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Month: October 2019

Union Update: Stream and Community Update

We’re back once more with a community update and some info on what to expect from us in the near future.

Anno Afternoon Stream

This Friday, Seraxia and Thorlof will put their creative hats on (most likely not literally) in another Anno Afternoon and try something completely different. You want to know more? Then don’t miss out this special livestream episode and tune on the 25th at 4PM UTC+1 (5PM CEST).

And if you got any cool or funny ideas for future streams, what better opportunity to share them with us than this Friday?

Playtest beginning next week!

As you all know the next playtest is just around the corner and as we work together with the community to get a jam-packed Game Update 6 ready for December, we will take a short break from Union blogs in the upcoming week. But worry not, we will be back soon with community news and new game information.

And we already got some exciting news this week! Keep an eye on your inbox, cause for a first wave of players the the playtest will already start next week – more invite-waves will follow.

We’re very much looking forward to your feedback. So, when we’re already talking about GU6 and The Passage, why not hop over to Reddit. Some of you already started a discussion about the content of the DLC there. We might have some theories ourselves but it’s far more exciting to read your predictions. Which features and production chains do YOU think will be added with The Passage?

Community Content

Something that impressed all of us quite a bit was jasperwillem not only managing to get this settlement to house Engineers without ever visiting the New World but shortly after also luring Investors into ‘Golden City’.

How many of us spent long nights outsourcing production chains and setting up new trade routes. Or planting hedge rows for hours for that perfect inner-city park or the world’s best botanical garden. We bet there are some quirky challenges or legendary achievements you set yourself in the past or future. So, share them with us in the comments below!

Fitting to last week’s blog about the Day & Night Cycle, we also want to use this blog to share some impressions from the community.
Apparently some of you have a weird fascination with exploding factories…but admittedly, fires look very cool at night:

by cjnewson88
by oksharkchef

WolArn, however, proves, that calm images also have their charm – sunsets usually have:

And bergveld shares a video of his whole city at night with us.

And then, when the sun rises and everyone has to go to work, you’re stuck in a traffic jam. Not much has changed to today.

by Takarazuka012

That’s it for this Community Update. Did you already share your favourite moments with us? Be it day or night, dusk or dawn, we always love to see what fantastic scenes you manage to capture.

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DevBlog: Day & Night

The invention of the light bulb was more than a mere boon to comfort and luxury. This new way of illuminating the darkness was also an inspiring force for creative minds and a motor for the industry, unshackling them from the natural rhythm of day and night. With electricity playing such an important role in Anno 1800’s economy, there was a strong desire from our community to have a true day and night cycle in the game. Finally, this wish became reality with Game Update 4. As the days are getting ever shorter, what better time to shine a light on this major visual update than in today’s DevBlog!

A true passion project for the players – the beginnings

Since the early days of development, we had been toying with the idea to add a day & night cycle to Anno 1800, similar to the one from 2205. In reality, game development often means throwing a lot of ideas onto a wall and then deciding which ones may be a crucial must-have features, while others end up on a potential “nice to have later” list. While the day & night originally did not make the cut, many Union members told us repeatedly that they would love to see a return of that feature to the series.

Therefore, when some members of our art team had a bit of time available after launch, they immediately set out to realize this previously scraped idea from the early days of Anno 1800. This plan was quickly validated by the modding community jumping on the topic, which showed the big interest in having this functionality in Anno 1800.

Let there be light – developing the Day & Night feature

As is often the case, our artists are perfectionists once they have their hearts set on a topic.So it was clear from the get-go that an official day & night cycle could not simply be about adding a dark night, and sun and moon cycles. Instead, almost every asset players can build would have to be reworked to make sure they look their best, no matter the time of day. Ranging from new glowing textures for illuminated windows to tons of new light sources to ships sailing the nocturnal oceans, we added over 1000 new light sources and changed more than 200 existing assets to provide the intended ambience during the night.

We also had to ensure that the new light sources would start shining during specific times of the day and account for the additional gloom of our dusk and sunset scenarios. In the 19th century, cityscapes started to change drastically with the introduction of the lightbulb. We depicted this in the game world with a more blueish tint to our electric light sources, as opposed to the warmer, yellowish light of candles and fireplaces; this way, a heavily industrialized metropolis will look and feel notably different from a rural hamlet’s atmosphere.

Here you can see how we manually setup a new light source!

