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Tag: Q&A

Union Update: Streaming and multiplayer Q&A

As the release date of Anno 1800 draws closer, we are in the final sprints to polish and balance the game. Creating the DevBlog takes a lot of time and much of the games content has been highlighted in some shape or form already, the game developer insights will take a short break this week. We brought you dozens of DevBlogs since launch of the Anno Union in 2017 and we still have some articles in our pocket leading up to the launch of the game.

But we won’t be lazy as we will ramp up the amount of Anno 1800 live-streams on our twitch channel with the AnnoAfternoon stream returning this week and the Community Corner coming back in the week ahead with a German episode including a special guest.

Livestream: AnnoAfternoon
It’s time once more for our Community team takes you on another Anno 1800 Twitch adventure! In the next episode of our AnnoAfternoon community stream, we will venture forth into the new world together, when we listen to your suggestions as to how we should build and name our cities.

When: March 8th, 4pm GMT
Where: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Annoverse Roundtable recordings
Last week’s Annoverse roundtable was an absolute blast! Over the course of two hours, we made a challenge out of answering as many questions as possible and thanks to the Annoverse team and community member Domo, you can listen to the recorded German and English session here:
Annoverse Anno 1800 Roundtable German
Annoverse Anno 1800 Roundtable English

Last but not least, we have prepared some answers to your most burning multiplayer questions in today’s community Q&A.

FerudaFarstaria
When we add friends from our friends list. Does this include the Steam friend list and Uplay? Or do you have to find your friends in the game, and add them to your friends list? I’d really like to know if this does link to friends lists in Steam, and Uplay.
Answer: Anno lists steam friends as well as your Uplay friends. In case you invite someone from you friend list, Anno does automatically select the right backend (Steam or UPlay) for the invitation and also receive and handle the invitations from both systems.

Mattly
We did find that once we had expanded into the new world we had to give up due to constant desync’s. As we are all on fibre and all in the same country (New Zealand) could this have been caused by the need to communicate with the host server where ever that is located or was it a known issue that has been worked out in these final weeks?
Answer: We identified and fixed many reasons for de-synchs thanks to the great participation of Closed Beta. This also includes many de-syncs related to the South America session. It is not very likely, that your desynch problems as described where caused by network issues, as because Anno tries to keep the connections “as local” as possible. Only if the NATs of the participants are not compatible, we are forced to route the traffic over Ubisoft servers to enable the players to join. But this also can be resolved by players by adding Anno to the exception list of your router.

elmoh1one
I would be interested in a whole Devblog about the topic synchronization. Which kind of data is exactly synchronized? How is the system checking if there are disparities between the different computers and how does that coherent with the simulation of the game?
Answer:
Simply speaking, every single player action will get recorded and synchronized before the system shares all input data of for the simulation with every other participating player (every PC in the session calculates all steps of the simulation for every player in the match).

Drake-1503
Does that mean that saved multiplayer matched can be continued with different players? That would mean it would be possible to create a staged savegame with already established cities instead of an empty map.
Answer: You are able to continue mutliplayer savegames even if the original players are not available anymore. When new players join, they can “overtake” an empire and continue to progress and expand with that game state. While it is technically possible to create scenarios that way, you would need to have a dedicated player for every single party as you cannot take control over two or more empires.

The_Waith_Lord
I would love to see that you could also do a search for players based on language and region to make it easier to communicate with the other players.
Answer: When looking for a player, our matchmaking takes the region as well as language into account. Should the system be unable to find a player after a while, it will expand the search for players with the same language across the globe. If the system is still unable to match you with someone, it will also widen the search to global players with any language.

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Union Update: Conquer together

Welcome to another Union Update, with our latest news from our Anno communities as well as an outlook on this week’s content.

Upcoming DevBlog: Multiplayer
For some a neat extra while for others vital for the gameplay experience – playing with your friends in Anno 1800’s multiplayer mode can add countless hours of fun when competing over islands or going on a joint venture to end the regime of the tyrant Alonso Graves. The classic multiplayer experience celebrates a return to the series and we want to give you insights how the system works, what options and game modes we will provide while also give you a brief outlook on the future.

Community Roundtable AmA happens this Wednesday!
It is time for the next round of our Anno Union Community Roundtable. The Roundtable is a Community AmA where we, the Community Developer and Community Team, answer your most burning questions, hosted by our Annoverse Discord fan community. Everyone is welcome to join us and to ask questions about Anno 1800 and the Anno Union in chat.

To allow everyone to participate, we will have two sessions Wednesday evening, one in German and one in English. The German session will start at 18:30 GMT while the English panel begins at 19:30 GMT.

When:  Wednesday, 27th of February
German session: 18:30 GMT
English session: 19:30 GMT

Where: Annoverse Discord

We will take a short break from live streaming this week but do not worry, we will return as early as next week with more live streams from our Community team.

The Anno Union started as an idea and grew to a huge platform providing tons of Anno relevant information and details for players and fans out there. Is there anything you would like to see more in future or is there anything you miss on the Anno Union and specifically the Union Updates?

