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Category: UnionUpdate

Union Update: AnnoCast Summary

Last Friday was the kick off of our first livestreaming format: The AnnoCast

Despite airing on a superstitious friday the 13th, our show went really well and we hope that you had as much fun watching the stream as we had being on the show.
A big thank you to everyone who joined the stream, it was great to see so many Annoholics watching, listening and engaging in the chat. And let’s not forget our operator and Senior Game Designer Christian, who spent his birthday evening to ensure that everything is running as well as our moderators Freeway and O5ighter for helping out with the chat!

The AnnoCast is our relaxed “after work” LiveCast, where I invite various developers to talk about their work, the current state of the game and to answer your community questions. While the show itself is a podcast with a live camera, we plan several show formats on our new Twitch channel. From the re-occurring AnnoCast, to Let’s Play sessions of older Anno titles and DevBlog supporting shows where we will be able to show you parts of Anno 1800 and where our developers can show how they work and ask you questions live!

And with that, we can already announce our next livestream. As some of you might now, next week marks the anniversary of Anno 1701, a perfect opportunity to start our first Let’s Play! And what could be more entertaining than watching some of the original developers of the game playing and to walk down memory lane. So prepare for some interesting anecdotes, insights how 1701 inspired Anno 1800 and probably horrible city building.

As always, we are curious about your feedback regarding the show. Let us know what you would like to see in future, how we can improve the stream or share your crazy ideas in the comments below!

Summary of the show:

Streaming Room and Community Creations
You remember that we asked for your screenshots and other community creations to decorate the streaming room? Many of you answered the call but we have to find a way to present them in a proper and worthy fashion. We have some cool ideas how to display your creations, so expect some changes to the arrangement of the room in upcoming shows.

Developer tools and hardware we use for development
A lot of you are interested in insights about or work and with that, what kind of hardware and tools we are using. We mostly use workstations, which have different requirements depending on the various disciplines. That means a lots of RAM (you might not need it for gaming, but 64gig is common) and good CPU’s to compile, render and to run the various demanding applications. We need a lot of processing power but rarely beefy gaming cards. For all things art related, we use Wacom graphic tables in various form and sizes, which are industry standard.

Pirates in Anno 1800
The classic idea of swashbuckling pirates became a tale of old times in the 19th century. But we all know that Pirates are a fundamental part of the Anno series. So rest assured that in Anno 1800, Pirates will be represented in one form or another. How exactly will be a tale of a future DevBlog.

Details about the Campaign
With the reveal, we promised a rich and detailed campaign to get immersed in the 19th century setting. But the campaign, which will be embed in the sandbox gameplay, requires many of the building blocks of the games foundation, which we are currently building. While we surely started to write and work on the campaign, you will have to wait until next year to get more details about its nature and story.

Is there a Jorgensen hiding somewhere?
Can you even imagine an Anno game without a Jorgensen? We surely can’t but also like to keep a few things mysterious.
Dirk gave some details about the beginning of the Jorgensen family with Anno 1701 and how the idea of the Jorgensen is rooted in the old TV series “Babapapa”. No worries, I had to look it up online myself as well.

Camera options to get up close with your citizen
We can confirm that Anno 1800 will have the familiar zoom level but also a free camera option which will allow you to get up close to your citizen or to let your creativity go wild when creating beautiful screenshots.

Sail versus steam ships!
You will be able to build sailing ships as well as steam powered naval units. Both ship types will have features, which will distinguish them in their functionality. Old as new technology will have their own advantages and downsides, which we will discover in future development blogs.

The comeback of our item system
The item system was missing in 2205 and we realized, that it was a feature which many Anno players had grown fond of in the past. We gave you a glimpse on the returning item system with the monument blog and some footage of the zoo. The new system will be an evolution of the old feature, so expect a more complex system, which will give you interesting options how items can affect your gameplay.

The beautiful harbor from our announcement trailer
You were curious about the variety of buildings you have seen in the harbor scene from the announcement trailer. While the footage shown in the trailer is an early version of the game, our goal is that players have a variety of constructions available to create a functional but also beautiful harbor.

How many housing buildings do fit in one Anno game?
A hot topic as of late, many of you want to know how many different assets by tier we will use for housing. The reality: It has not been set in stone yet. Rather than deciding on a fix number, we usually observe how the various tiers feel in a cityscape to decide how many are needed in order to achieve the best possible and feasible variety. That means that buildings might be altered and added in the upcoming milestones. As always: Pre-Alpha or later footage you might see on the Union is not representative for the final game.

Any news about the military system?
Military is an important but also complex topic. As time to answer community questions is limited during the AnnoCast, we could at least say that this topic deserves its own dedicated DevBlog on the union.

