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Tag: QnA

Union Update: Winter QnA

While some of us enjoy the snowy surprise and the resulting winter themed skin applied in many parts of Germany, we bring you another round of our Community questions and answers and streams for the cozy winter days.

With this week’s DevBlog: Ornaments, our blog series revolving the development of Anno 1800 returns from its winter hiatus. Next week, we will conquer the winter season with some heat: we hope that you look forward to city incidents such as firestorms, strikes and the season appropriate illness before we raise the curtain for the big feature reveal before our Closed Beta at the end of the month.

The next episode of our AnnoCast and Anno Afternoon
Save the date as our Twitch devstream will return next week Wednesday January 23rd. This time with Narrative Designer Marie who will demonstrate us how we applied some fresh paint to the quest system in Anno 1800. Nevertheless, that is not all as next week Friday, January 25th, Chris and John will be back with their aspiring Anno 2070 utopia.

Annocast: Quests and Expeditions – January 23th at 5pm MEZ
AnnoAfternoon – January 25th at 5pm MEZ

Watch it live on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyteand follow our channel if you never want to miss a show!

iyamaShiro
Will it be possible to change specific sound slider, such as voice, music and effects? I love to tune up the effects and dial down the rest of the game audio.
Answer: You will be able to change the following audio levels individually: Master Volume, Menu Sounds, Voice Volume, Music Volume and SFX Volume. Enjoy!

Ceib0
Will we only be able to exhibit artefacts in the museum or also art pieces such as statues or paintings?
Answer:Exhibits will mainly include cultural artefacts and sets will include statues. Bigger exhibits are displayed in open-air modules and come with their own unique asset while smaller artifacts will be showcased in museum wing modules. By the way: You will be able to place ornaments between your zoo and museum modules freely, which will allow you to create beautiful vistas with statues, fountains or other ornamental structures.

adriankowaty
Will there be a statistic overview like in 2205 which allows us to see how many units of a certain good we produce at a time?
Answer: We won’t have a statistic feature such as the one in Anno 2070 at launch of the game. But we are aware that many of you wish to see a comprehensive overview and statistics of your production, especially when reaching the end-game. We will keep continue to keep an eye on such feedback after the launch of the game.
The tooltip of each production building allows you to see how long it takes to finish one good and you will be further able to change the production speed with things like the working condition slider. If you compare the time it takes to create a good compared to the production time of the production of the needed resources, you can easily calculated the most effective rate of production and resource buildings.
Furthermore, you can check the overall amount of goods and if their stock is currently rising or declining in the kontor and warehouses.

g4mer901
Will it be possible to build sole production islands or will I need to create a new settlement with each island expansion?
Answer:
Reaching the fourth residential tier unlocks a new building: the commuter harbor. This new building allows you to connect different islands, which also have a commuter harbor and once linked; islands will share their workforce as one global pool. This means that you will not need to create settlements to support your production islands. But beware: an economy which mainly relies on a commuter network is an easy target during war, as one well-directed blow to your commuter harbors can cripple your whole production pipeline.

prgbrowne
I have read reviews on Anno 1800 where one of the downsides is the small size of land masses to build your empire. Is that a valid concern? It probably would be nice to have the choice of the size of the land mass you get to colonise, much like Civilization I guess. I don’t really want to see small islands close together. Varied terrain type options would also be good.
Answer: Anno 1800 will not only have the biggest maps in the history of the series, but also islands with vastest construction space. In the custom game options, you will be able to change the type of island world (which affects the arrangement of islands, such as atolls and archipelagos) and how frequents large islands are on your map. As naval exploration was always an essential game pillar of the Anno series, we further expanded on the ocean space to give you more room for trading networks or open water battlefields for tense ship fights on the high sea.

denNes_
Is a return of the research planned for the game? I loved it in 2070 and 1701 and would like if it celebrates a comeback to the series.
Answer:
We currently have no planes for a self-contained research feature in Anno 1800. We followed many community discussions revolving research closely and want to provide a few insides how Anno 1800 will cover that topic. In previous Anno titles, research served as an item generator and further allowed you to customize your playstyle with various perks and special abilities. Anno 1800 covers said options with several new features and as player freedom is important for us, we decided against a classic and often restricting “RTS” style research tree.
There are many different ways how to acquire items. In addition to quests or trading, you will be able to generate items with the new city attractiveness, the variety of expeditions or the world fair monument.
When on a zoological expedition, you will not only be able to acquire animals for your zoo, you can also get your hands on some cultural items or even hire specialists during events, which come with abilities which might not be related to the zoo at all. As an example, a specialist might join you who is able to boost one of your battleships with a special ability. If you want to focus on your fleet of warships, you can run naval themed exhibitions in your world fair or do bounty-hunt expeditions, which will reward you with naval related items such as weaponry or combat savvy specialists.
If you prefer to use the power of science to benefit your society, get marvelous new machines from the world fair, which you can slot in your guild houses to boost your factories with various effects.
Furthermore, you can make use of the influence system to get bonuses which suit your custom playstyle which are, in contrast to a research tree, are reversible at any time.
Add more elements such as electricity; Anno 1800 adds various layers, which allow you to optimize or to get experimental with your own unique playstyle.

