- Anno 1800
- Season 3
DevBlog: The High Life
It is a frigid night, a thick fog blankets the city, ahead of you dim lights spill onto bustling streets. A sea of faceless umbrellas bobbing up and down, caught within a current of unending urgency. You feel a cutting breeze, drops of rain, and in the distance, you hear rumbling thunder. You quicken your pace.
You see an immense silhouette, jutting between rooftops – a flash and the goliath skyscraper is illuminated! Beautiful and foreboding. You crane your neck in awe. There is a moment of stillness then, with a resounding clap, the sky breaks open.
You run. Drenched you burst into the lobby where warm lighting greets you. You take a breath. A mellow tune drifts towards you from a gramophone in the corner, its soothing cadence interspersed only by the quiet dripping of your coat, then a soft ding catches your attention, you look up.
The elevator doors slide open. A bellboy smiles at you. He takes a gentle bow and asks, “What floor will it be?”
Hey Anno Community,
After last week’s DevBlog which went into detail on the Skyscrapers, their historical references and the mechanics tied to them, today’s DevBlog provides you – as usual – with the full overview of all features of Anno 1800’s upcoming DLC: The High Life.
Grab a coffee (or a glass of champagne, if you’re feeling as fancy as the Investors), and let’s dive right in:
A Story of Architectural Progress
As we mentioned last week, the “The High Life” DLC took some strong inspiration from the early period of skyscraper construction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These new architectural feats were made possible by new building techniques and supported by inventions like the hydraulic elevator.
Many of the early skyscrapers were built in New York and Chicago after large-scale fires destroyed existing housing and a population boom also required more and more residences. The iconic look of the early skyscrapers was shaped by the Chicago school of architecture by combining the French Beaux-Arts or renaissance style with practical and commercial elements. Influential examples include the 1908 Singer Tower and of course the 1930 Empire State Building.
The story of “The High Life” is therefore focused on these new architectural achievements, but also the exploits of enterprising businesspeople on the consumer market, when we’re looking at Shopping Arcades.
In this matter, you will make the acquaintance of Donald “Donny” Bader, a capitalist visionary who is eager to change the skyline of your cities with Anno 1800’s first Skyscrapers.
Donny’s a prolific Investor – the best in the city if you ask him – and he’s happy to share the tricks of the trade with you. Cutting corners, fudging numbers, splurging the health and safety budget on bubbly, it’s all in a day’s work for him. And he’s rather impressed by you, witnessing your achievements with rapt attention. Truth be told he’s quite the fanboy, eager to hitch a ride on your coattails towards glory and profits. He’ll invite you to the Skydeck to celebrate his victories, but he’ll never once give credit to the people who made them possible. With a winning smile to shame all the losers, his hair slathered with pomade, he’ll call the workers lazy and waste Theodora, his top Engineer, on fetching him refills.
The Skyscrapers, a Change to Your Skyline
Having set the scene, we’re sure you’re eager to know how to build these Skyscrapers in-game, right? As soon as you reach 5000 Investors, Donny will contact you about his ideas for a new construction project. It would be a shame to ignore such an opportunity, so better get started right away.
How to Build a Skyscraper
Before you can start building, though, you first need to set up a new production line: Skyscrapers require a new construction material, elevators, which are produced in an Assembly Line. We’ll get back on the topic of new production buildings and goods, for now, let’s stay with the Skyscrapers a little while longer.
Both Engineer as well as Investor residences can be upgraded to Skyscrapers. This allows you to increase your population without requiring building space for additional residences. The Skyscrapers themselves are modular, meaning you can upgrade them multiple times until they reach their maximum height: Investor Skyscrapers can consist of 5 levels, Engineer Skyscrapers of 3.
There are multiple different variants for each module and the general style of a Skyscraper also depends on the base residence underneath. You can change the look of each individual block via the building’s menu and clicking on the customization button.
It’s also possible to downgrade a Skyscraper or turn it back into a regular residence of the respective population tier – and yes, before you ask: Residence items also impact Skyscrapers.
Skyscrapers inherit all needs from their regular population tier, but with each level, you will need to fulfill additional new needs in order for more residents to move in. New needs can be goods (like cognac or biscuits) or the new Shopping Arcades like the Furniture Store.