As always, we are eager to hear your feedback in the comments below!

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Union Update: Like busy bees

In today’s Union Update blog, we want to give you a brief Anno 1800 production update and provide some additional answers to questions inspired by some of our recent blogs. Later this week, you can look forward to a DevBlog on some of the game’s customization options for sandbox games. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Production Update
As our February 26 release date looms large and inches ever so closer, we have been busy little bees and made some great progress. We recently finished another milestone, so let us check in with our Production Team to get an update on was has been happening these past few weeks. Keep in mind that these are just two notable highlights, but by no means a comprehensive list of everything we have worked on, as all the disciplines and teams (like Art, Game Design, Game Programming etc.) have their own separate goals for each milestone.

  • All Guns blazing
    We know that many of you are very curious – or should I say burning – to learn more about our naval combat. Which is why we want to make sure that when we show it to you, it will all be live and in action inside the game, rather than with a lot of text and mock-up images. Which is why you will be happy to hear that we have made great progress with the polishing of the naval battles during the last milestone, laying the foundation we need for an in-depth look in the future.
  • Sights, meet the sounds
    We are also right in the middle of our localization and audio efforts for the game. During the month of September, we recorded all the English voice acting for the various AI characters and the cast of our story-based campaign. At the same time, with all the game text now largely finalized, we are also busy working with the respective teams to translate it into all the other languages we will support (some of which will have localized voice recordings as well). We are happy to say that we will be supporting localized text in more languages than ever before in an Anno game, giving all new audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in the 19th century in the language of their choice.

We are also analyzing the feedback from the recently concluded playtest to see which items need to be addressed. Given this late stage of development, we have to always consider what changes are feasible, and how they may affect development of other features to make sure that we make the best use of our remaining time. With that said, the feedback from our play testers is still highly valuable for us, especially as we will focus more and more on nailing the game’s balancing. This is also where the data from our upcoming larger-scale test will come in handy to give us insights from a big group of players.

Reminder: Our Expedition Contest ends next week
A reminder for all you writers and expedition event designer out there: the expedition contest submission deadline ends next week on October 22.10 so make sure that you hand in your event ideas until next Monday. And if you have any questions regarding the contest, we will try to answer them in the comment section of today’s update.
You can find the contest details here.

Vienna calling: Play Anno 1800 at Game City Vienna
For any of you who live in or visit Vienna this week, our game will be playable at the Game City event in the city hall. You can find all (German language) information here: http://www.game-city.at/

Community Questions and Answers

Hexagon19
I like that products from the old world will be required in the new world, so my ships won’t have to make the return trip with empty loading bays. Talking of which, the production chains shown in the blog include wood. Could this also be imported from the old world?
Answer: Yes, you will be able to just import goods from your Old World to use them in your production chains in the second session and vice versa.

Phyllus1
Will it be possible to save blueprints for future use, for example to save entire production chains as templates, which could then be quickly placed in the future?
Answer: It won’t be possible to save whole layouts as this would require a lot of work on UI and UX, as we would need to develop a whole interface for that feature including menus, possibilities to save and to sort your layouts. However, we like that feature and closely watch how players will make use of the blueprint mode and how much feedback we get regarding that feature after launch.

Mr.Beko80
You mentioned a botanical garden in the blog. I already suggested this when you first revealed the zoo, so I was wondering if there is still a chance to see such a garden in the game?
Answer: At release, Anno 1800 will come with the Zoo and the Museum as large building projects supporting the new city attractiveness feature. Both projects come with a huge amount of assets, from modules, animations and dozens of items each. As always, we will watch feedback closely and see what the post-release future may hold for Anno 1800.

BlueBreath
So the small stuff in your exhibition you can only see as icons, isn’t there some form of a magnifying glass to show you what is inside? Like when you click the building , the roof get’s stripped off and you could see what’s inside but magnified a bit?
Answer: Small items will all have their own artwork for their actual icon but with the huge amount of museum items alone in mind, this would mean that we would have to model 80 3D assets just for the museum alone and also find ways to display small pieces like a necklace inside a building. We just implemented a nice overview window accessible from the zoo or museum entrance that will allow you to check how many items from which set you own.
The museum wing buildings in combination with the amount of huge open-air exhibition pieces will nonetheless offer a lot of visual variety to express your inner museum curator to your heart’s content.

Viper_R.K.O
Will I always get the same results when I do an expedition again and pick the same option, or is there a random numbers generator at work behind the scenes that will allow for different results? And will there be rewards for nice and beneficial decisions, or only if you act mercilessly and reckless?
Answer: Every decision you make has a chance of success based on a general difficulty and the skill ratings of the items and characters you brought along. In addition, some items will offer unique additional decision options on specific events and some combinations even guarantee a success. If an event fails, there are various outcomes for the story to progress. As you might have seen during the various instances of our Love Island presentations (RIP Captain, Comedian and Bishop).
The type of decisions you make won’t have an influence on the final reward pool of items during an expedition, even though special decisions and events can reward you with items from the event pool.

