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Category: DevBlog

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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DevBlog: I want to be anarchy

The class struggle in the 19th century was a clash between capital and labor, between the money aristocracy seeking profit and the working people yearning for their individual rights and a sustainable way of living. To break the chains of the ruling class, many of them organized in unions and opened their minds to new ideas, preaching a more humane and progressive evolution of society. Naturally, some of those visions of what this new and better world could look like were more radical than others, stoked by agitators whose tongues were as sharp as any sword…

Dr. Hugo Mercier, the infamous Anarchist, will be the newest addition to Anno 1800’s diverse cast of characters. While ruthless robber barons like von Malching or visionary architects like Gasparov build their magnificent Metropolises on the back of the populace, the Anarchist is a true man of the people, breaking the chains of indentured servitude and freeing his citizens from capitalist oppression. At least that is what he will happily tell you, and anyone else willing to listen to his manifesto.

Us humble game developers, on the other hand, are happy to tell you how exactly he differs from other characters and what this means for you as the player, before we end with the cold hard numbers of content included with the Anarchist.

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought
Unlike other NPCs in Anno 1800, Hugo Mercier does not bend to the rules of capitalism, and many of his political beliefs are also reflected in his gameplay. While he will follow the general game rules that other NPCs (and human players) have to with regards of production of good etc., his islands will deviate from his competitors in some major ways.  One such drastic exception is that as a vowed opponent of capitalism, the Anarchist will not allow any investors to set foot onto his island, capping his progression at engineer level instead. He also has strong feelings about the monetary system and religion, so do not expect to find any banks or churches throughout his empire.

The same is true for tourism. While Mercier is happy to welcome any new believers to live on his island, he despises the notion of hordes of idling tourists dallying around his utopian cities. 

With all of those missing buildings, you may be wondering how Dr. Mercier keeps his citizens happy and following his party line? Those problems are nothing that a little bit of propaganda won’t fix. To this end, the Anarchist’s islands will have a unique look, as he will deck out his buildings with lots of banners, flags and posters to inspire his citizens’ love for the cause. To do so, he goes beyond just visuals- you will also see him constructing lots of speaker towers, which will play recordings of his teachings to his loyal subjects. You can of course listen in on them yourself to see whether you agree with his political leanings.

The Revolution devours its children

As it turns out, not all of his citizens do, which brings us to the defector feature. As Doctor Mercier’s grip on his islands tightens, many of his not-so-loyal-after-all subjects will be looking to leave his anarchistic experiment behind. To this end, they will offer you quests to accept them onto your islands. If you choose to do so, they will express their gratitude with rewards like new items or money.

At a certain point however, Mercier won’t accept you taking on all these defectors anymore, and may start to spread unrest among your own citizens with his agents. You will have to be very careful to manage this threat, lest anarchy and unrest can quickly engulf your own islands! To represent this in the game, we are introducing a new quest type related to his threat. For these, your citizens will make their demands known, leaving you with the choice whether you want to give in to their demand, or face the (sometimes dire) consequences, such as fires and riots in your city. Defectors will require players to constantly balance the benefits of receiving their rewards with the risks of anarchic mayhem spreading in your empire. Long-time Anno fans may recognize the conceptual similarities to the beggars in Anno 1404 (or Dawn of Discovery, as it was known in many regions).

Friend or Foe?

Of course, the defection mechanic is not the only way that players will be able to interact with the (fully voiced) Anarchist, who is a medium-difficulty opponent. Similarly to our other NPC opponents, he will also offer players a range of voluntary quests to undertake, during which they will learn more about the character and the beliefs driving him.

As part of that, he may occasionally ask you to print special propaganda articles in your newspaper on his behalf. These special marked texts will not cost you any influence to print and will provide you with powerful buys, though there will also be associate downsides for them.

Another aspect setting him apart from his peers is how trade-happy he is. Not only is he very easy to come to a trade agreement with, but he will also offer to sell you items, which is usually reserved for third-party characters like Madame Kahina. One of these items you will be able to acquire from him are the new sea mines, which speak to his defense-focused nature.

