Union Update: Anno Community Event 2024

Salvete Anno Community,

We’re excited to announce Anno’s first Community Event!

 

On Wednesday, August 21st, we’ll be holding the very first Anno Builder Event in Cologne, Germany – and we’re inviting you to join us at the Roonburg (Roonstraße 33, 50674 Cologne) for an Anno-themed evening. The event will start at 6pm and last until 11pm.

There will be food and drinks as well as dev panels with:

  • Andrea Fricke (Lead Game Designer)
  • Lisa Wittmann (International Product Manager)
  • Matt Cook (Senior Game Writer)
  • Manuel Reinher (Creative Director)
  • Oliver Walz (Community Developer)

Special guest: Owen Phillips, the artist blacksmith, will share his experience on what it was like crafting Anno’s new logo out of steel! The behind-the-scenes video will also be revealed.

Plus, of course, plenty of opportunities to chat with both us and other members of the Anno community!

 

Note: The event will be in English and German.

How to sign up?

Due to the location’s capacity, there is limited space. You can sign up for the event now by sending an email to AnnoCommunityEvent@ubisoft.com with your name, nickname (from Discord, Reddit etc., optional), and language preference.

As subject, please use “Anno Community Event Signup” to help us sort all emails faster.

Signups will be open until July 31st. If the number of signups exceeds the event’s capacity, we will randomly select people from amongst all emails we received. Confirmation emails are planned to be sent the week of August 5th.

 

Any questions? – Let us know! We’d love to meet you in Cologne next month!

DevBlog: The Anno Brand – Crafted with Care

What’s this, a new Anno logo? Have they now really abandoned the good old wooden plank from the days of Anno 1404?

Well, we used the last year(s) to not only refine our vision for Anno 117: Pax Romana and start the development of the game, but also to think about Anno as a brand overall and its visual identity. Today, let’s talk about branding with Haye Anderson, our Brand Director.

Note: If you’ve watched our livestream on July 2nd (VOD can be found here) you will have already heard most of this. But we wanted to also have this information here on the Anno Union – and share the Behind the Scenes video with you!

Having flourished over the last 25 years, the newest evolution of ANNO immerses players in the cultural melting pot of the Pax Romana, and at the start of its development, the team discusses topics like: “what makes up an Anno game?” or “why does this new Anno need to exist?” The reason we ask ourselves these questions is because, as we add new features (or take some away), we always need to keep the core of the product intact. And know it or not, these questions are just as important for Brand as they are for Game Design!

We start with some self-discovery by identifying the core pillars we consider make Anno “Anno”. As a branded product, Anno must have five certain things:

  1. A historical setting that feels real
  2. Top-notch graphics
  3. Rich gameplay experience
  4. Complexity (the challenge is the fun)
  5. Peacefulness

As some of you have pointed out, there are two Anno games with a futuristic setting. And yes, we also consider them Anno games as they fulfil all 4 other aspects. The historic games, however, are what the series was founded on (Anno 1602), where it found it greatest success (Anno 1800) and where it’s moving towards (Anno 117), that’s why the “historical setting” pillar plays such a central role in our new brand guidelines.

The “Peacefulness” pillar does not exclude warfare. As you are all very much aware, all Anno games included military aspects and conflict to varying degrees. However, we don’t see Anno as a warfare-focused game: Economy, logistics, diplomacy and creativity are playing a much bigger role.

When we boil these core pillars of the game down, they become our Brand Values that guide our daily work within the Anno Dev brand team!

1) CRAFT : Uncompromising on the quality of the game and marketing materials
2) AUTHENTICITY : Deeply researched stories & settings that always feel real (even if they are not)
3) EMOTION : Immersive experiences that engage the heart of the player
4) INTELLIGENCE : Enriching challenges that stimulate the mind

These four core brand values also helped us (as a brand) find our purpose, and answer that big question of: “why does Anno exist?” SIMPLE, as a brand we cultivate the joy of building! Anno revolves around themes of legacy and creation, which we believe our audience passionately resonate with, too, and central to this is our design ethos ‘Crafted With Care’, inspired by attention to detail – a mindset shared by both our fans and our development teams!