10 Comments

Union Update: Here comes the AnnoCast!

Welcome back to our Anno Union Community Update after the short bank holiday break last week. As some of you may know, October 3rd is the German national Holiday as we celebrate the German reunification, and this year, the official ceremonial act took place in our home city of Mainz. That is why we at Ubisoft Blue Byte also took part, with a small exhibition of some of the prettiest concept art from Anno 1404, 2205, The Settlers, Champions of Anteria and Assassin’s Creed identity. In addition, we had one of our Senior Concept Artists, Ramón, do live demos where he drew some concept art for visitors to watch on a big screen. Good times were had, and we greatly enjoyed the chance to tell attendees of the event more about our work and the art of game development.

Moving on, with a short update about the next big Anno Union vote: With our Monument blog, we asked the Union for ideas about World Fair Exhibitions and you clearly know how to deliver. Our team is currently going through all your great ideas and we will be able to kick off the next vote soon.

Time for the first AnnoCast!

The next agenda point is an announcement many of you waited for: The first AnnoCast will air this Friday, 5pm CEST on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

The AnnoCast will be our new Anno Union Live Podcast on Twitch and we plan to add more formats such as developer streams and Let’s Play sessions to the channel in the future. In our first episode, Creative Director Dirk Riegert and Int. Brand Manager Marcel Hatam will join Community Developer Bastian Thun to discuss the Anno Union and answer your questions. We hope that many Anno Union members join us during our show.

If you have questions for the QnA part of upcoming podcast, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.
But please keep the questions spot on and brief, as we have to read them out loud during the show!

Community Spotlight

Finally yet importantly, we have another shout out for our Anno communities out there: The Anno Subreddit!

And with that, we hand over keyboard to Logon, admin of /r/Anno:
I started the /r/anno community because all the Anno subreddits where game specific, and this would cause the community to splinter between games. The subreddit started when Anno 2070 was about to be released but I still mostly played Anno 1404 which meant that I could not use the Anno 2070 subreddit due to it being off topic at the time. Now the subreddit is one of the main Anno subreddits which gamespecific ones always popping up with each new release. Hopefully Anno 1800 will continue to grow the Anno community and with the help all the other Anno communities and BlueByte we can grow both the game series and community in a positive way!

And don’t forget: We happily give your community project or creations a spot in the limelight. We created an own topic in the Ubisoft forum to make it easier to reach out to us and will see if we can add a fan section on the Union in future: Moving Pictures: we are looking for your creative content!

Community Q&A

Let’s move on to our QnA session

ecofuture:
I would love it as a gamer if we could enjoy your work up close and personal- not just zooming in, but moving at eye level through my city to see my inhabitants. 

Basti: Experiencing the vivid world of Anno in first person surely sounds exciting but implementing such a feature is not as easy as it sounds. The game is simply not optimized for a first person camera mode. As an example, buildings are created with the specific isometric Anno view in mind, from the shape to the displayed angle. Implementing a first person cam would mean we would have to spent a lot of work creating the camera system itself, its movement, improving buildings and structures so they look good from a FPS angle to optimizing various assets. Creating all assets that would look great in a first person camera would also mean that we would likely have to go with smaller maps, and higher system requirements. And to be frank here, spending so many development resources for a feature that wouldn’t add real value to the game would be better spent working on more important features.

Brosicore:
I hope that Anno 1800’s buildings will have the same attention to detail so players are tempted to spend some time just looking at them.

Basti: There is a lot of work put into the game to ensure that you are immersed in the lively world of Anno. How many bits and pieces we create might be worth to highlighting in a future DevBlog. The Union can let us know if you are interested that 😉 In the meanwhile, this short clip should speak for itself:

(Clip is from a work-in-progress pre-alpha version)

Arkenophas (From the DevBlog: Concept Art):
Wich software do ou use for this render ? Photoshop ? In the little animation, there is a 3D mock-up you talked about, no ? Is it not to hard to imagine a building only with photos ? I mean, I suppose we can’t see everything of a building with photos, so, do you need to imagine the unseen part, as you have less than three bricks on a photo ^^ ? And yes, I forgot something ^^ How do you begin your work ? 

André: The first sketches are done completely in Photoshop. 3d mock-ups are done in 3ds Max and sometimes edited with in-house tool. Overpainting the mockup is then again done in PS sometimes using photo textures.
Working with old references can be challenging at times, especially as some of these older illustrations can be hard to read. Sometimes we just pick ideas from several different sources (e.g. the materials from picture 1, the roof structure from pic 2 etc.). I did a lot of experimentation with different drawing techniques to find a way to efficiently draw detailed-looking buildings. During this process, you also nurture a keener eye for the era you are working on. If I see a brick stone factory these days, I will automatically take a closer look. In addition, there are of course films and tv series from the era that help you build up a mental library of ideas and references.

