Skip to content

Category: UnionUpdate

Union Update: Story contest has ended!

Welcome to our latest Union Update, where we give you a glimpse of this week’s Union content and things headed your way in the near future.

As you might have noticed, the Anno Union suffered an issue last week, which prevented players from accessing the website. We are sorry for the inconvenience and can you tell that we found the culprit; everything should be back to normal now. While we have further plans to improve our website further, the downtime was not caused by a secretively rolled out update, as some Union members presumed. Not that we don’t like sneaking in updates from time to time…

Announcement: The writing contest is closed!
Thanks for all your contribution- we received some great stories and some really cool creative takes on the given task. We will announce the lucky winners in a future update but we can already say that picking the best story will not be an easy task for us. So please join us in a general round of applause for the creative Union task force!
If you liked our writing contest and would love to see more support for community creations such as contests, highlights and other nice ideas to push content creation, share it with us in the comments below!

3D Animation

In this week’s DevBlog, we continue the journey of a 3D asset during creation. Yes, a lot of handiwork went into the asset already but we are far from done here. You were always curious how we create that lively feeling in Anno, where you metropolis is brimming with life and small stories to discover?
Well in that case, you should not miss out this week’s DevBlog, when we give you an exclusive look how we create visual feedback and animation work for Anno 1800.

Let’s come together!
Also coming up this week is our first Union Community Roundtable.
Join the Community team this Wednesday evening for a cozy meetup and chat with us about the Anno Union where we are sure to have answers to one or two questions and discussions ready for you.
The English session will start at 9pm CET – Everyone is welcome! >Annoverse Discord<

While we are using a voice chat for communication, microphones are not mandatory. So feel free to ask us questions in the chat or just listen to the discussion.

What’s next?
We asked you a few questions during our update last week and got a ton of recommendations for future topics you would like to see tackled in the future. We picked some of your ideas and started to shuffle them into our ongoing content plan.

The best things often come at the end, right? We have some news for you that might get you pretty excited. During our last AnnoCast, we talked about our Alpha milestone and that now is the time where we need as much and as varied player feedback as possible. To make that possible, we are currently planning to kick off our online playtest studies in February.

For the first test groups, we need Anno experts who know the series inside out and are willing to provide us valuable reports and tons of data! As suggested by the community previously, we will give everyone a chance to apply for the focus studies with an application form, which should open in the coming weeks.

Well that is something to look forward to; many more things to come and we are – as always – looking forward to your feedback.

11 Comments

Union Update: Outlook on the new year!

We are back from our winter break; time to roll up our sleeves and to give you a glimpse of the journey ahead.

Upcoming Union Content
We bet that you are curious about our upcoming content. With last month’s logistics blog as our foundation, we will dive deeper into the economic motor of Anno 1800. With more details about the economy revealed and explained, it will allow us to talk about important parts of that machine like the harbor system and trading routes. Features, which are furthermore important if we want to talk about possible functionality and impact of the train feature.
There are plenty of more features we have not shared many details yet. What are your top 5 Anno 1800 features, where you would love to get more information on?

Furthermore, we will continue to bring you behind the scene DevBlogs; next up we will dive into animations for our previously showcased 3D assets. You will get to learn much more about all the brimming details and stories happening in your metropole.
We know that you are also curious about non-visual features, such as the audio design of Anno 1800. As the possibilities are plenty, share your top three wished for behind the scenes topics in the comments below!

There is also new voting coming up and while we cannot lift the curtain right now, we can tell that we want to funnel your creative energy once again. We all know how settling back into work after the Holidays can take some time, so expect the DevBlogs to be back to their regular cadence next week.

Union Website and community creations
As you already noticed, some improvements to the website were made and we will continue to improve the Union in usability and functionality. However, it is not only about moderator flairs or improvements to the comment section; we want to expand the general content on the website for anything that might not fit into the classic blog format, such as a dedicated space for community creations or a media library to save our Twitch streams.

It is great to see how much creative energy went into our story contest and it shows how much room there is to fill the world of Anno with your narration and other fan creations.
With the deadline hitting on Monday 15th there is still a week’s time left to unleash your creativity. Besides some neat prices to win for the contest, we also think that your works deserve to be appropriately spotlighted on the Anno Union page.

Streaming
We received some great feedback on our last episode of the Anno Cast and with upcoming episodes, you can look forward to more gameplay content. While we know that many of you would love to see Anno 1800 being presented in a lengthy Let’s Play format, we need to save that idea for later as we just hit our Alpha milestone. One thing is for sure though; we will continue to show you more gameplay elements of the game while we give you insights about its ongoing development.
Anniversary Let’s Plays or other special episodes give us a bit more freedom and possibilities for different styles and formats. If you have ideas for specials or other streaming formats or videos outside the regular Anno Cast, feel free to share them with us!

Community roundtable
Since the reveal of Anno 1800, you supported us with thousands of comments on the Union and Anno 1800 forum. Seeing both Anno veterans and new enthusiasts coming together is something truly special for us on the team, and we once again want to thank you all for that. To further this feeling of all coming together at one table, we want to invite you to an Anno Union voice chat session with the Community Team to talk about the Union, the game and its fans. We are sure there will be plenty of questions and ideas, and everyone should feel more than welcome to join our roundtable next week Wednesday, January 17th in a Discord voice chat provided by our Annoverse Community: >Annoverse Discord<

To allow as many of you as possible to participate, we will divide the session into two slots, one in English and one on German. The German session will start at 7.30pm and the English one will follow at 9.00pm CET.
______________________________________________________________________________________________

Community QnA

Sir_Obelexxus
Let’s say a play test is planned for January 23, and I were to be invited. When could I expect to receive an invite, so I would have enough time to check with my boss if I can take the day off? And while we are on the topic, do you have to be a legal adult to be invited?