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Union Update: Anno 1800 at EGX and Q&A

A new week has arrived and that, of course, means that a new Union Update chock full with Anno wisdom is here. Before we start the promised elaborate Q&A Session, let us first make you aware of two possibilities to see Anno 1800- live and in glorious color! Also, as a heads-up, in this week’s DevBlog we will dive into the world of Expeditions.

We’re at the EGXs – Plural!

As announced, this Thursday on the 20th at 1PM BST / 8AM EDT, we’ll be streaming a panel with Anno 1800 from EGX in Birmingham which you can view live at https://www.twitch.tv/egx

But wait, there’s more: We’re also happy to stop by the first EGX in Berlin! Our presentation where will be on Sunday, the 29th of September and it’ll be live at 5PM on Twitch, so mark your calendars – or even better: Visit us!

Enough with the prelude – you have questions and we’ll try to give you answers!

Sir_Obelexxus
There were a few Anno T-Shirts at gamescom. As I didn’t have an opportunity to get one, I’m asking myself if it’ll be possible to get merch at some point, especially T-shirts?
Answer: The number of our gamescom shirts was very limited and the demand was huge, so we don’t have any shirts left. We’ll keep the interest for the shirts in mind for the future, however.

Grieswurst
Will there be visible ship crews?
Answer: We often hear the request for crews being visible at work on their ships, due to our love for detail and visual feedback in the cities, similar to how you are able to see your citizens doing their daily work. While visual feedback taking the form of crewmembers is technically possible, the implementation would be very time-intensive and require us to overcome a few technical hurdles.
One of the reasons for this is the size ratio. As you might be aware, the citizens of our Anno world need to have a good mix between visibility and realism, so there won’t be realistic size ratios all the time. And while the ships in Anno 1800 are bigger than ever, the ratios are not necessarily the same ones as with buildings and streets.
In short: The characters on the ships would have a different size as the ones in the city, as they would otherwise look out of place – especially when your ship lies in the harbor.
But there are other points, which made us decide against the visible crew. We wanted a big list of varied ships and ship types and having the crew would’ve possibly been at the expensive of ship variety. Visual feedback of the units you move around in fleets can also be taxing on the eye and make the game seem visually restless, even chaotic. And the further visual feedback that needs to be calculated would also be a strain on performance – and these are just a few points, that we have to take into account when thinking about these decisions.
As you can see, in production we always have to evaluate if the benefits of a feature outweigh the disadvantage or justify the expected effort at the expense of other content (which we could work on instead).

BlueCommander_
Is it now not possible anymore to play a game without switching sectors?
Answer: We played around with various ideas and feedback from the Union focus groups. Many goods that you can import from the New World to your original session are luxury goods for higher resident tiers. With the implementation of separate residential and luxury needs, this means that the rise of your citizens is not dependent on luxury goods, and opting not to use the second session will only partially slow you down. However, the New World will also be the main source of oil, so if you plan to supply your metropolis with electricity at a large scale, we recommend securing an independent influx of the fossil fuel. Trading with AI players, neutral factions and other players in multiplayer are other means with which to get your hands on imported goods. on higher difficulty levels, where other characters will be more aggressive and directly engage with you for economic and even military dominance, a beachhead in the new world can be more meaningful than in a relaxed game on a lower difficulty setting. With that said, we are already very curious to see videos of players, who will push through the highest difficulty without traveling to the New World at all. J

Mr.Beko80
How is it looking with moving buildings around, can you move them anytime or just for a short time after building them?
Will this option have any impact on the difficulty, like the reimbursement of building material in 1404?
Answer: There will be no limits as to when you can move a building. And while the moving of a building is going to be free on lower difficulties, on the higher difficulty settings there will be a cost in building materials.

BfVorsteher
I’m happy that aside from the Darwin Temple, we will also get an altar for the achievements of the „two-legged burrowing mouse“ to expand the cultural diversity of our city. The only question, will space be enough for that? Or will there be revolts due to lack of living space and resulting higher rent?
Answer: Juggling available building space with the needs of your city is one of the core challenges of Anno and of course this won’t change with Anno 1800. Depending on difficulty (which can also influence the size of islands), it can be a challenge to get all the necessary buildings on one island. Ambition plays a role here too, such as deciding whether you want to just have a small “alibi zoo” or push the module system to its limits. In the latter case, you can build museums and zoos that could cover  smaller island all by themselves- provided of course that you manage to find enough attractions to fill them with. We leave the worries about ever rising renting costs to the grey reality, however.

roka71
Will there be an Open Beta before release or a Closed Beta for pre-orders?
Answer: We can’t share any concrete details yet, but we plan to have bigger testing phases with a lot more players prior to launch. However, these will be independent of your pre-order status. If we had to speculate, we would recommend all Anno Fans who wish to play the game before launch to register right here on the Anno Union…

pritam87
Is day night cycle present in the time of release?
Answer: We know that the day/night-Cycle is a beloved feature that also has a lot of fans here on the team. However, we won’t have a day/ night cycle in the game at launch.