In the end, the most important aspect is what people associate with the 19th century, like big smoke stacks or bricked buildings. We have to consider these expectations to successfully transport players to this era.

droggelcreeper:
I love the idea of using the exhibitions as an active gameplay elements, and that you can earn items through it (so will you just select one of them that you get to keep?). Do you think it may be possible to add further exhibitions later on, for example through DLC?

Natacha: With the world fair, you can choose the event you want to prepare, but one event at a time! Once the event has ended, you can make another choice. First and foremost, our focus is on the release version, but since events are subject to an unlock during the late game, adding content should be simple for this feature.

Mattrelia:
I’m very happy that there will finally be a possibility of interaction with the public buildings!! Nice. I hope this will be for every building and not only zoo and fair.

Natacha: We also believe that placing a building should not be an end in itself, and that providing interactivity with buildings adds a lot of strategic gameplay. Yet, buildings have different functions, and we will implement this interactivity where it can truly add value. Who knows, maybe the items could play a role here as well? J

denksteichich (from the forums):
Will there be natural catastrophes like earthquakes or erupting volcanoes? Will there be environmental pollution through the factories?

Basti: Natural disasters won’t be in the release version of the game. However, factories will be something you have to look out for, as they are a possible fire hazard for your metropolis. While we don’t want that pollution has a big impact on the game, as it was even a main theme in 2070, you might imagine that your citizen might not be that font of the idea to have a big industrial factory district in front of their courtyard.

Fireseed (from the forums):
Will there be a companion app again?

Basti: We are fully focused on delivering a great PC game with Anno 1800, so there are no plans for a companion app.

nico_Darmstadt:
Will there be churches or religion in Anno 1800? I couldn’t see any church towers in the trailer, but in the older Annos religion was always a need you had to fulfill, and the churches helped to create prettier cities.

Basti:
Rest assured, our churches won’t just be a decorative building for beauty builders.

17 Comments

Union Update: gamescom throwback!

With the announcement of Anno 1800 and the start of our Anno Union initiative, gamescom 2017 marked the beginning of a new era for the Anno franchise. With the first full month behind us, we thought it would be a perfect moment to start the week with a gamescom recap video, so lean back and enjoy some impressions from the big reveal and reactions to our Ubilounge presentations. Classic QnA’s and Union Updates, such as news about the next vote, will return next week (we will have of course a new DevBlog with a new member of the team for you all later this week).

It surely has been a ride and we are still at the beginning. When we started, we had a clear vision for the Union and it is great to see that our appreciation for our fans and their experience is well received. We only managed to scratch the surface and there is still a huge list of topics to cover up to release of Anno 1800. As with the game, we will continue to improve the Anno Union initiative based on your feedback and might also try new formats, such as our first live stream which will come this October!

We want to thank everyone of you for joining the Anno Union and accompanying us on our journey.

Your Ubisoft Blue Byte team

14 Comments

Union Update: Our Union vote has a winner!

“Our big Anno Union election has been a thrilling race between our candidates. Union members across the world made their voices heard to choose a Union representative who should venture forth to expand the Unions influence and settle in new waters. Representing the Unions voice is a matter of responsibility and all candidates gave their best to convince members that their vision and ideas will be the road to success and in the best interests for the whole Union.”

Thanks for your participation in our first big vote from the whole development team!

Today marks the announcement of the winner of our big Anno Union NPC character vote. Thousands of Union members gave their voice but a strong lead made it easy for us to declare the winner.

While the Anarchist had new and revolutionary ideas of change to progress in the 19th century, it was the visionary ideas and the open mindset, which convinced the Union that Artur Gasparov, fittingly called “The Visionary”, was the right candidate for the task. Dr. Hugo Mercier, the Anarchist, was able to secure a respectable second place with his radical ideas while his direct opponent, Silas Grendel, found great support for his ruthless and oppressive plans for the coming century.  Following in midfield was the nebulous Florence Morel with her unconventional theories and weird tales, which got her quite a following. While one of the dev team’s favorites, she was not able to secure a win but will not be forgotten by all her fans and supporters.
The diplomat Hafsa Sultan as well as the gambler Jake Turner lagged far behind their contestants.

So what is next?
There is no time for the Visionary to enjoy his moment of success as we will move ahead to prepare him for the next step. There is still a lot to do for us in order to implement him into the game, such as final artwork, 3D model, animations and a fitting voice. We will provide you frequent updates about his development, so that can partake in his journey from start to finish.

We know that you are all curious about the next vote. We will not announce the next vote today but keep a keen eye on this very website, as we will reveal the next topic very soon. This time, we decided to make your voice count from the very first steps, so keep an eye out for a future DevBlog.