The Anarchist content and Game Update 3 (Release Notes on this coming next week) are planned to be released on June 5. He will be available to all owners of the Digital Deluxe and Pioneers Editions. Should you have bought the Standard Edition at launch, you can now upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition to not only gain access to The Anarchist once he is released, but also the digital art book, digital soundtrack and 4 unique company logos.

The Anarchist at a glance

New medium-difficult AI opponent: Dr Hugo Mercier, the Anarchist

New defection system to keep players on their toes

Over 50 new quests

Over 50 new items

Unlock his portrait and logo for your own profile

6 new Achievements to challenge players

2 new ornaments you can unlock via Ubisoft Club to build in your city

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DevBlog: Scoring the industrial revolution

A cityscape of smoking chimneys. Streets brimming with life, as the upper classes take to the zoo for a day out with the family. None of these evocative scenes could unfold their full impact on the player without the proper musical accompaniment. Orchestral soundtracks have always been a key part of the Anno experience, and this is no different for Anno 1800. So join us on a journey intot he creation of Anno 1800’s grand soundscapes.

Let us raise the curtain for veteran composer Tilman Sillescu (who has been working on the music for Anno games since 1701) and his team at Dynamedion, as they carry you away into the world of the industrial revolution:

And while we focused on Tilman in the video, we would be remiss to forget all the other talented composers who contributed to the game, as seen here:


If all of the above has put you into the right mood to light candles and to dust off your old record player, we have some great news for you! We have created a limited vinyl edition of the Anno 1800 soundtrack in partnership with Black Screen Records! If you want to call one of these precious records your own, you get still get them here.

Alternatively, you can also enjoy the full digital soundtrack on spotify!

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Announcing the Anno 1800 Season Pass and our free content plans

One of the most frequently asked questions over the past weeks and months has been what kind of post-launch content and support players could expect from Anno 1800. Today, we are happy to answer some of those questions, as we announce our Season Pass, which consists of three DLCs (which will also be available separately) that we plan to release throughout 2019. We are also giving you a first glimpse at our free content plans, and detail how you can upgrade your standard edition of the game to the Digital Deluxe Edition to secure the Anarchist character that we will release in the coming months.

The 1800 Season Pass is here

Let’s start with the biggest news: We are announcing the Anno 1800 Season Pass, which will give players access to three big content drops that we will be releasing throughout the year.

Our goal with these DLCs is to offer a variety of content that expands on all the new features and systems of Anno 1800. This includes some new additions that the community has been asking for or speculating about. So let us a first teasing look at what to expect when you buy the Season Pass.

DLC 1: Sunken Treasures

Expand your island with a new European session and large continental island, as you join an eccentric inventor and his diving bell on a treasure hunt.

DLC 2: Botanica

Grow your city’s attractiveness to new heights with a modular Botanical Garden, allowing you to earn new items and rewards as you draw the tourist masses to your floral masterpiece. Alternatively, construct the new Musical Pavilion and enjoy beloved tracks from previous Anno games inside your city.

DLC 3: The Passage

The Passage will take you on a new adventure to the Arctic Circle as you explore the legendary Northwest Passage. To succeed in this merciless climate, you will need to construct an arctic outpost and master all-new production chains and goods.

Cosmetic Content (available on Day 1)

Buyers of the Season Pass will also immediately receive three cosmetic customization items that you can use to customize your game profile for multiplayer: the prisoner portrait, and two exclusive company logos (“Promethean Fire” and “Eagle Crest”).

The Anno 1800 Season Pass is now available for digital purchase and is priced at 24,99$/€.

Upgrade your game to Digital Deluxe and secure the upcoming Anarchist character

Another question that has frequently popped up is how players who have bought the standard edition of Anno 1800 could get access to the Anarchist character when it is released. This is now possible, thanks to our Digital Deluxe Edition upgrade, which you can now buy to upgrade your version of the game.