 

In a future blog, we’ll also look at the Design side of things and how these high-level Brand Pillars and the Design concepts come together in Anno 117: Pax Romana.

While the brand has been refreshed, you’ll notice we didn’t get rid of things that are beloved, like the number 9; however we also reimagined some things like the wooden plank:
Allowing the symbol itself to act as a vessel allows it to hold all sorts of materials –  more than just wood – and it allows us to tell a bigger story of production, craft, and building in Anno 117: Pax Romana.

When developing the logo, we wanted it to feel like more than just a logo, we wanted it to feel like a tool in the hands of a builder; we were inspired by the caliper, which was a tool used to measure a distance between two points on a map – it symbolized trade and exploration. This felt really perfect for us as a brand, and this then became the foundation of our symbol.

BUT many people see a house, the flame of a candle, or the arrow of a compass. And that’s the beauty of brand identity: it leaves your own control and is given additional meaning by the community.

The brand’s visual identity is drawing inspiration from traditional crafts (some of which are featured in the game), and brought forward into a digital-first system that seamlessly blends the old and new ways of building. We crafted a lot of the brand by hand, from forging the logo out of metal over mixing the paints (which became the brand colours), to even carving the typeface. We wanted the brand to feel built, just like how our players build in the game!

 

Have a look at our Behind the Scenes video below for more impressions on the process and insights directly from our partners at Wolff Olins.

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Something like this has not been seen in the gaming industry before, but we believe the effort was essential to bring our premier builder game to life!

 

To summarize our work and ambitions:
Drawing inspiration from the classical period, the Anno brand’s colors, bespoke typeface and graphic language together form the foundations of a builder in those ancient times. Creating a system that is designed to support the purpose of building and a celebration of craftspersonship.

Much like the great nations of the past, the new mark represents a collective mindset – fusing craft, the power of the human spirit and the ambition of building for future greatness.

Meticulous in detail and crafted with care, the symbol becomes a tool wielded by the community to shape their ANNO world.

 

As per requests from several of you, we’re offering a wallpaper of the logo variations and our colour tests in 1440p as download.

Did we leave any questions unanswered? Is there anything else you’d like to learn about the topic of branding or logo design? Leave us a comment below!

Union Update: News roundup and Q&A

Hey Anno Community,

Welcome to a rather lengthy Union Update with news and information. We’ll be talking about next week’s livestream, what happened in the last two weeks and have a Q&A section at the end.

Short reminder here that we had our very first livestream, a dev talk about our vision for Anno 117: Pax Romana and the reveal itself, last week. If you missed it, you can watch the VOD here.

Let’s dive right in:

Livestream on Branding

On July 2nd, we’re tackling questions that are likely also close to the heart of many Anno veterans: What even is Anno? What makes Anno games special and what are the key aspects and emotions an Anno game has to transport?

Those questions we have to ask ourselves from a creative, and from a brand point of view every time we start working on a new game. Anno by now is a series with a long tradition, a tradition that must be upheld but that also requires occasional self-reflection.

Together with Haye, Brand Director on Anno, and Wayne Deakin, Global Principal at Wolff Olins, we’re discussing Anno’s 26-year-old identity and how it translates into the new branding and logo for the series in general and Anno 117: Pax Romana in particular. Join us at 4:30PM CEST / 10:30AM EDT / 7:30AM PDT over on Twitch.

Behind the scenes of our trailer

If you watched our livestream last week you will already have seen it: We released a little video with behind-the-scenes footage of our trailer shoot. You can watch it below:

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Scroll of Fame

While we certainly were nervous before the reveal on June 10th, we were rather sure about one thing: Our community seemed to be very keen about “ancient Rome” as a setting for an Anno game. In fact, we went and gathered dozens of comments from you and your wishes and requests for a Roman setting. Those comments are now immortalised on the Scroll of Fame, and we also asked our Town Crier to respond to several of them directly:

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Statue Contest

On Monday we launched our very first Community Contest: Design an Anno 117: Pax Romana statue!