3 Comments

Union Update: Look to the horizon

We are sorry for last week’s interruption; we found the culprit and made sure that he is under custody for his disruptive behavior, at least for the time being. We will ensure that we keep a close eye on him in the future, but we have a bad feeling that we have not seen the last of our dear friend, the Acolyte.

With only two months until the end of the year and four months up to launch, what is going on in the world of Anno 1800 and the Union?
As mentioned in a previous blog, game production is keeping our team very busy right now. We are currently working on our big Beta milestone, which means that by January, the game will officially reach Beta state, with all game elements and content fully playable. During this busy time, we are working on many aspects of the game, from polishing up buildings, balancing quests and checking thousands of voice lines to be recorded in a variety of languages:

We are also oiling the cannons and waxing the planks in order to bring you an exciting and insightful naval warfare blog before the end of the year. To get you in the right mood for your tense naval battles, this week’s DevBlog will shine a light on the pirates of Anno 1800, who cling on to tales and legends from a time long gone. They say the age of piracy, but their last stand is yet to come…
We are also busy laying the groundwork for our previously announced large-scale technical test with many more Union members (sign up!) and reviewing your contributions to the Expeditions contest.

The next episode of our AnnoCast is on the horizon!
The AnnoCast will make its (hopefully much anticipated) return next week Thursday, November 8. We heard many of you say that you want to see some proper gameplay and therefore decided to settle on a new island to show you the Farmer and Worker lifestyle. Let us see how far we ca get during our stream! As always, we are happy to answer questions both from the chat as well as from the Union, so leave us anything you want to see answered in the comments!

Save the date and join us next week Thursday, 8th of November for the next episode of our AnnoCast show on: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Let’s wrap up this week’s community update with another Community Q&A:

Fightfor3dom
Will you be able to enable/disable the pirates or set a game difficulty for a pirate difficulty? Or will it be just another enemy? Which city incidents will happen on the three different difficulty levels?
Answer: Second-Party characters all have their own difficulty rating, which in many ways reflects their personality and behavior. As third parties don’t directly compete with the player in military or economic warfare, they won’t affect the difficulty of your session. However, pirates are an exception, as they work actively against the player and even other AI. You will be able to choose the pirate characters for your session or even exclude the pirate characters from your match. For now, the two pirates have a set difficulty although both characters have different personalities and therefore, react differently on your actions.
When it comes to city incidents, fire, strikes and illness will haunt your metropolis while their frequency is based on the difficulty setting of your match. We will show you that system in detail in a future DevBlog, as especially strikes are an exciting new feature in Anno 1800.

kuskram
I like that you have so many options to create your custom session. I am also happy to see that the random generator in combination with the seed codes makes a comeback. But there is one question for me: in vein of older titles such as 1701, will the game have a world editor which allows us to place our own islands, fertilities, resources or starting position?
Answer:
We focus on the core features on the game, as we want to deliver true quality for old and new fans of the series. Therefore, there are currently no plans to develop a World Editor for Anno 1800. replayability is one of our top priorities, the game will release with over 50 handcrafted islands, and many of them come additionally with their own island variations.

mige0410
Where are the female characters in the old world – or will I be forced to only deal with men as long as I manage to escape to the New World in order to meet the female cast?
Answer: The world of Anno 1800 will be populated by a diverse cast of characters, among them Women and Men with their own special personality, which will mirror in their behavior when building cities or their reactions in our diplomacy system. You will also be able to choose your own player portrait, where you can decide, among other things, to choose a female or male portrait.

AyroV
Will we be able to set the map small/medium if we want to play multiplayer with multiple people? Anno 1404 does not allow us to choose map size accept huge when we try to play with 4 players.
Answer: Yes, you will be able to play on small maps with 4 players or non-player characters. But beware, on a small and densely populated map, there will be a lot of competition about the control of the more precious resources if players want to reach the fifth residential tier.

dAprillion
I like it when I have 2-4 options (easy, med?, hard, insane?) with useful defaults for the main mission?
Answer: You won’t need to dive into the custom match settings and can also choose one of the three pre-defined difficulty options:
Normal Mode: Will provide you a large world and island space, rich mineral deposits, challenging but not too hard opponents and free relocation and full construction refunds.
Advanced: Less money, harder opponents and an average world and island size. Many smaller options such as relocation of buildings won’t be free anymore.
Expert: This one will get you on your toes, only a few coins in your pocket while fighting for every single yard against the most cruel and efficient enemies on small and everything else than fertile islands.

3 Comments

Union Update: Happiness and Community QnA

Before we handle the needs of our residents in this weeks DevBlog: Happiness, we will tackle some community questions in todays Union Update. 

Thaliruth
I have a question coming from how other building games do it. I cannot recall Anno games ever having some kind of maintenance mechanics for buildings, such as that they wear off after a while and have to be repaired. How is it with 1800? Do we need to maintain buildings in order to keep the production going?
Answer: Buildings will not wear themselves out from usage and therefore there is no need to perform any maintenance actions. However, incidents such as fire can damage buildings, which will regenerate over time. Ruins on the other hand, have to be manually refurbed by the player. When it comes to harbor defense, repair cranes serve as a measure to maintain your damaged defense structures. While the idea of a maintenance mechanic for buildings sounds interesting for the early game, it would have an extremely heavy micro-management impact in the mid- and late-game. In Anno, you construct not only hundreds or even thousands of buildings across multiple islands and sessions, you also have to take care of trading routes, your fleets and to manage complex logistical networks.