Doing so unlocks fours things for you:

  • Access to the Anarchist character (once he releases in the future)
  • 4 unique company logos you can use to customize your profile (now available)
  • A digital version of our beautiful artbook (now available)
  • A digital selection of music from Anno 1800’s orchestral soundtrack (now available)

Also, to avoid any confusion: The Anarchist is only available as part of the Digital Deluxe Edition, the Digital Deluxe Edition Upgrade and the Pioneers Edition. It is not part of the Season Pass (see above for details on what is included in the Season Pass).

So, who is the Anarchist, exactly?

“A self-proclaimed anarchist, Dr. Mercier has created a radical new society free of the state. Formerly champion of a union of student dentists, Mercier was asked by the Queen to use his popular appeal to pacify increasing threats of revolution in her territories. Instead Mercier sided with the protesters, declaring the people’s complete independence from crown authority.”

In game terms, the Anarchist is a new NPC opponent you can select to play against, including his own unique set of quests and rewards for the player to tackle. And while we don’t want to spoil too much, we can safely say that he will bring a very flavorful and unique playstyle to the game, with his own set of behavioral rules that mirror his views on politics and society.

Consider yourselves warned…

Did someone say Free Content?

As you can see from the above, we do have some big plans to support Anno 1800 and to make sure it stays exciting and fresh for our Annoholics. To this end, we are also planning to deliver regular Game Updates that will be free for all players of Anno 1800. Those will not only include bug fixes and ongoing balancing, but will also include all-new game content- some of which is a direct result of your feedback here on the Anno Union. So let’s see what’s in store (Note: We can’t promise any dates when this content will hit, so the below order does not necessarily reflect how it will be released).

Statistics Building

One request we have seen from many of the more experienced Anno players that love to go all in on the min-maxing is to have more information about their production chains and their output available. To provide you this information, we will be introducing a new statistics building in the future.

Co-Op Mode

You asked for it, and we listened: Anno 1800 will receive a free co-op mode in a future update, allowing you to team up with your friends to take shared control of a single empire as it evolves throughout the industrial revolution

Community Challenges

We will be giving the Anno Community regular challenges that will require all of you to come together to reach a shared goal. Doing so will unlock new cosmetic customization options like company icons or even skins for all participants. Go Anno union!

And that’s it for today! We know that you are all busy enjoying Anno 1800 as it currently stands, but we hope you enjoyed this first glimpse of what we have planned for you in the future.

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DevBlog: The prodigal Scion returns…

Welcome to the second half of the 19th century: fading aristocracy tries to tighten its iron grip on the population while the power of progress sparks a flame that will eventually engulf and change the entire world. It is a time of ever expanding cities, black sooted factories hungry to fuel the revolution of the machines, but also of the crumbling shackles of old ideologies. Inspired by classic tales such as the Count of Monte Cristo, here is a tragic tale of a family in ruin.  It will be up to you to clear the name of your father’s business and to bring righteous judgement to the malevolent forces responsible.

In today’s DevBlog, we will give you a glimpse at the story and content you will be able to experience in Anno 1800’s campaign. As most of you want to experience the tale of a family rising from the ashes on your own, this blog will be very light on spoilers and should be considered as more of a teaser for what is to come. We also give you some general information about how the narrative campaign is embedded into Anno 1800’s sandbox gameplay.

Anno 1800’s campaign- the facts, and only the facts
While the sandbox experience in Anno 1800 is a customizable playground offering hundreds of hours of gameplay, the campaign is often the first entry port of call in Anno games,  welcoming new players and old veterans alike into a new setting. Over the span of our four campaign chapters, you will not only learn the fundamentals about the core and advanced gameplay mechanics, but we will also transport you to a long bygone era of social unrest and scientific progress. And there is no need to constantly start over, as the entire campaign will unfold over one game during which you keep growing and expanding your empire. To ensure that you can keep playing in this world for as long as you want, the campaign turns into a sandbox game once you finish the final mission of chapter 4.

