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Tag: anno 1800

DevBlog: It begins with art!

“That typical Anno feeling!” – A common comment from long time Anno players when they talk about the very special feel and look of an Anno game. But how do we actually go about designing that familiar Anno art style? It all starts with concept art and today, we want to give you an exclusive look into that work with our Senior Concept Artist André Kieschnik:

Hi, my name is André, and I have now worked as a concept artist on the Anno series for over seven years. From my first Anno steps (or lines) in the middle ages to exploring settings on a futuristic earth and now arriving in the industrial revolution, this journey was a chance for me to earn experience as an artist and to learn many things, some of them are valuable lessons for my craft and career. I want to share a part of said experience with the Anno Union and show you why concept art is important.

Three factors that make for good concept art
Gamers loves concept art, as it gives us a glimpse into the creative vision and direction of a game; but it is not only an eye-catcher, it is also an important part of the development process of a game. Concept art sets the tone for the art direction, helps to visualize concepts and works as reference piece for other departments. You can say that there are three important factors:

Visualization
We talked about the vision for our game in the past, and it is the concept artist’s responsibility to take all these creative ideas and to visualize them. That can be straightforward, like the first concept sketch of a new building, environmental concepts or a panorama visualizing how a whole cityscape could look like. But we also create mood slides, where we capture a certain atmosphere or feeling into a concept art piece, and work sometimes with abstract ideas to get them into form and shape. Visualizing ideas helps Game Designers (but also other disciplines) to get an idea on how game elements could look like, but also to figure out if and how they could function in the game.

Functionality
Functionality is another important factor. Sometimes, an idea sounds great in our mind but once we can see it visually presented in an artwork, we might realize that it is not working out as we hoped or that it needs at least some more thought and iterations to function properly. Imagine you have an idea for a new crazy factory building or a cool 19th century machine. A concept artist can help to figure out if that concept for a factory could work well together with the other buildings in the game or if the design of your machine feels plausible and convincing. Our credo here is “not 100% realistic but believable”. We take advantage of creative freedom when creating concept art but the right mixture between reality and fiction is what makes an asset believable.

Art Design
Finally yet equally importantly, concept art helps to set the visual tone for a game. Having a set art direction is crucial to create that beloved Anno feeling. So what exactly is the tonality and feeling that we are aiming for with the upcoming Anno 1800? The 19th century with its industrial revolution was, especially in large cities, often a dirty and sometimes gritty time. However, as with our Anno games set in the middle ages, the tone for Anno 1800 should reflect memorable aspects of that era without becoming too dark or dirty. For an Anno game, we all want that sense of satisfaction and wonder when observing our citizens bustling around a carefully crafted diorama of a city.

Which of course does not mean that Anno 1800 will not give you that soot-blackened feeling of the 19th century, as the depiction of the industrial revolution is an important part of immersing players in that that era.
At the end, artful architecture, rural buildings and industrial revolution should create a harmonious overall architectural impression. A good mixture allows us to represent everything, with vibrant cultural buildings or other eye-catchers compensating for your brick-stone factories covered in industrial smoke.

From first ideas to final concept art

Step one: Hitting the books
We always start with research. Anno is a city building game and therefore, architecture is the most important aspect we have to visualize. Our team usually starts to browse through various sources from that era, like old photos or paintings. Over time, we gather a good amount of reference material. However, it is not only the 19th century we take inspiration from.
When you do research about production buildings of that time, you quickly realize that many buildings were mostly made out of brick stones and all shared a similar architecture, which makes it hard to distinguish various types of buildings or their functions at a glance. We of course had to admit repetitive buildings made of red brick stones are not very interesting to look at, or not even what people expect when they think of the industrial revolution.

That is the point where creative freedom becomes important: we are also using modern references to include steel and iron, which most of us imagine when we think about the 19th century.