SirKju
What really bugs me is the hustle and bustle in the trailer. The graphics are breathtaking, but more people on the street would be nice! Is there going to be a change there?
Answer: Our work around „Visual Feedback“ is not yet done, so don’t consider anything you have seen final. Additionally, when we create a trailer (which have so far all showed actual game graphics), we often have to change the settings of the feedback units, so it can sometimes happen that the trailers show fewer units than you would see during gameplay.

Cilitbangbang
The question that burns inside of me is if we (the Union) will be involved with future DLC? Those could be planned already with some feedback.
Answer: That is the case already! As we are only now starting to throw around ideas and plans for more content for the time beyond the launch for Anno 1800, we will definitely keep close tabs on Union and community feedback – as was the case with our recently announced Anarchist DLC. Here, the fan feedback in combination with the character’s gameplay potential made it an easy choice to include in the game down the road. We want to stress however that it will not be a “Day 1 DLC” – work on the Anarchist will start once the main game is done and we plan to launch it a few months after launch in spring 2019.

chris02918
How can I react quickly if something happens in the world, where I’m not looking at at the moment? An attack? Are resources missing in a settlement?
Answer: With two sessions with one or more settled islands each, it is indeed sometimes possible to somewhat lose track – especially if you also want to keep an eye on various ships and running expeditions. That’s why we put a lot of effort into our notification system which will keep you up to date on important or critical information and developments. With one click, you’ll immediately hop to the place that’s in need of your attention.

Chris9990306
I think that you should reconsider the settling of the new world. I don’t think that having the AI wait for the player to settle before they move in is the right way.
Answer: Our train of thought here was that we didn’t want to pressure players or give you the feeling that you have to explore the New World as soon as possible if you don’t want to lag behind the AI. However, after seeing the largely unanimous feedback on this matter we sat down again to discuss it, and have decided to change this slightly. Whether the AI characters will wait for the player before exploring the New World is now based on the difficulty level.

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Union Update: Questions, Answers and Artificial Intelligence

In today’s Union Update, we will once again give you answers on some of the most burning questions from our communities. You also can look forward to our upcoming DevBlog, in which our programmers Jonas and Johannes will show you how we teach our second party characters how to build a believable metropolis.

But before we dive into our QnA section, we have a small reminder: The Union ship design contest will end next week Monday. We got a few strong designs already and we are looking for the last few submissions entering the race before the beginning of next week.

Without further ado, let’s answer some questions:

DfZug
Will the number of wagons per train depend on your production or is it just a visual feature? Will the trains run faster or slower depending on their weight?
Answer: While the payload will not affect the speed of a train, the number of wagons will be an indicator for you how much oil is currently loaded.

Mr.Beko80
Will you need to construct power plants near to the residential area, which will further have a negative impact on your residential happiness? How will the electrical support work, will you need to power supply lines on your own or can you just upgrade your streets?
Answer: To pander your demanding investors, you will need to support them with electricity from a close by a power plant. However, you will not need to install power lines manually, as power plants have their own influence radii like the marketplace and the fire station. Electrical poles will automatically appear across streets, which are in the influence radius of a power station. When you upgrade your simple farm roads to proper streets, the influence of all buildings will expand which also affects your power supply. Power plants will have an impact on the pollution of your city but are not a real competitor against your smoke covered heavy industry.

Acroz.Gaming
While watching the video, I’ve noticed that they look rather static right now. Will you include more animation and visual feedback in the future?
Answer: Many assets used in the electricity blog are not final yet, so you can look forward to a higher level of detail and more visual feedback. Same goes for the oil harbor, the oils ships and the motor carts, which are currently in a low polygon state or getting overhauled. How about an update on that in a future blog or live-stream?

Sandi.V.
Will the roads cross the railway? Or will the railway line block the construction of road crossing?
Answer: You will be able to cross streets when building railway tracks.

olblf
Are power plants only using oil? I guess it makes sense from a gameplay perspective, but historically and logically, coal would have been the go to fuel. I would have liked if powerplants could use both coal and oil.
Answer: In Anno 1800, coal is finding is an important resource for many production chains and it is especially utilized in your heavy industry. Power plants need a very high amount of fuel in order to operate. If we would just use coal for our power plants, we would completely devalue the resource for other production chains and furthermore, we need to ensure that trains could also access the mines. The new electricity production chain including oil as fuel is an exciting new system, which challenges players but also rewards them with technical progress coming to your metropolis. We choose quality over quantity as making use of two fuel resources (oil and coal) would artificially bloat the system while at the same time, watering down the gameplay as a result.

