Union Update: Nine years of Anno 1404

This year marks the 20-year long history of the Anno series and this week, we will jump into our time machine once again, as one of the most influential Anno games has its ninth anniversary. In June 2009, the Anno ship set sail for the fourth time and the prominent feature of the number four fits perfectly for one the most beloved games in the franchise: Anno 1404.

This week, we want to celebrate the ninth anniversary of a true fan favorite. Released on June 23rd in North America as Dawn of Discovery and two days later as Anno 1404 in Europe, the game embraced and expanded many features of its predecessor, Anno 1701.

With its renaissance setting, from gothic architecture to the exotic orient, its complexity and rich feature list, there are many reasons why many Annoholic’s still play Anno 1404 today.
It was the first time we introduced items, expanded on end-game content such as monuments and added a completely new eastern climate zone, to only name a few. The following February, the Venice expansion added even more to the package, with a new neutral Venetian
faction, additional buildings, fresh scenarios and more.

Anno 1404 is one of our main inspiration for the upcoming Anno 1800, as we bring back many of the features fans have asked for while also adding new exciting mechanics and content to the series.

Many of you also might remember the Anno 1404 collector’s edition, coming not only with an art-book and poster but also with truly special items such as a real compass and almond seeds, packed in a nice wooden chest. Who of you proud collectors owns one of these rarities?
If Chris and John managed to get you into the right mood for Anno 1404 entertainment with their AnnoAfternoon Community stream last Sunday, we have more for you! If you missed our last community stream, you can catch up with the VoD here: AnnoAfternoon Episode 2

This Friday, we will host another special anniversary stream here in Mainz. Tune in this Friday 29th at 4.30pm CEST, when the developers of Anno 1800 jump right back into a time of discovery!
Popcorn, anecdotes and backseat gaming allowed: twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Developer Stories

Burkhard Ratheiser, Executive Producer
Anno 1404’s development was as extensive as the amount of content, which the game had to offer. Even 9 years ago, creating one building from concept to finish took roughly 20 days of work. Still under the name Related Designs back then, we were able to benefit greatly from our experienced gathered from the work on our first Anno game: Anno 1701. That experience and previous big step into the world of 3D should benefit us greatly, Anno 1404 was more detailed and complex as its predecessor and added many fan favorite features to the series. There is a reason why if you ask Annoholics, Anno 1404 is still one of the most beloved Anno titles.     

But the Union is not the first time that we share development details with our communities. Some of you might remember our developer diaries, and Anno 1404 gives me immediate callbacks to the technical progress of that time. Multicore CPU’s started to become a new standard in PC gaming and we wanted to make use of that potential for Anno 1404.

It is crazy how much has changed since the beginning of the Anno series, two decades ago: from pixel cities to the big leap into 3D, from multithreading to multisession. With Anno 1800, we not only want to follow the footsteps of Anno 1404s complexity, we will also enrich the classic Anno formula with new exciting features.
A snapshot from our 1404 release party. Many of the veterans are still working on Anno 1800 today.

Christoph Knauz, Project Manager
I have fond memories of Anno 1404. Back then, I was a new addition to the studio with my position as “Head of Localization & QA” and Anno 1404 was the first game in there series where I was heavily involved into development. Before that, I was part of Sunflowers and worked on Anno 1503 as well as Anno 1701 as a part of their QA team.

Anno 1404 was for my one of the best productions I ever had the pleasure to be a part of. The team was great, the game was promising and the collaboration with the Community was something special, as we to work with our fans intensively. Compared to today, internet was kind of underdeveloped back then, so we had to rely more on personal contact with our fans. If I recall correctly, we had almost a dozen focus test groups, consisting of almost ten Annoholics, to test the game during the “Beta phase” (which means the period shortly after Alpha but before Beta).
These testers had the chance to test the game for almost 6 hours on a Saturday, in order to provide us feedback in the form of questionaires. Following this, we invited them to roundtables where we gathered furtehr feedback. Developers volunteering from almost every department to guide the players during the tests.

If you so will is the Anno Union with our focus tests also following Anno 1404’s tradition.

Volker Sassen, Game Designer
With the introduction of the orient setting, deserts and their non-flat dunes became a topic in development. They kind of contradicted Anno’s premise, in which you can place buildings and create settlements on a flat 2D plane. Our first try was a mix between even construction terrain and uneven dune areas, but that reduced the construction space significantly and also felt unrealistic.

