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Category: UnionUpdate

Union Update: Happiness and Community QnA

Before we handle the needs of our residents in this weeks DevBlog: Happiness, we will tackle some community questions in todays Union Update. 

Thaliruth
I have a question coming from how other building games do it. I cannot recall Anno games ever having some kind of maintenance mechanics for buildings, such as that they wear off after a while and have to be repaired. How is it with 1800? Do we need to maintain buildings in order to keep the production going?
Answer: Buildings will not wear themselves out from usage and therefore there is no need to perform any maintenance actions. However, incidents such as fire can damage buildings, which will regenerate over time. Ruins on the other hand, have to be manually refurbed by the player. When it comes to harbor defense, repair cranes serve as a measure to maintain your damaged defense structures. While the idea of a maintenance mechanic for buildings sounds interesting for the early game, it would have an extremely heavy micro-management impact in the mid- and late-game. In Anno, you construct not only hundreds or even thousands of buildings across multiple islands and sessions, you also have to take care of trading routes, your fleets and to manage complex logistical networks.

Jinkha5
What if I spent all my influence on a big fleet of ships and then want to change my strategy to use a ton of items or settle on many different islands?
Answer: That depends on the size of your empire, as the amount of influence points is bound to your population. Even if you spend enough points on one category to benefit from the bigger global buff, you will have still some influence at your disposal to invest in other categories. You can also downsize your fleet to reinvest the points in different categories. The military category will allow building fleets at a size and scope previously unseen in an Anno title but a total focus on military won’t be necessary to build up a strong fleet.

Das_ist_Phil
„Investing in Expansion will allow you to settle on more islands, …..”
Does that mean that we will be restricted from the get go? We won’t be able to settle on an unlimited amount of islands and NEED to invest in the expansion category?
Answer: Players who like to steal islands away from AI or other players as fast as possible will need to invest in the expansion category in order to do so. Most players however won’t even need to spend any influence in the beginning, unless they pursue a rush strategy at the start of the game. This way, during the early game influence is especially relevant for players who want to fully commit to a certain playstyle, such as expanding quickly in all directions or to rush a production pipeline to have a large fleet of battle ships as early as possible. When it comes to the “Expansion”category, there is something you have to keep in mind: additional islands will automatically generate influence alongside your growing population (unless you are just claiming new land without establishing settlements). If you just establish a few production islands, you won’t need to spent much (or even any) influence at all but if you want to prevent other parties from expanding, you will need to invest. Players who want to build huge empires don’t need to worry, as influence has no upper limit and will grow together with your empire and its number of inhabitants.

Hexagon19
Is it correct that gramophones are produced by engineers? It makes sense to a degree, but will investors even provide any form of workforce? I also think that it would make more sense that the artisans create the ornaments for the gramophones, instead of the engineers.
Answer: Not all production chains are final yet, as we are still working on balancing, which is also affected by feedback from our focus test groups. It is also important that we find a good distribution of all workforce, in order to ensure that each residential tier is equally relevant, and remains so even in later stages. If we notice that we ask for too many engineers in one production tier while artisans are being left out, we will sit together to find ways to have the workforce distributed more evenly. Since we started developing the game, we had to re-arrange and sometimes even completely change different production chains. But there is one overarching rule: the workforce from all residential tiers stays relevant throughout the whole game.
Investors are different, as they will not provide a typical workforce for your production chains. However, the amount of investors available will play a role when organizing events that are hosted at the world fair.

Ger_Lunak
Will there be a Beta phase for final polishing and bugfixing?
Answer: In order to improve the game, we will continue to make use of our Union focus test program, but also have larger scale testing phases with a lot more players later on.

Frederic440
I would really like to see that every residential tier would get their own enhanced version of the basic kontor. IN the tradition of Anno 1602, it would be great if the enhanced kontor would be available as a project from your construction menu instead of upgrading automatically.
Answer:  While the kontor will not automatically upgrade with every new residential tier, you will be able to upgrade every kontor as well as you warehouses in several stages.

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Union Update: Contest, Stream and details

With today’s Community Update, we want give you an overview on this week’s content and provide a few additional details regarding our last DevBlog about Influence.