Anno_2070_
Is he ascension to the next tier bound to the need on available and needed workforce or will it be more like in the past, where only a percentage of your residents was able to ascend, which further guaranteed that you always had enough workforce to run everything?
Answer: Anno 1800 will not have the classic ascension rights. If a residential building has all needs fulfilled to reach the maximum amount of residents it can inhabit, you can upgrade the house to the next tier by investing the needed construction material. There won’t be any limit for the number of residents you can upgrade, which means you can let as many farmers ascend to the working class as you like, even if that will cause a bottleneck for farmhands needed on your rural production buildings. Although, you will be able to downgrade buildings if you need an additional workforce in a lower tier.

nico_Darmstadt
If I start building production lines to create luxury goods, will it cause higher upkeep costs but also generate higher income?
Answer: Luxury goods will make your residents and your treasury happy.

Gxy12
Will it be still possible to deny your residents certain goods (such as fish), like it was possible in Anno 2070 or 1404?
Answer: It will be possible to deny your residents any goods you wish by locking it in the specific residential window for each tier. Seems your poor residents have to run dry if you need the schnapps to hand in that quest at your neighbor’s island.

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Union Update: outlook for this month

In our last few DevBlogs, we tackled some big new feature additions to Anno 1800, but that was just a glimpse at what’s to come. This week, it is time to take the next progressive step with the fourth residential tier.

But there is of course more to come this month: The next Episode of the AnnoCast will air Thursday the 17th of May, 5pm CEST!

In our fourth episode, we will show you some visual improvements of the game (we mentioned the UI overhaul, didn’t we?) and use the chance to show you our visitor and zoo features live and in action!
As always, we will share a blog with the embed livestream before it goes live and you can leave your questions for the Q&A part of the stream below.

Feel free to follow to our twitch channel, where we stream development updates about Anno 1800, celebrate anniversaries of older Anno titles and have plans for some additional upcoming shows: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

The Union feedback on these big features such as city attractiveness and projects like the zoo was once again incredibly valuable for us. It gives us a first indicator whether we are going into the right direction and additionally helps us to make changes based on your thoughts.

But there is only so much you can do with a blog or a live stream, and that is where our Anno Union playtests come into play. We are currently making the final preparations for the next round of the tests, where Anno Union members get the chance to play and provide detailed feedback for the development team.
We will share some details soon but one reminder for you all: If you have applied in the past but have updated your hardware setup, please send us an update (best would be a response to your initial application to union-playtest@bluebyte.com) of your rig, including your Uplay/Union display name.

If you haven’t applied for the focus tests yet or even never heard about our Union tester program, you can check out all the details here: https://www.anno-union.com/playtest/

Community Q&A

Das_ist_Phil
Will it be possible to catch animals on your island just by clicking on them?
Answer: There are many different ways to acquire animals and other items. Catching animals will be one option but it will be more than just clicking on wildlife grazing on your island. We are still working on a few details but can say that some specialists will offer their wildlife-related skills to you.

Lord_Desert
Oh boy, the kitties surely had a bit too much in their food bowl. A bit less food and it wouldn’t be less obvious that the enclosers for zoo animals are a tad too small ;D
Answer: Thankfully, our feline predators seem to prosper even in captivity! The size of the zoo animals is not final and we are still working on the right proportions. As you know, the proportions in Anno are adjusted to the bird’s eye view, which is what player’s spend most of their playtime in.

onkel2015
Is there a maximum limit for modules or will I be able to expand my zoo as much as I like?
Answer: There won’t be a maximum limitation for zoo modules. Construction space is an important resource in Anno and that alone is a well thought investment if you expand your zoo. Hey, maybe marvelous outsourced zoo islands become a thing in Anno 1800?

Annorevolution
The entrance seem to the anchor point for all modules, which sounds for me that they don’t need a street connection on their own. Does that mean that we can design the form of our zoo freely and do not need to stick to the square form as shown in the video?
Answer: Zoo modules need to connect by one tile, which leaves you a lot of freedom to create a zoo layout of your liking and to leave construction space for ornaments. We placed a few ornamental objects in the zoo for our video example.

Gradyowens12
Will the game have some sort of hotel system to house the tourists that come to the island, or will they come to see the island and then leave?
Re1Synth
Tourists surely bring financial benefits but will they have their own needs such as hunger or craving for luxury items etc.?
Answer: Tourist will land with a ferry, travel around the island and leave after a while with the same ship. With the city attractiveness, we introduce a complex new feature to the series. We tried to add some deeper management layers to the visitors but figured out that the micromanagement aspects gets easily out of hand, especially considering all other management aspects of Anno in the larger picture. As visitors are a crucial, but by no means only, part of the city attractiveness feature, we decided to go for a working albeit a bit simpler implementation. As usual, the Anno Union gave us a lot of interesting feedback and we are open for the idea to enhance the feature if we find a concept, which is not falling into the same complexity trap and which is not too time consuming for us to develop.

