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Category: UnionUpdate

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.

5 Comments

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.

10 Comments

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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Union Update: First focus-test has concluded

This week in the Anno Union, we return to the life of your factory workers and explain how your power over their working conditions can not only impact the productivity of your economy, but also the happiness of your residents. More residential tier DevBlog’s are on the way in the future, accompanied by more details about Anno 1800’s feature set as it opens up during your gameplay progress.

The first Anno Union focus-test has concluded
Over the course of the last two weeks, we gave a dozen Union Members the chance to test the development version of Anno 1800. The dedication and effort all of our Union testers put into their reports and detailed observations was astounding, providing dozens of pages with valuable data for our team.
But it’s not only about additional learnings for the game’s improvements; knowing when a feature works as intended and if the gameplay flow feels rewarding and satisfying is easily as important to us as new ideas. In theory, you can develop a game for decades, continuously improving and adding features and as a result, never getting the product ready for the release. For that reason, positive feedback helps us to know if we are on the right track with the game and its existing list of features.

So what is next? The first thing we need to do is to create an aggregated report, combining all the feedback from the playtest, which then needs to get discussed to identify action points to further improve or develop.
The success of the first test demonstrated that the combination of feedback collected via the Union, events and playtests creates an effective synergy of data to work with.
As it was only the beginning, we will continue to leverage the knowledge from our community with future Anno Union focus tests. As always, we will keep you in the loop and updated as soon as we are about to open the second focus test group.

Anno Cast 03 this week Thursday, March 22nd, 4.30pm CET
Anno Cast 03 goes live this week, break a leg! This Thursday, we will discuss some current and past development of the game, how the Union feedback helps us in all stages of development and of course, show you Anno 1800 in action again. As with previous episodes, we will also answer some questions, some of them previously gathered in the comments (so keep asking) and others during the actual show.

As always, we will publish a blog this Thursday to watch the stream live on the Anno Union.

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Union Update: A postcard from the world fair

Welcome to our latest Community Update! Before we move over to this week’s content, do not forget to vote for the community island in the voting box to the right. Many of you are curious about the size difference between each island but do not worry, we saved a spot among the larger island no matter which one makes first place.

This weeks DevBlog: Residential Tier II – workers
With our next DevBlog, we will leave our charming farming village and take a cab to the brick stone city suburbs, where the working folks find some rest after a long day in our smouldering factories. More and more pieces coming together and the second residential tier is the big first step into the industrial revolution.

Anno Cast 03 will air next Thursday, 22nd of March at 4.30pm CET on: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte
Due to sickness, we sadly have to postpone the third episode of our AnnoCast livestream by a week. It will be a great chance for us to show you a few of the previously tackled topics in detail and to answer questions from our community. If you won’t be able to make it to the live-stream, feel free to drop questions in the comment section below or in the live-stream blog, which will go up shortly before the stream starts next Thursday.

But before we end todays update, we want to share something with you. Inspired by your great entries to the story contest and previous Union votes, here comes a letter from a visitor of the monumental world fair and admirer of the “Architectural Wonders” exhibition:

Dear, beloved committee,

It is no exaggeration to say your exhibition “Architectural Wonders” was for my friends and I, not merely a great exhibition, but a life-altering one!
Upon hearing a World’s Fair was come to Bright Sands, we booked our cruises, and jammed our portmanteaus to the gills with the finest hats and dresses. A long and expensive trip it was sure to be, but as we would discover, one thoroughly worthwhile.
As our ship puffed into the bay, there was considerable excitement – we tourists are not altogether so hard to please – for the city that unfolded before us was mesmerising! A beautiful bustling skyline that would grace any postal card. Already in high spirits, we wondered what scintillations must await us at the World’s Fair itself.

“A miscellany of modern farming equipment?” someone suggested. “Oh what a dreary thought!” we all laughed. “I heard it might be ship fixings…” said another, “…and I think we have seen quite enough of those!” This of course, tickled us so greatly, it all became rather embarrassing!
But when we saw the city turned out in their best clothes, chests bursting with pride, we soon struck the crinkles from our crinoline. After all, we were the honoured guests, participants in a global celebration of the age. This was something we may never chance to see again in our lifetimes.

 As we stepped into the hall, great gasps rose to the glass-iron canopy. Never in our lives had we seen such innovation, such bewildering and copious inspiration. Ornaments of modern form and style, hitherto inconceivable, bedecked the galleries and walkways. Master masons and sculptors chiselled expertly in pure white stone. From a soapbox, the esteemed Mr Burnett declaimed his genius, demonstrating precisely how the modern bridge might be engineered and erected. Vast books of plans and patterns fascinated with their particulars.

Before long we were quite spent, and so were our purses! We all spent more than ever we had planned, but such an unforgettable visit merited every shiny penny. We all agreed to return at the drop of a hat, should another such exhibition ever take place in Bright Sands, which I’m certain you, as the organisers, will be most delighted to hear.

Ever yours,

Your glowing admirers.

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Union Update: A message to our community

In this week’s Community Update, we want to appreciate the driving force behind the Anno Union: You, our Fans and Union members who give us valuable feedback, support us and – not to forget – share your creative energy with us.

