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Tag: Anniversary

Announcement: Closed Beta and 1602 for free!

The release of Anno 1800 is almost at our doorstep and a before we go into our final sprint for the big finale on February 26th, our team will take a short but well-deserved holiday break.
But before we recharge our batteries during our short winter break, we decided to go all in and pack the final Anno Union week of 2018 full of exciting content:

Get your free copy of Anno 1602 until December 22nd
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famous City-Building video game series, you can play Anno 1602: Creation of a New World, originally released in 1998, for free. The game is set in the Early Modern period of history and invites players to discover an island world, to colonize and expand it and to trade with other islands – along with protecting it against potential enemies. As the first game in a long series of successful city-building video games, Anno 1602 was a true pioneer in its genre 20 years ago. Starting today and running until December 22nd, you can claim a free copy of the classic game on your Uplay account. All you have to do is to click here:
Claim your free copy of Anno 1602

Announcing the Anno 1800 Closed Beta
But that is not all! Today we are also very happy to announce the Closed Beta of Anno 1800, which will begin on January 31st and allow an even larger number of Anno Union members to help us test the game in the lead-up to its release. So if you haven’t signed up yet for our testing, make sure to do so straight away.If you have previously signed up or participated in our Technical Test, you are all set and can enjoy the time until invitations go out in late January by rediscovering Anno 1602!

AnnoCast: Annoversary Special
If last week’s Naval Combat stream wasn’t enough, we will bring you two more AnnoCast livestreams to celebrate our anniversary this week.

We will start tomorrow with our first-ever German episode of the AnnoCast, guest-starring popular German YouTuber and certified Annoholic, Vallegaming. Tune in for some Anno 1800, our favorite stories of 2018 and perhaps even cookies (for us. Not you. Sorry!).

On Wednesday, the party keeps rolling with yet another AnnoCast, this one in English and featuring big-time strategy fan and part-time Viking Belannaer from beautiful Finland. To make things more interesting, he will have to keep playing from the save game that Valle starts the day before, so let’s see how that goes.

We are looking forward to you guys joining us (and bringing some party spirit with you):
AnnoCast: Annoversary Special with Vallegaming (German) – Tuesday 4pm CET
AnnoCast: Annoversary Special EN with Belannaer – Wednesday 4pm CET

But that’s not all, as this Thursday, our Anno 1800 community team will host the last AnnoAfternoon episode for the year! Join Chris and John in their Anniversary celebration when both do a serious trip down to memory lane with the one legendary game that started it all: Anno 1602
AnnoAfternoon: 20th Annoversary Special – Thursday 5pm CET
And to finish of that crazy Anno week, we have another throwback for our long-time fans on Friday! What could it be? You will have to find out for yourself, I am afraid…

We hope that this week’s Anno marathon gets you excited for the holiday season and of course, for the upcoming launch of Anno 1800. It has been a while since we announced the game at gamescom 2017 and with the Anno Union still going strong, what was your most memorable Anno Union momen
t or anecdote from 2018?


Union Update: Nine years of Anno 1404

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

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

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

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

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

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

Developer Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Union Update: 2070 Stream Summary

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

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

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

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

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


Union Update: 2070 Anniversary

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

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

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

Developer Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Memories

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

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

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


DevBlog: Anno 1701 – Back to the future

With its first release on October 26th , 2006 (international release dates varied), Anno 1701 changed the look of the series drastically. The evolution into a 3D game brought new content and expanded on features. To move from an isometric 2D perspective into a 3D world was an enormous task and therefore required an ambitions and talented team ready for the challenge. With the passing of the scepter from former Anno developer Max Design, it was the studio Related Designs which accepted the challenge. A development studio that is today of course better known as Ubisoft Blue Byte Mainz. As the team had some experience with strategy titles and development in 3D, the studios own 3D engine was chosen as the tool to bring Anno 1701 in the third dimension. These learnings later (with Anno 1404) became the cornerstone of the “Anno engine”, which is still used to this day in a heavily enhanced and modified form.

The conversion into a full 3D world became a turning point, which resulted in a critical success, with not only the reception of the acclaimed Anno 1701, but also with the experience gained during development; these became very important in the development of the following Anno 1404 and the later titles.

It is said studio, consisting of veterans and new talent alike, which is currently working on the upcoming Anno 1800, which we hope shall join the ranks of the old and beloved Anno titles; combining their complexity and unique flair while taking advantage of improved features of modern entries in the series. While we highlighted the best Anno 1701 memories of our fans with the last Union Update, we want to tell stories from a different angle today: original developers of Anno 1701 and their interesting, personal and sometimes funny memories about the development of Anno 1701!

Burkhard Ratheiser, Executive Producer
Hi, my name is Burkhard Ratheiser and I am the Executive Producer for Anno 1800. Back in the days, I was Managing Director at Related Designs and Lead 3D Engine Programmer for 1701.

What was „ANNO WAR“?
Anno 1701 had its beginning as a strategy installment in the Anno franchise. Back then, Thomas Pottkämper and I met with Sunflowers Development Director to brainstorm about possible high concept ideas (we usually had our meetings at a pizza place around the corner of the former Sunflowers office). It was one beautiful day where we planned to discuss the ANNO WAR concept further, when the Development Director asked us how we liked the idea of working on a “real” Anno 1503 successor. While we were initially surprised by the offer, it didn’t take us very long to realize that it would be a great opportunity for our team to create the next main installment in the Anno series. We accepted that offer, put ANNO WAR on ice and started to work on 1701…

An exclusive look on one of the Anno War concept mockups (NOT RELEASED)

Anno’s own “Beauty Shader”
Beauty Shader was an internal term I used for our own pixel shader effect, which was responsible for that uplifting and colorful look of the game world. Eventually that term was even used by gaming and hardware magazines, which was always good for some general amusement in the team. Every time someone asked me why I picked that term, I answered casually “because it makes everything beautiful” – hey, it was probably the “first” coded make-up ;-)! Later on, during some celebration event, (I cannot even remember the reason of the celebration anymore) someone from the team gifted me a small can of model paint as a reference to the “Beauty Shader” and it is still on my desk today.