As mentioned last week, we are about to start our next big Anno Union contest later this week. This time we will allow you to create your own ship variant and will provide some general guidelines and information needed for you to put your own unique spin on the Imperial Pride.
There were also many questions wondering if we could also allow to create a second variant for the Iron Dragon, as this flaming terror of the seas lost the vote by the smallest of margins. We love seeing your passion, implementing a second community-edited ship is sadly not possible. However, as previously mentioned, you will be able to get your hands on all of the unedited basic ships from the vote.

Next week, we will continue our feature showcase and show you how you can manage the satisfaction of your residents with another DevBlog. With the Happiness feature, you will have the freedom to exploit or to cultivate your residents without lowering one’s sights on advancing your empire to the highest tiers.

Next AnnoAfternoon on the horizon!
Rest is for the wicked – our community team O5ighter and Seraxia jump on deck once again to continue their journey through Anno 1404’s waters. These fellas does not seem to always have a clue what they are doing but at last, they seem to be unstoppable doing so! Give them some support and tune in this SATURDAY at 5pm CEST at twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte
UPDATE: Due to the World Cup Finale, we’re moving the Stream Day from Sunday to Saturday the 14th.

Some additional information to our DevBlog: Influence
Last week’s Devblog about the new Influence system sparked a lively discussions in our communities. As it is a currently worked on feature, our team were eagerly awaiting constructive community feedback and with over 200 comments in the Anno Union alone, we got a lot of material to work with. As our design team currently analyses sentiment from our blog as well as from our focus playtests, we want to share some further insights with your today.

Company Level – Naming conventions and general understanding
Many of you stated that you are not necessarily happy with the word “company”, as it does not feel right given the city-building nature of Anno’s gameplay. As we mentioned before, naming as well as translation is not final at this stage and for us, this kind of feedback can be of equal importance as discussing actual features. Therefore, we will consider using a different name instead of “company level”, which will fit better into the world of Anno 1800.
When it comes to the company level as a gameplay element, which generates your pool of Influence points, we want to provide some additional information on how the system works.

Some of you are concerned that the system hinders you in your ambitions to control and expand over the whole island world. The “company” level is bound to your global population and therefore only limited by size of your empire, which means there is no hard cap applied which will hinder you to conquer everything the way you want to. To put it simply, the more residents living in your empire, the more influence points you will accumulate.
With the progression curve we have in mind, we want you to have enough influence points at the start of a match to push for an agenda while in the late game, your Influence will continuously grow, allowing you to stretch your empire in any direction you want to.

Let’s talk about numbers
We deliberately avoided talking too much about the exact amounts of points and the distribution costs based on category. As a subject to constant balancing, we will continue to change and alter the ratios up until release, and if needed even beyond. For that, we take Anno Union feedback as well as our focus playtests result into consideration. Balancing does not only affect the accumulation your growing pool of influence points but also the amount of free units, the investment costs in each category and even the category gameplay elements as a whole.

Optimisation category and the public buildings confusion
This caused a lot of confusion in our community, as the description of the affected buildings was not clear enough in our blog. The optimization feature only affects the three previously revealed buildings able to slot items: the town hall, harbor office and guild hall. You will be able to construct a set number of each of them for “free” before investing influence points in more of these buildings to boost certain aspects of the game. It will not affect buildings like the church or school and therefore, has no negative impact on the needs of your residents whatsoever.

Work in progress and the expansion category
The idea that vast island expansion is tied to a progression system resulted in some heated discussions and our team is currently going through your feedback. As the feature is still a work in progress, we cannot say how it will affect the whole system, the expansion and other categories right now but we will make sure to give you an update on that topic in a future blog.

 

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Union Update: Ship vote has ended

It was an incredibly close head-to-head race but at the end, the Imperial Pride managed to reach the finish line in a true photo finish just ahead of its closest competitor, the Iron Dragon. But beyond a highly entertaining race to watch, it was also very insightful for us to see how the comments and the actual votes being cast can vary. We knew from the start of the vote that the Imperial Pride would be a strong contender, but given some of the comments about the design, who could have guessed that the Iron Dragon would almost steal the race? On the other hand, the tourist ship did not manage to rally a large enough number of voters, despite being one of the team’s favorites. However, we were all delighted to see that the little tug boat that could was so popular with the Anno Union members.