Basti: We will send the invitations a few weeks in advance, as we also want to have a bit of leeway if we need to find a replacement if someone will not be able to make it. To be of legal age is not a strict requirement but if someone is under age, we will get in contact with the person to discuss the details (regarding the NDA, for example).

MattMcCorman
Something that would be very helpful in the future would be a basic blog explaining the DNA of the Anno brand, to give us users a better idea of how your decision-making processes work. What makes something Anno, or not? I think having this filter explained for users would allow for discussions that are more meaningful.

Basti: Talking about the brand DNA sounds like a great topic to cover in the Union, I put it on the list and I am sure we can get some really cool background information together. With the Vision Devblog and details we shared in other blogs, we also wanted to give you a chance to learn something about the reality of game development. We usually receive a huge amount of great suggestions and ideas, but they often lack some missing background information why some of these ideas would not work or why they would be too hard or simply not feasible to develop. Designing game features means often a middle ground or taking the quintessential idea and feedback to work with. That is why we want to get a little bit more into details on our decision-making process in future DevBlogs and comments.

IppoSenshu
I quite liked the entertaining Twitch streams, and look forward to see more of Anno 1800. Perhaps you could show some footage from play tests in the future.

Basti: We will show more gameplay in upcoming episodes of the AnnoCast and over time, it will further allow us to share more gameplay material in the Anno Union in general. Playtests will be the big topic this year, and we will cover some of the playtests and share content from them in the Union.

Mr.Beko80
How big was the island in the stream? Small, medium or a big one? It didn’t seem much larger than main islands in Anno 1404. Will there be enough space to build a metropolis? Or can buildings house more citizens than in the past?

Basti: The Island from the stream is a big one, but not the largest in the game. In fact the Island shown in during the stream has more grids than the large Isle in 1404 and with that, more buildings space available. It is important for us that you will have enough place to create breathtaking cities. Residential houses have the same dimensions as in previous titles but some of the public or production buildings can take up more space. Having a bit more realistic proportions for a steel factory as an example is a great way to bring that extra bit of realism to the series. Again, it is all about the right balance: we want vast cityscapes but also provide a puzzle challenge, as clever planning of the available construction space is also part of the challenge and fun.

friedrichgrosse
Will it be possible to freely rotate the buildings?

Basti: Construction space in Anno is partitioned into a grid-based system (like e checkerboard) and as in previous games, you will be able to rotate and place buildings freely on the grid.

Drake-1503
The carts and carriages will be sent by the production facilities, which sounds like a good decision. I assume that required gods will also be picked up if they are not being delivered- and this is where things get a bit unclear for me. Would the coal producer deliver his goods to the steel factory, or would the steel factory send someone to pick up the coal. Or maybe both happens, but how would the game decide that?

Christian: The rule of thumb is that production buildings always send goods to other production facilities. While production facilities cannot request goods from another production building, they can get resources stored in the warehouse if needed. The warehouse itself has no own transport units, so the carts always come from the production building to pick up or deliver goods from the warehouse. The facility decides on its own if it is more effective to wait for the delivery from a different production building or to get the needed resources from a warehouse instead. As travel distance on streets is the deciding factor for that, players can have an impact with clever city planning. With that, it allows you to create optimized economic districts.

Fuzzykatze
Will sea-based trading have an AI to pick the most efficient route based on wind?

Christian: Trading routes will not consider wind (which can also change). You will however be able to create your own routes with manual waypoints to improve its efficiency and to avoid hostile ships.

Azrael5111
Hearing that all warehouses will have mirrored storage has me a bit worried. I would prefer if you could manually assign which wares individual warehouses should accept or block. My other question would be whether the mirrored goods affect the overall storage capacity of the warehouses.

Christian:
In fact, every single Anno title had mirrored storages, so it is a part of the classic as well as newer Anno experience. The return of physical goods will bring some management complexity back into the game. We have experimented with different scenarios, but not mirroring the wares just resulted in an extremely high need to constantly micromanage that dominated gameplay and drew the player’s attention away from other aspects of the game. Things like storage capacity are an ongoing balancing topic and we need to see if it would hurt or benefit the game flow if additional warehouses would also ramp up the storage limit. In the current version of the game, this is only the case with the kontor and the depot.

MyLittlePiglet
I really like that you are going back to the physical goods, similar to older games such as Anno 1404.
I have just one question: Will you always need a road connection? Or do some parts also work without road connection? For example, in Anno 2070 upgraded warehouses and depots had a flying unit that could pick up goods without a road connection.

Basti: All buildings will require a road connection. As we stated in our logistics blog, streets will have a bigger impact on your logistics than before and as such planning the ideal street layout will be important when planning your perfect metropolis.

13 Comments

Union Update: That was 2017!

Looking back on our journey, the last four month were an incredibly exciting and sometimes tense journey. The Anno Union started with a vision and like the great explorers of old, we always believed in our idea but nobody could foresee where the journey would lead us along the way.
The Anno Union is still sailing strong and we are confident that our fleet is on the right track, thanks to all the amazing support from our Anno fans.

We want to close the first chapter of the Anno union and the year 2017 with a short recap of everything that has happened so far. This was just the beginning, and we hope that you are as excited for 2018 as we are!  We will be back with new content for you all in January, and however you spend the festive season, we hope you will have a great time!

The great Gamescom Announcement
How would it turn out? We were confident that our fans would enjoy the 19th century setting of our new game, but the Anno Union was still a big experiment for us. And yes, I can tell you that seeing the positive reactions to the surprise announcements of Anno 1800 and the Union were quite the rush for all of us. However, it was only the opening salvo, and over the following weeks and months, we worked with you all to shape the Anno union into what it is today.