While their residents pay taxes like all your citizens, Skyscrapers are special since they cost maintenance. If they’re not properly supplied and placed (check below for the “Panorama Effect”) they can cost you more than they pay you in taxes.
On the plus side, they do provide you with significantly more residents as well as influence points.
If you want to learn more about the development of the Skyscrapers for “The High Life”, make sure to check out our first DevBlog for more details on Design, Art and UI challenges.
The Panorama Effect
The Panorama Effect is a new mechanic exclusive to Skyscrapers. In short, your Skyscrapers will receive a buff if they are next to a skyscraper of a lower height.
This means, if a skyscraper has other skyscrapers of the same level or higher nearby, it has a negative effect on the buff, while taller skyscrapers are not bothered by having smaller ones nearby. A Skyscraper still profits from smaller ones but might not reach the full panorama effect if there’s a same height or higher skyscraper nearby.
A diverse town, therefore, leads to better buffs for the buildings (and honestly it looks much better). There is no punishment for “Skyscraper only” cities, but the buff significantly helps to offset the high maintenance costs.
The buff itself comes in several levels (intense, strong, solid, moderate, weak, none) and reduces maintenance costs, increases the maximum number of residents and provides bonus residents (this one only when supplied properly).
New Needs: Shopping Arcades
With a few Skyscrapers constructed, let’s take a look at the new needs of their residents, starting with the Shopping Arcades.
While department stores already existed in the US, some since the 1820s, they were innovated upon and expanded during the late 19th Century. Their popularity was propelled by a post-civil war economic boom and the demands of a quickly growing population. Retail moved away from local-owned businesses towards large corporations. The shiny new department stores offered personal shoppers, catalogues, and order by mail. But they also brought about a less obvious change. They opened their doors to women, enabling them for the first time to go shopping, and own and manage a budget— a small but significant step for female independence and autonomy.
Similar to the Restaurants in “Tourist Season”, there are three different kinds of Shopping Arcades your residents will ask you to build: The Department Store, the Furniture Store and the Drug Store. Each fulfils the respective need of your population, but depending on the patent you decide to equip, they provide a different bonus on the residences (regular ones as well as Skyscrapers) within its area of influence: Reduction of certain needs, a bonus to happiness or an increase in tax income.
From Secretaries over Lipstick and Tooth Paste to Toasters and Vacuum Cleaners there are many exciting products to choose from for modern shopping lovers.
Like the previous DLC of Season 3, the new features and mechanics are also explained in the new in-game Tutorial Menu.
Want to double-check how the Panorama Effect works? Just click the “?” symbol in the top left corner of a Skyscraper’s object menu to receive an overview of all new mechanics.
New Needs: Products for High Society
As mentioned before, you will also need to supply new goods to your residents.
The Chemical Factory, which was added with “Tourist Season” receives a new recipe (Lacquer, requiring Ethanol, Resin and Quartz Sand), while the Orchard in the Old World can now produce Cherry Wood and Resin in addition to Jam.
On top of these additions, we’re adding two more Multifactories to the game: The Artisan Workshop producing many sought-after products like for example Violins (requiring Steel, Cherry Wood and Lacquer) or Cognac. The Assembly Line, on the other hand, is a great example of the technological progress the Industrial Revolution is bringing to Anno 1800: Aside from the already mentioned Elevators it’s also producing Typewriters. We’ve seen some guessing about which products might be needed to produce Elevators, so here you go: Steel, Steam Motors and Wood Veneers.
Finally, we’re also adding one more building to the New World: The southern session receives its own Chemical Factory, producing the very important Ethanol (using Corn and Wood) as well as another modern invention: Chewing Gum!
Based on community feedback from the Diary Study as well as the Technical Test, we made changes to the Multifactories in the construction menu: Each of their products has now its full production chain displayed, making it easier for you to see in advance, which goods and other production building you will need.
The recipes in the Shopping Arcades and Multifactories work just like you’re used to if you played “Tourist Season”: Some of them are unlocked via quests, others by fulfilling certain conditions. If you own “The Passage” or “Land of Lions”, you will be able to choose from a few additional recipes, more on that below.
Following your feedback from “Tourist Season”, we’re adding several new items with “The High Life” which specifically affect the new building types introduced since “Tourist Season”, like Hotels, Restaurants, and the new Shopping Arcades.