We were blown away by not only the amount of entries, but also by the many different creative takes on the contest such as letters, newspapers, stage plays and many more.
You might imagine that it was not easy for us to pick our three favorites out of so many great entries. And for that reason, we decided to honor five entries for the third and two entries for the second place. Our big “thanks” to everyone who participated and we hope that you enjoyed writing these entries as much as we enjoyed reading them.

Without further ado, congratulation to all the winners:

1st Place – Velerios1 1701 Collector’s Edition signed by the team
2nd Place – Aleera_Gorvan, Sermo2010 – Not exactly a surprise 1701 Goodiebag J
3nd Place– DiruKamachi, alleria.sb, Chris.666, Bellasinya, RayoOyar – A signed copy of a previous Anno game (we let you know between which games you can choose)
As mentioned, we will get in contact with you to sort out all the details.

And there is more to come this week: the next stage of our island contest, plus some mail from a visitor of our world fair exhibition.

Focus Test:
The first group of testers have been invited, so you can expect small updates about the playtests in the weeks to come. If you did not make it into the first test, no worries: we will have several tests throughout the year and will let the Union know when we are about to open new focus groups.

Anno Cast is returning March 15th
Our stream will finally return in 2018 with its first episode airing March 15th 4:30pm. As ongoing construction work in our studio forced us to move the streaming room temporarily, the scenery might look a little bit different. We will share more details about the show next week Monday!

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Union Update: Workforce and production isles?

A turbulent month is coming to its end, as quite a few new features were introduced, and we are currently busy tying up a few loose strands from before.
We will send out the focus test invitations for the first group of testers pretty soon, so keep an eye on your mailbox. For the playtest, we had to do some additional polishing on our development version of the game, which lead to a slight delay to early March.

We plan to bring you the long awaited update regarding the writing contest next week; in addition, we will present you the finalists for the upcoming island voting. It was not an easy task for us to select the finalists from over 100 amazing entries!
After our big introduction to Anno’s residential tier system, this week’s DevBlog will bring the stars of the first tier to the stage: enter the farmers of Anno 1800.
To see that the blog resonated with so many of you made us happy and we are looking forward to showing you some of the features in action in the next AnnoCast.

But before we tease too much about the upcoming month, let’s move over to this week’s community C&A:

Community QnA

Community Many of you are curious how exactly the trade routes work between sessions.
Sebastian: As many of you assumed correctly, it will take some time until a ship reaches another session. Here an example:
We have an island in session A, which produces a good currently needed in Session B. We start with creating a route to send the ship to pick up the goods in session A. When loaded, it will travel to the border of the map in order to leave session A. It will now take some travel time until it finally at the map border of session B. I cannot give you more specific details about the exact length of the travel time as of yet, as we are still working on the right mixture between realism and good gameplay flow. Ships should need some time to travel across the ocean but it should not take too long to affect the gameplay negatively.

fabian_eiter Will I need to create residential buildings on every isle separately in order to generate the needed workforce for my production?
Dirk: 
The short answer: No. The more detailed explanation: Generally speaking, you will always need residential buildings to generate workforce, like farmers taking care of the crops. However, it will be the case that some of your islands do not need your entire workforce. You will be able to transfer such workforce overhead to your production isles.
It is up to you whether you want to generate your workforce on your production islands or to transfer them within your empire. We will provide more in depth details about the workforce system in a future blog.

Annorevolution The high tier residential buildings from early screenshots seem to be 3×6 in size. Does that mean that these kinds of buildings will not be in the release version of the game? How do you plan to create an organic looking cityscape?
Basti: Higher tier residential buildings will connect to create dense house facades, similar to the system from Anno 1404. That allows us to create the look of connected big housing complexes based on several smaller units. The screenshots, which show a modern metropolis in the 19th century, are representative of the look we aim for with the release version of the game.

Gxy12 Will the new workforce system require that you use lower tier residents in higher tier production buildings, or even buildings which rely only from workers from lower tiers?
Basti:
Workforce will not be limited to their specific tier, so you will be able to utilize your lower tier workforce for some production buildings from a higher tier. For more details about the workforce system, keep an eye on future DevBlogs on the Union, as this topic will get some more coverage in near future.

otacon2002: What is going on with the trains? Do you have any information how trains will work?
Basti: We are working on it to tackle some of the most burning topics in near future. We wouldn’t do the bigger features a favour if we would just drop some details in a community Q&A. We hope that we will soon be ready to give you some insights on Anno 1800s trains, a topic where the team is really curious about feedback from the Anno Union.

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Union Update: Islands galore and community Q&A

It might be the coldest month of the year, but neither the development nor the Anno Union suffers from the winter blues. As announced, we will relentlessly bring you weekly DevBlog’s about fundamental core mechanics of the series. This week, you can look forward to the start of a whole series about Anno 1800’s residential tiers. We will highlight the artistic vision behind their design, their importance for the setting and their importance for Anno’s gameplay!

