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Tag: Announcement

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: Island creation contest

What an exciting week it has been thanks to the big announcement of the upcoming Union focus-playtests and a passionate look inside in the work of our level art team.
This week, it is time for the next DevBlog in our logistic series, where we will demonstrate how we bring back both complexity and freedom of choice with Anno 1800’s trading routes.

While you will hear back about the story contest winners soon, today we want to fuel your creativity once more:

The Union Island creation contest
Islands design has been a matter of passionate community discussions for a long time now and you shared plenty of interesting ideas and suggestions in last week’s DevBlog.
While we love to take inspiration from your ideas, there is also a creative power in the Anno Union, and we want to use that energy to its fullest potential- so we decided to give our Union the chance to bring a true community created map into the game.

We kick off our official Union island creation contest today and we are looking for your interesting takes on the Anno island formula. The best entries get the chance to become something truly special, as we will put the best maps up for a vote on the Anno Union and the winning island shape will get implemented into the game.

Here are the details:
– The deadline for the contest is Thursday, February 15th and you can post your entry here: Island Creation Contest
– You design your own island shape, you can either do it digitally or send us a scan of your drawn image. – Your island should be a clearly visible island shape shown in top down view.
– Your shape should include terrain elements such as mountains and hills as well as marked spaces for beaches. Keep in mind: if something is not marked as a beach, it is counted as a cliff-side.
– Finally , but very importantly, add interesting details and obstacles. We are curious about your interesting ideas but make sure that things do not get too crazy.
– A picture of your island is mandatory but you can post a short description and the gameplay ideas behind your concept in the forum as well.


Here is an example of shape and drawn areas. 

Focus Playtest requirements and questions

We got plenty of detailed and well thought out applications but we also know that there are some burning questions regarding the focus playtests. Instead of answering every single question in the QnA part separately, we decided to provide some extended details on the playtest and will overhaul the FAQ on the playtest page this week.

Deadlines and do I need to apply again for future playtests?
The application process has no deadline attached and you won’t need to apply for each test separately. Several test sessions will run over the course of the year and we will pick testers always from an aggregated list of applicants, which we will frequently update over time.

If I am invited once, will I be able to play on every future focus test?
You won’t – while we might invite people more than once, we want a variety feedback from different players and for that reason, we will change testers for every focus group. Later tests might require data from bigger groups, so just keep an eye on the Union for future information on that matter.

What are the exact system requirements?
Many of you were curious about the time requirements of the first test. While we aim to provide many options to customize your experience for the final game, our early development version is not optimized yet. That means that performance is subject to change and that the hardware requirements are not representative. It is hard for us to tell right now, but you will most likely need a PC which runs 2205 with at least recommended specs.

Why do I need to be 18+?
We are aware that there are many younger Anno fans out there. The minimum age is a legal requirement as the playtest will be subject of a strict NDA. Remember that we give players access to the in-development version of the game. The NDA requirements might change in a later stage of development and we will keep you updated in future Union Updates.

I can’t play one hour every day, why is it not possible to play just 14 hours over the weekend?
We are aware that at least one hour a day over the course of two weeks is a lot of commitment and not feasible for everyone. Future playtests can vary in length, but for the moment we need detailed feedback on a daily basis from testers.
The one hour is a minimum requirement and as mentioned, you can play as long as you have time during the focus test. We will monitor bugs, might perform changes and fixes to the client as well as ask for specific feedback about certain game elements on a daily basis. Because of that, playing the minimum daily time altogether on a weekend is unfortunately not possible.

Will Uplay be required to test the game?
Yes, Uplay will be a requirement for the focus tests.

I am disappointed that activity in the Union was not taking into account for the application process!
As mentioned on the playtest page, constructive behavior is a requirement to be eligible for playtesting. It makes no sense for us to ask you how active you are in the Anno Union or the Ubisoft forum, as we can gather these data on our own. Activity as well as other community engagement is an absolute plus.

How do feedback and bug reports work, will I have someone to talk to if I encounter problems during the focus test?
We will offer support from a dedicated testing team to all testers. We will provide the exact details if you get invited to a test but rest assured that we have a process and the needed tools for feedback collections and reports.

Community QnA

SnakeHunter84
Do all islands have only a small amount of beaches? Is it the rule that mountains surround islands rather than rising from the middle?
Simon: The beaches are the only spots allowing access to your island. However, you will usually have several beach slots available, depending on the size of an island.
Mountains are not limited to the borders of the playing area, and there will be islands in the game where hills and mountains ascend from the center. We want a variety gameplay challenges and scenarios, and the placement of a mountains and other terrain has a strong influence on the difficulty.