With just a rough outline, you can decide about the look, shape and colour of the statue that we’ll later implement into the game. Find all the information here in our dedicated blog. The contest runs until July 14th.

We highly encourage you to give it a try and are excited with what kind of ideas you’ll surprise us!

Q&A

Understandably, with the reveal just having happened, you have A LOT of questions on Anno 117: Pax Romana, the story, the characters, features, tech and many other aspects.

Broadly speaking, we are only at the very beginning of our journey when it comes to telling you more about our game. Over time, we’ll give you insights into the world and setting, the player’s role as a governor, the choices you can make and much more. But – and that is no different to our approach on Anno 1800 – this will happen over the coming months until release, based on our production plans.

Today, let’s dive into some topics you asked about:

When will you show gameplay?

We very much understand your impatience to see Anno 117: Pax Romana “in action”. However, we can already tell you that we won’t be showing any gameplay in 2024. We want to make sure we show you the game in a representative state, and since we are still very much in development, there are plenty of moving parts left: features and mechanics that might change – even drastically -, or are still missing, unfinished visual elements etc. etc.

By no means does that mean that we won’t have exciting insights for you in the meantime. Both in terms of game content as well as behind the scenes information on how we develop games. Especially the latter will hopefully also give you a better understanding of our production and communication plans.

Okay, but when will you tell us more about the game??

Very soon, July is right around the corner. Upcoming topics will first revolve around the world of Anno 117 and how we approach creating an Anno world, the research we’re doing etc.

After that, we’ll take a look at the work of the Production department and the planning and organising of a project like Anno 117: Pax Romana.

Having established the basis like this, we’ll move further into the world of Anno 117 with a closer look at both regions – Latium and Albion – and the gameplay differences between the two.

There’s more to come, this is just to give you a first taste.

You said you’re not showing gameplay for now, but how do you want to gather community feedback?

Our main source of very specific gameplay and UI feedback are playtests. We’ve organised a few already over the past months to make sure we are:

  1. Fulfilling the fantasy of a builder game in a Roman setting, and
  2. On the right track when it comes to creating an Anno game that ticks all the boxes our veterans would expect.

Receiving such positive feedback was a great relief for us, and reassured us in our plans for Anno 117. Of course, there are still features or mechanics that were (and others still are) not ready and, for example, during our very first playtest, we have never seen so many of our veterans go bankrupt so quickly – the balancing very much was, and still is, a work-in-progress.

We’ll continue with such playtests until release.

In addition, we have all the input you gave us before (and are now giving us after) the reveal across all kinds of channels and here on the Anno Union – especially when we start diving into more details about Anno 117: Pax Romana.

You missed out on the opportunity to make the 9th Anno a Roman one and call it “Anno 9”!

Admittedly, it would’ve been a nice little joke – but ultimately, we really wanted to make a Roman Anno now. Plus, releasing it in 2025 still keeps the 9-joke alive, doesn’t it?

Will you have (quality of life) feature X and Y?

Ah, now we’re getting specific. For the reasons outlined above, we won’t be going into detail on Anno 117’s exact feature-set quite yet. We’re not going to reinvent the (Anno-)wheel with Anno 117: Pax Romana, and you can expect the return of many beloved core features and mechanics. You can also expect improvements and changes to said features and the addition of new ones – to fit the setting and vision of the game. Trains and electricity just don’t make a lot of sense in ancient Rome, for example.

There are also a bunch of quality-of-life features in Anno 1800 that we know you love and of course those are also on our list of things for Anno 117. Blueprint mode, anyone?

In the end, we are working with a detailed production plan and a certain limit of working hours. Which features and mechanics (and in which way) will be present in Anno 117 is something we will be able to confirm at a later date.

I love the Town Crier character, will you add him to the game?

We also love our Town Crier – and are extremely happy that both the reveal trailer as well as the scroll of fame video were so well-received by our community! We’re not quite sure yet what the Emperor has to say when it comes to commemorating someone else than himself but we’ll see.