The spirit of the Union
To start things off, we had a lot of ground work to cover. Game development is a complex science, and even game ideas that are great on their own ill not necessarily result in a great game when combines with hundreds of others. Reacting to your questions, feedback and even skepticism was our answer and helped us to improve the program. It is an ongoing journey, where we listen and improve, while you react and inspire. As we are getting closer to our release, let us all push the Union forward together to become a great community hub even beyond the launch of Anno 1800.

DevBlogs – a look behind the curtain
Having exclusive looks behind the scenes is surely exciting but that was not our only intent. Game development is a complex task and an Anno title is a collaborative effort of a big development team. We have seen countless great ideas from our community but adding all of them to a game would end up in a development process, which would probably never end. So we decided to give you insights, explain how we set up our development roadmap, how we evaluate your feedback and even gave you a detailed look on the production processes.
From concept art to logistics, we will continue to give you more artistic and informative insights into Anno 1800 and its features. Of course, this important foundation will also give you the needed knowledge to impact development and it enables us to ask you, true Anno experts and veterans, for very specific feedback on certain game elements.

Alpha Cake! We got to treat ourselves sometimes, right?

Votes, Feedback and Improvements
With the Anno Union, we promised to give you exclusive insights in the development process while your feedback should help us to shape the game during development.
Not surprisingly, you definitely knew how to deliver on your end. In the first week alone, we received countless comments and feedback on our game direction and the Union. But how would your feedback actually improve the game?
With our first Vote, we had you decide about the last AI character in the game, while additional development votes would be our weapon of choice to let you have the final word on specific aspects of the game. As such, the first Union vote was only the kick-off, as we soon after decided to let you have more creative impact with the voting for the world fair event.
So Mr. Gasparov was first and it is safe to say that the visionary architect appreciates that you decided that the Urbanism Exhibition will be the fourth event for our world fair monument!

In the future, we want to mix things up further, ranging from votes where you help us decide on certain content to having an impact and influence on future votings.
With our blogs, you gave us constant quality feedback in our comments and started further discussions in our forums. Since then, that feedback has fueled our development meetings, from the production team discussing your ideas up to Union sentiment becoming constant topic in our big milestone and other team meetings.
While the Union greatly benefited the game from the get go, we will utilize that power in our communities even further with upcoming playtests and future improvements to the Union program.

The first stream
The idea for a stream was born in the early days of the Union but building the streaming room, working on a concept and finding ideas how we can talk about the development and show you the game was not always an easy task. There is one thing I have learned over the years: no matter how many times you setup a streaming room and prepare a show, something can and probably will go wrong.
But break a leg, the first AnnoCast was a well-received success and we knew that there is potential to talk about the state of the development and to show you the progress we made. This year was a test-run and with the latest reveal of gameplay, we look forward to upcoming episodes and further production updates. Besides the AnnoCast, we will also continue to celebrate anniversaries of a game series, which will already turn 20 in the upcoming year. There might be the one or another idea for a special episode?


Did you miss our big gameplay reveal stream? We got you covered!

Alpha and Union Playtest
Showing the state of the game is one thing but to let you actually play the game allows us to get pinpoint feedback on the game experience. And as we just achieved Alpha status with the game, we are ready to use that feedback to its full potential. Over the course of the next year, we will continue to utilize community feedback via the Union, forum, votes or surveys but the Alpha is also the time when feedback from Union playtests matter. So keep an eye on the Union for future updates about upcoming playtests and other events.

More to come…
The year 2017 already felt like a tour de force but things will get even more exciting next year, as every month will bring us closer to the long awaited launch. Beside continuous DevBlogs, streams and playtests, we want to improve existing formats and bring you new content to the Union. More support for fan projects, more ways for you to interact with us and to let your creative energy loose. The great entries to our story contest alone shows us that there is so much potential for great creations in the Union.

And in the spirit in the Union, where we all work together to create a true Anno game for the fans, what are your wishes and ideas for the Union in 2018? What was your favorite Union moment, what would you like to see us doing more or is there something we could improve or even which is currently missing? Share your thoughts about the start of our journey and things to come with us and we cannot wait to come back to you after the holiday season!

Happy Holidays,
Your Anno Team

 

 

 

7 Comments

Union Update: Studio playtest in Mainz

Last week, we opened the doors of our studio in Mainz to eight Union members, giving them the chance to play an in-development version of Anno 1800, in order to provide us early feedback on the current state of the game. All the great discussions in the Anno Union non-withstanding, these playtests are an important tool for us to check small details, analyze the game flow and observe the play behavior of our veterans.

That brings up the question how such playtest events actually work, and how they can help us during development.
It is not only a matter of observance, experience and analysis of Union comments; instead, the devil is in the details. Exactly these details are important for us to see if the game flow is working and if we can identify blockers, which might sour the gameplay experience.
To get a feeling if we are on the right track or need to work more on certain aspects of the game, we utilize various forms of feedback- from soft data or community sentiment such as Union comments all the way up to metrics providing hard data or reports from our playtests. While the Anno Union is a great way for us to tell how the community feels about the state of the game or to gather ideas from Anno veterans, playtests allow us to have very precise observations.

During last week’s playtests, our guests played an early version of Anno 1800 for several hours and shared their evaluation of the game in extensive feedback interviews.

Playtesters enjoying the session

Detailed examination and interviews
Even before the interview part, we started to observe our players pretty closely. While our GamesLab team recorded the sessions and preserved the savegame for further analysis, they also took many notes and asked them very specific questions. Small tasks, such as showing if they can find a game element, are time tracked to get a feeling if our UI and UX design are working as intended. However, our testers had also many comments and findings during the sessions, which not only piqued the interest of our GamesLab team, but also that of our Game Designer Christian, who watched their play behavior closely.
After the play session, our Union testers had the chance to give a detailed evaluation of the different game elements and told us how they liked the experience and evaluated if we are on the right track.