Jinkha5
What if I spent all my influence on a big fleet of ships and then want to change my strategy to use a ton of items or settle on many different islands?
Answer: That depends on the size of your empire, as the amount of influence points is bound to your population. Even if you spend enough points on one category to benefit from the bigger global buff, you will have still some influence at your disposal to invest in other categories. You can also downsize your fleet to reinvest the points in different categories. The military category will allow building fleets at a size and scope previously unseen in an Anno title but a total focus on military won’t be necessary to build up a strong fleet.

Das_ist_Phil
„Investing in Expansion will allow you to settle on more islands, …..”
Does that mean that we will be restricted from the get go? We won’t be able to settle on an unlimited amount of islands and NEED to invest in the expansion category?
Answer: Players who like to steal islands away from AI or other players as fast as possible will need to invest in the expansion category in order to do so. Most players however won’t even need to spend any influence in the beginning, unless they pursue a rush strategy at the start of the game. This way, during the early game influence is especially relevant for players who want to fully commit to a certain playstyle, such as expanding quickly in all directions or to rush a production pipeline to have a large fleet of battle ships as early as possible. When it comes to the “Expansion”category, there is something you have to keep in mind: additional islands will automatically generate influence alongside your growing population (unless you are just claiming new land without establishing settlements). If you just establish a few production islands, you won’t need to spent much (or even any) influence at all but if you want to prevent other parties from expanding, you will need to invest. Players who want to build huge empires don’t need to worry, as influence has no upper limit and will grow together with your empire and its number of inhabitants.

Hexagon19
Is it correct that gramophones are produced by engineers? It makes sense to a degree, but will investors even provide any form of workforce? I also think that it would make more sense that the artisans create the ornaments for the gramophones, instead of the engineers.
Answer: Not all production chains are final yet, as we are still working on balancing, which is also affected by feedback from our focus test groups. It is also important that we find a good distribution of all workforce, in order to ensure that each residential tier is equally relevant, and remains so even in later stages. If we notice that we ask for too many engineers in one production tier while artisans are being left out, we will sit together to find ways to have the workforce distributed more evenly. Since we started developing the game, we had to re-arrange and sometimes even completely change different production chains. But there is one overarching rule: the workforce from all residential tiers stays relevant throughout the whole game.
Investors are different, as they will not provide a typical workforce for your production chains. However, the amount of investors available will play a role when organizing events that are hosted at the world fair.

Ger_Lunak
Will there be a Beta phase for final polishing and bugfixing?
Answer: In order to improve the game, we will continue to make use of our Union focus test program, but also have larger scale testing phases with a lot more players later on.

Frederic440
I would really like to see that every residential tier would get their own enhanced version of the basic kontor. IN the tradition of Anno 1602, it would be great if the enhanced kontor would be available as a project from your construction menu instead of upgrading automatically.
Answer:  While the kontor will not automatically upgrade with every new residential tier, you will be able to upgrade every kontor as well as you warehouses in several stages.

8 Comments

Union Update: Outlook on the new year!

We are back from our winter break; time to roll up our sleeves and to give you a glimpse of the journey ahead.

Upcoming Union Content
We bet that you are curious about our upcoming content. With last month’s logistics blog as our foundation, we will dive deeper into the economic motor of Anno 1800. With more details about the economy revealed and explained, it will allow us to talk about important parts of that machine like the harbor system and trading routes. Features, which are furthermore important if we want to talk about possible functionality and impact of the train feature.
There are plenty of more features we have not shared many details yet. What are your top 5 Anno 1800 features, where you would love to get more information on?

Furthermore, we will continue to bring you behind the scene DevBlogs; next up we will dive into animations for our previously showcased 3D assets. You will get to learn much more about all the brimming details and stories happening in your metropole.
We know that you are also curious about non-visual features, such as the audio design of Anno 1800. As the possibilities are plenty, share your top three wished for behind the scenes topics in the comments below!

There is also new voting coming up and while we cannot lift the curtain right now, we can tell that we want to funnel your creative energy once again. We all know how settling back into work after the Holidays can take some time, so expect the DevBlogs to be back to their regular cadence next week.

Union Website and community creations
As you already noticed, some improvements to the website were made and we will continue to improve the Union in usability and functionality. However, it is not only about moderator flairs or improvements to the comment section; we want to expand the general content on the website for anything that might not fit into the classic blog format, such as a dedicated space for community creations or a media library to save our Twitch streams.

It is great to see how much creative energy went into our story contest and it shows how much room there is to fill the world of Anno with your narration and other fan creations.
With the deadline hitting on Monday 15th there is still a week’s time left to unleash your creativity. Besides some neat prices to win for the contest, we also think that your works deserve to be appropriately spotlighted on the Anno Union page.

Streaming
We received some great feedback on our last episode of the Anno Cast and with upcoming episodes, you can look forward to more gameplay content. While we know that many of you would love to see Anno 1800 being presented in a lengthy Let’s Play format, we need to save that idea for later as we just hit our Alpha milestone. One thing is for sure though; we will continue to show you more gameplay elements of the game while we give you insights about its ongoing development.
Anniversary Let’s Plays or other special episodes give us a bit more freedom and possibilities for different styles and formats. If you have ideas for specials or other streaming formats or videos outside the regular Anno Cast, feel free to share them with us!