QnA Part:

AegriMiles: I wish possibilities to translate the game to other languages (not everybody understand english or german). Here in Hungary there are lot of people who couldn’t play the lasts Anno because lack of translation possibilities.

Basti: Translation will come at a later stage and we cannot confirm any localized territories as of yet. We will share details when we can confirm localized territories.

OneklickLP: How are things with the harbor? It looks pretty rigid in the video, will we be able to build/place it on our own like in 1404/2070?

Basti: Many Union members are curious how much freedom in placement of the harbor they will actually have. To clarify that, let us have a look at the placement system:

Please keep in mind that this is not the final version how it will appear and be usable in the game. While you see some empty gaps, you will be able to place the harbor smoothly on the spot, which fits it best in your opinion.

MellamoEjooo: Are there any details about the music yet? I hope you will add some sentences like “Your citizens starving!” “Your shipyard finished a ship” “You are running low on tobacco” …. 😀 Good old times!

Basti: Music, ambient sounds and voice lines are an incredibly important part to immerse you in the world of Anno. We got many comments about audio and the music score of Anno 1800 and decided that we will give that topic a highlight in future DevBlogs. Speaking about voice lines, Artur will get, as many other NPC’s, his own fully dubbed voice lines.

 

Marc_The_Miner
How much time do we have before you close the screenshot contest for the streaming room?

Basti: There is no ETA right now; we want to see how many screenshots and other art we get. Especially as some of you want to go nuts and create crazy screenshots or pictures made out of buildings. We are currently thinking about just leaving the thread open, as we might want to swap artwork or expand the decoration in the streaming room over time.

Soulridder
In the 19th century lots of factories got build, which leads me to wonder wether all that grey smoke will be there in Anno 1800. I’m thinking there a bit of the Tycoons of Anno 2070 with their grey islands and all of the smoke there produces. I guess having all of the smoke and maybe even something similar to the effect the Tycoons causes on their islands with all those factories would definitely give you more of the feeling that you are in the 19th century. So will this be in Anno 1800???

Basti: Heavy industry and coal based production chains are a major factor of that 19th century feeling. It will be represented in the game, so I would not recommend building your factories in the center of your city. But as Matt described in the last DevBlog, we want to show the other side of the coin but not force players into a specific playstyle or moral decisions which could lead to skip an important feature of the game. More freedom and less restriction is our goal in Anno 1800.

Swimming-Paul
I am very happy with the artwork included in this post! It´s not only extremely beautiful, but is it also hinting that we´re going to be able to produce bicycles in the game?

Basti: Concept art is an important part of the research process. That does not necessarily mean that all ideas and concepts make it into the game. But there are also various ways that certain elements of the 19th century are represented in Anno 1800, if not as a production chain than maybe as a part of the living and breathing world, as an animation or graphic in the game.

24 Comments

Union Update: Voting, Spotlight and QnA

Welcome to the fifth week since our announcement of Anno 1800 and the Anno Union. A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks and we got some great feedback regarding our last DevBlog. For that reason, today’s QnA part will tackle many of your questions regarding sessions.

But before we head over and answer your questions, it is time for our Union community update:

Our first voting will end next week!
Our first big Anno Union voting will end Monday next week. That means you have 7 days left to vote for your favorite Union NPC. After the vote has closed, we will call out the winner and use the chance to review our first vote.  But that marks only the beginning of the journey of our Anno Union character. As stated before, we will share important milestones on their development and even want to give you the chance to have further impact during some moments of the journey. Furthermore, you can look forward to a new voting, which will tackle an exciting new topic. However, we do not want to reveal too much at this point…

Videos, streams and language
We are happy that so many of you liked the idea about video and streaming content. But it also raised a few questions in our community, such as if there is a possibility for German subtitles or even whole episodes in German language. Anno has a strong tradition in Germany and with that, a strong German fan community. Even with that history, there are big communities of non-German fans out there and everyone should be able to join the Anno Union and to enjoy all our content. For us, the English language is the biggest common ground to reach out to as many people as possible. We need to allocate time wisely for streams and videos, as the development team will create the shows, where the development of Anno 1800 has still the highest priority. We would love to bring extra German episodes to our German fans, but that would mean that we have to spend way more time with streams, that we have to stretch our content or even exclude all non-German fans from specific topics.

Everyone should have the same chance to be a part of the Union, and nobody should feel excluded. We will provide German subtitles for our videos but that will not be possible for streams right now, as that would require too much work from our team. However, we will provide a summary of previous shows for the Union and there might be fans out there who would be willing to share a fan translation in their specific language with the Union? Some of you asked us if we could at least provide a transcript of the show. Well, that will not be possible, as we are not using scripts for our streams and podcast, because the last thing we want to do is to read out text from a prompter or piece of paper.