Even more data!
After the event, our GamesLab team provides us with a report, so we can sit together to discuss and analyze the results and feedback and furthermore, compare them with our own observations and previous data. That is why a number of playtests are necessary, as one play test alone is not enough to get the full picture- we need further stats, results, Union sentiment and of course more playtests. While the Anno Union allows us an excellent overview of the community sentiment, on-side playtests and Close Alpha studies provide us with detailed observations (when did players reach a certain point of progression, what  do to they like to build etc.).

And it was only the beginning…
The outcome of those observations sometimes result in immediate action, while others might need further evaluation. If we see that a specific UI element is not working, we can give that directly to the UI team to review the issue. If there is something not right about balancing of a unit or production chain, our Game Design can start to work on a solution for that issue. You can replicate that process on various elements of the game, from coding, bugs, which have to be reproduced by our QA team or visual elements, which still need some work.
Sadly, not every problem is as easy to identify as a harbor district, which has a habit of frequently burning down for no good reason. Gameplay or content changes can have quite an impact on the various game elements and we need to get an idea how much work hours would be needed in production to work on an A or B solution.
So rest assured that this playtest was only the beginning and we will continue to get as much feedback as possible from you all in order to create the Anno 1800 you all deserve.

So as always, keep a close eye on announcements about further playtests in the upcoming year.

An exclusive look behind the scenes – the studio tour was a special highlight during the day.

Communtiy Update
We are currently preparing the next episode of our Anno Cast, which will take place this Thursday with a real world premiere: For the first time ever, we will show Anno 1800 live and in action!
So keep a cup of coffee ready and tune in this Thursday, 16:30 CET on: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

We will also provide a blog article with the embed stream, as usual.

Community Spotlight
As some of you might be already aware of, our community has moved to a new Discord channel. So let’s out the spotlight on Medaurus, Admin of the Annoverse fan Discord:

Hi all, we are Annoverse!
We are an English and German speaking Discord server, and our goal is to be a platform where Anno fans can discuss and connect. Our focus is not only on the newer Anno titles, as we have also many active fans of the classics Anno games. Here you can meet up for multiplayer sessions, share your works and achievements or work with other fans on solutions for any Anno relevant topic.
Other than Anno chatter, there is surely also space to talk about anything our community is also interested in.

You can find us under the following link: https://discord.gg/V4xhZ8Z

 

6 Comments

Union Update: Playtest and AnnoCast

While blogs are a great way for you to get insider information about the development and for us to get your immediate feedback, we also need to know how the game actually feels and plays when gamers get their hands on Anno 1800.

That is why our second Anno Union Playtest will happen this week, with a small group of active Union members visiting us here in Mainz to share their feedback about the Anno 1800 gameplay in its current state. Expect coverage about that playtest with next week’s Union Update.
This Anno Union playtest marks only the beginning: From next year on, we want to give more Union members the chance to get their hands on the game, whether it is another on-site event with a small group of players, diary studies or larger online tests where you can participate from the comfort of your own homes.

So keep an eye on future news about upcoming playtests, and keep in mind that being an active and constructive member of the Anno Union is the best way to get an invitation to one of the playtests. We also might leverage some ideas from the Union for future tests, such as an application process to identify potential candidates.

Anno 1800 Livestream: 14th December at 4:30 PM
The end of the first year of the Anno Union draws near, but we wouldn’t want to leave you without some more streaming goodness.  And this time, we will not only talk some more about the game, but it will in fact be the very first time we actually show Anno 1800 live gameplay.
Turns out that, except for some prototype footage and some small clips and screenshots here in the Union, we haven’t actually shown any gameplay at all so far, so we should maybe make amends here.

We will as always provide you an article with the embed Twitch stream shortly before it starts, and if you will not be able to join us, we will of course provide a summary and a link to the show the week after.

AnnoCast 02 will air next week Thursday, 14th December at 4:30 PM CET on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Vote Closing next week
With over 2000 votes, it’s time to finish up our vote for the world fair event. You completely forgot to leave your vote? Then consider this your last call to make your voice count before we close the community vote upcoming Monday. As there are only a few weeks left until the end of the year, expect the next vote to hit the Anno Union early 2018.

Talking of votes, how about we leave you with a small teaser: we bet you still remember our first big vote and its winner, the visionary Artur Gasparov. Well, while he was quite busy after an exhausting election, we managed to steal a bit of his attention for this week’s DevBlog.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

Community QnA

fleischlaberl
We are still missing some information about the military system and I would like to get the bigger picture (just as an example, how will the takeover of an enemy harbor will look like?). Only then will I be able to share my opinion about the ground units. Maybe share more information first before you discuss things internally?

Basti: Feedback is an important driving force for us but we also need to get the greater picture. For that reason, we often have to discuss certain aspects in the production team first. We understand that especially after the military blogs, you direly want more information. You have to be a bit patient with us for a moment but rest assure that we will come back with further details regarding military.

DiruKamachi
I always loved the Postcard Mode and used it a lot, especially when I managed to get one of the animals in Anno 1404.

Basti: The postcard mode will be back in Anno 1800 and we can’t wait to see all your creative energy when it comes to Anno panorama pictures.

palemale53
I have always been very interested in the process by which “assets” are created. I was particularly interested in how you achieve such a detailed texture while not sucking the life out of my poor PC. Is there any chance of a time-lapse video of this process, of taking the concept and making these fabulous buildings in an Anno game? Pretty please …
Niclas-J
This may be a big ask, but I would love to see more videos regarding the development of 3D assets.

Basti: Even smaller videos take some to time create but we will see that we can spice up future articles with more video content. Time lapse videos are even more difficulty but let us see if we can find a volunteer in the team for that.

OneclickLP
Will there be unicorns?