Community roundtable
Since the reveal of Anno 1800, you supported us with thousands of comments on the Union and Anno 1800 forum. Seeing both Anno veterans and new enthusiasts coming together is something truly special for us on the team, and we once again want to thank you all for that. To further this feeling of all coming together at one table, we want to invite you to an Anno Union voice chat session with the Community Team to talk about the Union, the game and its fans. We are sure there will be plenty of questions and ideas, and everyone should feel more than welcome to join our roundtable next week Wednesday, January 17th in a Discord voice chat provided by our Annoverse Community: >Annoverse Discord<

To allow as many of you as possible to participate, we will divide the session into two slots, one in English and one on German. The German session will start at 7.30pm and the English one will follow at 9.00pm CET.
______________________________________________________________________________________________

Community QnA

Sir_Obelexxus
Let’s say a play test is planned for January 23, and I were to be invited. When could I expect to receive an invite, so I would have enough time to check with my boss if I can take the day off? And while we are on the topic, do you have to be a legal adult to be invited?

Basti: We will send the invitations a few weeks in advance, as we also want to have a bit of leeway if we need to find a replacement if someone will not be able to make it. To be of legal age is not a strict requirement but if someone is under age, we will get in contact with the person to discuss the details (regarding the NDA, for example).

MattMcCorman
Something that would be very helpful in the future would be a basic blog explaining the DNA of the Anno brand, to give us users a better idea of how your decision-making processes work. What makes something Anno, or not? I think having this filter explained for users would allow for discussions that are more meaningful.

Basti: Talking about the brand DNA sounds like a great topic to cover in the Union, I put it on the list and I am sure we can get some really cool background information together. With the Vision Devblog and details we shared in other blogs, we also wanted to give you a chance to learn something about the reality of game development. We usually receive a huge amount of great suggestions and ideas, but they often lack some missing background information why some of these ideas would not work or why they would be too hard or simply not feasible to develop. Designing game features means often a middle ground or taking the quintessential idea and feedback to work with. That is why we want to get a little bit more into details on our decision-making process in future DevBlogs and comments.

IppoSenshu
I quite liked the entertaining Twitch streams, and look forward to see more of Anno 1800. Perhaps you could show some footage from play tests in the future.

Basti: We will show more gameplay in upcoming episodes of the AnnoCast and over time, it will further allow us to share more gameplay material in the Anno Union in general. Playtests will be the big topic this year, and we will cover some of the playtests and share content from them in the Union.

Mr.Beko80
How big was the island in the stream? Small, medium or a big one? It didn’t seem much larger than main islands in Anno 1404. Will there be enough space to build a metropolis? Or can buildings house more citizens than in the past?

Basti: The Island from the stream is a big one, but not the largest in the game. In fact the Island shown in during the stream has more grids than the large Isle in 1404 and with that, more buildings space available. It is important for us that you will have enough place to create breathtaking cities. Residential houses have the same dimensions as in previous titles but some of the public or production buildings can take up more space. Having a bit more realistic proportions for a steel factory as an example is a great way to bring that extra bit of realism to the series. Again, it is all about the right balance: we want vast cityscapes but also provide a puzzle challenge, as clever planning of the available construction space is also part of the challenge and fun.

friedrichgrosse
Will it be possible to freely rotate the buildings?

Basti: Construction space in Anno is partitioned into a grid-based system (like e checkerboard) and as in previous games, you will be able to rotate and place buildings freely on the grid.

Drake-1503
The carts and carriages will be sent by the production facilities, which sounds like a good decision. I assume that required gods will also be picked up if they are not being delivered- and this is where things get a bit unclear for me. Would the coal producer deliver his goods to the steel factory, or would the steel factory send someone to pick up the coal. Or maybe both happens, but how would the game decide that?

Christian: The rule of thumb is that production buildings always send goods to other production facilities. While production facilities cannot request goods from another production building, they can get resources stored in the warehouse if needed. The warehouse itself has no own transport units, so the carts always come from the production building to pick up or deliver goods from the warehouse. The facility decides on its own if it is more effective to wait for the delivery from a different production building or to get the needed resources from a warehouse instead. As travel distance on streets is the deciding factor for that, players can have an impact with clever city planning. With that, it allows you to create optimized economic districts.

Fuzzykatze
Will sea-based trading have an AI to pick the most efficient route based on wind?

Christian: Trading routes will not consider wind (which can also change). You will however be able to create your own routes with manual waypoints to improve its efficiency and to avoid hostile ships.

Azrael5111
Hearing that all warehouses will have mirrored storage has me a bit worried. I would prefer if you could manually assign which wares individual warehouses should accept or block. My other question would be whether the mirrored goods affect the overall storage capacity of the warehouses.

Christian:
In fact, every single Anno title had mirrored storages, so it is a part of the classic as well as newer Anno experience. The return of physical goods will bring some management complexity back into the game. We have experimented with different scenarios, but not mirroring the wares just resulted in an extremely high need to constantly micromanage that dominated gameplay and drew the player’s attention away from other aspects of the game. Things like storage capacity are an ongoing balancing topic and we need to see if it would hurt or benefit the game flow if additional warehouses would also ramp up the storage limit. In the current version of the game, this is only the case with the kontor and the depot.