We started to work on texture solutions, so we painted light and shadows on to the actual texture. But that was not providing satisfactory results, as islands had now only good lighting from one specific viewing angle.

One of our coders came up with a solutions and saved the day, or better to say the dunes. With the use of bump maps, we were able to include light and shadows to the texture in a more granular and dynamic way. The system would interpret these texture layers differently, depending on the camera angle, which gave us beautiful and dynamically looking dunes – a simulated 3D terrain on a 2D construction space.
Throwback: Here our small Anno 1404 booth at gamescom 2009. Who of you where there and do you plan to visit us this year?

Community Stories

I used to (and still do sometimes) go over to my friend’s house every weekend to play Anno 1404 multi-player. It is probably one of the games I’ve played most in my entire life, almost every weekend for 6 years. We usually played multi-player with easy or medium AI players (mostly Leif :D) because we were decent, but not the best Anno players out there.

One time we decided to play against two AI players on hard. I think it was Cardinal Lucius and Giovanni di Mercante.

My friend and I made an alliance and as soon as we hit patrician level, we declared war on the AI players. Our plan was simple: wipe out their fleet as soon as possible and control the sea. This way we could slowly start besieging their islands. I sailed out with a huge fleet to control the seas while my friend was creating a massive siege army. We destroyed Giovanni’s fleet quickly and we just left a sea blockade. The Cardinal was a bit harder but we managed to defeat his fleet as well. My friend immediately started the siege of his main island. This siege took several in-game days and we came together for several LAN parties over the course of several months. Eventually we defeated the Cardinal and left Giovanni’s Island suffering from starvation and the plague.

I have been playing Anno for so long now and it never gets old. For some reason, every continuous game I start is somehow different from all the other ones. And this is, why we still play Anno 1404 today.

My best 1404-Moment was a contest in which i participated, without having played Anno 1404 a lot before. Through the other contestants and discussions with them, i learned a ton about the game and had a lot of fun. That was always, what excited me about the Anno-Community: Experience something with others. I think, that it might not even matter, which Anno-game you do that with, as the specific requirements for such a contest are always focusing on the areas on the edge, that get excluded normally. This creates a “First Time” Feeling.
And you need humans for that, not features.

One of my favorite Anno Moments was, when my younger brother challenged me, to play against him and i was only allowed to settle one! island. After 4 hours i had enough nobles to build my large warships and after 8 hours his island went up in flames due to my blockades. I thought i was the greatest (i was pretty young back then).

Or when i played Anno 1404 again, many years later, after the Anno 1800 Announcement, just to play a “quick” game only to have my girlfriend tell me the next morning that “it’s 11 AM, you’re going to bed now”. But i just warmed up from playing (in 18 hours).
Despite it’s age, Anno 1404 looks still beautiful today, thanks to it’s incredible details and love which went into it. 

AnnoAfternoon #2: Full to the gunwales – Live at 5PM CEST

As with last month, we’re having another fun AnnoAfternoon planned with Community Team members Seraxia and O5ighter today. Come over and check it out on Twitch live at 5PM CEST / 11 AM EDT on our Twitch Channel or here on the blog.

If you have missed our last AnnoAfternoon, then you can check out the VOD here.

DevBlog: Investors

What do you give the guy who has everything?

Maybe he was born into wealth, maybe he wasn’t – it doesn’t matter. Money means upper class now. The Investor is an industrial dynamo, a believer in hard work, who is simultaneously charismatic and ruthless. He is a new breed of breeding; one that is rich for a reason.

His is a life of member’s clubs, champagne and pimped steam carriages. His expectations are unequalled, for both quantity and quality. Nothing is ever enough. More, more, more!
Once the servants have cleared breakfast, he snaps open the morning newspaper. Falling stocks and shares, a scandal involving a society girl eloping with a postman. He feels empty.

What his life needs is some meaning. Something to stay the terror that grips his conscience. Charity, philanthropy! A big project to make things right; to gain him fame and profile, and most importantly, to milk the fat cash cow.

So when he stumps up the cash for your next big idea, don’t do something boring. He won’t tolerate it, not a jot.