Step two: Time to scribble
The first visualization of a concept is usually a sketch. Let us stick to the factory for this example. We are done with our initial research and can now start to scribble down all the ideas we have in mind to create many variations in shape and form. At this point, while being rough, our scribbles should demonstrate various shapes that could fit in an Anno landscape but also show what is inside the building.

Here is something interesting to consider when creating buildings for Anno. When you take a birds-eye look on a real cityscape, it is hard to identify the various types of buildings. You might be able to spot houses, if it is some kind of cultural building or an industrial estate of sort. In Anno, we need you to be able to easily identify the type of building you are looking at. To immediately make you understand the type and function of a building, we make use of open walls or we even place elements that should be hidden inside the building (like big kettles or a smelter) outside to make it more readable.

We usually draw several sketches to create a variety of concepts for a building. In previous Anno games, the first sketches were usually black and white line-arts. However, our team got more experienced and with that, much faster over the years. That means that today, most of our scribbles already have some coloration to give a better idea how things could look like in the final game.

Step three: Decisions
Once we have a variety of concepts, it is time to pick the most fitting sketch of the building. Our team decides which sketch would work best as a concept for a building, with feedback from our Art and Creative Directors and Senior Artists. There might be a case where we have a hard time deciding on one sketch, which can lead to picking two variants or even mashing them together to create a new concept. Once we have picked the best concept, a 3D Artist will create a low-poly 3D Mockup of the factory. That allows us to compare it to already created Anno buildings and helps to identify if size and proportions are working or if we have to alter the concept a bit. After we have checked various scenarios with our 3D dummy and decided that we can go ahead with the concept, it is time to go back to the drawing board.


Step four: Let’s finish this
In the last phase, we take our first sketch and start to work on the final concept art. That means a lot of detailed work: we create a high definition file, work out all the missing pieces such as props, small details (which can be as minute as a poster on a wall) and define all the materials used in that building. It needs to be clearly visible what is made out of bricks, wood, metal and even if it is in a pristine or worn down form, especially for the later work with shader effects. Having all the details and the correct proportions is incredibly important as a reference for our 3D artists who work with that concept later on.

When the final piece is ready, it is time for the last approval check. If we get the okay from the Creative Director and Senior Artist, it’s time to move on to another piece. If the concept art needs to be changed after the revision, we usually go back to the beginning of step four.

I hope you found this behind the scenes look into the world of Anno’s concept art interesting. In a future Devblog, one of my fellow artists from the 3D side will take over to show you how our factory continues its journey into the finished game. Before I leave you, I would love to hear what some of your favorite Anno concept arts from the previous games were, so hit the comments. You might have even a few questions to our team regarding our work on the concept art for Anno 1800?

Best,

André

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Union Update: gamescom throwback!

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

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

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

Your Ubisoft Blue Byte team

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Union Update: Our Union vote has a winner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

QnA Part:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DevBlog: Truth or Fiction

As previously announced, we want to use these DevBlogs to give the Anno Union community an opportunity to learn about various team members’ work, and some of the considerations going into it. For today’s entry, we have drafted our Game Writer Matt Cook to explain how Anno cares about history without being historically accurate:

Hi, I am Matt- Game Writer, former Brit turned European, and new to the Anno-Team. Welcome to my world! A world a bit like our own, but then, not quite…

A history in broad strokes

Anno’s world is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of mercantilism, in which time, place and identity blur. Yet we expect the game as a whole to define the 19th century as an era of industry, discovery and revolution.

Some of you wonder if real historical figures will appear in our game. The short answer is no. The long answer is that this has never been the Anno way. It shows how inspiring and evocative this era is however, that people have already come up with so many good suggestions for historic personalities they would like to see.

A matter of opinion of course, but I often find divergence from history, and anachronism jarring in games (unless of course this is a conscious choice) – and by parallel and parody, Anno has always sought to avoid this. For example, Napoleon and Queen Victoria will not appear in person in Anno 1800, but you may find their personalities and even their appearances very much alive there.

