life of your family on the line.
When sailing under the black flag, his mind is always with his beloved wife and kids at home, well knowing that every battle could be the end for him as he takes the fight time and time again to a crumbling oppressive empire. As a man with strong convictions and principles, Jean is less aggressive than the vengeful Anne, though you may find him much harder to predict.

Where we will, we’ll roam
Are you looking forward to some good ol’ swashbuckling with pesky pirate fleets? Who were your favorite pirate antagonist in previous Anno games? We are looking forward to your Anno pirate stories and of course, your feedback on Anne and Jean who raise the black flag in a time where the old legends were slowly fading.

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