MyLittlePiglet
I really like that you are going back to the physical goods, similar to older games such as Anno 1404.
I have just one question: Will you always need a road connection? Or do some parts also work without road connection? For example, in Anno 2070 upgraded warehouses and depots had a flying unit that could pick up goods without a road connection.

Basti: All buildings will require a road connection. As we stated in our logistics blog, streets will have a bigger impact on your logistics than before and as such planning the ideal street layout will be important when planning your perfect metropolis.

15 Comments

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.

18 Comments

Union Update: Voting, Spotlight and QnA

Welcome to the fifth week since our announcement of Anno 1800 and the Anno Union. A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks and we got some great feedback regarding our last DevBlog. For that reason, today’s QnA part will tackle many of your questions regarding sessions.

But before we head over and answer your questions, it is time for our Union community update:

Our first voting will end next week!
Our first big Anno Union voting will end Monday next week. That means you have 7 days left to vote for your favorite Union NPC. After the vote has closed, we will call out the winner and use the chance to review our first vote.  But that marks only the beginning of the journey of our Anno Union character. As stated before, we will share important milestones on their development and even want to give you the chance to have further impact during some moments of the journey. Furthermore, you can look forward to a new voting, which will tackle an exciting new topic. However, we do not want to reveal too much at this point…

Videos, streams and language
We are happy that so many of you liked the idea about video and streaming content. But it also raised a few questions in our community, such as if there is a possibility for German subtitles or even whole episodes in German language. Anno has a strong tradition in Germany and with that, a strong German fan community. Even with that history, there are big communities of non-German fans out there and everyone should be able to join the Anno Union and to enjoy all our content. For us, the English language is the biggest common ground to reach out to as many people as possible. We need to allocate time wisely for streams and videos, as the development team will create the shows, where the development of Anno 1800 has still the highest priority. We would love to bring extra German episodes to our German fans, but that would mean that we have to spend way more time with streams, that we have to stretch our content or even exclude all non-German fans from specific topics.

Everyone should have the same chance to be a part of the Union, and nobody should feel excluded. We will provide German subtitles for our videos but that will not be possible for streams right now, as that would require too much work from our team. However, we will provide a summary of previous shows for the Union and there might be fans out there who would be willing to share a fan translation in their specific language with the Union? Some of you asked us if we could at least provide a transcript of the show. Well, that will not be possible, as we are not using scripts for our streams and podcast, because the last thing we want to do is to read out text from a prompter or piece of paper.

Community Spotlight

Anno fans are not only crazy active here on the Anno Union or in our Anno Ubisoft forum, but also in countless fan communities out there. As we are big fans of our Anno communities, we would like to give these projects a spot in the limelight in the future. Today, we would like to start with our Anno Union Fan-Discord channel: http://ubi.li/sp35t

You want to engage other Anno fans in live- hats to discuss Anno 1800 and the Anno Union? You should check out the Anno Union Community Discord and join the growing number of worldwide-connected Annholics!

Your ideas about our Streaming Room decoration
In our last community update, we asked you how we should decorate our streaming room. We loved some of your suggestions, especially the idea to put pictures of old Anno titles on our walls. We want to take that one-step further and use your own community creations for that! And here comes the call to action for the Anno Union: We want your most beautiful and creative screenshots from previous Anno titles. Go wild, impress with stunning panoramas or city landscapes and share them with us on our Anno Fan art forum section: Help us beautify our streaming room!
Please keep in mind that we need these Screenshots in a decent size (min. 1080p), as we will print out the best entries to use them as backdrops in our streaming room.

Community QnA : Your questions and our answers

MattMcCorman: The biggest isles in Anno 1404 had 2048*2048 tiles. Are the 1200*1220 in 2070 you mentioned only representative for an average size for an isle? Therefore, will the biggest Isle in 1800 be even bigger than 1600*1600?

Dirk: Maximum and minimum size for isles are different from the examples we used in our blog. We are not able to commit to a maximum size for isles in Anno 1800, as the final numbers are not decided yet. In our multi session blog, we compared the average isle size of the respective anno game to give you an idea about the relations in size of Anno games.

Khorinis2142: Will the campaign be embedded in the game like in 2205 or will it work like in 2070/1404, where the campaign is strictly separated and runs on different maps than the endless game?

Dirk: The campaign will be embed into the game if you do not deactivate it manually. However, the presentation and narration of the campaign will be stronger orientated to 1701 and 1404 than was the case with 2205.

Zimery: If a second session outside oft he main map oft he player is possible, will different climate zones like in 1503 take a role?

Dirk: That is in the realm of possibility but not necessarily required. We see many different options here and will share more details about that topic with you all in future.

BlueBarret77: Will AI settle in different regions of will they remain in your starting map?

Dirk: Ai will show the same construction habits and behavior as a player and as a result of that, might settle in different regions.

hike98: In addition, it is important for me that AI not settles in undiscovered sectors before I do, so that I am not ending up in a situation where AI takes all isles after I decided to go into a new session after 10 hours of play.

Dirk: The behavior of the AI depends, like in previous Anno titles, on the individual AI routine of a specific character. Different characters have a variety of different preferences and behaviors. With his actions during gameplay, the player has an impact on the AI’s difficulty. We will have AI which waits for the players and asks him before settling in other territories or isles while others might be fairly aggressive, taking new land as fast and much as possible.