Playing Anno 1404 as part of my devilish indoctrination into the cult of Anno, I was struck by how close the AI personalities were to satire and caricature. I can’t help feeling Anno characters are at their best when they have that boldness, even if it means humor has realism by the throat.

Anno Character Characteristics
Take the characters in our recent poll; a blend of archetypal and specific people from the period. Somehow they are larger than life, while still remaining unique. I like them all, but the Occultist is my favorite. She really captures the spirit (!) of an era in which rationalism and romanticism meet. Think Verne, Shelley, Dickens and all the rest – Anno could touch upon the curious, the mysterious, even the supernatural – as well as the productive, grounded core we know and love.

I’d be very interested to hear in the comments how you feel about such possibilities, because 19th century people were fascinated by the unexplained. Keep in mind that “unexplained” is a key word. The intention with Anno is always to create a believable, substantial world based on (albeit cherry-picked) historical fact, and we would always be careful never to cross the line into fantasy. But think for example about the emergence of forms of entertainment such as stage conjuring, or how some claim to have caught fairies on photograph, or sailors returning from sea voyages with tall stories, and you get the general idea. How conservative or brave should we be?

A History of our own
Besides anything else, Anno has its own tradition when it comes to the setting: the recurring characters, like a reassuringly gentle Jorgensen in every iteration, or the different guises of our stalwart fish and ships over the years.

Perhaps Goldfurt was your best island ever. Perhaps Lord Richard Northburgh was the sort of person you’d hope to meet in a world as dark and cruel as 1404. Anno has every reason to remain true to itself, and some of that history will not be lost or forgotten in Anno 1800.

Anno: A study.
But does all this “vagueness” about history mean that we aren’t meticulous about detail? Of course not. You can’t create any kind of world (ask any writer worth their salt) if you fail to research your inspiration, which when coupled with imagination, creates a tangible and plausible sense of place. The labor movement, the industrial revolution and other sweeping changes the world witnessed in this remarkable century, are already a huge part of the game.

In our researches at the Mainz studio, we also profit from a collaboration with our colleagues around Ubisoft, who are helping us to steep the game in real history. Alongside the detailed visuals, we believe the atmosphere and narrative will have those with an interest in the period smiling sagely at all the little references, as their picturesque settlements become vibrant metropolises.

So what do you imagine?
As a writer, I am curious as to what ideas the era conjures up for you. What was your first thought on seeing the announcement of Anno 1800? Which event, theme or even personality was your first association for the 19th century? I am looking forward to your comments, and indeed to talking with you all again in the near future.

Matt

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Multisession gameplay in Anno 1800

Time to get serious! As previously announced, we want to use the Anno Union to give you more insights into various aspects of Anno 1800. Starting things off is our Creative Director Dirk Riegert, who has been working on the series since the Anno 1701 days. In today’s extensive DevBlog, he will explain a core aspect of our new game: the multisession gameplay.

Our entire team is following the comments and feedback on the Anno Union with great interest and that of course includes myself. One topic that I keep coming across during my evening reading that many of you seem to have questions about is the so-called multisession gameplay. As we had always planned to start our proper DevBlogs with a meaty subject, this seemed like a perfect candidate to do so.

Looking back at Anno 2205

To be fully able to appreciate the changes we made to the system in Anno 1800, we first have to circle back a bit. Multisession gameplay is a fairly new element for the Anno series, as it was first introduced with our last game Anno 2205. This allowed players to connect several separate worlds (called “sessions”), and to transfer goods between them. Our goal for it was to create a larger, persistent game world while combining various different maps (in the case of 2205 for example, Earth and Moon). At the basic level, we were pretty happy with this new feature as it offered us many new game design possibilities. Moreover, players seemed to like it as well, voting the multisession gameplay as one of their favorite new elements of 2205 (alongside the ability to move buildings and production modules).

