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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.