A time of change, where soldiers of fortune build world-spanning conglomerates overnight, competing with an old aristocracy, which refused to lose their grip on dwindling empires.
Power build on century old family ties, all of a sudden threatened by the autonomy of striving companies or the progressive and social thinking of a newly arisen social class; for us a rich time with plenty of inspirations and stories to work with.
Our fifth residential tier, the investors, incorporate many of these fascinating elements. They are the old monarchs, fascinated and threatened alike by the modernizing world. But they are also the new wealth aristocracy, who are willing to take any risk on their hunt for the next big deal and their thirst for reputation and influence. The 19th century was a race about investment, stocks and bonds where the new money and if you were not able to keep up with the pace, you could lose everything in a heartbeat.

Designing a society driven by blood ties and modern economics
Our investors are a snapshot of the wealthy elite of that time, with the focus on the monarchs and especially the new financial aristocracy. The wheels of modern economics turned fast and not even the old counts and kings could allow themselves to just lay back and enjoy their wealthy inheritance.
When designing the portrait and feedback units of the investors, we wanted to convey the self-esteem of the ruling people, the serious etiquette of the time but also the extraordinary lifestyle of the upper class. In a sense, they like to insist on their dignity (if build on heritance or by making a fortune with wits and their bare hands) as well as being something greater, standing above the populace. At the end, the rise of the working class not only modernized our society, it also fueled the conflict between the classes itself.

When it comes to their residential buildings, we aimed for clean and almost marble like appearance, using only a few accents which help them to pop out in your cityscape. The green rooftops creating a great contrast, red highlights convey that feeling of luxury and royalty.
While Engineers and Artisans like to enjoy themselves in a cabaret or other easy to reach amenities, investors are more likely to take their marvelous new steam carriage to fancy restaurant or a dinner party at the clubhouse. Pompous apartment blocks, posh public buildings and sublime parks should feel like crown jewel of your metropolis.
Let the future entertain us – Gameplay
How can you please someone who has more money than you could ever spend, who buys fleets of ships filled with the most precious goods, before overnight, throwing everything overboard and investing in modern factories? In a world of the wonders and scares of modern economics, investors want to savor to the fullest and to collect only the most extraordinaire pieces, to show them to their rich friends and business partners in their fancy smoking rooms. What demonstrates your prosperity more than drinking Champaign while enjoying your rare collection of high-tech toys?
Tier 5 production chains reflect their craving for the most exclusive of all goods: from finest jewelry, to wonderfully designed gramophones or astounding new technology like steam cars.
While some of their beginning needs might start moderate, later production chains reflect their big investment and become an intricate challenge for a player.

The future is here and money loses as fast its worth as a rotting shipment of exotic fruits – You have to demonstrate power in that shark basin full of rival companies. A monopoly on menacing weaponry or stellar reputation as a host of truly marvelous events might impress opponents, allies and populace alike. The tier 5 production chains are only one element that reflects the investors influence on technological advancements. Investors become are a substantial part in the mechanic revolving around Anno 1800’s big monument, the world fair. As they are the patrons of your monument, they provide the investment capital to host exhibitions and having enough influential supports can decide how fast and often you can run the exhibition events (and reap the harvest from your stellar event).

Here the gramophone production chain in moving pictures. You island neighbor mentioned that his steam-car production is way more impressive and complex to look at.

From humble beginnings to a world spanning company
The residential tiers are a picturesque tour through the classes and reflect the changes of that time. With the last residential tier, we close the brief look over Anno 1800’s high-level progression. Starting traditionally with the farmers, every tier will make production chains more modern, complex and will unlock exciting features. On your journey to the end game, gameplay will more and more open up and when reaching the last tier, provide you with all the tools to allow the replay-ability and complexity Anno fans have asked for.

As always, your elaborate feedback was very insightful for our team. Thanks to blog comments and the focus test, we were already able to improve many aspects of the game, such as complexity, balance and even whole production chains. As always, we are looking for your feedback, from expectations, suggestions or even a confirmation that our take on the last residential tier of Anno 1800 is something that resonates with you. Please let us know in the comments below!

On a different note, we have another AnnoAfternoon Community live stream this Sunday at 5pm CEST. Join Chris and John from our Community team once again when they continue their journey through the fan favorite Anno 1404. Watch it as always on twitch.tv/ubisoftbluebyte

Union Update: PC Gaming Show, Community Roundtable and more

Welcome back to our regular Union Update, as the last week has been quite busy bringing Anno 1800 to the PC Gaming Show in Los Angeles. However, before we dive into the news, let us talk about upcoming Union content.