IppoSenshu
I really like that beauty building is now meaningful, that part was always missing in previous titles. Will the city attractiveness have actual impact on the reputation of the player?
Answer: Your city attractiveness level, the positive or negative rating of some of your attractiveness criteria as well as the different ornaments and attractiveness relevant buildings will have an influence on your standing with other characters. If you build a zoo, there will be certain AI characters who will react to that very excited and friendly while others might think that you do not have the necessary edge to lead a big company, as you are just toying around in a kid’s sandbox. If and how they care about such things like your parks or the pollution on your island will depend on each characters distinctive nature and backstory. We can’t wait to share more details about the illustrious cast of Anno 1800 second and third party characters. Who knows, maybe one of the next big topics in the Anno Union?

Miguelito-87
You described that there are basically three buildings which can slot items. How big is the influence radius of each building? How many items will they be able to slot?
Answer:
The three buildings (town hall, guild house and harbor office) will be able to carry more than one item, but we are still playing around with the exact number of slots. When it comes to the size of the influence radius, balancing plays a big role. We want that you can specialize your districts and for that, we need to make sure that things like overlapping radii won’t cause an issue.

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Union Update: Islands and decorations

Spring is the time of plans and projects, as they (and also Tolstoy) say. And indeed, sunny Spring has finally arrived in Mainz, thought we can assure you that is not keeping us from working full steam ahead on Anno 1800. After last week’s DevBlog about city attractiveness has found a lot of acclaim with you all, we are taking a quick sidestep this week to cover a basic yet important topic in Anno 1800: items

In some ways, this is a Pandora ’s Box, as items can have quite an impact on several of the game’s features, including next week’s topic. For that DevBlog, we will return to the topic of city attractiveness, with a closer look at what draws tourists to your island, and what benefits they offer.

The net month will bring several bank holidays for us here in Germany, which is why we will skip next Monday’s Union Update. We are looking at some busy weeks after that, as we are in the middle of the preparations for our next AnnoCast, the next set of focus group testing of the game and much more.

An updated look at the community island
We already showed you all the effort that goes into creating one of Anno 1800’s islands. Once the closed the voting on our Community Island Vote, our level artists were itching to get started. During the first steps, the original winning concept from GmExpresso had to be slightly altered, as we made some changes to the access points to the plateau and the beaches to give them additional emphasis. The real work began with the digitalization of the island. For starters, the island was created in a basic three-dimensional form via World Builder, defining the rough terrain.

With the basic layout done, things moved on to the editor, requiring lots and lots of manual work and loving attention to detail. Going layer by layer, our barren island was populated with vegetation, rugged rock faces and fissures in the terrain. During these steps, every part of the island receives additional manual reworks- from the coast and forested areas to the jagged peaks of the mountains.

The version of the community island that you see here has not yet passed final approval, as it is missing the last round of quality improvements. As part of that, we will add some more small environmental details to make sure that our community island looks great. The same is also true for the islands we have shown you previously, none of which have received the final polish and approval yet. With that said, we cannot wait to show you the final Anno 1800 islands in the future!

Community Q&A

PPF99 The question for me right now is how the AI will judge what an „attractive city“ is. Will it be enough to plaster empty lots between factories with flowers, or will it be necessary to combine these with other decorations into large-scale parks?
Answer: Beauty is famously in the eye of the beholder. Your city’s overall attractiveness is influenced by many different factors, of which decorations are one. Creating a system that judges attractiveness by a set of very strict rules (for example via layout and geometry) could limit player’s creativity, and would likely end in all “attractive” cities looking similar to each other. The way the system calculates the attractiveness gain of ornaments is the ratio between decoration and population. If you city grows bigger, you will need to construct more decorative objects and parks to keep your culture bonus.
We will share more information about the behavior of your visitors very soon.

Theatralix I am still unclear on what the exact benefits are. Is having the most attractive island just (as hinted at by the blog) another endgame goal besides economic domination or having the strongest fleet?
Answer: Raising your cities attractiveness and luring in visitors is more than just a (admittedly very lucrative) source of income. It will also affect some diplomatic interactions with other characters, and give you access to some rare and helpful items. Who knows, maybe your city may end up being so attractive that some of your visitors will be tempted into permanently settling in and sharing their skills with you?

Rick_Rickleston Will some of the factors taking into consideration or city attractiveness also be visualized in the game? For example, air pollution? Will areas with higher pollution look a bit shabbier and run down, as in Anno 2070? Seeing the environment changed by pollution was one of my personal highlights of that game?
Answer: Visual feedback, such as fumes from your nearby industry or city ruins will be an important indicator for the player to detect pollution or other unpleasant influence on your city.

Jinkha5 Is there a global attractiveness rating for players? I could see myself building an attractive main island, but prioritizing productivity on my secondary islands.
Answer: We love enjoying the beautiful aspects of the world. So if you take great pains to outsource a large part of your productivity and set up complex supply lines, it is only fair that you earn the rewards. In other words: city attractiveness is measured per individual island, while some of your fellow governors will also take the overall state of your empire into account. 