LadyHonday: Will I be able to leave my main on it’s own when moving to a different session, without being afraid about my home burning to cinder, storms ravaging or the black death taking its toll on my citizen to find everything destroyed when I am coming back?
Sephko: The military is integrated in the main session again. Does that mean that military units can’t enter secondary sessions? Are that safe exclaves which follow other game mechanics?

Basti: Everyone knows that moment when you forget your Anno session for a while and the aftermath of cleaning everything up when you come back to your PC. We implemented specific game mechanics to ensure that sessions expand possibilities and making the game more complex, while on the other hand not causing too much stress for the players. It will not be the case that events destroy your whole settlement while you are abroad in a secondary session. It will also be possible to have military escalations in a different session. We will share information that is a bit more detailed on how these systems works in the future.

danielf2001: How will trading look like between different sessions? Will you utilize trade posts which you have to supply or will there be something else in addition?

Basti: You can send ships into a different session, and as soon as it will leave your zone, it will move over to the other session. You will be able to modify trade routes and we will give you additional tools, to drive trading of goods between the zones. Trading in general is a complex and important topic, so keep an eye on future DevBlogs.

Lord.Roke: Do you have plans how players can keep the overview between the different sessions?

Basti: That players being able to keep track on their sessions was an important topic for our Designers from the get go. A world map and further features will ensure that you all have a good overview on what is going on!

AnnoAndilein: Sad to see that no one answered my most burning question yet: How will the Interface/UI look? I NEED to know this. Will there be scaling options for the font size or will it even be possible to customize the whole interface to your liking? So please dear Basti, tell us something about the interface.

Basti: Our UI elements and functionality are not final and the UI gets usually finished at a pretty late point in development. That means that until the release of the game, we will change many things on our current interface and the Anno Union will be an important tool to test, evaluate and improve the functionality of our UI in playtests. However, the Interface sounds for me like a really great topic to ask the community some specific questions about.

Spike2412: The question is if it will be possible in Anno 1800 to get the highest citizen level in your starting world. It was not possible in Anno 2205.

Basti: As explained in our last DevBlog, we want to expand possibilities but not restrict players in their playstyle. You will be able to reach the highest tier without leaving your main map.

AnnOgamer94 /Ubisoft Anno 1800 Forum: I did not like 2205 concept to connect all isles (on preset places of all things). I had city on production on every isle and I had nearly no impact where to put my harbor. I hope that with 1800 I will have the option again to set the harbor where I want.

Basti: More options and freedom is important for us. And for that reason, you will be able to set your harbor way more freely, as it was the case in 2205.

MinneIceCube: You still haven’t answered a burning question that I have. are the maps randomly generated?

Basti: That’s really not acceptable- I was convinced that we talked about this already. Let me put my coffee mug aside to address your burning question immediately: Yes!

24 Comments

Union Update: Streaming and Community QnA

Another week, another update for the Anno Union. Some website improvements are still work in progress, and we will share more information about that when we are able to provide you detailed update notes.

This week’s DevBlog will continue to give you more insights about the development of Anno 1800 but this time, we will start to talk more about specific features of the game. As we also have a good amount of community questions to answer, let us dive right into this week’s big community update: Our new streaming room!

While we are currently putting everything together, we will soon be able to have our first test recording. We would like to give you an idea what we have in mind for future video and streaming content. We have various ideas for content, but especially at the beginning, will test out what might work best for the Anno Union:

Video Content – Live-Streams will not be our only focus, as we also want to bring you Anno Union update videos and – with the development insights from our DevBlog being well received – maybe get a few developers in front of the camera. Whether it is directly hosted videos or YouTube/Vimeo content, all videos will always be shared on the Anno Union to give you the chance to comment and discuss the content on our community hub. Video content allows us to be a bit more flexible and gives us more options to show you what is going on inside Ubisoft Blue Byte’s studio in Mainz. And while we are talking about video content, we will see that we can improve the video player on the Anno Union website.

Twitch Streams – Based on our ideas and plenty of comments on the Anno Union, we plan to utilize our streaming room for various formats. It seems that you would like to watch Let’s Play streams with Anno veteran developers? We got you covered: While Anno 1800 will be the focus of the shows, we will play classic Anno titles in special episodes and for anniversaries of older Anno games. Furthermore, we plan to let you have a look how our developers work with Live demonstrations and interviews as well as sharing the impressions of the current state of the game. Finally yet importantly, we plan to do a developer Podcast (or “AnnoCast”, if you will) where we talk about Anno 1800, the Anno Union and invite you Annoholics to discuss with us in a relaxed atmosphere. To allow you to participate, we will run the show as a live broadcast on Twitch.

Schedule, “Video on Demand” and language – We plan to do frequent media content but will not be able to commit to a schedule right now, as the people involved to make that all possible are all devs and busy working on the game. We want to test the waters, see how it goes and then gather your feedback. While we will not be able to share a streaming schedule, we will announce every show a few days in advance to give everyone a chance to participate. If you will not be able to watch the broadcast, you will be able to watch the stream as a video on demand on our channel. We want to reach as many Anno fans out there as possible; for that reason, all videos and streaming formats will be in English only.

As our walls are a bit empty right now, let us know if you have any cool ideas for decoration or know some community fan art to get some color on our walls!