For the Union members who had high hopes that their personal favorite would make the race, remember that you still will be able to acquire all of the ships via gameplay.

With the closing of the Union Ship vote, we all can look forward to the second stage: the Ship Design Contest, where the Union will be able to hand in their own design ideas for an alternate variant of the Imperial Pride. The exact details for the contest will be shared next week.

When it comes to Union content during the summer, we are not planning to lay back and enjoying the nice weather. Instead, we will bring you exciting DevBlog’s in the weeks to come, among them features highlighting how we encourage player freedom as well as gameplay complexity and customization. The first one will put our new Influence feature into the limelight, a great way to customize and support different gameplay approaches. Gameplay complexity is a theme we mentioned many times since reveal of Anno 1800, but Influence is only one of the many features the game has to offer.

But it is not all just deep systems and mechanics, we will soon tackle one of the most important technological achievements of the industrial age!

Do not forget: English Community Roundtable this evening 7pm CEST
The last weeks German Roundtable session was a blast and today, we are looking forward to have a chat with our international Union community. If you missed the previous roundtables, it is a friendly chat session where our community team and Anno Union members come together to discuss everything Anno 1800 and Anno Union related.
Join our Anno Union community roundtable in our Annoverse Fan Discord at 7pm CEST: https://discordapp.com/invite/V4xhZ8Z

Our communities are important for us: let us know if you run your own fan project or want to share some cool or even crazy ideas how we could highlight projects and content from our Anno communities out there. Just get in contact with us vie the comments, our Anno Ubisoft forum or just hit us on Twitter our official Twitter channel @Anno_EN

We are looking forward to this week’s DevBlog and if you have anything to add, feedback to share or just cool ideas for the Anno Union and our communities out there, let us know in the comments below!

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Union Update: Nine years of Anno 1404

This year marks the 20-year long history of the Anno series and this week, we will jump into our time machine once again, as one of the most influential Anno games has its ninth anniversary. In June 2009, the Anno ship set sail for the fourth time and the prominent feature of the number four fits perfectly for one the most beloved games in the franchise: Anno 1404.

This week, we want to celebrate the ninth anniversary of a true fan favorite. Released on June 23rd in North America as Dawn of Discovery and two days later as Anno 1404 in Europe, the game embraced and expanded many features of its predecessor, Anno 1701.

With its renaissance setting, from gothic architecture to the exotic orient, its complexity and rich feature list, there are many reasons why many Annoholic’s still play Anno 1404 today.
It was the first time we introduced items, expanded on end-game content such as monuments and added a completely new eastern climate zone, to only name a few. The following February, the Venice expansion added even more to the package, with a new neutral Venetian
faction, additional buildings, fresh scenarios and more.

Anno 1404 is one of our main inspiration for the upcoming Anno 1800, as we bring back many of the features fans have asked for while also adding new exciting mechanics and content to the series.

Many of you also might remember the Anno 1404 collector’s edition, coming not only with an art-book and poster but also with truly special items such as a real compass and almond seeds, packed in a nice wooden chest. Who of you proud collectors owns one of these rarities?
If Chris and John managed to get you into the right mood for Anno 1404 entertainment with their AnnoAfternoon Community stream last Sunday, we have more for you! If you missed our last community stream, you can catch up with the VoD here: AnnoAfternoon Episode 2

This Friday, we will host another special anniversary stream here in Mainz. Tune in this Friday 29th at 4.30pm CEST, when the developers of Anno 1800 jump right back into a time of discovery!
Popcorn, anecdotes and backseat gaming allowed: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Developer Stories

Burkhard Ratheiser, Executive Producer
Anno 1404’s development was as extensive as the amount of content, which the game had to offer. Even 9 years ago, creating one building from concept to finish took roughly 20 days of work. Still under the name Related Designs back then, we were able to benefit greatly from our experienced gathered from the work on our first Anno game: Anno 1701. That experience and previous big step into the world of 3D should benefit us greatly, Anno 1404 was more detailed and complex as its predecessor and added many fan favorite features to the series. There is a reason why if you ask Annoholics, Anno 1404 is still one of the most beloved Anno titles.     