Basti: I know exactly why you ask that so…..no comment 😀

5 Comments

Union Update: Early Communication

Our community if players has been following the Anno series for most 20 years. That just shows that they all share one major trait with both the veterans and newcomers in our development team alike: an undying passion for Anno.

With our second DevBlog about the military, we have given you all a first look at what naval combat will be like in the upcoming Anno 1800. With hundreds of comments to date, it is fair to say that we have not only received a lot of, but also all very detailed and thoughtful feedback, which shows that the military and ground combat and near and dear to the hearts of some parts of the Anno communities. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!

We did of course expect that this news would cause some controversy, which is precisely why we wanted to share it now. Our clear goal with the Anno Union is not only to gather your feedback, but also to offer you a transparent look behind the scenes of game development. Being transparent is of course a lot easier when you can deliver positive news, but can in return be all the more important when it is time to be the bearer of disappointing news. That is why it was very important for us to let you know, well in advance of the game’s release, which parts of the military system will be included.

Reading your comments, we can see a clear tendency with some recurring themes. For one, that many of you wish that they had more information about how your naval forces will be able to lay siege to an island.
Most present however, is the wish for a return of land-based combat, after many ears of absence. The Anno Union is of course all about finding ways for your feedback to influence the game’s development, as far as circumstances and resources will allow this. That is why your feedback on this topic is very valuable to us.

That is why we will, first of all, take the required time to discuss your feedback within the development team. We appreciate that you would all like to hear back on your concerns and wishes as soon as possible, but we hope you understand that this is not always possible given the complexities of game development.

Rest assured, we will come back to you about that topic in future!

Development work on the Anno Union
As some of you may have already notices, the long-awaited improvement development here on the Anno union website has begun. We will inform you in the future with a full list of changes; for now, don’t be surprised if you can already see some new things popping up as we speak (like notifications emails for comments).

11 Comments

Union Update: 2070 Stream Summary

In today’s Community Update, we will give you an overview over the Anno 2070 stream as well as some hints on upcoming Anno Union content. When it comes to community QnA, we count on discussions fueled by this week’s DevBlog. Expect our answers to your questions to be back with the Union Update Monday next week.

Our Anno 2070 party was a success, even with Keto being too late for the anniversary. Based on your wishes, we played a bit with the customize options in the endless game mode in order to ensure a more exciting and challenging session. Funny enough, the actual challenge did not came from the AI itself. As 90 minutes are a not very long span of time for true Annoholics, the real struggle came by our players itself, which had to always clean up the mess of the doing of their predecessors. For future let’s play streams, we thought about starting with a previously created savegame or how about to let you, our community, decide or even create the scenario for us?
As with our 1701 anniversary, we also raffled some goodies during the stream. The winners from the Anno 1701 and the Anno 2070 raffle can expect a package from our studio soon.
Many questions revolved around the profession of our guests and their memories about the development of Anno 2070. Here an overview over the developers wo joined our stream:

Dirk, Creative Director
Christian, Software Developer
André, Senior Concept Artist
Rolf, 3D Artist
Sebastian, Game Designer
Norbert, E.P (Executive Plant)

If you have some burning questions to our guests but missed the chance to get them answered during the stream, feel free to leave a comment below! We will see that we forward your questions to the team to answer a few of them during the next Community Update.
During the stream, Dirk gave us some insights about the with Anno 1800 coming options to customize your game experience to a major degree. Replay value is on top of our priority list for Anno 1800.
When it comes to the decoration about the streaming room, we have to ask you for some more patience. As we have currently some construction work in our development studio going on, we decided to make the changes all together at the beginning of the next year. You can look forward to a nice Anno 1800 wall including your screenshots and other community highlights.
Developer Rolf shared his interesting progress from a former concept to 3D artist and with that, we teased an upcoming “behind the scenes” DevBlog, where we will show you how we create 3D models for Anno 1800.
Furthermore, we had an announcement to make at the end of the stream: we will have one more episode of the AnnoCast until the end of the year, and this time, we will show Anno 1800 gameplay live and in action for the first time!

As you know, running streams is a collaborative effort by the development team and as a result, we can only broadcast once a while and not on a weekly basis. However, it seems that you like our streams and we surely have plenty of ideas in our mind for future shows to come. Maybe you yourself played with the idea to stream Anno on your own or you are already waving the Union flag with your own Anno stream? We want to support you and find ways how we can share the Anno Union with all the people out there. It could be Anno stream spotlights or broadcasting assets we provide, maybe even an Anno multiplayer event, which we run or host on our channel?

2 Comments

Union Update: 2070 Anniversary

In 2011, the face of the Anno series changed with a giant leap into the future. With Anno 2070, we changed our sails with high tech ferries and were ready to explore the world of the future, where global warming changed the planet and caused the sea to conquer the continents.

With the futuristic setting came not only drastically changed visuals for the series, but also an expansion of the Anno formula, as it was now possible to explore the deep sea and settle on the ocean floor. As this week marks the 6th birthday of Anno 2070, we would like to share a few memories of our developers and the Anno union with all of you.

Anniversary Stream this Friday
Tune in this Friday to join our Anno 2070 anniversary stream. Based on your feedback to the last anniversary event, we decided to ramp up the difficulty level a bit to keep the tension high. The stream will go live this Friday, 17th November at 4pm CEST, as usual on our Ubisoft Blue Byte Twitch channel:

Developer Memories

Dirk Riegert, Creative Director
I remember as if it was yesterday, when we set the first corner stones for the development of Anno 2070. It was shortly before the release of Anno 1404. Our publisher (back then, Related Designs was not a full part of the Ubisoft network) wanted the fifth installment of the series to be a bigger step and an interesting iteration of the franchise. They wanted us to inject a fresh new take into the franchise and it was on us to bring up ideas for a new setting.