How can we go further?

Despite all that, our post-mortem analysis of Anno 2205 also showed us that there were many avenues where we could go even further to improve the multisession gameplay beyond that game’s implementation, as the expansion of the game across several sessions had some big implications. We identified four main parts that we wanted to address to ensure that the multisession gameplay fully met our expectations.

  1. Gameplay freedom
  2. The size of the game world
  3. A focus on your home session
  4. The game world’s integrity

To spoil the good news- we have made major improvements to each one of these aspects. So read on for much more details how we achieved this.

A question of freedom

The gameplay freedom to do as you please within the provided systems has been a core pillar of the Anno philosophy since we started with 1602. However, the multisession gameplay implementation in Anno 2205 did not fully deliver on this, as players were quickly required to settle in additional sessions to progress in the game. While it was possible to stay in your first session for as long as you wanted, this effectively limited your game progress. This lead to some players feeling limited in their ability to play Anno the way they want to, including the option of moving to additional sessions at their own pace (or not at all, even).

One session? Multiple sessions? It is up to you!

By comparison, the multisession gameplay in Anno 1800 is a lot more flexible. From a certain point on, players will be able to decide if they want to move to a new session. We know that exploration and that sense of discovery it instils are important aspects for some of our players, so we want to allow you relatively early on to set out and discover not only new islands, but also new sessions.

But there are also those players who prefer a “my home is my castle” approach, and who are more reluctant to move beyond their home island. These players prefer to make the move to another session much later in the game, once they feel fully familiar and comfortable with the gameplay. Allowing this flexibility is important for us with Anno 1800.

We are even going further to allow for those players who would prefer to only play on their starting map, as we aim to make the move to a second session entirely optional. We expect that the vast majority of players will spread out after a certain point to fully experience the full breadth of gameplay, but we will enable players to stick to their home session by focusing on trade to acquire other goods. As a side note, we currently plan to limit the classic multiplayer experience to one large session for 2-4 players.

Size matters after all

Fully understanding our goals for the multisession gameplay requires us to dive a bit into hard numbers. Staying forever in on one map is all nice and dandy- but only if it delivers the intended gameplay fantasy. For example, while the individual islands in Anno 2205 were much bigger than in previous Anno games, the maps were in turn much smaller. To see a concrete example, take a look at this graph, showing the respective to scale sizes of the game worlds in Anno 2070 (comparable to Anno 1404), Anno 2205 and our plans for Anno 1800.

As you can see, Anno 2205 had the smallest game worlds at 800×800 grids (grids being the name we use for the square units you build on). The worlds of Anno 1404 and 2070 were comparatively much bigger at 1200×1200 grids. And with Anno 1800, we take it a step further with massive 1600×1600 grid worlds.

For those of you hoping (or maybe fearing) that this means that the game world has also proportionally grown, we present this next graph, which shows the distribution of islands you can build on in the world. Whereas Anno 2070 offered around 25 islands per map, Anno 2205 reduced the number to five islands on average (we made some post-release changes with free patches and DLCs). With Anno 1800, we are going back to an island count that is more comparable to 2070 and 1404, offering up to 4 players (be they human or AI) enough space to advance to the highest civilization level. The reason that the world is comparatively bigger is that we have increased the size of the islands (especially your starting islands) to allow for more buildings, mountains that are more impressive and our huge monument. Thanks to these changes, each session should offer players enough space to for a full-fledged Anno experience. Which begs the question why we are even bringing back sessions? I am glad you asked!

A safe harbor

Similarly to how the fantasy of settling on the Moon drove the decision for the multisession gameplay in Anno 2205, our new setting in the age of industrialization and imperialism will also benefit from allowing players to move beyond their home map. We consider the players first session as kind of a home base, where their capital city will be located, and where they meets their allies and foes. After taking roots there, they are free to spread out and extend their area of influence to other regions.