Many parts of the campaign are hand tailored to the story, and we created several unique locations where this dramatic tale will take place. You will however still be able to alter the full range of sandbox settings, ranging from your starting money and fertilities all the way to deciding which second-party AI characters you want to share the world with. Of course, you will also meet many new characters unique to the campaign story, like your despicable Uncle Edvard and the mysterious Acolyte (whom you may remember from a previous appearance on the Anno Union)…

When playing the campaign, a few key parts of the natural progression of your city will be unlocked via specific story beats, which let you experience and influence important events, such as leading your city into the industrial revolution. This allows us to intertwine the progression of your city with important moments in the sandbox gameplay.

Player freedom is a key goal of Anno 1800, so we want you to be able to play the game how you want, while enjoying a riveting story on top. That includes two campaign-specific expeditions, fully voiced cutscenes, unique voice lines for some of the Sandbox NPCs and more. And then there is the newspaper, acting as a family album of sorts that memorizes important milestones of your story in special issues.

So what’s the story?
In Anno 1800, you relive the story of a family in the 19th century, in a dramatic tale about tragic loss, revenge and a legacy waiting to be reclaimed.
After you are stripped of your inheritance, it is up to you to restart from the ground up with the support of your sister Hannah and your trusted companion Aarhant.

Soon enough, the open questions about your father’s death pile up. Did you malicious uncle Edvard have a hand in his demise? Or is he himself a mere puppet for a yet unseen master? This story unfolds against the backdrop of a tumultuous time, as old monarchy and new money struggle to control the industrial revolution.

Over the course of the campaigns four chapters, you will also learn more about the background stories of many of Anno 1800’s NPC characters, adding an additional layer to our 19th century lore.

But that’s a tale for a different day…

And that’s it for today! With only a week left until our Open Beta, you will soon be able to take your own first steps into the world of Anno 1800’s campaign. Until then, we are looking forward to reading about some of your favorite memories from the campaigns of previous Anno games

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DevBlog: A message to the Union!

As the release of Anno 1800 is drawing close, we want to kick off our launch marathon with a message from our dear Union friend Artur Gasparov.
Starting today, we will push the engines to launch mode where we will provide answers on the last burning questions (such as Open Beta details next week), bring you DevBlogs about the campaign and the soundtrack and – of course – more live-streams such as our EGX panel and a ceremonious unboxing soon!

And with the last sprint before launch, what are you looking forward to and what are your last curious questions for the big maiden voyage on April 16?

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Union Update: Meet your rivals!

Welcome to another week in the Anno Union, this time with an introduction to the cast of Anno 1800 second party characters as well as an update to the streaming schedule.

Meet your rivals!
Originally planned for the end of last week, we prepared a video for you showcasing the variety of AI opponents which will be able to choose as your dire enemy or future to be ally.

Every single rival will have their own character, which will not only define their general difficulty rating but also influence their playstyle.
Since the Closed Beta, we improved their behaviour in many ways and while old chap  Willy will remain let’s say, a slow and simple fella, the AI’s capabilities of defending islands or deciding on various tactics fitting to the situation has improved a lot. As an example, especially war savvy characters will make decisions such as attacking your Harbour directly, engaging your war fleet or launching attacks on your trading routes based on the current situation.


Are you looking forward to testing your skills in naval warfare against the Psychopath Graves or are you more interested in Tea parties with Bente Jorgensen? We are curious to know how important the second party opponents are for you and if you are more the player who likes to challenge themselves with the most fierce of opponents?

Streaming Schedule – 2 streams on the horizon!
As promised during our special German episode of our Community Corner last week, we will have another English episode this week Wednesday at 5pm CET.
While we won’t have a special guest this time, our Community Developer Bastian will not only give you further insights into the fourth tier but also answering your chat questions.

And as one stream is not enough, our Anno Afternoon community crew will return this Friday 5pm CET – Not only Guddy is back on board, we will also jump from the trusty old Closed Beta ship to a newer development version of the game!

We plan to bring you more live-streams in future, from development insights with our AnnoCasts to community focused shows like CommunityCorner and AnnoAfternoon.
If you do not want to miss a show, make sure to follow out twitch channel to receive notifications as soon as we are online.

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DevBlog: Multiplayer

Whether it is teaming up with friends to end Alonso Graves’ reign of terror or taking on three other players to see who will be the last man building- playing Anno 1800 alongside and against your fellow human players can make for tense adventures.