Union Update: Community Contest – Design a Statue

Salve Anno Community,

It’s not been long since the reveal of Anno 117: Pax Romana, but we already have something for you all to have fun with: a Community Contest! This will be the first contest of a series dedicated to Anno 117: Pax Romana, where we’ll ask you to use your creativity and imagination to create something that will make its way into the game.

Your first quest

Without further ado, let’s dive into your first assignment! As you might know, sculpture was considered one of the highest forms of art by Romans. This is why for the first contest we challenge you to create your own statue based on this silhouette gently provided by our lovely Art Team in Ubisoft Mainz.

You have full creative power for this contest: you can fill the silhouette as you wish, and even adjust the outline if you see fit. The possibilities are endless! Don’t be afraid to think outside the box – or the lines, in this case.  Here are just a few examples coming directly from our super talented Art Team, and as you can see, they go from very classical statues to… quite unconventional ones!

The rules are simple:

  • You have time until 14th July (11:59 PM CEST) to submit your entries
  • Each person can submit up to 2 entries, but only one will be selected by us during the selection phase
  • It’s up to you how you decided to create your entries, you can print the silhouette and draw on it, or you can draw on it digitally
  • The theme should mostly fit the ancient Rome setting, but otherwise feel free to let your creative juice flow!
  • Accepted files formats are .png and .jpg
  • Entries must be submitted at this e-mail address: anno-community@ubisoft.com
  • Entries that have been created using AI tools will be excluded
  • Entries must not infringe on any copyrights of third parties

You can download the silhouette files here. The folder includes both a .png and a .psd file for those of you who like to work with layers.

Once the submission time is over, we will review your entries and select 5 statues – this will be a combined effort by the Community Team, Brand Team, and Art Team. The finalist entries will then be published on the Anno Union, and it will be your turn to decide the winner of the contest by voting for your favourite statue of the 5. Votes will take place from 22nd July to 28th July.

And of course, the most important thing: the winning statue will become a real ornament that will be featured in Anno 117: Pax Romana!*

We hope you are excited as we are for this contest and, most importantly, have some fun while creating your statues – we cannot wait to see your entries! In the meantime, for any questions feel free to comment below or reach out on our social channels listed below.

*We reserve the right to make adjustments to the winning design in order for it to fit the art design of Anno 117: Pax Romana.

Union Update: What’s happening in June

Hey Anno Community,

And welcome to the very first “Union Update” blog following the reveal of Anno 117: Pax Romana!

It’s been an exciting few days so far, following the announcement of the upcoming installment of the Anno series. In “Union Update” blogs like this one, we’ll recap recent events, share the latest news with you and give you a preview of things to come.

 

In that spirit, we can’t share it often enough: We announced a new Anno game on Monday – Anno 117: Pax Romana! Below you can find the trailer AND the speech by our Creative Director Manuel as well as Brand Director Haye at Ubisoft Forward.

The Anno Union

You’re on the Anno Union, our hub for anything Anno that received a little visual makeover now for Anno 117: Pax Romana. Here you will always find the latest news on our games, announcements for livestreams, events and – at a later date – playtests. We also have plenty of useful links to other websites and channels, like the “Annoverse” Discord, the r/anno subreddit, our social channels as well as resources for e.g. modding in Anno 1800.

We highly encourage you to make use of the comment section below each article to ask us any questions you might have, give feedback on the things we cover in our blogs and simply discuss with fellow Annoholics! (we’re aware comments from our first two blogs disappeared following the website update and are working on a resolution)

 

Some of you also asked about a fan kit and wallpapers? Well, we’ll also have those coming your way later this month.

First Anno 117 livestream

We just mentioned livestreams above, and the first is right around the corner! On Tuesday, June 18th, at 5PM UTC+2/11AM EDT / 8AM PDT we will be holding our very first Anno 117: Pax Romana livestream on Twitch from our office in Mainz with Creative Director Manuel, Brand Director Haye and Senior Writer Matt.