This week, we will reveal the last residential tier of Anno 1800. The 19th century was not only a time of progress; it was also the time of big business, from old aristocrats to soldier of fortune trying to build the next big company. New production chains will be challenging and exciting alike and as mentioned in our last Q&A, the last tier will unlock interesting end-game content. After that, it is time for the anniversary of one of the most influential Anno games of all times: Anno 1404. After the anniversary content, you can look forward to blogs that will tackle the technological marvels of the 19th century. On that note, we are still looking for any 1404 anecdotes from our community. If you have a special, funny or just awesome 1404 moment to share, let us know in the comments below!

Anno 1800 at PC Gaming Show 2018
Last week, Anno 1800’s Executive Producer Burkhard and Community Developer Bastian traveled to Los Angeles to present our game during the PC Gaming Show. To show the game to PC players and strategy fans out there, we revealed our new trailer, kicked off a new Anno Union vote as well as talked about the game, setting and why community feedback matters. However, the PC Gaming Show was only the beginning, as we are looking forward to see Anno Union members and Anno fans at this year’s gamescom 2018.

Save the date: Community Roundtable
The next community roundtable is happening! Meet our community developer and members of our community team to chat about anything Anno 1800 and Anno Union related. Our Annoverse Fan-Discord will host the roundtable session, in which you can join, ask us questions, discuss or just listen to the ongoing conversation.

This time, we will run the two roundtables (one in German and one in English) on two different dates:
Second Anno Union community roundtable German: Monday, June 25th, at 7PM CEST
Second Anno Union community roundtable English: Monday July 2nd, at 7pm CEST

We use Voice Chat to communicate during the roundtable, but you can also ask questions in the chat if you don’t have or want to use a microphone. We will share some further details with the next Union Update.

You are hungry for more Anno or want to get in touch with other Union members and Anno fans out there? Check out our growing Anno fan Discord community: https://discord.gg/V4xhZ8Z

Current vote and availability of the AI ships
Many of you mentioned that they would love to get their hands on every ship and we heard you. We will make sure that you can get the hands of most, if not all, of the special ships via gameplay. While you will not be able to build them in your shipyard, there will be different ways to acquire the ships when playing, if it will be from third party NPC’s or via other features. Do not worry about the variety of ships you can construct, they will cover a lot from sail to steamships and we will share some details when we highlight the while Naval system in a future Union blog.

With the current vote, we want not only to get insights which ship is your favorite (and especially why from gathering your comments), it will decide for which ship we will create a second variant designed by the Anno Union itself. Do not worry about the missing details; we will share some examples and details when the contest starts.

Next focus test has already started!
The next round of our Anno Union focus tests is currently live. We invited a new group with over a dozen Anno Union members to test Anno 1800 inside out while providing daily reports to the development team. If you did not make it into this round, do not worry, we will continue the focus test program throughout the year and will invite bigger groups of players later on.

We heard your feedback that you want more details on what and how focus tests affected the development of Anno 1800. When the current focus test round concludes, we will provide you with a more detailed update about our insights and findings from this session. As always, our “player stories” are a combination between Anno Union blog feedback, discussions in our forum and fan groups as well as detailed feedback from our focus groups.

Anno Union Ship Vote

“If I may say, an excellent day to visit. A lot of new stuff came in only last night… by moonlight. We have all sorts, something for every taste. I can’t just give them away – I have a family to look after! – but we can’t afford to hold on to this stock too long either!”
The Imperial Pride
“Stunning to look at and surprisingly well-armored, this steamer is a showpiece of Imperial power”

We had to pull quite a stunt to snatch it from the empire’s greedy hands. You can tell they have spared neither expense nor effort, from that swanky design to the absurdly powerful steam engine, all wrapped up in enough armor and firepower to make the enemy think twice. As if its teeth weren’t enough, it also has a capacious hold for storage.
The Iron Dragon
“Some like it hot!”

Armed with weapons that spit fire straight from the pits of hell, this beast comes with a monstrous engine and such thick steel plating; you’d wonder how it ever swims. But it swims fine; as we learned the hard way. I’m surprised we managed to get hold of one! Don’t worry though, I’ll get you a discount for all those strange symbols scratched everywhere.
The Black Pearl
“Sailing under the black flag is a commitment to an alternative lifestyle.”