So today, we want to talk about Anno 1800’s multiplayer mode, what options it gives players and also give you some interesting insights into how we make it possible to run an enormous simulation with more than one player.

Multiplayer – conquering the world with friends(?)
In Anno 1800’s multiplayer mode, up to four players can join a match to settle and conquer islands in an alliance or in a race against each other to reach the victory conditions first. Players can freely trade among each other, and with the possibility of trading any goods, they can decide if they want to start a trading conglomerate with specialized production on each side. And should you find yourself short of a full set of human players to stage a naval battle to rival Tsushima Strait, you can always fill any open slots with an AI character of your choice. This choice of how to approach the multiplayer is very important to us, no matter if you want to go for an ultra-competitive race to be the first to construct a battlecruiser squadron, or if you want to play a relaxed Sunday afternoon match with some old friends.

And since this is a question that came up many times in the past: Yes, the multiplayer mode supports the full range of gameplay options in Anno 1800, including the second session in the New World! So will be the first to settle a tropical island?

Starting and victory conditions
There are several game modifier which allows you to set the stage for the game experience.
Alliance with shared victory conditions – You can start the match with an active alliance pact between all players and shared victory conditions. This allows for a truly collaborative effort for players who want to work together as a team.
Alliance without shared victory conditions – This game mode enforces peaceful matches between players while encouraging economic competition thanks to the personal victory conditions.
Free-for-all – A free-for-all, with no shared victory conditions and no active trading or alliance treaties. In this mode, it is solely up to you how the world (and your fellow players) will remember you.

And while it can be fun to build and expand for hours on end, we know that some players prefer a more defined game experienced with a clear goal. That is why we have the same set of victory conditions as in the Sandbox mode, such as being the first to construct a monument, reaching X amount of investors of generating a positive revenue of X. You will also be able to select whether players have to reach one or all of these goals to emerge victorious from your online match.

Custom sessions and the new quick match mode
Anno 1800 will offer two game modes to set up games, either allowing you to invite friends into your custom sessions, or to be paired up with random players via matchmaking.

You can either create or join a custom made multiplayer match, where the creator of the session can take full advantage of all custom settings of the classic sandbox experience. Once you set your various parameters and decided which AI should populate your island space, you can invite up to three players from your friend list to your match. And if there is this one friend of a friend who wants to join you, players who join also have the rights to invite players from their friend list. The game mode supports a maximum amount of 4 players in total, which also includes AI opponents who can fill the ranks of missing players.

Our new Quick Match mode will match you with random players around the world in preset multiplayer sessions. The presets allow you to look either for a match with two, three or four players or alternatively just look with “Random” where a slot is available in any of the three presets. Unlike in custom matches, you won’t have any non-player characters in Quick Match other than NPC traders and every game mode comes with preset victory conditions.

Under the hood – large scale multiplayer simulation
Simulating a vast and complex strategy game like Anno 1800 in a multiplayer match is quite a challenging task. To make it possible, we make use of a “lock-step” mechanism, a system which allows simulating the whole game state on every single PC and as a result of that minimizes the amount of data traffic between the players.

In case the game states of the players will differ at some point in time, the game will detect it (we call it a desync) and immediately provide a simple one-click solution to repair the game state with automatic synchronization of all parties participating in a match.

You will be able to save the state of the game to continue the match with your friends at another time or to switch hosts if the initial creator of the session is not available. This also means that when you are creating a session from a previous multiplayer savegame, players in the lobby can decide which island to control during the game. And if you cannot remember the party of friends from your last session anymore, we will display the players which played with you before.

This large-scale simulation and synchronization process is also the reason why fast-forward is not available in multiplayer sessions. Speeding up the simulation would have a big performance impact on the CPU of each player. However, you will be able to pause a multiplayer game to allow everyone to take a break or get a refill of your favorite beverage.

Build an empire together
While the Anno multiplayer experience always had its vocal fans across the years, we hope that with Anno 1800, more players will team up to experience the game together. We received a lot of valuable feedback during the technical test and Closed beta, giving us ample data we currently use to improve the multiplayer experience for the launch of the game.