SersSers2010 What benefits are there to reaching a new level of attractiveness? Will parks have maintenance costs? And how about the decorations?
Answer: When reaching higher city attractiveness levels, you will be rewarded with special items and unlocks. As an example, special ornaments will be only accessible with higher attractiveness tiers. Parks won’t have upkeep costs. The construction space in Anno is a rare resource and because of that, we think that the in materials, money and space is already quite an investment.

Sauerbraten95 You mentioned ruins several times in your blog. Will there be other incidents besides fires that can cause your buildings to turn into ruins, and will players always have to remove them?
Answer: We will discuss what incidents will contribute to your islands insecurity and can cause ruins in the future. For a topic like this, we greatly prefer to show you pictures rather than just words.

FaNt0mIc What has happened to the time-honored Anno tradition of the Jorgensens? Will it continue or not?
Answer: It is true that this is one name that seems to keep popping up in the chronicles of the Anno series. Maybe we should task one of our resident chroniclers to look into this phenomenon…

Endophyte After just going bankrupt again because I wanted to try something new in Anno 2205, I have one absolute no-go for Anno 1800- the save system. Will you stick to just auto saves, or are manual saves back as well?
Answer: We realize that a lot of work can go into one of your Anno-sessions. That is why we want to support manual saves so y can try new things, or relive a momentous milestone over and over again.

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Union Update: Workforce and production isles?

A turbulent month is coming to its end, as quite a few new features were introduced, and we are currently busy tying up a few loose strands from before.
We will send out the focus test invitations for the first group of testers pretty soon, so keep an eye on your mailbox. For the playtest, we had to do some additional polishing on our development version of the game, which lead to a slight delay to early March.

We plan to bring you the long awaited update regarding the writing contest next week; in addition, we will present you the finalists for the upcoming island voting. It was not an easy task for us to select the finalists from over 100 amazing entries!
After our big introduction to Anno’s residential tier system, this week’s DevBlog will bring the stars of the first tier to the stage: enter the farmers of Anno 1800.
To see that the blog resonated with so many of you made us happy and we are looking forward to showing you some of the features in action in the next AnnoCast.

But before we tease too much about the upcoming month, let’s move over to this week’s community C&A:

Community QnA

Community Many of you are curious how exactly the trade routes work between sessions.
Sebastian: As many of you assumed correctly, it will take some time until a ship reaches another session. Here an example:
We have an island in session A, which produces a good currently needed in Session B. We start with creating a route to send the ship to pick up the goods in session A. When loaded, it will travel to the border of the map in order to leave session A. It will now take some travel time until it finally at the map border of session B. I cannot give you more specific details about the exact length of the travel time as of yet, as we are still working on the right mixture between realism and good gameplay flow. Ships should need some time to travel across the ocean but it should not take too long to affect the gameplay negatively.

fabian_eiter Will I need to create residential buildings on every isle separately in order to generate the needed workforce for my production?
Dirk: 
The short answer: No. The more detailed explanation: Generally speaking, you will always need residential buildings to generate workforce, like farmers taking care of the crops. However, it will be the case that some of your islands do not need your entire workforce. You will be able to transfer such workforce overhead to your production isles.
It is up to you whether you want to generate your workforce on your production islands or to transfer them within your empire. We will provide more in depth details about the workforce system in a future blog.

Annorevolution The high tier residential buildings from early screenshots seem to be 3×6 in size. Does that mean that these kinds of buildings will not be in the release version of the game? How do you plan to create an organic looking cityscape?
Basti: Higher tier residential buildings will connect to create dense house facades, similar to the system from Anno 1404. That allows us to create the look of connected big housing complexes based on several smaller units. The screenshots, which show a modern metropolis in the 19th century, are representative of the look we aim for with the release version of the game.

Gxy12 Will the new workforce system require that you use lower tier residents in higher tier production buildings, or even buildings which rely only from workers from lower tiers?
Basti:
Workforce will not be limited to their specific tier, so you will be able to utilize your lower tier workforce for some production buildings from a higher tier. For more details about the workforce system, keep an eye on future DevBlogs on the Union, as this topic will get some more coverage in near future.

otacon2002: What is going on with the trains? Do you have any information how trains will work?
Basti: We are working on it to tackle some of the most burning topics in near future. We wouldn’t do the bigger features a favour if we would just drop some details in a community Q&A. We hope that we will soon be ready to give you some insights on Anno 1800s trains, a topic where the team is really curious about feedback from the Anno Union.

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Union Update: Islands galore and community Q&A

It might be the coldest month of the year, but neither the development nor the Anno Union suffers from the winter blues. As announced, we will relentlessly bring you weekly DevBlog’s about fundamental core mechanics of the series. This week, you can look forward to the start of a whole series about Anno 1800’s residential tiers. We will highlight the artistic vision behind their design, their importance for the setting and their importance for Anno’s gameplay!

Talking about passionate topics: we want to say thanks for everyone participating in the island contest. We got flooded with a crazy amount of amazing entries and our team is currently going through every single one of them in order to present you the finalists as soon as possible. A big thumbs up from the team!