We’ll be talking about the reveal at Ubisoft Forward and our vision for the next Anno, as well as the trailer and how it was shot. Since some of you asked already and for the sake of transparency: We will not be showing gameplay next Tuesday.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all in the chat next week!

Contest: Design a Statue

Plenty of statues decorated public places, palaces and villas in Roman times. And they weren’t just plain marble marvels but painted and individualised in different colours and markings. In Anno 117: Pax Romana, you’ll have all the tools to shape your cities the way you want to. One of them could be a statue designed by: YOU!

Later this month we’ll start our first Community Contest: design a statue! The winning entry (voted by the community) will be turned into an in-game ornament for the game. Stay tuned for more news!

Join the Anno Union for Anno 117: Pax Romana

Hello everyone – and welcome to the Anno Union!

 

We have just revealed our next project: Anno 117: Pax Romana!

Make sure to read our dedicated blog for Anno 117: Pax Romana and watch the reveal trailer to learn more about the game and get some glimpses at what this new entry to the Anno series will feature.

Until the release, we’re looking forward to telling you more about the game, our vision and how we actually go about creating a new Anno game.

All this – and more – will happen here: on the Anno Union! This is your central hub for anything related to Anno 117: Pax Romana, and you can expect DevBlogs, news, trailers, contests and behind-the-scenes content from us over the coming months.

As it was the case for Anno 1800: Our goal with the Anno Union is to not only give you a better understanding of our new game but also give you a better idea of why certain things are done in a specific way, how we make decisions and how many people and teams are involved in bringing such a project to life. In addition, we would love to hear your opinions and comments on the topics we are presenting here – your feedback will serve us as a guideline on if we’re on the right track.

Talking feedback: A very important point will be playtests that are planned (with some having already happened) throughout the whole development phase to receive feedback from various types and groups of players on our game: Is feature X intuitive? How is the balancing at the moment? Is the game doing a good job at onboarding new players? These and many other questions we hope to get answers on to truly make Anno 117: Pax Romana fantastic experience when it ultimately releases.

In terms of community channels, while the Anno Union will serve as the big hub (and has a comment section below every article!), here are the other channels we’ll be posting things on and where we’ll be active on:

We also have a few ideas on how we can immortalise our amazing community in Anno 117: Pax Romana – stay tuned for next week to learn more!

 

We’re looking forward to sharing more news on Anno 117: Pax Romana with you over the coming weeks and months.

All the best from Mainz,

A very excited Anno Team

Announcing Anno 117: Pax Romana!

How often do you think about the Roman Empire? Because we… we’re doing it daily!

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We’re proud and excited to announce a new chapter for the Anno franchise:

 

Anno 117: Pax Romana!

Take on the role of a Roman governor in the year 117 AD and journey through the uncharted territories of the Roman Empire. Uncover the allure of Latium and Albion, the twin provinces under your stewardship as governor. Seize the opportunity to expand your influence and harness the unique advantages and challenges each province presents.

“We will not only deliver the fantasy millions of strategy players are waiting for: to govern one of the most iconic ancient empires, we will push beyond that, and change how people see the Roman Empire in games. Explore different provinces and embrace the local or Roman way. The cost of peace is yours to decide.” – Manuel Reinher, Creative Director

Your choices as a governor matter to your citizens! Will you encourage economic growth and trade or expand your rule through dominance and force? Lead with rebellion or unite a diverse culture? Choose wisely, your decisions will guide your people through the era of Pax Romana.

Anno 117: Pax Romana features a unique mix of traditional city building, a deep economical simulation and 4X features like diplomacy, military and a solid narrative layer. It follows the series’ tradition by merging the creation of huge metropolises with the setup of complex logistic networks and production chains, as well as the exploration of the world and the interaction with other characters and competitors.

Anno 117: Pax Romana is planned to release in 2025 on both PC as well as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. You can wishlist it right here!

With that, we welcome Anno fans old and new to our journey! Follow along when we – over the coming months until release – will show and tell you more about Anno 117: Pax Romana: its world, its features and your role as a governor!

Ah, and one more thing: Did you notice all the easter eggs in the trailer?