Thanks to the inclusion of the multisession gameplay, we are not limited to your stating session when it comes to breathing life into the game world. After all, what proper empire would be limited to just one map?

On the other hand, we don’t want players to have to spread themselves too thin across to many sessions, leading to constant switching between them as could be the case in Anno 2205. This is why we will be very careful with the introduction of additional sessions. Our current plan is that we will offer a second big session beyond our stating map at launch. Here we are following the notion that sometimes less is more. This especially the case as (as explained above) the individual sessions are far larger and offer more gameplay than they did in 2205.

And while our restraint when it comes to the number of initial sessions is primarily driven by gameplay considerations, it comes with some has technical benefits. We were able to minimize the loading times between sessions, as they are simulated in parallel (after an initial load when you start).

The integrity of the game world

The last point of focus when it comes to improving the multisession gameplay in 1800 is the integrity of gameplay. This was an issue in 2205 as some of the typical Anno elements did not come together in a satisfying away, which sis something that we aim to rectify with 1800.

For example, there was a lack of immersion when it came to the transportation of goods, as they were not really transported from A to B, and rather managed via abstract balance sheets. To fit into the world of the 19th century, all goods in Anno 1800 once again exist as physical items that need to be transported between locations. This happens with the classic carts on the islands, and of course with ships when it comes to transportation between islands. And we are paying a lot of attention to the changes that happened to shipping during the industrialization, as time is an important factor during shipping. And not just between islands, but of course all when sending your transport ships between different sessions.

Also, contrary to Anno 2205, military engagements are no longer taking place in special “event sessions”. They are once again part of the main session in Anno 1800. How exactly these engagements work and what role multisession gameplay has there is however a topic for another DevBlog.

What do you think?

Now that I have spent two and a half hours typing up this in-depth answer to all of your questions regarding the multisession gameplay, it is your turn- we want your feedback!

This this DevBog help you to get a clearer picture of where we are headed with Anno 1800? What sounds most exciting to you, and what aspects of the multisession gameplay are you worried about? Would you personally prefer to stick to your home session, or are you more interested in exploring to world to its fullest? We look forward to reading your thoughts and ideas.

Thanks and until next time,

Dirk, Creative Cart Pusher

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A journey through the history of Anno

The Anno Union is about the journey of Anno 1800 and future Anno titles, but sometimes it feels good to just lean back and take a look what made the previous Anno games so beloved for so many players. To start you all off into the weekend, come and join us on a trip down memory lane.

It all started in 1998 with the cornerstone of the franchise, Anno 1602. This classic established all the key ingredients of the Anno gameplay formula that we still adhere to, from the humble beginnings with just a ship full of goods and an empty island, to your first few fishing and woodcutting huts and finally, after many hours (and the occasional bankruptcy and restart) a flourishing city.

And while a lot has changed since (hello, third dimension!), we still adhere to many of those core tenets today in the development of Anno 1800.

Fans had to wait four long years for the next evolution in the series, with Anno 1503 releasing in fall 2002. As a classic sequel, 1503 offered fans more of the beloved Anno gameplay, while improving it and adding more complexity to many aspects. Players were now able to discover varied climate zones, interact with several new cultures, and use a larger variety of military units to settle any disputes. Of course, we couldn’t talk about Anno 1503 without mentioning the multiplayer controversy, with the initially promised mode being delayed and ultimately cancelled- in fact, those events are one of the reasons why we already announced that Anno 1800 will have multiplayer from day one!

The next game in the series, Anno 1701, is very special to us here at Ubisoft Blue Byte Mainz, as it was the first game in the series that our team (under its original name Related Designs) developed. In fact, many of the members of the 1701 team are still with us, and are now some of the key members of the Anno 1800 team -including our Executive Producer, Creative Director, Art Director and our Technical Directors! So what was new in Anno 1701 besides the developer? The biggest difference was of course the jump to 3D graphics, bringing your islands to life in an all-new dimension. By the time the game released in 2006, the step to 3D was overdue, especially given the series’ tradition of being on the cutting edge for strategy game visuals. Needless to say that this is a tradition that lives on to this day, as we definitely hope that Anno 1800 will be a great looking game by the time it releases in Winter 2018.