Community QnA

Dadisony
Really cool look at your daily work. I cannot wait to read more about the production lines. The second videoclip looks great. I hope that you will be able to zoom really close in the final game, so that we can try and enjoy this new technology.

Basti: To make the world of Anno 1800 lively, charming and pretty is a matter of honor for us. The game is most immersive and beautiful when all visual features come together, so rest assured: you will be able participate in the lives of your Anno citizen as close as possible, in all its beauty and wonder.

Droggelcreeper
I have a hard time to imagine how exactly you have planned the whole game flow after the conception phase. Is it so that every production line is already set in stone or is it more like a  rough concept where you want to end up? If everything is planned out already, I am a bit afraid that there is not much room for you to take community feedback into account.

Basti: In our latest Devblog, we explained how we will gather feedback in order to let it benefit our development process. We have a set plan for all major game content and features, but changes to our development roadmap based playtests and balancing are the reality of game development. That means that most production lines are set but we reserve the right to perform smaller or even major changes based on community feedback. Right now, our community blog has a big focus on answering general community questions but we will be able to get more into detail on how your feedback affected development at a later stage.

RedEyeRagnarok
Your decision to involve the community is something I support but I hope that you will also have the strength to say not to suggestions, no matter how vocal the community will be – at the end, you have your own vision for Anno 1800 and not everyone who writes comments here will have the same level of understanding for that.

Basti: We are all really happy about the incredibly amount of suggestions and ideas and hope that you all will continue to use the Anno Union to discuss all your creative thoughts. It is still reality that, as a game developer, we have to work within our possibilities and certain boundaries. That means furthermore, that we will not be able to comment or implement every suggestion into the game. However, we still gather all your feedback to discuss and evaluate it within the team. If it is an idea from our community or even from our team, we always need to check if such ideas are feasible, benefit the game experience and if it fits our design principles and vision for the game. Only this way it is possible for us to ensure that we create a satisfying and good Anno game at the end. We hope that the last DevBlog gave you an interesting look behind the scenes.

LucyDemoon
I have a question regarding the Windows only topic. Do you plan a Linux or Mac, maybe even a version for both or will it be a “no, thank you” again.

Basti: We promised to be as transparent as possible with you all, and sometimes that means bearing bad news as well: at launch, the game will only be available for Windows PC. Currently, we do not have plans for a Mac or Linux version of Anno 1800.

KingStrike_TV
If the whole game looks like this, I am afraid that I need a new PC as it won’t be able to handle that level of visuals.

Basti: The system requirements are not final at this point. But like with any previous Anno we aim to serve a wide range of systems from an average PC up to high-end machine. We will always provide the best quality experience whatever machine players are using.

nichTim
Would it be possible to place moving sailors on the ship or is that impossible?

Basti: Attention to detail was always a corner stone of the Anno franchise but we have to work within the scope of our team (as especially such animated features and AI cause many hours of workload), while also having to deal with hardware limitations. Even some visual features, which might not be too hard for us to develop, might end up having a bigger impact on CPU and GPU. A game like Anno 1800 has an extensive amount of different objects, assets, animations and AI behavior displayed on screen. To come back to the many ship-crew questions in the comment section, we like that idea and have to check if and to what extend it might be possible.

doml17
P.s. I would still like to see a video where all Anno developers introduce themselves.

Basti: We have quite a few developers in our studio, a bit too many to introduce everyone in a video. We already mentioned that we want to dive into the various development disciplines with our DevBlog, which sounds like the perfect opportunity to get to know a few of our developers better.

Arkenophas
I’m waiting to see the devblog of the 3D artist, as I want to do this job, it will be useful for me. Nice idea to let us see how you work, and where you are in this fantastic project Long life to the ANNO serie and long life to Norbert !!

Basti: To give the various creation steps of 3D assets a spotlight has a quite prominent spot on our list for DevBlog content. You can look forward to detailed and interesting information about the work of an Anno 1800 3D artist.

RayoOyar
Out of curiosity: how do you determine system requirements and all? I know they’re never shared until very late in the development process, and the renders of these ships look awesome already, so does that mean you first create the high-res textures and then “work down” until you find a balance between low system reqs and high-quality renders? Or am I thinking too simplistically?

Basti: Optimization is a crucial part of game development process and a quite interesting topic we might want to talk about more in detail in a future blog. A few elements come together, such as optimization of code and clever use of visual improvements but also tricks to ensure a satisfying performance. It is a very complex topic, which might be better suited for a DevBlog than a QnA session. And by the way, processes like the one you described, called „bump mapping“, are a major way to optimize performance.

10 Comments

Union Update: Feedback, website and answers

With the first development blog, we gave you some insights into our vision and concept for the game. With the next DevBlog, which will come this week, we will give you a much deeper insight how we actually develop Anno 1800 and what it means to design and build a complex strategy title. But today, it’s time to kick off our first Community Update, where we will give you frequent updates about the Union, answer some questions and, in the future, also want to spotlight your creations.

Fun fact: you might have noticed the different frames for the preview pictures for each blog. The different colors indicate the type of content, with grey used for community updates, the nice painting style for dev updates, and green for votes (and so on).