But what should be the new time period for the next Anno? Which solution would work with the traditional game elements of the series but would also offer something unexpected? When the Ubisoft delegation arrived in our office in November 2008, we were prepared with a presentation, including all of our combined ideas for the game with the working title »Anno 5«. We had considered all kinds of sensible and crazy time periods, and spent a lot of time with the ones which made most sense for the series, with options such as Anno 1305 or wild ideas like Anno Vikings. We ended up with five concepts for our setting: Anno 117, Anno 1602, Anno 1800 (yes, we thought about that quite a while ago), Anno 2160 and Anno 3006.

For the Anno 2160 concept, we noted down that it was »probably too crazy«.  However, we still wanted to explore that idea for a setting as we saw the potential for many interesting possibilities for the look and the design of the game. We had the first ideas after watching the movie »Deep Blue« and reading an article regarding the possible economic use of the deep sea. What if the fifth Anno would allow players to not only build their settlements on islands above the sea level, but also on plateaus deep beneath it? That idea was fascinating to us. To our surprise, 2160 was the idea which excited Ubisoft most when we presented our five proposals for the next setting. That they were willing to take a bet on a completely new setting astonished us in the same way it made us happy. It did not took much time to discuss the next step and shortly after, we were able to start working on the game, which would go on to become Anno 2070.

At the end, the risk was worth taking. Up to this day, Anno 2070 is the commercially most successful title of the entire series. Besides the advances to digital distribution, which allowed us to expand to international markets, this was surely also due to the bold move to a fresh new setting.

Christian Rösch, Software Developer
If you followed our last anniversary blog, you might know how much can go wrong when working on the movement of units. With 2070, we introduced air units to the series and with that, we had a lot of crazy ideas to try out. Ships travel across the see and might meet each other along the way, sometimes, a bit too close which might lead to a crash on high waters. That is different with air units as they can alter their altitude. For us a lucky situation to be in, because we were finally able to avoid that annoying collision. I started to work on some kind of a virtual air traffic controller, who had always an eye on the flight routes of air units. If the controller noticed that two planes are on a collision course, he took action and ordered them take a different altitude. A great system which worked out well, not even the cart pusher got weirdly affected compared to the last time. But there was a catch to it, this time the isometric perspective of the human perception. If you watched the airplanes moving, you had a hard time to grasp those planes would fly up and down as your brain always expect that they just move south or north. Often, it seemed that they planes crash and clip through each other while in reality they, just passed by under each other. As it just looked confusing, we decided that all units still get the same altitude to move in order to avoid confusion and that they would only loose altitude when landing.

Carsten Eckhardt, Senior 3D Artist
During the last steps of Anno 2070’s development, most 3D work was done and we, as 3D designer, helped out creating icons for the game. The icons in 2070 were apparently not drawn; each one of them was a small 3D icon, which we created for the game. It usually took some time to find the right lighting and position in order to display the icon to its advantage.  As icons are fairly small, you need to focus on the essentials and cannot really tell a complex story compared to a more detailed picture. The players must understand the meaning and function of the item from the get go. Moreover, icons must be distinctive from each other to avoid confusion. Leveldesign was working on the campaign and for that, they needed an icon once a while, mostly for items which got transported or used by the player. One day, we got an icon request from our level design team including a description of the gameplay purpose of the item. I did a few icons before that but this time; I could tell that this request was somewhat special. This request should proof itself as quite a challenge. The description was a spy camera, which the player should use in an underwater mission, but before that, he had to smuggle it on board of a science station. The catch was that as a smuggling good, the icon should look like the spy camera and like an alga at the same time. Congratulations, I just got the request to create a camera, which should like an alga. Luckily enough, I was able to convince the responsible level designer that it might not be the best idea to have so many information in one simple and small icon. At the end, we could agree on the camera looking like an UBS stick in two states, one version with and the other without the secret information on it.

Community Memories

Bellasinya
Anno2070 ….for the first time a futuristic setting. And it was dark… pretty dark, at least for the tone we are used in Anno games. The multiplayer was awesome, I remember how I picked a friend of mine to only take care of the military aspects. I managed the residents and resources to produce weapons while he was battling the pirates. I am a fairly peaceful Anno player, he likes warfare, the perfect combination!

RPr0
During the last new year’s eve, we schemed the plan to just play through the whole night with Anno and a few other games. As you might imagine, it was a bad idea to play any other game when the first game on the list is Anno. We played nothing else during that night. As we were experienced players, we managed to build and advance our settlements with ease. It did not took too long for us to be at war with the AI and the last remaining free islands, as I never had enough corn to get along with the eco guys. And with that, I played through the whole night and it was around 10am, when I heard a loud snoring noise coming from my friend through the Teamspeak channel. I was able to wake him up but some shouting was involved. It was that moment when we both realized, that we had played Anno for over 12 hours without a noticing it. This night is one of my best gaming memories of all time.

Ixam97
My probably most memorable experience was the „Alwinic Anion Catalyst – Moment“. We played in a group of three and by that time, had spent hours in that one match already. I was looking for the prototype for quite a while, so you might imagine that I was quite euphoric when the Trenchcoat had it finally in its stock. The result was that I was very vocal about to my dear players, and they reacted: One of them threatened my with a change of the offer and the other one just bought it in front of my eyes (and gifted it at the end to me, which saved myself 900 licenses). All in all, I love to think back to this time and it’s many, many moments of joy *sheds a tear*

14 Comments

Union Update: Welcome November

After a fairly short week for us, we are back and ready to engage the month of November with new content. A big thanks for all the feedback regarding the anniversary week. As you seem to like the anniversary idea, we decided to do some similar content for the upcoming Anno 2070 birthday. Furthermore, the streams are well received and we will see how we can further improve based on your feedback  to bring you more episodes of the AnnoCast and the Anniversary Let’s Plays, as well as showing you Anno 1800 live and in action as soon as technically possible. But the streaming means also means a lot of additional work for us and for that reason, we won’t be able to bring you requested weekly shows or even expand the streams to two or even three hours. We think that the Union understands – and agrees! – that the development of Anno 1800 is our top priority. We also have to report that Norbert filed a complaint, as he was so far not given the screen time fans asked for. We surely don’t want to get in trouble with our HR department, so we are looking at ways to include him in the future.