The new team here in Mainz were able to follow up their Anno debut with one of the most beloved entries in the series when they released Anno 1404 in 2009. Building on the three previous games, 1404 combined deep gameplay, great graphics and a lengthy campaign to become the pinnacle (and to date last) of the historic Anno games. It also introduced a Diplomacy system, which will return in Anno 1800 to give you many options when it comes to interacting with your fellow rulers.

Following that came a bold move with the announcement of Anno 2070. For the first time, players would go to the future, as we replaced beloved series staples like aforementioned fishing hut and instead allowed players to build huge futuristic metropolises on land, and even under the sea. Another element unique to Anno 2070 was the choice between which factions you wanted to align yourself with – Ecos, Tycoons or Techs – and the central role that topics like ecology and pollution played, challenging players to decide which path they wanted to follow.

So where do you go next after you built a futuristic underwater city? To space, obviously! With 2015’s Anno 2205, we decided that “the world is not enough”, as we allowed players to leave mother earth’s familiar embrace behind to colonize the moon. One big new feature in 2205 was the Session-based gameplay- instead of just building on one map, players could in parallel build in several different sectors across the globe and moon, and seamlessly switch between them. We are not going into too many details yet, but rest assured that this session-based gameplay is making a big return in Anno 1800. Where will you be able to settle? Well, that is a topic for another day…

Which brings us to the end of our little excursion through the history of Anno. We hope you have a great weekend, and please let us know in the comments what kind of throwback content you would love to see here on the Anno Union. Blog posts, old photos, Let’s Play streams of older games- we want to hear from you!

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Vote your favorite NPC into the game!

It’s about time to kick off our first Anno Union community vote. When creating a game, tons of creative ideas are flying around the studio but during the development process, we have to make hard decisions. That means some ideas have to go on hold, and eventually go out in order to ensure that the best one goes big.

A diverse cast of AI Characters has been an important part of Anno games for a long time. They help to immerse yourself in our game world and are your ally achieving victory or your bitter opponent during a session. With that said, we would like to introduce you to six interesting candidates for our last AI character for our NPC roster, and it is up to you who will make it on the ship when Anno1800 sets sail.

Find a short description below to make your choice easier, or maybe even harder. You will be able to vote for one of the characters (yes, only one) in the big voting highlighted at the right side of the Anno Union page. We will keep the voting up for a while and when it is time to make the decision of which character we will further develop, we will make that choice based on your actions.

Furthermore, we want to give you the chance to become a part of the characters journey. That means that with weeks and month to come, we will give you frequent updates about the development, from final artwork to 3D animation, classic Anno style.

A) Artur Gasparov – The Visionary
Descending from a noble bloodline, Artur studied mathematics, art and architecture to become the single most influential architect of the Empire. Artur strives for perfection. His works are breathtaking, sometimes even provocative. He dreams of creating the perfect utopian metropolis one day. Many call him the greatest visionary of modern times, still some voices question his inability to compromise, and point out Artur’s highly neurotic nature.

B) Hafsa Sultan – The Ambassador
A hookah pipe-smoking princess of the near-east, Hafsa revels in her wealth – loving jewelry and clothes best of all. She is a talented, enigmatic lioness, yet finds her duties as ambassador lack challenge. She only seems to have a vague interest in keeping her family dynasty alive, despite the fact it crumbles at home. Nevertheless, through her charm an ulterior plan appears, a plan she is keeping extremely secret.