She looks a bit worn, but I’ll get you those sails stitched and decks scrubbed of blood stains. I’ll be honest, this here is one of my favorites: reliable, fast and easy to repair; I often take her for personal use. Doesn’t have the most guns, but she’s quick and deadly. Leaves our enemy regretting they bet their lives on some new-fangled steamer.

Tourist Boat
“A real dandy. For those leading a life of leisure.”

Talking of new-fangled, here is a fashionable paddle steamer. Longing to leave the promenade for a tour around the bay? Here’s your chance. And if for some reason you want a ship with no chance of defending itself, you get a whole host of accessories as compensation. Deck chairs, parasols, and colorful pennants. It’s a proper showboat.
Tug Boat
“I have no idea how it ended up here.”

Ah, the crown jewel of the collection… Okay forget it, we woke up aboard this tug one morning, don’t ask how. She may be small, but she’s mighty, and you should never write off an underdog; especially one with a steam engine, storage enough for a good bit of contraband, and maybe even a nasty surprise or two.

The Anno Union ship vote

Presented here are five ships that are normally reserved for use by various NPC factions in the game. While you won’t be able to construct these AI ships in your shipyard, there will be a chance to acquire some of them during gameplay, such as buying stolen ships from pirates.

Today, we want to know which of these ships is your favorite, before we enter the second stage of our contest.
The second phase will challenge your creativity, as we want you to design a ship variant of the first stage’s winner. Similar to the island contest, you will be able to go all in with ideas, drawings and descriptions of the model variant. Whether you envision a mix of speed and transport space or an interesting combination of weapons of special features, we will gather all your submissions at the end to put the best design ideas up for the second stage of the vote. The winner of that contest will make it as a true community ship into Anno 1800!

The first stage of the vote will be up until July 2nd. After the end of the first phase, we will provide further details about the upcoming ship design contest!

After you hit that vote button, let us know what your favorite of the five concepts is, and why you would like to get your own hands on it in Anno 1800.

Event: Anno 1800 at E3 PC Gaming Show

Watch us next Monday, June 11, at the PC Gaming Show conference E3 2018 to see our new Anno 1800 trailer and get a glimpse into the world of the 19th century.

Executive Producer Burkhard Ratheiser and Community Developer Bastian Thun will not only present Anno 1800 to the audience of the world biggest PC gaming show, they will also talk about our 19th century setting and our community program, the Anno Union.

You can see the show next Monday, June 11 @ 11pm CET, 3pm PT and 6pm ET on twitch.tv/pcgamer

To follow Anno 1800’s E3 adventure, you can keep an eye on @anno_en and @BastianThun on Twitter


DevBlog: User Interface

Hi Annoholics, my name is Khajag Jabaghchourian, and I am one of the UI Designers working on Anno 1800’s user interface. When I joined Ubisoft Blue Byte’s UI team six months ago, it was just in time to get ready for our big UI overhaul project. During the last episode of the AnnoCast, I had the pleasure to chat with you about the style and functionality of our user interface and why that is especially tricky and important when it comes to strategy games such as Anno. Since then, we received some feedback regarding the UI from our community- a great opportunity to invite you all to have a look at the daily work of a UI Designer.

UI and UX in a nutshell
I bet that most of you have heard the term UI before and what seems simple at first glance, is the result of a fairly intricate design process. The UI (short for user interface) is, to put it simply, the first thing a player encounters when interacting with Anno 1800. It consists all of the interface elements of the game, such as buttons, menu windows, and contextual info layers.
The first thing which comes to your mind is probably a variety of colored boxes and icons. This visual layer on top of your gameplay screen hosts all information a player needs in order to understand what is happening and in the next step, enables you to interact with the game via your input commands.
You can say that the UI enables communication between the player and the game, translating the game language for the user and making the players input understandable for the game.

Especially a management game like Anno needs to convey huge amounts of information to the player.
The user experience (UX) ensures the usability and readability of our UI, as we need to make sure that it is easy to understand, gives clear feedback and takes the least possible effort to achieve a task. Think about Anno’s construction menu, where you want to be able to build complex production lines, consisting of many different buildings and materials, with the smallest amount of clicks (interaction) possible. We want you to be able to focus on your gameplay strategy and not distract you with busywork such as browsing through too many windows to figure out which buildings are connected to what production line. The UX basically serves as a blueprint map, defining the steps you need to take until you reach your goal, while the UI consists of all visual elements which accompany you on your journey.