Website improvements
Our Anno Union launch was crazy so far and you can clearly tell that the passion and dedication of Anno fans out there is something truly special. We are currently working on improving the experience of the website in various ways. We got many comments about a Union forum and for that reason; we implemented a forum link to the Ubisoft Anno forum where you will also find the Union subsection. As not everything might fit into the certain theme of a blog, please feel free to use the Anno Ubisoft forum if you want to discuss certain ideas further or start new discussions. The comment section here will remain as our main way of gathering feedback to a certain topic, which does of course not mean that we will not have an eye on the Ubisoft forum or other platforms. Please try to stay on-topic to the specific topic of a blog!

Visibility and readability will be our focus with the next Anno Union website update. We will provide full update notes about all these improvements as soon as everything is ready.

Streaming Room Do you know that feeling when you ordered new toys and still wait for some of them to arrive? Our dedicated streaming room will allow us to create video updates and insights, but not all tech is here yet and we still have to assemble everything. But hey, that should be good fun!

Feedback gathering
Yes, we are reading your feedback, even with the sometimes-overwhelming amount of reactions on our blog. We choose to use blogs and later on videos and streams for that, as we think that these answers deserve to be as visible as possible for all Union members. That also means that if we pick your question, you get a cool spotlight out of it. If you want to get an overview over all the answers given at this point, just hit the QnA category tab at the bottom of the blog. Please keep in mind that we will not be able to comment on everything, as our team is still busy creating your new Anno game! Many of you asked how we actually use that feedback: we collect your comments, analyze your feedback and create a report, which we then discuss within the development team. We hope that you are looking forward to learn how we structure development (what sprint planning is etc.) to get a rough idea about our development roadmap, which will then lead to further articles you are waiting for: in-depth blogs about certain features in development and how you can help us shape them. But more about development with the next blog J

And to close our first Community Blog, here a few of your comments and our answers.

Sebi5445
A big part of the game concept seems to be set in stone (great job!). How much impact on the development process will the Union actually have? Are there any open questions about gameplay features, which could change the game in a major way or is it more about the small things?

Basti: Creating a big game like Anno is a very complex task, including dozens of disciplines, a huge team of experts and years of hard work. We want to use community feedback to help expanding, polishing and balancing features based on your sentiment and there will be room to add a few of your ideas but as you mentioned, the feature list is one of the things you decide at the beginning of development. Using feedback on the extensive features in an Anno game is a big commitment and task in itself and the whole team is excited about the concept to let our fans helping us with that. I recommend checking the next DevBlog, which will dive more into details about the development structure of Anno 1800.

Moonwalked
If you need any help checking all the comments, maybe there is a way the community can help you out with that?

Basti: We are just happy if you guys share your feedback and stay on topic with the specific theme of each blog. As mentioned in the community update, our team collects and analyzes all feedback in order to create a report for our development team. That gives us a good indicator about the sentiment of our communities, topics you care about most and general feedback and suggestions regarding game features and other gameplay elements.

HarroLP
How will the playtests work; I have read somewhere that it will work via applications as soon as you announce an Alpha/Beta test. Basti mentioned that, if we involve ourselves here, we will have a good chance to get access. Maybe @BastianThun can say something about how it will work.

Basti: The first tests will most likely be focus tests with a small group of people rather than a big Alpha or even Beta test. There will be various ways of inviting people, we might contact some very active members directly to invite them to test a certain feature up to tests where we need more people, which might go along with an announcement. Either way, registering here is the first step to be in our database but being a constructive member of the community will also be an important factor for us to choose players. Most playtests will run under NDA, which means that you will not necessarily know who is participating in a test. Nevertheless, rest assured that we will talk about that in more detail in the future, so just stay active until that time comes.

stolperprinz
I have a few suggestions regarding the game concept, how can I share my ideas.

Basti: We would love to see that you all stick to the topic of the specific blog, which is usually centered around a certain feature, content or gameplay elements. If you have general ideas, the best thing would be to discuss that with the community in the Ubisoft Anno forums. It makes it easier for us to create reports for the different blogs and for our forum team to check if a topic sticks out because of a good idea and a healthy and active discussion.

Julius A.
Do you roughly know how often you want to post new articles and votes for the site?

Basti: We created a plan for the types of content and how often we want to post. That plan goes along with our development roadmap but especially the content might change dynamically based on feedback and some development factors. What we can tell us that we want at least 2 articles each week. It is a bit harder to tell with votes, but our plan here is to have one active vote up most of the time (please note that not all votes will run equally long). So in general, weekly content to get your feedback and keep you up to date. It might fluctuate from time to time as we are all working together to bring you the Union content but also still pretty busy developing the game.

Pizzafighter
Morning, I’ve sent a mail to your info mail addy not long ago, where I talked about a few ideas (a lot about the train). Have you received my mail?

Basti: I am still stunned by all the cool ideas and great feedback we get and I totally understand that you want to share all your ideas with the team. However, the reality is that it is just impossible to react to every feedback and we have to concentrate on the Union blog, with help from the community team for the forums and other channels. For feasibility reasons, we will not comment on feedback received via e-mail outside of special circumstances.

ThmzV
Do we get more information about the gameplay :)?

Basti: I can tell that I am as hyped as our fans but there is still a lot of time between now and the final release. As teased, we will now start to show you how we develop the game and that allows us to dive into certain development aspects such as features and gameplay, in order to get important feedback from our Anno Union members.

8 Comments