C) Jacob “Jake” Turner – The Gambler
Regardless of his razorblade smile and shiny suits Jake is in desperate need of money. Always. He is extremely charming, wasting his talent on being a notorious gambler, con artist and dazzler. His enterprises are as expensive as they are risky, and in the end a lot of people lose a lot of money. Maybe that’s the reason why Jake, as he calls himself nowadays, changes his face like other people change their underwear.

D) Florence Morel – The Occultist
Florence Morel began her fascination with the occult as a morbid little girl, when she claimed to have found a mirror between worlds. Inheriting a vast fortune, her gothic search for truth now unfolds on a grander scale. Her army of acolytes seem bewitched, letting no one and no thing obstruct their leader. They say it is Morel’s destiny to set loose universal mysteries – for good or ill – and in doing so, change humankind forever.

E) Silas Grendel – The Mobster
Grendel is a vicious and ruthless racketeer, commanding his army of rats to get things done. He began running cutthroat carnivals, until his was the only circus in every town. Now his brutal concern only grows, with him king elect of the underworld. With dark nexus behind him, grander schemes are afoot; a man like Grendel wants to tattoo his name into the forearm of history.

F) Dr. Hugo Mercier – The Anarchist
Dr. Mercier did not spend five years reading politics at a great University just to toe the party line. No, his grand vision is anarchy – absolute freedom for everyone! It was a mistake of the Empire then, to think Dr. Mercier might make a suitable ‘governor’. Only in hindsight is it clear he is the definition of rebellion – a man with such conviction in his beliefs, he is willing to die for them.

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Come and see Anno 1800 at gamescom 2017!

Visiting gamescom 2017? You can be among the first in the world to see Anno 1800! Being based in Germany, the team at Ubisoft Blue Byte has always loved gamescom, as it gives us a chance to meet face-to-face with our players, and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to show some of you attending the show this year an early first glimpse at the game in action.

Three times a day, our Community Developer Bastian will be in the Ubisoft Lounge at the Ubisoft booth (Hall 6.1, booth B20) for an hour to present the game to you, and answer some of your most pressing questions.

When?

Seats are limited and strictly first come, first serve- so make sure to be there on time!

What we are showing

So what are we gonna show you during these presentations? As the game is still in an very early pre-aplpha phase (keep in mind that we are aiming for a launch in Winter 2018), it will be a hands-off presentation very similar to what we show press and partners behind closed doors in the Business Area, so it’s a cool opportunity for players to take a look behind the curtain. We will explain our reasons for picking the 19th century as our setting, our goal to deliver the ultimate Anno experience, and how you – the communities out there – can help us make this the best possible game!

Afterwards, we will have around twenty minutes set aside for your questions (if we can already answer them), and to chat.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Cologne this week!

 

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Jump aboard the Anno Union

The Anno Union sets sail and we need you in Anno’s new community initiative.

Join the team at Ubisoft Blue Byte here in picturesque Mainz in the creation of Anno 1800. Get the latest news, development insights, behind the scenes content and help us shape the future of the franchise, as we regularly invite gamers to share their feedback, vote on features, create content and test the game during its development.

You are not only at the right place to get all Anno 1800 information and updates to come, we also will actively look out for your input in order to use the vast knowledge of our Anno Union member to shape and test our game. Our most dedicated and active Anno Union member will get the chance to play the game as early as 2017, one year before our release.

While there is still a vast ocean to cross before the release, we decided to invite you early. We want to create the ultimate Anno experience together, because your passion is what always drove us. With the long history of the Anno franchise, taking the next step side by side with our veteran players and new strategy fans alike was the logical step to create the game both we and our fans want.

Keep in mind that all the material we will share in the upcoming weeks and months are of a game in a very early development state. We are currently in so called Pre-Alpha and with upcoming blogs, we will update you on the current state of the game as well as explaining what the lifecycle of a game in development actually means.

More details will follow soon, so keep a keen and sharp eye on new content on the Anno Union and jump right away in our comment section to share your thoughts, questions and ideas!

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