Terrain Engine: The engine in the engine
I am the kind of guy who loves to code and back then, I was responsible for our own „Terrain Engine“. As a result of my coding habits, the Terrain Engine mutated into a huge, bloated C++ “Monster” which worked as its own 3D Engine including own resource management systems (such as shaders) and included complex features like Undiscovered (aka fog of war), all living in our own engine.

Fun Fact(s)
–          The camera in Anno 1701 is rotating with the sun and that is the reason that players always see a perfectly illuminated scenery. You can notice that when looking at the shadows, which move together with the camera.
–          We were especially proud about the rendering of the rivers in the game. It consisted of a string of planar triangles and pixel shaders to create the final illusion of a stream of water and depth.
–          Anno 1701 was the first Anno in real-time 3D. When we had our first presentation to reveal the game to the press, we had a rendered ship on the start screen, which looked like a very complex rendering. When we started the presentation, the picture would blend into a real-time presentation of our engine and the ship and the water started to animate, transitioning everything smoothly into the actual gameplay part. Every time we did that, there was a noticeable “ooh” in the crowd.

Throwback time to the Anno 1701 announcement event: Burkhard Ratheiser, Thomas Pottkämper, Anno voice actor Sky du Mont and Dirk “Karrenschieber” Riegert

Christian Rösch, Software Developer
Hi, I am Christian Rösch and I have worked for nearly 13 years as a programmer in the Anno Team, taking part in nearly every feature you can imagine.

My first task in the development of 1701 was to create the navigation and pathfinding routine for all units, as I had just written a thesis about that topic. One of my first changes was the actual movement of the naval units. I built myself a small test map, consisting of a few deliberately miss-shaped islands and several ships and then started to develop an algorithm to let the ships navigate around all edges and corners in a nice angle.  Everything was working at some point, which left me satisfied and happy. The next day, my co-workers immediately integrated this function without any further questions and it was included in any development client and therefore save game of everyone in the team. Unfortunately, it resulted in a corruption of all levels and save games, so literally nobody was able to play the game anymore – the economy was completely broken. All because I had applied the new algorithm not only to the ships, but also to all cart drivers in the game. The problem was that on narrow streets cart drivers had no space to maneuver anymore and as a result, they were helplessly spinning in circles. Since that spinning day, every time I work on something, I try to think first which elements of the game could potentially be affected or messed up by this change…

Wolfgang Klose, Lead 3D Programer
Frank Hoffmann, graduate back then, now Senior 3D Programer
To develop our engine further for Anno 1701 was an exciting and sometimes difficult task. Back then, many of our team members had just graduated from university, so we had a team full of ideas but some of them were missing practical experience in game development. Our own engine, which we used for the game Castle Strike, served as a fundament for the development. The engine had to go through many modifications and expansions, as both games had quite different requirements for the engine. Anno was an already established series with very specific gameplay elements and therefore, it was hard for us to foresee if the switch from 2D to 3D would play out well in the end. It was also a time when video card technology evolved at a drastic pace. That allowed us to utilize new technologies and resources in order to test new features and tools during the development. For example, we could move on from formerly simple Shader technology, written in Assembler, to way more complex “HLSL Shader”. This enabled us to now write our own Shaders in C++ like code instead of machine language and that allowed us to implement new technologies faster than ever before. That offered us a wealth of opportunities to work with.

One example for these opportunities was our new shadow system which expanded the detail grade of the game significantly. Incredible important was the implementation of the ocean, as it was a major part of Anno’s game world. We also added reflections, foam generation, surges and navigable water for the ships. For the ship’s sails, we had our own internally developed cloth simulation.

However, our team invented not all improvements. One good example is the technology used for the lava from volcanic eruptions. Created by NVIDIA, the original purpose of that feature was to make blood run down walls in horror games 😀

Last but not least, a screenshot from the first Anno 1701 prototype, “Beauty Shader” included!


Union Update: 1701 remembrance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find more pictures from the event on LadyH. homepage:


1701 Anniversary: Share your memories!

The Anno series first bustled onto gamer’s screens nearly two decades ago, and next week marks the anniversary for one of the biggest milestones in the history of the Anno series.

The release of Anno 1701 in the year 2006 was a big step for the series, an evolution from the first two 2D isometric titles into the third dimension of gaming. It is also a very special game for us here at Ubisoft Blue Byte Mainz, as it was the first time that we (under our original name Related Designs) got our hands on the steering wheel of this storied franchise.

Many of those developers are still a part of the team today and they incorporate their experiences into the development of the upcoming Anno 1800. We love to reminisce in memories about the development of the older games and what they have contributed to the series as a whole.
And with these trips down memory lane, we remembered that many of you guys where already a part of our community  back then while newer fans might have also interesting experiences when going back to try out one of the older Anno games.

And here comes the call to action:
Share your Anno 1701 memories, anecdotes or creations such as videos, screenshots or fan art!

What was the first things you did or remembered when starting to play Anno 1701? How about some funny or beloved memories you connect with the first Anno in 3D and why is Anno 1701 still an important game for you as a fan of the series?
We hope that you have plenty of comments or creations to share with the union. You can also post videos, screenshots, stories and other fan art in our Ubisoft fan creation topic:!

The best entries will get their own spotlight during next week’s Anno 1701 anniversary celebrations. We are curious and excited and wish you all a great weekend!