Our modern cities are awash with artificial light during the night but back then, they were comparatively sparsely illuminated. Once more, we decided for a tradeoff: we wanted to create an appealing contrast to the darkness while we also did not want to outright dismiss that feeling of a gone century in the midst of transformation into the modern world.  

Players would also expect that their city would appear much quieter during the night, but Anno’s cityscapes are normally famously bustling with life. As a result, we had to send our feedback units through another development pass, where we had to reduce the overall amount of residents following their daily business while again, adding and altering light sources. As a result, the streets are less crowded during the late hours. You may also notice some other subtle changes, such as removing the kids from the schoolyard during the night or adding more musicians to the pub to let it appear livelier in the after work hours. 

Our tools allowed us to precisely define the tinting of each time of day.

Finally but crucially, we wanted to give the player full control over the scenery. For that, we had to program the functionality to allow them to change the time of day at their convenience or to go for one of our presets, such as daylight, dusk, dawn or midnight. While we decided to make the night hours shorter than the actual day for gameplay convenience, players would also be able to decide to stop the cycle altogether to enjoy their sunset for as long as they like.

It’s not always style over substance – Impact on Gameplay

While changing hundreds of assets manually was a huge albeit worthwhile task, there was more to it than just adding another layer of visual fidelity.
In a game like Anno, readability is an important factor to provide a satisfying gameplay experience.

While various tooltips and windows help you to keep an overview about events in your empire, the game also transmits a lot of information through visual feedback happening in your city. A night setting naturally makes it much harder to read what is going on, which necessitated the addition of all these new light sources to make sure that you could still identify all buildings, and not lose track of your ships.

We also played around with ideas how the shift from day to the midst of the night could affect gameplay, and while it would open many possibilities, we realized that doing so would simply add a lot of unnecessary micromanagement, without actually benefiting the overall game experience and player fantasy.  

Day & Night, a joint effort

While we have primarily talked about our artists, the day & night update was a collaborative effort from the whole Anno team, drawing on all disciplines from art and engine R&D (research and development) to programming and interface. Judging by the countless of majestically lighted nocturnal cityscapes we have seen online, we are very happy with the results of this effort, and hope you agree as well.

What is your preferred time of day for your empire? And do you make extensive active use of the options available, or do you just roll with the natural rhythm of night and day? Let us know in the comments below!

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GU5.3 and upcoming Playtest

With the release of Game Update 5.3 next week, which was supported by some community members helping us by testing and providing save games affected by issues, we will address the most aggravating issues currently in the game. In addition, with further testing throughout the month of November, we plan to leverage the knowledge of our community once more for “The Passage” and Game Update 6.
 
Game Update 6 and “The Passage” playtest coming in November
Game Update 6 will not only include the co-op mode and statistics feature, it will also release alongside the third and final (not to mention biggest!) Season Pass DLC, “The Passage”. For that, we once more want to invite some testers from the Anno Union to further polish the game experience based on your feedback.

We will test a variety of content and different features to gather data about the stability and quality of Game Update 6. As such, this playtest will be longer than our previous tests, and we are planning to invite several groups throughout November.

The test will be under a strict NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and we will provide access to a closed tester forum for all invited players to discuss and share their feedback.

If you are interested in participating in this playtest, please send an e-mail to union-playtest@bluebyte.de, including the following data

Ubisoft Forum Name
Uplay Name
Country Code

Players who applied and participated in the last co-op test will be automatically added to the pool of potential candidates for the upcoming test. If you applied for the last test, you will not need to send us a new application mail.

We will provide all further details, such as when the test start, how to access the test build and where to post feedback, to the first wave of participants at the end of the month.

Anno 1800 Game Update 5.3 Release Notes

Game Update 5.3 will be released on October 17, at 2pm CEST/ 12pm UTC. The download will be around 1.7GB.

Bring the spirit of October to your cities with the new Halloween billboard ornament.

We have adjusted Hugo Mercier’s Anarchist main story quests, to make them less random and more dependable for players. Here is all you need to know about how these quests will work, going forward:

  • To start or continue the main quest line, you need to be at peace with Hugo Mercier
  • You need to have 60 reputation point with him to do so
  • You need to have at least one Artisan in any of your cities
  • After you finish one of his quests, there is a 30 minute cooldown before the next quest will appear
  • If you cancel or fail one of Dr. Mercier’s quests, you will have to wait for 9 hours of game time before you will receive it again (this is a standard timer used to prevent players from getting swamped with optional quests).
  • Important: You can only have one active quest from Dr. Hugo Mercier at a time, so you will not receive any main story quests while you still have one of his other quests active, or are being offered another quest by him. You can solve or decline them to make space for a new main story quest.