DiruKamachi
We are curious how many tiles the island shown in the blog has? When you work on the surface details, it seems that you work on one big object, and that before you structure the sectors of the island. How are you doing that? Additionally, I would like to know what kind of textures you use? And how do you ensure that your textures don’t look like repeating tiles? 80 hours of work for one island, I guess that more than one person works on one island?
Simon: Our islands are one big 3D element, which we are able to completely modify and edit as a whole. It is not segmented by separate elements. Our tools allow us to define the construction space while we work on the object. There are several methods and ways of handling textures, such as “Seamless Textures” or “Tint Maps”, which can prevent unwanted tiling effects. But that is a complex topic in itself and like always, often a combination of different techniques. The 80 hours for an island are the average time spent but we share the workload with several team members.

ruuti0
I have one question, did this thing that it can take 80 hours map time become in 1800, 2205 or was it already in early games like 2070?
Simon: In fact, we optimized our workflow a bit since then, which means we need slightly less time than we needed for an average island in 2205.

Johnnymac34
How many islands would be created for the entire game? Are any of them created via a scripting tool or is it all done manually?
Simon: We don’t want to reveal the final amount of islands for the game as of yet. We use the tool World Machine to create a basic layout for the map which we than alter and polish by hand.

AmpeImann
One question, as a Level Artist, are there performance constraints that go into what you can do with the design of an island? Is there a limit to the number of “features” on each island for the sake of engine performance?
Simon: Level artists usually care about making a level visually stunning but we also have to keep performance in mind especially when it comes to placeable objects or complex vegetation, as these can take up a lot of performance if you aren’t careful.

 

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Union Update: Story contest has ended!

Welcome to our latest Union Update, where we give you a glimpse of this week’s Union content and things headed your way in the near future.

As you might have noticed, the Anno Union suffered an issue last week, which prevented players from accessing the website. We are sorry for the inconvenience and can you tell that we found the culprit; everything should be back to normal now. While we have further plans to improve our website further, the downtime was not caused by a secretively rolled out update, as some Union members presumed. Not that we don’t like sneaking in updates from time to time…

Announcement: The writing contest is closed!
Thanks for all your contribution- we received some great stories and some really cool creative takes on the given task. We will announce the lucky winners in a future update but we can already say that picking the best story will not be an easy task for us. So please join us in a general round of applause for the creative Union task force!
If you liked our writing contest and would love to see more support for community creations such as contests, highlights and other nice ideas to push content creation, share it with us in the comments below!

3D Animation

In this week’s DevBlog, we continue the journey of a 3D asset during creation. Yes, a lot of handiwork went into the asset already but we are far from done here. You were always curious how we create that lively feeling in Anno, where you metropolis is brimming with life and small stories to discover?
Well in that case, you should not miss out this week’s DevBlog, when we give you an exclusive look how we create visual feedback and animation work for Anno 1800.

Let’s come together!
Also coming up this week is our first Union Community Roundtable.
Join the Community team this Wednesday evening for a cozy meetup and chat with us about the Anno Union where we are sure to have answers to one or two questions and discussions ready for you.
The English session will start at 9pm CET – Everyone is welcome! >Annoverse Discord<

While we are using a voice chat for communication, microphones are not mandatory. So feel free to ask us questions in the chat or just listen to the discussion.

What’s next?
We asked you a few questions during our update last week and got a ton of recommendations for future topics you would like to see tackled in the future. We picked some of your ideas and started to shuffle them into our ongoing content plan.

The best things often come at the end, right? We have some news for you that might get you pretty excited. During our last AnnoCast, we talked about our Alpha milestone and that now is the time where we need as much and as varied player feedback as possible. To make that possible, we are currently planning to kick off our online playtest studies in February.

For the first test groups, we need Anno experts who know the series inside out and are willing to provide us valuable reports and tons of data! As suggested by the community previously, we will give everyone a chance to apply for the focus studies with an application form, which should open in the coming weeks.

Well that is something to look forward to; many more things to come and we are – as always – looking forward to your feedback.

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Union Update: Here comes the AnnoCast!

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

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

Time for the first AnnoCast!

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

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

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

Community Spotlight

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

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

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

Community Q&A

Let’s move on to our QnA session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Anno 1800 announcement

Choose your strategy for victory! Welcome to the next installment in the beloved PC-exclusive strategy city-building franchise.

This is the dawn of the industrial age and the path you choose will define your world. Are you renovator or exploiter? Suppressor or liberator? It’s up to you how the world will remember your name.

In Anno 1800, players will take charge of their own fortune as they navigate the rapidly evolving technological and malicious political landscape of the 19century in their quest to build an empire that will stand the test of time.

Combining beloved features with innovative gameplay in a memorable new setting, Anno 1800 marks the beginning of a new era for the Anno series.

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