Hi guys, my name is Jan Dungel and I am the Lead Game Designer on Anno 1800. I worked on many different games in the past but Anno 1800 is an especially exciting project for me. Even compared to other strategy games, the incredibly large feature list of intertwined systems makes you realize how everything in Anno’s grand scheme is deeply connected. The setting in the era of the industrial revolutions with its many social changes is just an added cherry on top: Anno 1800 educates you, encourages smart thinking and breathes creativity.
Will you be remembered as a liberator or robber baron?
Happiness as a gameplay mechanic is nothing new to Anno fans, but as with many other features in Anno 1800, we refined the system to make it more meaningful than in any previous title in the series. But before we go into the details, let’s break down what that actually means for you.
Happiness tracks how satisfied the residents on your island are. And as freedom of choice is one of our design philosophies, you will be able to decide if your residents will remember you as a saint or robber baron, with both approaches being a valid playstyle. That means that an altruistic approach is as much of a valid strategy as exploiting your residents. To make that possible, we changed one important rule in the Anno formula: It is no longer necessary that your residents are happy in order to advance to the next tier.
With that requirement out of the way, we went ahead and re-designed residential happiness. The needs of your residents are now separated, with one part being relevant for happiness and the other being relevant for the population of your residential buildings. That allows you to just fulfill the bare minimum of subsistence needs to push your population while ignoring the satisfaction of your residents. Think about the rise of the working class, where people moved into the big cities to work in the modern factories, while often being forced to live a simplistic life, lacking any form of luxury. And still, the big cities were expanding at a rapid speed, having a hard time to catch up with the needed living space to host thousands of newly arriving residents.
Let’s look at an example. The first farmers come in because you provide a marketplace. But if you want to attract more farmers, you have to provide the different population needs such as fish or woolen smocks, which will stack up until you have the maximum amount of 10 farmers in one building in order to advance. Schnapps and a pub will surely make them happy, but they are not required in order to become part of the working class, as luxury needs won’t attract more people to your residential buildings.
Push them hard or lend them your hand
But what are the gains if you treat your residents mercilessly, or should you even care about your populace just for the peace of mind? As you are now able to advance your people based on population needs alone, you are not forced to provide luxury goods, which will save you production space and money. Imagine you want to establish a smaller production island, where you decide to maximize the profit and outcome while keeping construction space and investment as low as possible. Or maybe you have to quickly establish a working infrastructure to provide your main city with some urgently needed goods. You also might engage in large scale economic or military warfare and therefore want to concentrate your actions effectively in order to not lose the lead against the competition.
Neither happiness nor population needs are a global stat, which means that the artisans on one island can celebrate you as their savior while they desperately wait for better times to come to the next one. Remember: You can further impact the happiness of your residents when changing their workforce conditions. They won’t be pleased if you force them to harder work but on the other hand, loosening the reigns on their working conditions will make them happier at their working place.
The exact dynamics of revolting residents will be highlighted in a future blog but for now, keep in mind that happiness is separated by islands, residential tiers and even the living areas and workplaces of your population. Why should an engineer care about the exploited working class? Besides the fulfillment of happiness relevant needs and working conditions, there are other factors which might have an impact on Happiness, such as the in the Influence blog mentioned propaganda or being in a state of war with other parties.
This concept video shows the different extremes of your citizen’s happiness
Workers on strike who put your steel production on hold or farmers rallying through the streets might be an obvious downside, but how about the benefits of your satisfied citizens? Not only are happy residents are less likely to start a riot, their loyalty towards you will make them more willing to stand behind their governor’s reign when an enemy fleet besieges your island. But there is more to that- if your folks like you, they might reward you for your service with small quests or even direct rewards. If you manage to become a true hero of the people, they might even start festivities to celebrate you as a leader, which will not only affect your city attractiveness greatly but also reward you with truly exciting visual feedback. Your happy residents will also give something back to society, such helping you out with a neighborhood watch or amateur fire squads.
The different faces of happiness
Your residents have different states which show how satisfied they are with their living standards and you as a ruler. These states range from absolutely euphoric to rage against the machine, with five different states in total: Angry, Unhappy, Content, Happy and Euphoric.
A familiar element for Annoholics is the residential tiers info layer, which you can easily access by clicking on one of the residential buildings and which will tell you about their current mood. It will show you the current state and a rating how happy they are (an important stat to know how far you can go before their mood changes). The residents will also talk to you, telling you how they feel and what’s on their mind. For that, we make use of voice lines and text but also of animated portraits. By looking in their face, you should immediately get an idea how they feel, and whether they are currently happy with you or if they are concerned or angry. Besides being an important visual information layer for you as a player, it also allows us to give the people inhabiting the world of Anno 1800 some real personality:
This mock-up gives you an idea of how the Happiness UI could function in the game
You write your own story
The new Happiness system adds a few more wheels to the complex machinery and together with other features such items for specific public buildings, influence or working conditions, which make Anno 1800 to a real sandbox experience. What do you think about the changes, are you looking forward to play around with the many different systems, do you have questions or feedback with us to share?