But the Union is not the first time that we share development details with our communities. Some of you might remember our developer diaries, and Anno 1404 gives me immediate callbacks to the technical progress of that time. Multicore CPU’s started to become a new standard in PC gaming and we wanted to make use of that potential for Anno 1404.

It is crazy how much has changed since the beginning of the Anno series, two decades ago: from pixel cities to the big leap into 3D, from multithreading to multisession. With Anno 1800, we not only want to follow the footsteps of Anno 1404s complexity, we will also enrich the classic Anno formula with new exciting features.
A snapshot from our 1404 release party. Many of the veterans are still working on Anno 1800 today.

Christoph Knauz, Project Manager
I have fond memories of Anno 1404. Back then, I was a new addition to the studio with my position as “Head of Localization & QA” and Anno 1404 was the first game in there series where I was heavily involved into development. Before that, I was part of Sunflowers and worked on Anno 1503 as well as Anno 1701 as a part of their QA team.

Anno 1404 was for my one of the best productions I ever had the pleasure to be a part of. The team was great, the game was promising and the collaboration with the Community was something special, as we to work with our fans intensively. Compared to today, internet was kind of underdeveloped back then, so we had to rely more on personal contact with our fans. If I recall correctly, we had almost a dozen focus test groups, consisting of almost ten Annoholics, to test the game during the “Beta phase” (which means the period shortly after Alpha but before Beta).
These testers had the chance to test the game for almost 6 hours on a Saturday, in order to provide us feedback in the form of questionaires. Following this, we invited them to roundtables where we gathered furtehr feedback. Developers volunteering from almost every department to guide the players during the tests.

If you so will is the Anno Union with our focus tests also following Anno 1404’s tradition.

Volker Sassen, Game Designer
With the introduction of the orient setting, deserts and their non-flat dunes became a topic in development. They kind of contradicted Anno’s premise, in which you can place buildings and create settlements on a flat 2D plane. Our first try was a mix between even construction terrain and uneven dune areas, but that reduced the construction space significantly and also felt unrealistic.

We started to work on texture solutions, so we painted light and shadows on to the actual texture. But that was not providing satisfactory results, as islands had now only good lighting from one specific viewing angle.

One of our coders came up with a solutions and saved the day, or better to say the dunes. With the use of bump maps, we were able to include light and shadows to the texture in a more granular and dynamic way. The system would interpret these texture layers differently, depending on the camera angle, which gave us beautiful and dynamically looking dunes – a simulated 3D terrain on a 2D construction space.
Throwback: Here our small Anno 1404 booth at gamescom 2009. Who of you where there and do you plan to visit us this year?

Community Stories

Nox_29
I used to (and still do sometimes) go over to my friend’s house every weekend to play Anno 1404 multi-player. It is probably one of the games I’ve played most in my entire life, almost every weekend for 6 years. We usually played multi-player with easy or medium AI players (mostly Leif :D) because we were decent, but not the best Anno players out there.

One time we decided to play against two AI players on hard. I think it was Cardinal Lucius and Giovanni di Mercante.

My friend and I made an alliance and as soon as we hit patrician level, we declared war on the AI players. Our plan was simple: wipe out their fleet as soon as possible and control the sea. This way we could slowly start besieging their islands. I sailed out with a huge fleet to control the seas while my friend was creating a massive siege army. We destroyed Giovanni’s fleet quickly and we just left a sea blockade. The Cardinal was a bit harder but we managed to defeat his fleet as well. My friend immediately started the siege of his main island. This siege took several in-game days and we came together for several LAN parties over the course of several months. Eventually we defeated the Cardinal and left Giovanni’s Island suffering from starvation and the plague.

I have been playing Anno for so long now and it never gets old. For some reason, every continuous game I start is somehow different from all the other ones. And this is, why we still play Anno 1404 today.

Drake-1503
My best 1404-Moment was a contest in which i participated, without having played Anno 1404 a lot before. Through the other contestants and discussions with them, i learned a ton about the game and had a lot of fun. That was always, what excited me about the Anno-Community: Experience something with others. I think, that it might not even matter, which Anno-game you do that with, as the specific requirements for such a contest are always focusing on the areas on the edge, that get excluded normally. This creates a “First Time” Feeling.
And you need humans for that, not features.