Some time has passed and we will announce the winners of or previous writing contest soon. We made our choice already and had a cool idea how we could properly present the winning stories. This caused a slight delay but rest assured, we lift the curtain in an upcoming Union Update.

Another update about the next AnnoCast and the Community Roundtable is on the horizon. We got plenty of feedback about the first roundtable and we guess that many of you look forward to another evening chat between the Anno Union and the development team?

Before we head over to the community Q&A part of the update, we like to give you some general information about the focus playtest: We all know that you can’t wait to hear more about the tests, specifically their exact starting date. Please keep in mind that the tests are under a strict NDA, and therefore, we won’t provide full coverage on the tests. However, we will briefly talk about the focus-playtests in blog articles and let you all know when they invitations for the first group are out.

Community Q&A

Drake-1503
Resources are important for almost all strategic elements of the game, so please give us adaptable and varied settings when generating an endless-match. Why shouldn’t it be possible to just define the amount of resources? “Unlimited – high – low” would be sufficient to create a rich variety of scenarios and end the endless discussions about the pros and cons of unlimited lodes.
Sebastian: Limited lodes would make the flow of the game much more convoluted and interrupt the gameplay, especially in the already more complicated late game portion of a match. Furthermore, you will be able to claim a high amount of islands across different sessions in Anno 1800. Micro managing every single one of them could end up being quite a daunting task.
Let’s say we have limited lode capacity, that means we would need to create interesting systems to refill the resource lodes.  Just using “a bit of cash” to refill them would not be enough, because think about it: how wants to be frequently reminded that one of your dozen mines depleted just to press a simple button. That is neither challenging nor fun.
We would be able to create a nice system around it, but it would cost us time developing said feature. Even if it looks like a minor feature, we would need allocate time from other content to realize it. Up to this point, the feature just was not that important for us in order to push something else back. The plenty of feedback we got in the last DevBlog made us realize how important a complex lode system is for the community. For that reason, our team will start an internal discussion based on your feedback.

TheYSeaMeRoamin
It might be worth to think about making content, which is matter of controversy in the community, just an optional part of the game. That would allow everyone to create his or her individual game experience. In that case, you would also need to be careful to not make the customization options too complicated but still offer enough to allow for an exciting variety.
Basti: We always need to keep the overall scope of the development in mind. We want to give you a broad variety of game options, as replay-ability is for the community and for us an important aspect of an Anno game. As you mentioned it already, we need to be careful to not overwhelm players with too many options, as just “adding more” is not always beneficial for the quality of a game. Here comes the Anno Union into play, as the program allows us to present you features to get detailed feedback from our communities.

Mark-WilliamK

I hope that you will be able to see steam powered machines used in production buildings, as it was the time where steam became a part of agriculture and heavy industry alike.
Basti: As mentioned in the last stream, the technological advancements of that era will be represented in the game in various ways. Keep an eye on the blogs of the upcoming weeks, as we will walk you through the core elements of the game and through the advancements of the 19th century. With Anno 1800, progression should feel like a journey through the century.

Azrael5111
So far, blogs got always released on a Monday or Thursday and between these days, I check the website only on occasionally. How about the option to opt in for a newsletter, which informs you when a new blog is online?
Basti:
We usually aim for the same frequency of days to publish our blogs but sometimes, the amount of blogs or even the publishing date can varys. We got some good feedback about that during our community roundtable and we plan to bring you a chance to subscribe to the blog with the next web update. It probably will not be a classic newsletter though, as we want to reserve that for important events and topics.

ruuti0
I heard that people who work in Ubisoft usually have a Degree (University Degree), but what kind of education people who work in Quality Assurance team exactly have?
Dorina: There is no special “tester degree”. We have very different background in QA. Political scientists, Geographers, Sociologists, Media Designers and Computer Specialists. This is important, as these allows us to have a diversified expert view on the product. The different mindsets are incredibly valuable when identifying issues. Beside this, the company permits the testers to get their ISTQB-Certificate (specific software testing certificate).

Arandur87
I am curious how you can get into game development yourself, especially how you can land a job in QA or QC?
Dorina: Many colleagues in our QA department started in a temporary position and during their time here, they demonstrated their skills and passion for the project.  That leads to many QA tester starting as career jumper or newcomer to game development.

schwubbe1980, Squ4wk, Oldsmobile1963, DiruKamachi
About difficult issues and the amount of bugs during development….
Dorina: It really depends on the scope, size and the lifecycle of a project. During the various development stages of a game, you encounter a high amount of bugs, which also absolute normal state for every project. Think about it, before a game comes together during Alpha, it is a bare framework of features, which are not fully integrated into the game yet. Bugs are prioritized by the impact on the game and how long it will take to solve them. Based on that evaluation, every issue has an estimate of workhours it will cost to solve it. The real bug hunting becomes interesting in the later stages of the game, when many if of the features get implemented into the client as we come closer to the final release version of the game.

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