Community Spotlight

Anno fans are not only crazy active here on the Anno Union or in our Anno Ubisoft forum, but also in countless fan communities out there. As we are big fans of our Anno communities, we would like to give these projects a spot in the limelight in the future. Today, we would like to start with our Anno Union Fan-Discord channel: http://ubi.li/sp35t

You want to engage other Anno fans in live- hats to discuss Anno 1800 and the Anno Union? You should check out the Anno Union Community Discord and join the growing number of worldwide-connected Annholics!

Your ideas about our Streaming Room decoration
In our last community update, we asked you how we should decorate our streaming room. We loved some of your suggestions, especially the idea to put pictures of old Anno titles on our walls. We want to take that one-step further and use your own community creations for that! And here comes the call to action for the Anno Union: We want your most beautiful and creative screenshots from previous Anno titles. Go wild, impress with stunning panoramas or city landscapes and share them with us on our Anno Fan art forum section: Help us beautify our streaming room!
Please keep in mind that we need these Screenshots in a decent size (min. 1080p), as we will print out the best entries to use them as backdrops in our streaming room.

Community QnA : Your questions and our answers

MattMcCorman: The biggest isles in Anno 1404 had 2048*2048 tiles. Are the 1200*1220 in 2070 you mentioned only representative for an average size for an isle? Therefore, will the biggest Isle in 1800 be even bigger than 1600*1600?

Dirk: Maximum and minimum size for isles are different from the examples we used in our blog. We are not able to commit to a maximum size for isles in Anno 1800, as the final numbers are not decided yet. In our multi session blog, we compared the average isle size of the respective anno game to give you an idea about the relations in size of Anno games.

Khorinis2142: Will the campaign be embedded in the game like in 2205 or will it work like in 2070/1404, where the campaign is strictly separated and runs on different maps than the endless game?

Dirk: The campaign will be embed into the game if you do not deactivate it manually. However, the presentation and narration of the campaign will be stronger orientated to 1701 and 1404 than was the case with 2205.

Zimery: If a second session outside oft he main map oft he player is possible, will different climate zones like in 1503 take a role?

Dirk: That is in the realm of possibility but not necessarily required. We see many different options here and will share more details about that topic with you all in future.

BlueBarret77: Will AI settle in different regions of will they remain in your starting map?

Dirk: Ai will show the same construction habits and behavior as a player and as a result of that, might settle in different regions.

hike98: In addition, it is important for me that AI not settles in undiscovered sectors before I do, so that I am not ending up in a situation where AI takes all isles after I decided to go into a new session after 10 hours of play.

Dirk: The behavior of the AI depends, like in previous Anno titles, on the individual AI routine of a specific character. Different characters have a variety of different preferences and behaviors. With his actions during gameplay, the player has an impact on the AI’s difficulty. We will have AI which waits for the players and asks him before settling in other territories or isles while others might be fairly aggressive, taking new land as fast and much as possible.

LadyHonday: Will I be able to leave my main on it’s own when moving to a different session, without being afraid about my home burning to cinder, storms ravaging or the black death taking its toll on my citizen to find everything destroyed when I am coming back?
Sephko: The military is integrated in the main session again. Does that mean that military units can’t enter secondary sessions? Are that safe exclaves which follow other game mechanics?

Basti: Everyone knows that moment when you forget your Anno session for a while and the aftermath of cleaning everything up when you come back to your PC. We implemented specific game mechanics to ensure that sessions expand possibilities and making the game more complex, while on the other hand not causing too much stress for the players. It will not be the case that events destroy your whole settlement while you are abroad in a secondary session. It will also be possible to have military escalations in a different session. We will share information that is a bit more detailed on how these systems works in the future.

danielf2001: How will trading look like between different sessions? Will you utilize trade posts which you have to supply or will there be something else in addition?

Basti: You can send ships into a different session, and as soon as it will leave your zone, it will move over to the other session. You will be able to modify trade routes and we will give you additional tools, to drive trading of goods between the zones. Trading in general is a complex and important topic, so keep an eye on future DevBlogs.

Lord.Roke: Do you have plans how players can keep the overview between the different sessions?

Basti: That players being able to keep track on their sessions was an important topic for our Designers from the get go. A world map and further features will ensure that you all have a good overview on what is going on!

AnnoAndilein: Sad to see that no one answered my most burning question yet: How will the Interface/UI look? I NEED to know this. Will there be scaling options for the font size or will it even be possible to customize the whole interface to your liking? So please dear Basti, tell us something about the interface.