Thomas4795
One of my favorite Anno Moments was, when my younger brother challenged me, to play against him and i was only allowed to settle one! island. After 4 hours i had enough nobles to build my large warships and after 8 hours his island went up in flames due to my blockades. I thought i was the greatest (i was pretty young back then).

Or when i played Anno 1404 again, many years later, after the Anno 1800 Announcement, just to play a “quick” game only to have my girlfriend tell me the next morning that “it’s 11 AM, you’re going to bed now”. But i just warmed up from playing (in 18 hours).
Despite it’s age, Anno 1404 looks still beautiful today, thanks to it’s incredible details and love which went into it. 

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Union Update: Next vote ahead!

For the first Union Update for the month of June, we want to share some details about upcoming Union content.
During the last episode of our AnnoCast, we were able to present you Anno 1800’s UI design. From design to functionality, many of you shared their feedback and questions and our UI Design team would like to invite you this week to give you exclusive insights into their design and thought process.

Next week will be a little bit different, as we won’t have a classic DevBlog or Union Update. However, we have something exciting up our sleeves: the first stage of our next Union vote!
We don’t want to leave you fully in the dark, of course, so we can tease that it has something to do with ships and will give you some interesting insights about another third party character in Anno 1800.

Beyond that, you can also expect some new anniversary content for one of the most beloved Anno games in June. Can you believe that it has been 9 years already since 1404 set sail for the first time? Let us see what kind of fond memories and old anecdotes we can gather from our team. And as always we want to hear from you!
What are your personal best Anno 1404 moments, anecdotes or funny stories you remember?

With the engineer’s blog, we moved from the early years of the industrial era to the second wave of the revolution. Naturally, we want to highlight some of the wonders of that time, when the old age passed the torch to a new era. Finally, you can expect the reveal of the fifth and last residential tier as well.

Before we head over to today’s community Q&A, we have one more update for you. We plan to bring you the second community roundtable at the end of this month, this time with two different sessions for our International and German community. The roundtable is an event where we invite everyone from our community to an Anno Union voice chat session to talk about the Union, the game and its fans.
We will share the exact details and dates with you soon!

Community Q&A

Nox29
Will you be scattering little easter eggs across 1800 like you did in previous games?
Answer: Some of you folks have a keen eye and were able to spot some easter eggs already.
Our developers love to sneak smaller and bigger details and easter eggs into the game. Fun fact: We do not even know how many of them will be in the game, as our developers themselves keep it secret.

T1MR
Will street networks be realistically simulated, so that pedestrians and carts can cause congestions?
Answer: The distance travelled on your street network will play a role in the transport of goods in Anno 1800. Production buildings will calculate the most effective way to get goods either from another production building or from the warehouse. As goods are physically represented in the game world, transporting carts will need to queue up in front of your warehouse in order to load or unload the materials. This can, if your street and warehouse network is not optimized, lead to traffic jams in front of the loading/unloading areas.
We had our own development blog dedicated to the logistic system, which you can check out here: LINK

Henning00
Will the attractiveness of a city affect the productivity of some buildings like in Anno 2070?
Answer: Attractiveness itself will not affect the productivity of your industry. The new feature will support beauty builders with meaningful gameplay while also adding a new economic layer to the game. However, we do not want to force players, who want to concentrate on their industry, to use the city attractiveness if they don’t want to.

schwubbe1980
Will it be possible to fast forward time like in 1404, so that the visuals and gameplay will run noticeably faster? (Anno 2205’s fast forward was too slow).
Answer: You will be able to fast-forward the gameplay but the exact parameters are not final yet. With Anno, we always have to find a balance between comfort and usability. Especially with all the different gameplay loops of an Anno game, combined in a large game world and economic simulation, forwarding gameplay too fast would lead to issues. Think about all the things you need to keep track such as complex production chains, economic balance, AI behaviour of your opponents or potential city incidents.