The Multifactory buildings even receive a completely new type of item which works a bit differently and usually comes with a trade-off of positive and negative effects. Some of them are more specialized in specific building types like the Chemical Plant, others work on all kinds of Multifactories.
This should give everyone who loves optimizing their economy more options to puzzle and make the most of the often-limited space.
Let’s talk DLC Synergies
Let’s now take a look at the synergies you can profit from when owning several of Anno 1800’s previous DLC, several of which were the results of playtest feedback:
Firstly, as already mentioned above, you will receive additional recipes for each Shopping Arcade with their unique buffs if you own “The Passage” or “Land of Lions”. This way you can supply your citizens with products like Refrigerators, Face Cream and Four-Poster Beds – for a truly luxurious life.
As a result of feedback from the playtests, the Skyline Tower – the new monument of “The High Life” – is a potential need for Tourists and can be connected with the bus network.
Certain sets from the Zoo or the Museum now also influence Multifactories. For example, the Bronze Age Exhibition or the Icebound Exhibition.
Finally, also based on community feedback, if you own “Seat of Power”, several of the Palace’s buffs are now affecting buildings from “The High Life” and “Tourist Season”, as long as they fulfill the conditions. For example, Orchards are not considered farms (just like Lumberjacks aren’t either) and the Artisan Workshop is – in contrast to the Assembly Line – not a “heavy industry”.
One word about the “public service” boost the Palace can provide to buildings like Theatres or Pubs: Shopping Arcades (and Restaurants, for that matter) technically aren’t your usual public services since they require input goods to provide their service – they just fulfill a similar gameplay function to standard public service buildings. They are therefore not affected by the buff from the Department of Welfare.
Further details: The technical side
For the ones among you who want a quick dive into parts of the game logic, here’s some more background on the matter:
Another aspect of this decision is technical reasons: In contrast to regular public services, the reach of Shopping Arcades is at the same time also the range of the carts delivering the required input goods. The Palace buff could increase their reach but not the cart range, which would then require two different visualizations on the same streets, making it complicated and confusing from a UI point of view.
On the other hand, if both ranges should be increased by the Palace buff, the cart logic would need a rework:
The maximum range of carts is currently directly bound to the production cycles of a building, assuring that they deliver the input goods in such intervals that the production building always has enough goods to continue production. Increasing the cart range would thereby also increase the time the cart takes to deliver the resources, leading to gaps in supply.
Let’s assume for a moment we accept this and let players decide if they want to accept production issues cause of delivery times. Here we have two more problems:
- Right now, we don’t have indicators for players about such a system
- Having production buildings search for a warehouse ‘somewhere’ on the island compared to just inside its set radius would directly impact game performance.
Alternatively, if we wanted to assure optimal supply no matter the distance, certain parameters would need to dynamically change based on the current cart range, for example the speed of the carts (which would end up looking extremely silly) or the production cycle of the respective building.
All this, mind you, would mean making changes to a core system of the game just for a specific new building type for a DLC – which would be a loooot of work. And then we would need to make sure all this is also transparently communicated to you, the players, so you can understand the mechanics and adjust your production accordingly.
For Restaurants, this is even a whole different matter, since here the effect range towards Tourists is decided by the bus network, and not by pure street distance, complicating matters further.
A new Monument
Let’s end this DevBlog with a high point – literally: The “Skyline Tower”.
After you’ve built a sufficient number of level 5 Skyscrapers, Donny will contact you with his most ambitious project yet: a monumental tower!
The Skyline Tower is a multi-stage monument and the tallest building in Anno 1800. It contains the probably most luxurious apartments and can house several thousand Investors. They have all the needs of regular Investor residences but there is a twist: The maximum number of residents of the monument depends on the number of Shopping Arcades in your city. Each Shopping Arcade recipe makes the Skyline Tower more interesting to residents, adding another 100 to the maximum population. The respective Shopping Arcade does not have to be in range but simply has to be located on the same island.
This brings us almost to the end of this DevBlog. But we can’t end it without mentioning that you’ll again receive several new ornaments fitting to the theme – including something red and round which uses hot air… what could that be?
If you’re curious for some live gameplay of “The High Life”, mark the 26th of August in your calendars: At 5 PM CEST the Anno team will do their English gamescom stream on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte, presenting the upcoming DLC and talking a bit about what else you can still expect to come to Anno 1800 this year. Don’t miss this!