Basti: Our UI elements and functionality are not final and the UI gets usually finished at a pretty late point in development. That means that until the release of the game, we will change many things on our current interface and the Anno Union will be an important tool to test, evaluate and improve the functionality of our UI in playtests. However, the Interface sounds for me like a really great topic to ask the community some specific questions about.

Spike2412: The question is if it will be possible in Anno 1800 to get the highest citizen level in your starting world. It was not possible in Anno 2205.

Basti: As explained in our last DevBlog, we want to expand possibilities but not restrict players in their playstyle. You will be able to reach the highest tier without leaving your main map.

AnnOgamer94 /Ubisoft Anno 1800 Forum: I did not like 2205 concept to connect all isles (on preset places of all things). I had city on production on every isle and I had nearly no impact where to put my harbor. I hope that with 1800 I will have the option again to set the harbor where I want.

Basti: More options and freedom is important for us. And for that reason, you will be able to set your harbor way more freely, as it was the case in 2205.

MinneIceCube: You still haven’t answered a burning question that I have. are the maps randomly generated?

Basti: That’s really not acceptable- I was convinced that we talked about this already. Let me put my coffee mug aside to address your burning question immediately: Yes!

22 Comments

Union Update: Streaming and Community QnA

Another week, another update for the Anno Union. Some website improvements are still work in progress, and we will share more information about that when we are able to provide you detailed update notes.

This week’s DevBlog will continue to give you more insights about the development of Anno 1800 but this time, we will start to talk more about specific features of the game. As we also have a good amount of community questions to answer, let us dive right into this week’s big community update: Our new streaming room!

While we are currently putting everything together, we will soon be able to have our first test recording. We would like to give you an idea what we have in mind for future video and streaming content. We have various ideas for content, but especially at the beginning, will test out what might work best for the Anno Union:

Video Content – Live-Streams will not be our only focus, as we also want to bring you Anno Union update videos and – with the development insights from our DevBlog being well received – maybe get a few developers in front of the camera. Whether it is directly hosted videos or YouTube/Vimeo content, all videos will always be shared on the Anno Union to give you the chance to comment and discuss the content on our community hub. Video content allows us to be a bit more flexible and gives us more options to show you what is going on inside Ubisoft Blue Byte’s studio in Mainz. And while we are talking about video content, we will see that we can improve the video player on the Anno Union website.

Twitch Streams – Based on our ideas and plenty of comments on the Anno Union, we plan to utilize our streaming room for various formats. It seems that you would like to watch Let’s Play streams with Anno veteran developers? We got you covered: While Anno 1800 will be the focus of the shows, we will play classic Anno titles in special episodes and for anniversaries of older Anno games. Furthermore, we plan to let you have a look how our developers work with Live demonstrations and interviews as well as sharing the impressions of the current state of the game. Finally yet importantly, we plan to do a developer Podcast (or “AnnoCast”, if you will) where we talk about Anno 1800, the Anno Union and invite you Annoholics to discuss with us in a relaxed atmosphere. To allow you to participate, we will run the show as a live broadcast on Twitch.

Schedule, “Video on Demand” and language – We plan to do frequent media content but will not be able to commit to a schedule right now, as the people involved to make that all possible are all devs and busy working on the game. We want to test the waters, see how it goes and then gather your feedback. While we will not be able to share a streaming schedule, we will announce every show a few days in advance to give everyone a chance to participate. If you will not be able to watch the broadcast, you will be able to watch the stream as a video on demand on our channel. We want to reach as many Anno fans out there as possible; for that reason, all videos and streaming formats will be in English only.

As our walls are a bit empty right now, let us know if you have any cool ideas for decoration or know some community fan art to get some color on our walls!

Community QnA

Dadisony
Really cool look at your daily work. I cannot wait to read more about the production lines. The second videoclip looks great. I hope that you will be able to zoom really close in the final game, so that we can try and enjoy this new technology.

Basti: To make the world of Anno 1800 lively, charming and pretty is a matter of honor for us. The game is most immersive and beautiful when all visual features come together, so rest assured: you will be able participate in the lives of your Anno citizen as close as possible, in all its beauty and wonder.

Droggelcreeper
I have a hard time to imagine how exactly you have planned the whole game flow after the conception phase. Is it so that every production line is already set in stone or is it more like a  rough concept where you want to end up? If everything is planned out already, I am a bit afraid that there is not much room for you to take community feedback into account.

Basti: In our latest Devblog, we explained how we will gather feedback in order to let it benefit our development process. We have a set plan for all major game content and features, but changes to our development roadmap based playtests and balancing are the reality of game development. That means that most production lines are set but we reserve the right to perform smaller or even major changes based on community feedback. Right now, our community blog has a big focus on answering general community questions but we will be able to get more into detail on how your feedback affected development at a later stage.