Gert8517
What I would love to see in an upcoming blog are some insights about the soundtrack of the game, if this kind of blog isn’t already in the works or even ready to go. The music in Anno games was for me, especially in the older titles, one of the important factors, which pushed the game experience.
Answer: We are aware that you folks love the Anno music and are curious how we design and create sounds for an Anno game. We are currently working on DevBlogs related to audio design and soundtrack but these blogs take some preparation time.

SirKju
Will tourists just come out of nothing or arriving from different islands? Will it be possible to make use of a sea blockade to cut your opponent off from tourist ships?
Answer: Tourist ships will enter the map and then travel around the session, stopping at any visitor harbour on the map and drop visitors based on the specific attractiveness level of a city. There will be ways to affect the tourism of an opponent’s island, keep an eye on the Union for future details.

drizzle64
I would like to raise something based on the previous gameplay tours through the cityscape of the game. The small people, which run around the various places, are comically huge in the farthest zoom level. I mean sure, you want to be able to identify them but it would make more sense and help the atmosphere if the residents would be small.
Answer: The not realistic proportions in Anno are a deliberate choice, as visual feedback units are not only an important part of the atmosphere; they play an important part in the readability of the game. On one side, you want that the game gives you the feeling of creating a lively city, on the other side need players to be able to get important basic game information when observing feedback units.
However, the current ratios are not final yet and we got a lot of feedback from the community. Rest assured that we will modify the proportions to be more in line with the classic Anno appearance you are familiar with.

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Union Update: Stream Summary May

In today’s update, we will give you a summary of our last AnnoCast developer stream with Game Designer Natacha and UI Designer Jack. Grab a seat and see our completely overhauled UI, the City Attractiveness feature and the Zoo in action!

Thanks to everyone who joined our last AnnoCast , it is awesome to see how engaged Union members discuss and chat with us during our livestream. Our game developer streams provide a great opportunity to show you gameplay from the development version of Anno 1800 and this time, we put our big UI overhaul and the City Attractiveness feature in the limelight. A perfect moment for Game Designer Natacha to give us a tour through the zoo and to demonstrate how the new attractiveness feather offers a major gameplay addition to the Anno series.

Here is a quick overview:

Streaming Room and Community Creations
Even before our first episode of the AnnoCast, we asked you for screenshots and other community creations in order to decorate the streaming room. With the new streaming room, which was literally finished one day before we went live with AnnoCast 04, we can finally use your great screenshots and fan arts to decorate our wall.

Community Island
Speaking of community creations: as some very perceptive viewers accurately noticed, the island which we used for our stream is indeed the Community Island from GMExpresso! You can find out more details about the island here.

UI overhaul and traderoute menu
Since our last episode, Anno 1800’s UI went through a major overhaul. Our UI Designer Khajag “Jack” Jabaghchourian not only demonstrated the new UI, he also talked about the relevance of a good UI design and why it is so important in a strategy game like Anno 1800.
Being a major topic of AnnoCast 03, the traderoute menu was the perfect candidate to show you the visual improvements we added to the latest iteration of the UI. What do you think about the new UI overhaul and our artistic direction? Is Anno 1800’s UI and UX design something where you would like to share feedback or to learn more about in general?

If you want to compare the new and old UI for yourself, you can check out AnnoCast 03 HERE.

City Attractiveness
The Zoo is one of the huge construction projects for Anno 1800’s new City Attractiveness feature. Natacha Hentzien gave us not only a tour through her beautifully crafted tourist paradise, she also went with us to the zoo, showing of some of the common wildlife but also exotic species from far away. While you can sink hours in the highly customizable buildings, we also talked about ornaments, city hotspots and the new visitor harbour. Serving as the drop off point for tourists who want to explore your city, we also had to take care of a special visitor who decided to take root in our city.
But there is a flipside to the industrial revolution, the soot blackened factories are not really something you would call a marvellous vista for tourists. Did you like the smoke effect of our factories? Are you a fan of the tourist visual feedback and the zoo project?

Community Q&A

mmateos19
Rivers and small lakes in the island would be awesome!
Answer: We are currently working on it and hope to share some impressions pretty soon!

