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Tag: History

DevBlog: “Dear game guide”, a love letter

A relic from the olden days, or an irreplaceable accessory? For our Creative Director Dirk Riegert, there is only one answer to that question. Enjoy his fiery plea for a, in our modern times, redundant art form.

Dear game guide,

You have to be strong now, because you see, no one actually really needs you. The ones who buy you already know the game, which you describe in detail, inside out. They do not need your assistance in the form of a book. It is exactly these players who lovingly pat you on the cover and who reverently carry you around from their couch, to the bath and to their bedroom to bury themselves in your pages. In that sense, you are the ultimate accolade for a video game. You demonstrate that many players love their games so much, that they want to spend time with them even when they are not currently playing.

It was exactly the same with me. I can vividly remember as if it was just yesterday all the times I took my guide from the shelf after I played through roleplaying games to reminisce on the most memorable and challenging parts of my adventures. You, dear game guide, were always a fascinating mixture between diary, photo album and manual for me. And even if your importance for that last aspect keeps on dwindling in the digital age, you are still a must-buy for devoted fans who love to get lost in the pages of a good old book.

And then of course there was that one time where you really saved me in the most dire of circumstances; do you remember? It was in the year 2004, and we just had started the development of Anno 1701. I was quite shocked back then, when I noticed that we had no design documents of the last two Anno games for us to do research, as it was the first Anno game developed by our studio. Anno games were a unique and complex blend of strategy and city building though, so I desperately searched through the various documents I was able to dig out but the results were all less than helpful. I felt utterly destroyed when I finally found you, dear game guide. My knight in shining armor, saving me with your sharp knowledge and trusty pictures. Hardworking people had put together so much useful information, including all the game rules and charts about Anno 1503, all very well written and easy to understand.

I was so thankful and it was calming to know you were at my side for the years to come. As the Anno series was continuously growing, you too grew bigger and more extensive in size and content. From a medium sized, 162 pages paperback for Anno 1701, you expanded to an impressive 295 pages hardcover with Anno 1404. With Anno 2070, your dimensions evolved even further, to an unbelievable 367 pages and I remember how it became quite exhausting to hold you in one hand. With Anno 2205, we thought digital information would suffice, but I can tell that I missed you quite dearly.

Now, with Anno 1800, I wonder if our paths will cross again. If the folks in the Anno Union love you as much as I do, could there maybe be a chance of a comeback? For myself, I would love to hold you in my arms again, dear game guide. Maybe, just maybe, there might be even a chance to exceed 400 pages, who knows?

We might see us in future,

Dirk

We hoped you liked this very personal love letter to the strategy guide. But how is it for you, members of the Anno Union: Is a game guide just a nice collectable memoriam for you or a trusty companion and do you even think that we need them anymore, in this modern day and age?

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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: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

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:

Soulridder
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.

Marc_The_Miner
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!

NK3D
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!

LadyH.
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: http://ladygames.de/party2007/

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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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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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