And as your feedback is always important to us: While there won’t be a classic Co-Op mode in the game at launch, we will add it as part of our post-launch plans for Anno 1800.
#coopiscoming

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DevBlog: City Incidents

Working from dusk till dawn, skin tanned from the smoldering heat of molten steel, just enough time to swipe the sweat out of your eyes. The Baron demands his guns and there is no time to breathe or room for compassion. And in one misfortunate moment of exhaustion, a hand slips and the massive calciner first starts to sway, before seconds later, its scorching load burns its way through the factory.

Incidents such as blazing firestorms bring tension when managing a sprawling metropolis and they also mimic the realism of catastrophes which can throw life out of balance. You are the major in charge of the fate of your citizen, as you have to strike the balance between relentless progress and the glooming danger that one catastrophe might be enough to throw your city into chaos.

City Incidents in Anno 1800
For the seventh title in the series, we decided to expand on the city incidents from the fan favorite Anno 1404. The rule is that incidents can happen at any time while the likeliness is determined by several factors. Working conditions and happiness of your residents, as an example, affect the chance of a strike to happen while your heavy industrial districts have a higher risk of a fire breaking out. While every incident has its own chance of dying down on its own after a while, the chance of a fire spreading wildly through your streets is way more likely, especially in cramped residential districts.
You won’t be able to disable city incidents completely, as they are intertwined with different game systems, but if you like a more relaxed experience, you can turn the likeliness of them happen significantly down. Or if you like a real challenge, how about scaling them all the way up to the max?
In total, Anno 1800 will have three different types of city incidents to keep you on your toes.

Fire: Blazing heat and explosions, what’s not to like?
Fire is not only the most traditional incident, as firestorms eating through rooftops of a densely populated cities are a primal nightmare since mankind erected the first cities.
In older Anno titles, fire could only appear and spread in residential areas but now, they will be also able to attack your production buildings, with your modern factories especially being a welcome target for the flames. To expand that system further, different production chains have a higher chance of catching fire than others, representing the brutal industrial expansion and workshops growing to enormous factories.
A factor influencing the chance of a fire appearing are the working condition slider, as pushing your workers into overworking themselves might boost your productivity but also raise the chance of an unfortunate incident happening. An increasing problem during late game, as oil production chains and the electricity feature, which can boost some production above and beyond, provide great benefits but are a real safety hazard.
While other incidents such as sickness can spread even faster than fire, the flames are way faster in shutting down buildings, which means cutting you off from taxes and workforce from the affected area.

Wait a moment, you said….EXPLOSIONS?!
As fire isn’t enough of a hazard, there is now a chance for some production buildings to explode. Dynamite might be the best example, but every building which makes use of heavy machinery and chemicals can literally blow up. If a production buildings explodes, it will immediately put the building in ruined state but if that wasn’t enough of a problem, burning debris fly around and might set nearby buildings on fire. There are various factors for the likeliness of an explosion to happen:

  • Type of the production (dynamite has a very high risk, Schnapps or Motor factories significantly lower)
  • Working conditions and production output (high production output raises the chance)
  • If the building is on fire (will raise the chance of explosion for these buildings significantly)

Imagine a rare chain reaction such as a schnapps facility burning down, bursting into spitting debris, sets more schnapps distilleries on fire causing a nightmarish chain reaction.

Illness: Big city life
The chance of a sickness spreading through your cramped metropolis is affected by two elements, working conditions and pollution from nearby production buildings.
Different than fire, illness is targets only residential districts. This way, it will still affect your available workforce but you won’t need to build hospitals close to your factories.
Once a sickness breaks out, residents will stay home until they have recovered, which functions as a temporary de-buff to workforce and taxes provided.
But beware: in the overcrowded and sooth blackened cities of the 19th century, an illness can spread rather fast and you will probably never underestimate the danger of a outgrown plague ever again once it hit a large amount of your population. And if you thought your outposts or getaway islands are safe – sickness can even jump over to your or ships from other parties to spread across islands or even travel to another session.