Regarding development, we are currently working on our next big development milestone and will share an update about the state of the game with you soon. As previously announced we will give you some interesting details about military this month as well as spotlight the work of a 3D artist. Also, please welcome our Senior Game Designer and stream operator Christian, as he will help me out with today’s Community QnA.

But before we start with todays QnA, here comes the call to action for the Anno Union: Share your Anno 2070 memories, crazy stories or anecdotes for the upcoming Community blog in the Anno 2070 anniversary week!

Community QnA

NK3D
I am happy about the fact that you are planning to have a player testing capable version of the game ready by this year, does that mean we can expect a small stream?

Basti: We currently discussing requirements for our development build in order to show you Anno 1800 gameplay sections during a Developer Stream. While we still want to improve our general stream setup, we know now that it works. We cannot give you an ETA right now but we want to show you Anno 1800 in action as soon as technically possible. I can tell that we will start displaying certain elements of the game including developer talks rather than a let’s play format.

Sir_Obelexxus
One question regarding the selection process for testers. It is clear that not everyone will be able to make it into the first play test. Would it make more sense to create a small application process, where you can ask important questions such as “which way you want to travel to the location? The city of Mainz is over 400km away from some places in Germany, which is a bit much to just “show up” to test Anno 1800. Is there anything like that coming or planned?

Basti: We plan various Anno Union playtests until the release of Anno 1800. We will invite a small focus group for the first test, where the participants will visit us in our studio in Mainz. More tests will happen in larger groups in our studios, at different place or playable from your own home PC. The best-case scenario for us are these latter tests, in which you will be able to participate from the comfort of your home. This allows us to invite a larger numbers of players from all players, and to have the game tested on a wider range of possible hardware configurations, depending on our needs for the specific test. The idea of an application process is interesting and we will see in which form it could make sense for us for future tests.

Julius_A.
How will it work when citizens die in my settlement? Will there be a graveyard or something similar in the game?

Basti: While we will have a church as a basic need, dying citizen won’t be a gameplay element in Anno 1800. Citizens might leave your settlement because of missing fulfillments of basic needs or other elements but adding that layer would overcomplicate things more than actually benefit the Anno game design.

Montanus77
As with the voting with the AI character, it is quite hard to vote for something if you are missing the greater picture or don’t know how it will affect a feature in a larger scale. I would like to ask you to provide more insights about the content of future voting’s and also tell us, what kind of decisions were set in stone about that content before starting the community vote.

Basti: Good Feedback, we will see how we can keep that in mind with future votes in order to provide a little bit more background information about the underlying systems of voted content. While AI characters are a long established feature in the Anno series, the world fair blogs showed us that it was not clear for every Anno Union member, how the event feature actually works in detail. We however also have to consider development timelines, where many things are being work on in parallel; by the time one element may be fully set in stone, it could already be too late to have the community vote on related elements.

Depace
Personally, I would have liked it more to have a bigger production line from the get go, as complexity in the game is a really important part for me. Also, the fishing hut was always the first to go building to kick off the food production, a change to that would have been a great chance to mix things up a bit without having too much of an impact on the games feeling.

Basti: During the concept and development phase, we take a closer look at all game elements to evaluate if it makes sense to perform certain changes to the Anno formula or if that could even damage the overall feeling and balancing of the game. Decisions often being made based on experience and sometimes a certain feeling what could work but with Anno 1800, we want to take advantage of the Anno Union initiative to directly work with your feedback as an additional layer, from allegedly small features like the first tier of the food production chain to crucial larger scale content. Based on that feedback, we made the decision that, with the traditional start in the food supply chain, newer players will have an easier start, veterans a familiar environment while it will not y have a negative impact on the overall complexity of the game.

Lord1anni
I think it would be really cool if the transported goods (in this case on horse-carts) would not just vanish from the roads and instead drive to the actual production building. I would not mind if the crates would just appear just like that on the cart.

Christian: With the current implementation state of the feature, we want that the market carts are visible while unloading their goods. But as the visual representation of the logistic system is not fully implemented yet, a lot of that might be subject to change until we reach Beta state. As you might have heard already, we are currently experimenting with goods being actually moved from one production building to another instead of just being picked up at a warehouse. The main reason is that we want to show how busy the warehouse can get in the game world. If you see that there are too many market carts causing a small traffic jam in front of the warehouse, it might be a good moment to think about building an additional one or upgrading the existing warehouse.

Are you guys interested in getting more details about the logistic system or do you want to rather explore it your own when the game comes out? Let us know in the comments below!

HippoKillar184
I would be interested what kind of goods will be in the game, my favorites are the more complex production chains like wine or candle sticks from 1404.

Christian: The production chains will be a mix between familiar and completely new goods. That means you will see some traditional chains such as bread or fish, while the industrial revolution allows us to implement new ones like steel production. While progressing in the game, goods will become more advanced and as a result, production chains longer, more complex and difficult to handle. We will dive into that topic into greater detail in a future DevBlog.

Swimming-Paul
Do you think you could make an update in the future about ornamentals? Or isn´t that considered important enough?

Basti: Whether it is beauty building, trading and economy or military domination, players have always had their preference for their favorite game approach. Beauty building is a very important aspect of the game and for that reason, we will provide more development insights about ornaments and other beauty building aspects in future. It would be interesting for us to know what beauty builders are hoping for in the game.