Talking about passionate topics: we want to say thanks for everyone participating in the island contest. We got flooded with a crazy amount of amazing entries and our team is currently going through every single one of them in order to present you the finalists as soon as possible. A big thumbs up from the team!

Some time has passed and we will announce the winners of or previous writing contest soon. We made our choice already and had a cool idea how we could properly present the winning stories. This caused a slight delay but rest assured, we lift the curtain in an upcoming Union Update.

Another update about the next AnnoCast and the Community Roundtable is on the horizon. We got plenty of feedback about the first roundtable and we guess that many of you look forward to another evening chat between the Anno Union and the development team?

Before we head over to the community Q&A part of the update, we like to give you some general information about the focus playtest: We all know that you can’t wait to hear more about the tests, specifically their exact starting date. Please keep in mind that the tests are under a strict NDA, and therefore, we won’t provide full coverage on the tests. However, we will briefly talk about the focus-playtests in blog articles and let you all know when they invitations for the first group are out.

Community Q&A

Drake-1503
Resources are important for almost all strategic elements of the game, so please give us adaptable and varied settings when generating an endless-match. Why shouldn’t it be possible to just define the amount of resources? “Unlimited – high – low” would be sufficient to create a rich variety of scenarios and end the endless discussions about the pros and cons of unlimited lodes.
Sebastian: Limited lodes would make the flow of the game much more convoluted and interrupt the gameplay, especially in the already more complicated late game portion of a match. Furthermore, you will be able to claim a high amount of islands across different sessions in Anno 1800. Micro managing every single one of them could end up being quite a daunting task.
Let’s say we have limited lode capacity, that means we would need to create interesting systems to refill the resource lodes.  Just using “a bit of cash” to refill them would not be enough, because think about it: how wants to be frequently reminded that one of your dozen mines depleted just to press a simple button. That is neither challenging nor fun.
We would be able to create a nice system around it, but it would cost us time developing said feature. Even if it looks like a minor feature, we would need allocate time from other content to realize it. Up to this point, the feature just was not that important for us in order to push something else back. The plenty of feedback we got in the last DevBlog made us realize how important a complex lode system is for the community. For that reason, our team will start an internal discussion based on your feedback.

TheYSeaMeRoamin
It might be worth to think about making content, which is matter of controversy in the community, just an optional part of the game. That would allow everyone to create his or her individual game experience. In that case, you would also need to be careful to not make the customization options too complicated but still offer enough to allow for an exciting variety.
Basti: We always need to keep the overall scope of the development in mind. We want to give you a broad variety of game options, as replay-ability is for the community and for us an important aspect of an Anno game. As you mentioned it already, we need to be careful to not overwhelm players with too many options, as just “adding more” is not always beneficial for the quality of a game. Here comes the Anno Union into play, as the program allows us to present you features to get detailed feedback from our communities.

Mark-WilliamK

I hope that you will be able to see steam powered machines used in production buildings, as it was the time where steam became a part of agriculture and heavy industry alike.
Basti: As mentioned in the last stream, the technological advancements of that era will be represented in the game in various ways. Keep an eye on the blogs of the upcoming weeks, as we will walk you through the core elements of the game and through the advancements of the 19th century. With Anno 1800, progression should feel like a journey through the century.

Azrael5111
So far, blogs got always released on a Monday or Thursday and between these days, I check the website only on occasionally. How about the option to opt in for a newsletter, which informs you when a new blog is online?
Basti:
We usually aim for the same frequency of days to publish our blogs but sometimes, the amount of blogs or even the publishing date can varys. We got some good feedback about that during our community roundtable and we plan to bring you a chance to subscribe to the blog with the next web update. It probably will not be a classic newsletter though, as we want to reserve that for important events and topics.

ruuti0
I heard that people who work in Ubisoft usually have a Degree (University Degree), but what kind of education people who work in Quality Assurance team exactly have?
Dorina: There is no special “tester degree”. We have very different background in QA. Political scientists, Geographers, Sociologists, Media Designers and Computer Specialists. This is important, as these allows us to have a diversified expert view on the product. The different mindsets are incredibly valuable when identifying issues. Beside this, the company permits the testers to get their ISTQB-Certificate (specific software testing certificate).

Arandur87
I am curious how you can get into game development yourself, especially how you can land a job in QA or QC?
Dorina: Many colleagues in our QA department started in a temporary position and during their time here, they demonstrated their skills and passion for the project.  That leads to many QA tester starting as career jumper or newcomer to game development.

schwubbe1980, Squ4wk, Oldsmobile1963, DiruKamachi
About difficult issues and the amount of bugs during development….
Dorina: It really depends on the scope, size and the lifecycle of a project. During the various development stages of a game, you encounter a high amount of bugs, which also absolute normal state for every project. Think about it, before a game comes together during Alpha, it is a bare framework of features, which are not fully integrated into the game yet. Bugs are prioritized by the impact on the game and how long it will take to solve them. Based on that evaluation, every issue has an estimate of workhours it will cost to solve it. The real bug hunting becomes interesting in the later stages of the game, when many if of the features get implemented into the client as we come closer to the final release version of the game.

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