Why is UI/UX design special or important in an Anno game?
For a complex strategy game like Anno 1800, a good UI and UX design can be the maker or breaker when it comes to ensuring a smooth gameplay experience. While units like ships utilize direct interaction with the player, many other interactions happen between the player and the UI.
If you compare it to a typical action game, most interaction usually happens through direct input to an avatar and it’s interaction with its environment. Here, the avatar reacts to your direct controller input such as a quick press of a button to cast a spell. In a strategy game like Anno, it would mean that you have UI elements such as buttons to command the avatar to perform that action.

But it is the huge scale of the management and building aspect what we all love about Anno, right?

One of the challenges is to find an easy solution for understanding the complex information -> as an example: trade routes (loading, unloading, a big list of items, islands, ships etc.). Without functional design, controlling a complex strategy game can easily overwhelm the player rather than providing an exciting gameplay experience.

And to achieve that goal, we have to prioritize functional design over the artistic touch. As our form follows the function, we can reduce the cognitive and physical workload for the player.

The Anno 1800 UI design
For Anno 1800, we decided on a clean design, including only a minimal amount of ornamentation, materials, and textures. Our focus was on preserving the functionality in our designs, aiming for a more contemporary and refined look that fits our “industrial revolution” setting. We want it to be easy on the eyes of the player, allowing fast access to all needed information. If there are too many visual elements, the UI itself would start competing with the actual game for the player’s attention; such distractions that quickly start hurting the gameplay flow. Talking about the colors, we decided for darker colors for the HUD (heads-up display). As the HUD is constantly visible, bright and flashy color schemes could quickly become tiring for the eyes and also steal too much attention from the actual gameplay screen.
For pop up information or notifications windows, on the other hand, we picked a brighter color to draw the immediate attention of the player.

Let’s start creating
Okay, so far so good, but how do we actually create our UI and UX design? When we start working on a new UI element, Game Design provides us all the gameplay information and details about the game logic we need to make accessible for the player. We discuss which details are the most important information the player needs to know and what tasks they need to be able to perform within the interface element. The trade route menu is again a really good example, as you need to be able to see all the needed information about your ships, the routes, goods, islands and what kind of orders you can give on the different destinations.

In the next step, we grab a pen and some paper and start sketching out so called wireframes, which serve as a blueprint. This wireframe holds all information about the functionality and the flow of the menus, which further allows us to create interactive prototypes to actually test the UX.
When we are confident that the wireframes are working, we can start on the actual visual UI elements. This means creating mock-ups, defining the text and color style as well as the shapes we want to use. Concept Art from our art department serves here as an inspiration and a visual guideline. The UI team has also dedicated Icon Designers, who support us by designing and producing the icons we need for our UI. That can be something simple like a specific button or something complex like the tourist ferry timer we have shown during the last stream.

From mockups to final assets, we usually use programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as well as After Effects for animations.

Once we have a functional wireframe, including all the boxes and visual elements we need, it’s implementation time! For that, we will discuss the technical requirements with our programming team.
They will then go ahead and build a working skeleton for our UI. In the final step, we make final preparations for the design and then apply it on the skeleton, to implement our UI into the game.

We need your input!
We hope we were able to give you a good understanding of Anno’s intricate UI/UX design, and why it is of such importance for strategy games. Up to the release of the game, we will continue to work and improve our interface but one of our challenges is a lack of community feedback, as the UI is something many players take as a given but rarely discuss in detail.

And here is where the Anno Union comes into play: we would love to get your feedback on our current state of the UI, as seen in the stream and on this blog. Is the overall look satisfying? Is there something from previous Anno games you especially liked about the UI? What is of most importance to you for an exciting and functional Anno 1800 user interface?

Our team is looking forward to your feedback!

Union Update: Next vote ahead!

For the first Union Update for the month of June, we want to share some details about upcoming Union content.
During the last episode of our AnnoCast, we were able to present you Anno 1800’s UI design. From design to functionality, many of you shared their feedback and questions and our UI Design team would like to invite you this week to give you exclusive insights into their design and thought process.