Netorak2
Is the purple colour on the menu a players choice or is it always the same?
Answer: There are currently no plans for a customizable UI colour scheme. However, the state of the UI shown during the stream still includes some older elements. The game UI is an ongoing project and with that, still subject to change for the next couple of month. We are really curious about any feedback regarding the UI so keep your questions and feedback coming!

martin1
Is it possible to move buildings?
Answer: Shouldn’t be that hard, right? We give you an update on that matter soon 🙂

eric_spielerheim
The zoo is still missing a fence, are there any plans to add a fence to it?
Answer: While there is currently no fence, we got a lot of feedback from the community and see what we can do!

TwitchChat
What does the Currency in the Public Moorings Interface mean?
Answer: That is the current income earned by tourists visiting your city.

SardaHDD
A
re we forced to make a pretty city and get tourists if we want the best modules/people?
Answer: We will provide many different options to get new items. Attractiveness is only one way to get them and some are specific to the way you can acquire items. So don’t worry, you don’t have to aim for a high City Attractiveness rating to get your hands on the precious specialists.

Sauerbraten95
What happens when I suddenly tear down my zoo? Will people protest?
Answer: The number of tourists visiting your city is determined by the attractiveness rating of your city. If it drops (because you reduce the modules in your zoo, swap out interesting for boring animals or create a new industrial district), a part of them will go back to the harbour and wait for the ferry to leave your island. They might change their mind if you provide new attractions, though.

Jalioss 
What is the max capacity for animals at the zoo? Or can I make the zoo as big as I want?
Answer: With the zoo, customizability and creative freedom are of highest importance. You will be able to freely build and place as many modules as you like, display a variety of different animals and biomes and make use of city ornaments between the animal enclosures.

Lord_Desert
How does it work with the rating for festivities and celebrations? I can’t see any points in that category on your island?
Answer: If the overall happiness of your residence raises, they might return you the favour with celebrations. Furthermore, there are other events which can push your happiness greatly for a short amount of time, which also might result in your residence organizing festivities in your city.

DieHun
W
ill we be able to place every ornament, tree, etc individually (like in 1404) or is it random like in 2205(hope not) where u just draw a rectangle and the game places everything for u?
Answer: You will have full control over what kind of ornament you want to place in your city.

Anno Afternoon #1

On Sunday, the 20th of May, we also had the premiere of our new Anno community stream:  AnnoAfternoon! Anno community team member Seraxia and O5ighter decided to challenge their skills with an old classic and fan favourite: Anno 1404. They even managed to reach a sizeable population of patricians in their town Wolfshafen, as it was named by our community.
In honour of most important trading partner, our first oriental settlement now bears the name “Al’s Summer Home” (since “Al Zahirs Summer Mansion” is a bit too long). A lot of questionable decisions – aside from naming conventions – were made, like placing a church in the oriental settlement instead of a mosque, as there was the hope that the Nomads would be happy with the choice.

We were having a lot of fun with you guys and we plan to continue where we have left in the next episode of AnnoAfternoon, coming next month from our re-decorated streaming room in Newcastle! (Probably not needing months in the process like our dear developers in Mainz :D)
Have you watched the community stream? Feel free to discuss our new community show, share your thoughts and don’t forget to let us know if you would like to see more formats like this in the future.

That was it for today’s community update, there is still a lot of work to do before some of our team members will find some well deserved rest during the upcoming bank holiday weekend in Germany. We will be back next week with a new DevBlog and further Union updates.

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Union Update: outlook for this month

In our last few DevBlogs, we tackled some big new feature additions to Anno 1800, but that was just a glimpse at what’s to come. This week, it is time to take the next progressive step with the fourth residential tier.

But there is of course more to come this month: The next Episode of the AnnoCast will air Thursday the 17th of May, 5pm CEST!

In our fourth episode, we will show you some visual improvements of the game (we mentioned the UI overhaul, didn’t we?) and use the chance to show you our visitor and zoo features live and in action!
As always, we will share a blog with the embed livestream before it goes live and you can leave your questions for the Q&A part of the stream below.

Feel free to follow to our twitch channel, where we stream development updates about Anno 1800, celebrate anniversaries of older Anno titles and have plans for some additional upcoming shows: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

The Union feedback on these big features such as city attractiveness and projects like the zoo was once again incredibly valuable for us. It gives us a first indicator whether we are going into the right direction and additionally helps us to make changes based on your thoughts.