Riots: The birth of the social movement!
The workers movement marched through the 19th century and was the most influential factor to change the society as we know it today. Riots can affect residential and production buildings of your city, although with a different reasons why people go on the streets or lay down their tools.
In residential areas, the chance of a riot is affected by the general happiness of your people while in production districts, working conditions are the biggest cause for a strike.
That means that if you overwork your people, they might stop working and go on a strike even if the folks in the residential area are happy and vice versa. It goes that far that it can even affect specific production chains as you are able to alter the working conditions for each production separately.
A strike can start small, just affecting one specific building but might erupt to a general strike which can cripple a whole type of production chain.
Strikes can further spread as people will gather together, shouting their demands and sprawling through the streets on the look for sympathizer and fellow comrades.
Don’t underestimate the frustration of the populous, when a situation goes out of control, a strike can become a grown movement including heated arguments, raising fists and Molotov cocktails.

City Institutions
Traditionally, there are ways to mitigate the situation or even to take immediate action, namely city institutions such as the fire brigade which will reduce the likeliness of a fire in their influence radius.

There are three different buildings for each incident (remember, explosions are a part of the fire incident): the fire brigade, the hospital and the police station.
The fire brigade is the first building to unlock, has a medium influence range but also don’t needs as much constructions space. You might want ensure that your residential as well as production facilities are covered by enough fire brigades or additionally boost their effect with specialists items in your city hall. The hospital has higher upkeep and construction cost, but makes up for it with a higher influence radius and a general lower chance of illness spreading compared to a fire.
To avoid strikes, you could become a man of the people or you can make sure that enough police force has a watchful eye on streets and neighborhoods. Police stations reduce the chance of a riot in residential and production areas and if things get out of hand (or you just prefer the stick rather than the carrot), you can mobilize your force to put the revolter in their place.

Keep in mind that similar to the transport of goods, the street distance affects the time a Red Cross volunteer or police cart needs to get to their place of action.

City institution have a limited amount of units which they can send out to fight the incidents. However, you can activate their ability to mobilize additional units in case of emergency: you can call happy residents into civil service, from Red Cross volunteers, neighborhood watch and civil firefighters.
Using that ability will spawn more of the specific healing unit and its cooldown is determined by the happiness of your population. Remember: Don’t count volunteers if people are too busy throwing eggs at your counterfeit, if your residents hate you, the cooldown will completely freeze.

Another interesting counter to incidents happening in your overcrowded late game metropolis and power economy are items, which you can slot in guild halls to either affect the likeliness of incidents happening in production buildings or specialists like very effective and renown police constables in your city hall to make your institutions more effective.

From riots to explosions, we build on the complexity of the incidents feature while working conditions or the use of items leave players the agency to let the benefits outweigh the risks or to minimize the chance of catastrophes to happen. What do you think of the new system and is the thrill of a full grown emergency situation part of the fun or do you prefer a more relaxed approach?

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DevBlog: Newspaper

“Breaking News! Breaking News! The despicable tyrant Graves strikes again. While his fleet of buccaneers wears itself out on our superior coastal defenses, the Governor assures all citizens that the attackers constitute no threat to our brave city. Cheer and sing the song of our proud metropolis, while we pity the poor souls getting torn apart by our brave soldiers!”

In the wake of the modern world, information became available for everyone, whether it was in the smoking clubs of the aristocracy or in the crowded working class pubs after a grueling shift in the factory. In the 19th century, the newspaper allowed everyone to get a grasp of what was going on in a time of dwindling empires and rising nations, a powerful tool to bring the truth to the populous- or to twist it in the most convenient way to reach one’s goals.

Hot of the presses – the newspaper in Anno 1800
The newspaper is a new addition to the game, which not only highlights the milestones of your empire but also looming issues in your ever growing city. It’s a flavorful tool which helps newer players to understand what’s going on while Anno veterans have a satisfying stage to showcase their big achievements (or being reminded of their failures). Reading the headline “grand opening of the wondrous World Fair” or the shocking news about an outbreak of war also helps to immerse yourself in Anno 1800’s colorful but often dramatic setting of the 19th century.