RedEyeRagnarok
Your decision to involve the community is something I support but I hope that you will also have the strength to say not to suggestions, no matter how vocal the community will be – at the end, you have your own vision for Anno 1800 and not everyone who writes comments here will have the same level of understanding for that.

Basti: We are all really happy about the incredibly amount of suggestions and ideas and hope that you all will continue to use the Anno Union to discuss all your creative thoughts. It is still reality that, as a game developer, we have to work within our possibilities and certain boundaries. That means furthermore, that we will not be able to comment or implement every suggestion into the game. However, we still gather all your feedback to discuss and evaluate it within the team. If it is an idea from our community or even from our team, we always need to check if such ideas are feasible, benefit the game experience and if it fits our design principles and vision for the game. Only this way it is possible for us to ensure that we create a satisfying and good Anno game at the end. We hope that the last DevBlog gave you an interesting look behind the scenes.

LucyDemoon
I have a question regarding the Windows only topic. Do you plan a Linux or Mac, maybe even a version for both or will it be a “no, thank you” again.

Basti: We promised to be as transparent as possible with you all, and sometimes that means bearing bad news as well: at launch, the game will only be available for Windows PC. Currently, we do not have plans for a Mac or Linux version of Anno 1800.

KingStrike_TV
If the whole game looks like this, I am afraid that I need a new PC as it won’t be able to handle that level of visuals.

Basti: The system requirements are not final at this point. But like with any previous Anno we aim to serve a wide range of systems from an average PC up to high-end machine. We will always provide the best quality experience whatever machine players are using.

nichTim
Would it be possible to place moving sailors on the ship or is that impossible?

Basti: Attention to detail was always a corner stone of the Anno franchise but we have to work within the scope of our team (as especially such animated features and AI cause many hours of workload), while also having to deal with hardware limitations. Even some visual features, which might not be too hard for us to develop, might end up having a bigger impact on CPU and GPU. A game like Anno 1800 has an extensive amount of different objects, assets, animations and AI behavior displayed on screen. To come back to the many ship-crew questions in the comment section, we like that idea and have to check if and to what extend it might be possible.

doml17
P.s. I would still like to see a video where all Anno developers introduce themselves.

Basti: We have quite a few developers in our studio, a bit too many to introduce everyone in a video. We already mentioned that we want to dive into the various development disciplines with our DevBlog, which sounds like the perfect opportunity to get to know a few of our developers better.

Arkenophas
I’m waiting to see the devblog of the 3D artist, as I want to do this job, it will be useful for me. Nice idea to let us see how you work, and where you are in this fantastic project Long life to the ANNO serie and long life to Norbert !!

Basti: To give the various creation steps of 3D assets a spotlight has a quite prominent spot on our list for DevBlog content. You can look forward to detailed and interesting information about the work of an Anno 1800 3D artist.

RayoOyar
Out of curiosity: how do you determine system requirements and all? I know they’re never shared until very late in the development process, and the renders of these ships look awesome already, so does that mean you first create the high-res textures and then “work down” until you find a balance between low system reqs and high-quality renders? Or am I thinking too simplistically?

Basti: Optimization is a crucial part of game development process and a quite interesting topic we might want to talk about more in detail in a future blog. A few elements come together, such as optimization of code and clever use of visual improvements but also tricks to ensure a satisfying performance. It is a very complex topic, which might be better suited for a DevBlog than a QnA session. And by the way, processes like the one you described, called „bump mapping“, are a major way to optimize performance.

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Union Update: Feedback, website and answers

With the first development blog, we gave you some insights into our vision and concept for the game. With the next DevBlog, which will come this week, we will give you a much deeper insight how we actually develop Anno 1800 and what it means to design and build a complex strategy title. But today, it’s time to kick off our first Community Update, where we will give you frequent updates about the Union, answer some questions and, in the future, also want to spotlight your creations.

Fun fact: you might have noticed the different frames for the preview pictures for each blog. The different colors indicate the type of content, with grey used for community updates, the nice painting style for dev updates, and green for votes (and so on).

Website improvements
Our Anno Union launch was crazy so far and you can clearly tell that the passion and dedication of Anno fans out there is something truly special. We are currently working on improving the experience of the website in various ways. We got many comments about a Union forum and for that reason; we implemented a forum link to the Ubisoft Anno forum where you will also find the Union subsection. As not everything might fit into the certain theme of a blog, please feel free to use the Anno Ubisoft forum if you want to discuss certain ideas further or start new discussions. The comment section here will remain as our main way of gathering feedback to a certain topic, which does of course not mean that we will not have an eye on the Ubisoft forum or other platforms. Please try to stay on-topic to the specific topic of a blog!

Visibility and readability will be our focus with the next Anno Union website update. We will provide full update notes about all these improvements as soon as everything is ready.