But there is only so much you can do with a blog or a live stream, and that is where our Anno Union playtests come into play. We are currently making the final preparations for the next round of the tests, where Anno Union members get the chance to play and provide detailed feedback for the development team.
We will share some details soon but one reminder for you all: If you have applied in the past but have updated your hardware setup, please send us an update (best would be a response to your initial application to union-playtest@bluebyte.com) of your rig, including your Uplay/Union display name.

If you haven’t applied for the focus tests yet or even never heard about our Union tester program, you can check out all the details here: https://www.anno-union.com/playtest/

Community Q&A

Das_ist_Phil
Will it be possible to catch animals on your island just by clicking on them?
Answer: There are many different ways to acquire animals and other items. Catching animals will be one option but it will be more than just clicking on wildlife grazing on your island. We are still working on a few details but can say that some specialists will offer their wildlife-related skills to you.

Lord_Desert
Oh boy, the kitties surely had a bit too much in their food bowl. A bit less food and it wouldn’t be less obvious that the enclosers for zoo animals are a tad too small ;D
Answer: Thankfully, our feline predators seem to prosper even in captivity! The size of the zoo animals is not final and we are still working on the right proportions. As you know, the proportions in Anno are adjusted to the bird’s eye view, which is what player’s spend most of their playtime in.

onkel2015
Is there a maximum limit for modules or will I be able to expand my zoo as much as I like?
Answer: There won’t be a maximum limitation for zoo modules. Construction space is an important resource in Anno and that alone is a well thought investment if you expand your zoo. Hey, maybe marvelous outsourced zoo islands become a thing in Anno 1800?

Annorevolution
The entrance seem to the anchor point for all modules, which sounds for me that they don’t need a street connection on their own. Does that mean that we can design the form of our zoo freely and do not need to stick to the square form as shown in the video?
Answer: Zoo modules need to connect by one tile, which leaves you a lot of freedom to create a zoo layout of your liking and to leave construction space for ornaments. We placed a few ornamental objects in the zoo for our video example.

Gradyowens12
Will the game have some sort of hotel system to house the tourists that come to the island, or will they come to see the island and then leave?
Re1Synth
Tourists surely bring financial benefits but will they have their own needs such as hunger or craving for luxury items etc.?
Answer: Tourist will land with a ferry, travel around the island and leave after a while with the same ship. With the city attractiveness, we introduce a complex new feature to the series. We tried to add some deeper management layers to the visitors but figured out that the micromanagement aspects gets easily out of hand, especially considering all other management aspects of Anno in the larger picture. As visitors are a crucial, but by no means only, part of the city attractiveness feature, we decided to go for a working albeit a bit simpler implementation. As usual, the Anno Union gave us a lot of interesting feedback and we are open for the idea to enhance the feature if we find a concept, which is not falling into the same complexity trap and which is not too time consuming for us to develop.

IppoSenshu
I really like that beauty building is now meaningful, that part was always missing in previous titles. Will the city attractiveness have actual impact on the reputation of the player?
Answer: Your city attractiveness level, the positive or negative rating of some of your attractiveness criteria as well as the different ornaments and attractiveness relevant buildings will have an influence on your standing with other characters. If you build a zoo, there will be certain AI characters who will react to that very excited and friendly while others might think that you do not have the necessary edge to lead a big company, as you are just toying around in a kid’s sandbox. If and how they care about such things like your parks or the pollution on your island will depend on each characters distinctive nature and backstory. We can’t wait to share more details about the illustrious cast of Anno 1800 second and third party characters. Who knows, maybe one of the next big topics in the Anno Union?

Miguelito-87
You described that there are basically three buildings which can slot items. How big is the influence radius of each building? How many items will they be able to slot?
Answer:
The three buildings (town hall, guild house and harbor office) will be able to carry more than one item, but we are still playing around with the exact number of slots. When it comes to the size of the influence radius, balancing plays a big role. We want that you can specialize your districts and for that, we need to make sure that things like overlapping radii won’t cause an issue.

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Union Update: Islands and decorations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Union Update: How we make decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Union Update: Web update, island contest and more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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