- Anno 1800
DevBlog: Eden Burning – The Green Game Jam Scenario
Several months ago, in June, we announced that we’re participating in this year’s Green Game Jam.
Multiple video game studios pledged to brainstorm and implement something in their games to raise awareness for environmental issues like for example deforestation. All this was organized by the UN under the “Playing For The Planet” umbrella – you can find out more about it here.
We specifically decided to support the “Play 4 Forests” campaign with our participation in the Green Game Jam and highly encourage you to sign the petition on their website to protect forests worldwide.
During our gamescom stream in August, we shared a few details on our vision for the new game mode we were planning to add and revealed the final artwork for the mode.
Now we’re nearing the release of the new mode – a scenario we call Eden Burning!
Dear Isabel, …
Let’s set the scene for Eden Burning – what is this scenario all about?
You play as the famous Isabel Sarmento and receive an urgent letter from Yaosca Rodriguez (does the name sound familiar to you?): While the Pyrphorian occupation was ended thanks to your help, many of their buildings and factories remain, dealing continuous damage to the island’s ecosystem.
The main offender: A polluting generator.
However, Yaosca and the other citizens of the island of La Xultuna have now had a taste of modern times – enjoying the advantages of electricity – and do not want to go back to a (literally) darker time. They call for Isabel to take the wheel: Remove the traces of the Pyrphorian occupation and help the people build a hydroelectric dam as a greener source of energy!
You see: Plenty of work awaits you, plenty of challenges on the way to provide La Xultuna with a more sustainable form of energy. And you might want to also explore the smaller islands on the map…
Alright, let’s leave it at that for now because we want you to discover the remaining details for yourself when playing the scenario 😉
Game mechanics – what’s new?
You’re all familiar with how to build your early settlements and cities in Anno 1800. However, for this scenario, you will have to rethink some of your strategies.
First, some general mechanical changes which already up the difficulty: Demolishing buildings will not refund their construction materials (just a portion of their monetary costs) and you won’t be able to move buildings. You can still use the blueprint mode to plan your settlement, though.
Secondly, while “Eden Burning” takes place in a New World session with their two population tiers (Jornaleros and Obreros), we did quite a few changes to their needs: Their very first need is water, supplied by a pump acting like a regular public service building. Later, you will also need to supply them with fish, plantains and tools before being able to upgrade them.
The Obreros, of course, come with their own set of needs, for example Coffee Pots or Atole (a beverage made of corn, sugar, water and some spices – but you will only need corn and sugarcane in this scenario).
Some other mechanics, like influence or happiness aren’t relevant at all in this scenario and have been disabled.
The Eco Balance
So far, those are still mechanics you know, so let’s take a look at the real challenge of the scenario: The Eco Balance.
The Eco Balance displays the health of your island, split into three categories: Water Quality, Soil Quality and Air Quality. Each category can be positively and negatively impacted by your actions and is visualized as a “health bar”.
The main offender at the beginning will be the leftover Pyrphorian ruins scattered across the island. Removing them will not only improve your Eco Balance, but it will also free up valuable building space. However, this does take time and parts of your workforce which you will have to balance with your regular production needs.
Fishing also negatively impacts water quality, while cutting down trees (they’re not replanted by the lumberjack anymore) and generally all kinds of industry also aren’t great for your Eco Balance. You can always check which factors currently influence each category by opening the Eco Balance Overview, see below:
For each category there are specific negative events when the quality decreases too far, requiring you to intervene and (when it decreases even further) catastrophes like a draught might happen. You can also observe the current state of your island by simply looking at the water or the island itself: La Xultuna quickly stops looking pretty when the Eco Balance drops too low. If one of the three categories reaches zero, the scenario is considered failed.
In addition to the pollution through industry, you might also want to change your usual tactic of grouping all farms of the same kind around a Trade Union and Warehouse: Monocultures are not great for soil quality. Instead, plant farms of different types next to each other to improve the soil quality of La Xultuna.
But wait, there is more: Not only the number of trees is limited, mines and clay pits aren’t endless anymore either and you should also keep an eye on the fish population. Make sure to use the available resources wisely and don’t take too much time to tackle your main objective: One of your key challenges will be to maintain efficiency while keeping the environment intact.
Countering negative Eco Balance effects
That does sound tricky, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, there are ways to counter or at least slow down the deterioration of your island’s Eco Balance.
Some we already mentioned (avoiding monocultures, removing ruins) but let’s see what else you can do – at its centre: Crafting!
Thanks to the research centre in the nearby town, you can get your hands on some useful items for your challenge by crafting them at Yaosca’s harbor. Those are either slotted into a Trade Union or Town Hall to for example reduce the eco impact of a building or increase its productivity. They all come with clear downsides, though, so be aware.
Some other items are basically blueprints to unlock new buildings, like for example the water purification plant to help you improve the water quality. There are also methods to replenish certain limited deposits with items – and for trees, you can build a forester.
Finally, you can of course also e.g., pause some of your polluting industry to give the eco system a short breather. But keep in mind your people will still demand goods.
As if building a functioning settlement isn’t enough, there is still your main objective we mentioned at the start: The hydroelectric dam. It is constructed in several phases, each requiring a portion of your workforce and increasingly more advanced goods which require you to expand further and erect more industry.
Last but not least: Failing is part of the experience. Expect to fail and don’t be afraid to fail.
When restarting the scenario after a failed attempt, you can build on some of your previous achievements which should make your next run easier: The three ruins in the valley don’t reappear if you removed them and certain advanced technologies which you acquired previously will also stay unlocked.
Plus, you will most likely also have learned a thing or two to improve on your next attempt 😉
Wait, what’s a scenario?
Now, we dropped the term “scenario”, let’s talk a bit about the scenario system we developed for “Eden Burning”.
The scenario is separate from your campaign or sandbox games, having its own submenu on the starting screen.
On the overview screen for “Eden Burning”, you will be presented with an intro for the scenario itself, as well as the victory condition. There are different quality levels depending on how you finish the scenario – in this case it’s the time it takes you to construct the dam as well as the island’s health.
Each quality level also provides a certain reward. This reward is then unlocked for all your regular campaign and sandbox games.
While playing the scenario, you can always keep an eye on the victory conditions of the scenario via their separate tracker on the left side.
More on scenarios next year, when we’re looking at Season 4’s content.
The “Plant a Tree” DLC
Also releasing that day is the “Plant a Tree” Cosmetic DLC. This is a special one, since the money from this DLC is going to Ecologi, a social enterprise dedicated to the planting of trees. You can find out more about them here.
Available for 2,99€ (or your regional equivalent) this CDLC adds a new tree ornament to your game which is based on the Ceira tree you can also find on the island of La Xultuna. We are not making any money from this DLC: From each purchase, all net proceeds (that means after any fees or taxes are deducted) are going to Ecologi (at least $1/1€/1£ per purchase).
You will be able to purchase the “Plant a Tree DLC” to support reforestation efforts till the end of March 2022. After this date, it will be removed from the store. No worries, though, as the ornament will be added for free for everyone with an update at the end of 2022.
And in case you missed it: Earlier today we showed off the early stages of the “Eden Burning” scenario live on stream. Head on over to our Twitch channel and have a look at the VOD, if you want to see the new content ‘in action’.
What’s left for us to say? Ah, right: Our Green Game Jam scenario “Eden Burning” will release as part of Game Update 13 free for everyone on December 14th at 6PM CET!
Stay tuned for Friday when we will publish the full Release Notes for Game Update 13 – and in just a week you’ll be able to save La Xultuna yourself!