We have fixed several issues that can lead to trains being stuck in the oil harbor.
                However, in the spirit of transparency, we have to say that this has been a very difficult issue to pin down and reproduce, even after analyzing several affected save games from the community. As such, we cannot conclusively promise that it will not appear again in some fringe cases.

Fixed an issue that prevented oil tankers from being manually loaded/ unloaded at oil harbors.

Fixed a separate issue that could prevent oil tankers on trade routes from loading/ unloading properly.

Fixed an issue with entries in the ship list constantly switching places or flickering.

Fixed an issue with duplicate, unnamed ships being stuck on the world map.

Fixed an issue with ships drifting away from their position by themselves.

Fixed an issue with ships on trade routes being stuck on a map border.

Fixed an issue with players being able to see the object menu of a chartered ship.

Fixed an issue with selecting ships for an expedition in the preparations menu.

Ships returning from expeditions will now correctly return to their homeport from which they started their expedition.

Fixed an issue that could change your influence points balance after saving and loading a save game.

Fixed an issue with AI characters having large fleets of duplicate ships.

Fixed an issue with quest objects spawning at sea.

Fixed an issue with quest giving ships not despawning, and subsequently crowding an NPC’s harbor area. Unfortunately, this issue will not remove already spawned ships retroactively. Workaround: Ignoring one of the NPC’s quest chains (quests that have “Part 1, 2, etc.” in their name) will remove all redundant ships.

Fixed an issue in campaign mode, where some of the queen’s ships could become controllable by the player, which could block campaign progress. 

The Shift+V command to change appearance now works properly for depots.

Fixed an issue with quest hint bubbles not being correctly removed, and pointing to invalid positions.

Provided a fallback solution for the Sunken Treasures expedition to unlock Cape Trelawney not triggering properly. This will now unlock the new sessions without having to complete the expedition beforehand.

Fixed an issue with duplicate ships being incorrectly applied to AI trade routes.

Fixed an issue with the campaign quest “Sovereign Aid”, which could lead to a blocker if the player failed the quest.

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The next steps for Anno 1800

Today we want to give you an update on what is next for Anno 1800. We have received a lot of community feedback on Game Update 5, including some issues. The Anno community is at the heart of everything we do, so we are of course committed to improving the quality of all upcoming updates. As such, we have made some changes to our roadmap, which you can find detailed below.

Game Update 5.3 (mid-October)

We are currently working on Game Update 5.3, which we are planning to release in mid-October after extensive additional testing. For this update, we will be focusing on fixing the following issues:

  • Trains getting stuck inside the oil harbor
  • Ships getting stuck at the session border
  • Anarchist Main Story Quests appearing too rarely for some unlucky players
  • NPC characters having large fleets of duplicate ships
  • Ships in the ship list flickering/ switching around
  • Issues with selecting ships when preparing for an expedition
  • Ships returning to the wrong island after an expedition
  • The Shift+V command not working on depots
  • Ships of quest givers not despawning after the quests are finished, which can crowd NPC harbors
  • The Sunken Treasures session of Cape Trelawney being available without first doing the respective expedition
  • Ships drifting/ leaving their positions by themselves
  • Ships duplicating on the world map by registering multiple times for session transfer
  • Influence point balance being affected by saving and loading a game
  • Issues with manually loading/ unloading oil tankers
  • Quest objects spawning in water

Game Update 6 (December)

Game Update 6, including the previously announced co-op mode and statistics system, will be released alongside our third DLC, The Passage, in December. Combining all these content drops into one update will allow us to focus all of our polishing efforts into one release, giving us extra time for additional extensive testing of all the new content and new features. We are also planning to involve some of our Anno Union members in these tests, similar to the co-op technical test we conducted last week (more on that later this month).

We appreciate that some of you are very keen to get your hands on the co-op mode as soon as possible, but we hope that you will agree that getting the most polished experience possible is worth a few more weeks of patience.  

We are as committed and focused on improving Anno 1800 as ever, and are looking forward to sharing more news on everything included in Game Update 6 – including the new arctic session, resident tiers, production chains and airships from The Passage, as well as the free co-op mode and new statistics features – in the weeks to come. Thank you all for your patience and ongoing support.

The Anno 1800 Team

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