Streaming Room Do you know that feeling when you ordered new toys and still wait for some of them to arrive? Our dedicated streaming room will allow us to create video updates and insights, but not all tech is here yet and we still have to assemble everything. But hey, that should be good fun!

Feedback gathering
Yes, we are reading your feedback, even with the sometimes-overwhelming amount of reactions on our blog. We choose to use blogs and later on videos and streams for that, as we think that these answers deserve to be as visible as possible for all Union members. That also means that if we pick your question, you get a cool spotlight out of it. If you want to get an overview over all the answers given at this point, just hit the QnA category tab at the bottom of the blog. Please keep in mind that we will not be able to comment on everything, as our team is still busy creating your new Anno game! Many of you asked how we actually use that feedback: we collect your comments, analyze your feedback and create a report, which we then discuss within the development team. We hope that you are looking forward to learn how we structure development (what sprint planning is etc.) to get a rough idea about our development roadmap, which will then lead to further articles you are waiting for: in-depth blogs about certain features in development and how you can help us shape them. But more about development with the next blog J

And to close our first Community Blog, here a few of your comments and our answers.

Sebi5445
A big part of the game concept seems to be set in stone (great job!). How much impact on the development process will the Union actually have? Are there any open questions about gameplay features, which could change the game in a major way or is it more about the small things?

Basti: Creating a big game like Anno is a very complex task, including dozens of disciplines, a huge team of experts and years of hard work. We want to use community feedback to help expanding, polishing and balancing features based on your sentiment and there will be room to add a few of your ideas but as you mentioned, the feature list is one of the things you decide at the beginning of development. Using feedback on the extensive features in an Anno game is a big commitment and task in itself and the whole team is excited about the concept to let our fans helping us with that. I recommend checking the next DevBlog, which will dive more into details about the development structure of Anno 1800.

Moonwalked
If you need any help checking all the comments, maybe there is a way the community can help you out with that?

Basti: We are just happy if you guys share your feedback and stay on topic with the specific theme of each blog. As mentioned in the community update, our team collects and analyzes all feedback in order to create a report for our development team. That gives us a good indicator about the sentiment of our communities, topics you care about most and general feedback and suggestions regarding game features and other gameplay elements.

HarroLP
How will the playtests work; I have read somewhere that it will work via applications as soon as you announce an Alpha/Beta test. Basti mentioned that, if we involve ourselves here, we will have a good chance to get access. Maybe @BastianThun can say something about how it will work.

Basti: The first tests will most likely be focus tests with a small group of people rather than a big Alpha or even Beta test. There will be various ways of inviting people, we might contact some very active members directly to invite them to test a certain feature up to tests where we need more people, which might go along with an announcement. Either way, registering here is the first step to be in our database but being a constructive member of the community will also be an important factor for us to choose players. Most playtests will run under NDA, which means that you will not necessarily know who is participating in a test. Nevertheless, rest assured that we will talk about that in more detail in the future, so just stay active until that time comes.

stolperprinz
I have a few suggestions regarding the game concept, how can I share my ideas.

Basti: We would love to see that you all stick to the topic of the specific blog, which is usually centered around a certain feature, content or gameplay elements. If you have general ideas, the best thing would be to discuss that with the community in the Ubisoft Anno forums. It makes it easier for us to create reports for the different blogs and for our forum team to check if a topic sticks out because of a good idea and a healthy and active discussion.

Julius A.
Do you roughly know how often you want to post new articles and votes for the site?

Basti: We created a plan for the types of content and how often we want to post. That plan goes along with our development roadmap but especially the content might change dynamically based on feedback and some development factors. What we can tell us that we want at least 2 articles each week. It is a bit harder to tell with votes, but our plan here is to have one active vote up most of the time (please note that not all votes will run equally long). So in general, weekly content to get your feedback and keep you up to date. It might fluctuate from time to time as we are all working together to bring you the Union content but also still pretty busy developing the game.

Pizzafighter
Morning, I’ve sent a mail to your info mail addy not long ago, where I talked about a few ideas (a lot about the train). Have you received my mail?

Basti: I am still stunned by all the cool ideas and great feedback we get and I totally understand that you want to share all your ideas with the team. However, the reality is that it is just impossible to react to every feedback and we have to concentrate on the Union blog, with help from the community team for the forums and other channels. For feasibility reasons, we will not comment on feedback received via e-mail outside of special circumstances.

ThmzV
Do we get more information about the gameplay :)?

Basti: I can tell that I am as hyped as our fans but there is still a lot of time between now and the final release. As teased, we will now start to show you how we develop the game and that allows us to dive into certain development aspects such as features and gameplay, in order to get important feedback from our Anno Union members.

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