Annosofeles FORUM
How will mining resources look in the game? Will it be more like 2070 or 2205, where you have general spots for where you can decide which resource you mine or more like 1404, where each resources has a designated spot for reach resource type. How about the quantity of resources in each node? More like 1404 (limited but you can refill them with money) or like 2205 (unlimited) or even like 2070 (limited and only refillable with items)?

Basti: Mining resources have set spots, which are generated with the isles when you start a new game. The various resources have their designated spots, which means you have to construct your coalmine on a coal node. The amount of coal or any other mining resource will not be limited and as a result, cannot deplete. When we show you more about the production chains in future, we will also tell more about the mineral extraction.

15 Comments

Union Update: 1701 remembrance

„My most beautiful memories about the game are about my then-girlfriend and my cousin, as they were as crazy about Anno as I was. We turned on our notebooks, sat down on a round table in front of the chimney and played until the middle of the night. Anno was a companion on my lifes journey.” – Striffelbaer

Many of us keep many precious memories, as they were part of our gaming lifes for so many years and the reason for that much-cited special Anno feeling. These moments show us that across the many years and titles in the series, a great and unique gaming community was always part of our journey. Eleven years ago, Anno 1701 had its maiden voyage- full speed ahead into the third dimension to bring us new visuals and features to allow us to immerse ourselves in the world of Anno like never before. We would like to raise our hat to Anno 1701 and its community, and therefore this week’s content will be dedicated to the first Anno in 3D!

Anno 1701 was an important leap for the series as a whole, as the third Anno introduced new features and systems and with that, set the direction for future titles. We would like to highlight the special memories from our community today and the upcoming Devblog will explore our own memories as Anno developers and why Anno 1701’s heritage is still of importance to the upcoming Anno 1800.

Did you know that Anno 1701 had two board game tie-ins and even a book? Maybe some of you even own one of these precious pieces? We are interested what objects you might have in your collection and if you are a fan of the idea of expanding the Anno universe with board games or other merchandise!

Twitch Stream: Anno 1701 Let’s Play
It’s anniversary week so how about a small party? And what would be better suited for a celebration than to take seat in a cozy chair while watching us sharing memories and putting some effort in building our own Anno 1701 settlement. We will kick off our first Let’s Play stream this week in order to celebrate the anniversary of Anno 1701. Join our small party stream this Thursday 26th of October, 4:30pm CEST on: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Fan Creations
We asked for your best Anno 1701 memories and creations and community member and artist Anno90 answered that call. We are happy to present a true Anno Union masterpiece:
Last but not least, we would like to share a few of those very special Anno 1701 Union memories, funny throwbacks and even touching stories:

Soulridder
I guess Anno 1701 was my first Anno ever. Back then, I played it on a Nintendo DS, because I did not own a PC at that time. ^^ The most satisfying experience was build your city on a volcanic island and later take someone’s island for your own just to expand it even more. Not quite that easy with a negative income where my only income came from raiding other AI players, but it made fun to rebuild the island and expand it once it was taken, especially because I couldn’t build much and once I took some island completely. I also played games where I just build up my city without raids, but a volcanic island was a must-have for me and still is in all Anno games where a volcano exists like in 1404.

Marc_The_Miner
I was born 2004, so I am fairly young. My first Anno game was 1404 and I was so excited about the game that I wanted to get the more Anno titles and I ended up playing 1701. Despite being an older game, I really liked the visuals and had a great time playing. The best thing about 1701 is that you can declare your independence from the Queen and that you can attack other civilizations. That leads to more gameplay freedom as nobody tells me what or how to do it!

NK3D
My most beautiful memory is an also a very personal and special moment for me. As a small boy, I desperately wanted to play Anno 1701, especially after playing 1602 and 1503. I just wanted to experience the look and feel of the new title. One day, quite some time after the release of 1701 had passed,; my mom came home and brought a gift for me. It was Anno 1701 – The Sunken Dragon. She told me that it was a great bargain (single mother and we had not much money) but we both had no clue that it was an expansion and I was happy until I realized that I could not play it…. I was sad and my mom did not understand why until she did some research and understood that it was not the full game. She promised that, with my next birthday or Easter celebration, I would get Anno 1701 as a gift. And indeed, that is what happened! It was an amazing moment and we both were incredibly happy about the outcome. I spent some many hours playing Anno 1701 and I still play it today. It holds a wonderful emotional memory for me and it still holds up greatly. Thank you for bringing this kind of moment with the anniversary content back!

LadyH.
Anno 1701 *dreams*, just wonderful times <3
I can remember how sceptical I was at first. An Anno in 3D, can I even play that? I had problems with my eyes back then, especially with everything in 3D. And then, I had the pleasure to get invited to test the game at Related Designs in Mainz. It was brilliant; I just hopped on my bike and drove to the studio. It was a great day, being able to play the game for one day, while the developers watch you and ask you plenty of questions. Oh and then there was the fan meet and greet on Castle Ronneburg. We slept in a B&B and there was a special surprise event in Büdingen. There was an actor outfit doing a nightly tour through in historic garbs re-enacting old stories from the city Büdingen.
After that, we had a meet&greet in the actual castle. We started with a tour, had a lesson on a bow shooting range and a medieval dinner with a herald being responsible for the distraction. I have the fondest memories of that event but I can tell you that it was a lot of work to organize everything. It was great to hear that the son of the chef of the restaurant was a big Anno fan. I just invited both to join our festive party and I made sure that they even got some Anno goodies. Everyone was just delighted. We had plenty of sponsored goodies for everyone, including a real fisherman’s pipe! What a brilliant community, just wonderful.


You can find more pictures from the event on LadyH. homepage: http://ladygames.de/party2007/

2 Comments