Next week will be a little bit different, as we won’t have a classic DevBlog or Union Update. However, we have something exciting up our sleeves: the first stage of our next Union vote!
We don’t want to leave you fully in the dark, of course, so we can tease that it has something to do with ships and will give you some interesting insights about another third party character in Anno 1800.

Beyond that, you can also expect some new anniversary content for one of the most beloved Anno games in June. Can you believe that it has been 9 years already since 1404 set sail for the first time? Let us see what kind of fond memories and old anecdotes we can gather from our team. And as always we want to hear from you!
What are your personal best Anno 1404 moments, anecdotes or funny stories you remember?

With the engineer’s blog, we moved from the early years of the industrial era to the second wave of the revolution. Naturally, we want to highlight some of the wonders of that time, when the old age passed the torch to a new era. Finally, you can expect the reveal of the fifth and last residential tier as well.

Before we head over to today’s community Q&A, we have one more update for you. We plan to bring you the second community roundtable at the end of this month, this time with two different sessions for our International and German community. The roundtable is an event where we invite everyone from our community to an Anno Union voice chat session to talk about the Union, the game and its fans.
We will share the exact details and dates with you soon!

Community Q&A

Will you be scattering little easter eggs across 1800 like you did in previous games?
Answer: Some of you folks have a keen eye and were able to spot some easter eggs already.
Our developers love to sneak smaller and bigger details and easter eggs into the game. Fun fact: We do not even know how many of them will be in the game, as our developers themselves keep it secret.

Will street networks be realistically simulated, so that pedestrians and carts can cause congestions?
Answer: The distance travelled on your street network will play a role in the transport of goods in Anno 1800. Production buildings will calculate the most effective way to get goods either from another production building or from the warehouse. As goods are physically represented in the game world, transporting carts will need to queue up in front of your warehouse in order to load or unload the materials. This can, if your street and warehouse network is not optimized, lead to traffic jams in front of the loading/unloading areas.
We had our own development blog dedicated to the logistic system, which you can check out here: LINK

Will the attractiveness of a city affect the productivity of some buildings like in Anno 2070?
Answer: Attractiveness itself will not affect the productivity of your industry. The new feature will support beauty builders with meaningful gameplay while also adding a new economic layer to the game. However, we do not want to force players, who want to concentrate on their industry, to use the city attractiveness if they don’t want to.

Will it be possible to fast forward time like in 1404, so that the visuals and gameplay will run noticeably faster? (Anno 2205’s fast forward was too slow).
Answer: You will be able to fast-forward the gameplay but the exact parameters are not final yet. With Anno, we always have to find a balance between comfort and usability. Especially with all the different gameplay loops of an Anno game, combined in a large game world and economic simulation, forwarding gameplay too fast would lead to issues. Think about all the things you need to keep track such as complex production chains, economic balance, AI behaviour of your opponents or potential city incidents.

What I would love to see in an upcoming blog are some insights about the soundtrack of the game, if this kind of blog isn’t already in the works or even ready to go. The music in Anno games was for me, especially in the older titles, one of the important factors, which pushed the game experience.
Answer: We are aware that you folks love the Anno music and are curious how we design and create sounds for an Anno game. We are currently working on DevBlogs related to audio design and soundtrack but these blogs take some preparation time.

Will tourists just come out of nothing or arriving from different islands? Will it be possible to make use of a sea blockade to cut your opponent off from tourist ships?
Answer: Tourist ships will enter the map and then travel around the session, stopping at any visitor harbour on the map and drop visitors based on the specific attractiveness level of a city. There will be ways to affect the tourism of an opponent’s island, keep an eye on the Union for future details.

I would like to raise something based on the previous gameplay tours through the cityscape of the game. The small people, which run around the various places, are comically huge in the farthest zoom level. I mean sure, you want to be able to identify them but it would make more sense and help the atmosphere if the residents would be small.
Answer: The not realistic proportions in Anno are a deliberate choice, as visual feedback units are not only an important part of the atmosphere; they play an important part in the readability of the game. On one side, you want that the game gives you the feeling of creating a lively city, on the other side need players to be able to get important basic game information when observing feedback units.
However, the current ratios are not final yet and we got a lot of feedback from the community. Rest assured that we will modify the proportions to be more in line with the classic Anno appearance you are familiar with.