The “Anno Chronicles” keeps track of everything noteworthy happening in your city, both good and bad, and will highlight the top three news on the front page of every new issue released. And as your residents are always eager to get the latest rumors, word of a beer shortage in your city can spread like wildfire, affecting the happiness of your entire population. In the same way, news about your newly opened school will have a positive effect on the mood in your city.

With that, news can have either a positive, negative or no effect on your city, depending on the nature of the event. While ravaging fire is naturally makes for a menacing newsflash, the other two articles can also generate positive effects, if there is something positively exciting to report.

The range of possible positive or negative effects of the newspaper on your city includes happiness of your population, consumption of goods, the chance for a riot and taxes gained from your residents.
Once an issue is published, the global buff or debuff on mentioned categories can last up to an hour.

The system tracks all important milestones of your empire, with usually one issue of the Anno Chronicles being published roughly every 30 minutes, reflecting the actual development of your metropolis. But if dramatic incidents happen, such as a sudden declaration of war from your neighbor or your first expansion into the new world, the newspaper won’t miss the chance to publish a special issue to cover the breaking news.

Furthermore, as old news become less interesting for the esteemed reader, ongoing issues will lose priority over time. As an example, the scarcity of bread is surely a matter people care about but they can get used to it, especially if there are more emergent issues on the horizon. That way, the Newspaper always ensures that you get interesting and not overly repetitive news. As you can imagine, a well-developed empire will give your newspaper plenty to work with. And should there ever be a time where nothing noteworthy has happened in your city, your always-reliable editor will back on his stock of humorous anecdotes and filler stories.

In total, we have prepared a total of over 250 possible articles, ensuring that the release of a new issue of the Anno Chronicles always makes for an entertaining diversion. On top of that, all published articles will get archived which allows you to browse through the history of your empire.

PROPAGANDA
The newspaper is interested in the latest rumors and breaking news, which can be rather inopportune to a besieged ruler of a troubled empire. Thankfully, there are ways that you can make your influence work in your favor, persuading the editor to instead publish some alternate, more helpful news- all for the greater good of your island, of course!

Enforcing propaganda allows you to change or erase unloved articles by temporary spending influence points. But backing your editor into a corner will not only let you get rid of the thorn in your side, but also benefit from some of the positive buffs that propaganda can (temporarily) apply to your city.

The different propaganda articles vary in strength, effect and influence cost. There is also a progression curve attached, with more effective articles becoming available as your empire and company level grow.

While standard articles have only a limited amount of effects, we have a total of 9 different positive propaganda buffs which additionally come in three different levels. And with that, taking control of the newspaper can have a high impact on your economy and other game elements.
From simple announcements, which erase negative news articles up to morale boosting propaganda which lowers the riot chance, reducing the consumption of certain needs or improving your tax income.

During an island siege, propaganda can unfold its real power of influencing your residents. Use war speech to make your people less willing to surrender during a siege, mobilize your workers to speed your military production or encourage your soldiers to increase the firing rate of your harbor defenses.

But spending influence is not the only downside, as some propaganda articles might have additional negative effects on your empire or on the standing with other third party characters. Depending on their nature, they might dislike the idea that you manipulate your people; other NPCS, who themselves are not opposed to exploiting their citizens, may however feel attracted by such behavior.

But times have changed and your residents might not be willing to belief every news article you feed them as they might be able expose your web of lies.
The more propaganda you use, the higher the chance that riots occur as residents refuse to accept the manipulative doing of their leader. However, education plays a role in looking through your deception, so higher tiers like the engineers will be more likely to look through your lies than the more humble farmers. In that scenario, it can even happen that a propaganda article you use increases the overall happiness of your islands while the engineers rally on the streets.

A word from the editor
We will leave it at that for today, as many of you will be able to get their hands on the newspaper system themselves as soon as tomorrow, when our Closed Beta begins. Until then, we are of course curious to hear your first thoughts about this new system, which can have a profound impact on many other aspects of the game.

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