DevBlog: A trip to the zoo!
We are spoiled something rotten. A Zoological Gardens has opened in Bright Sands!
Of course, we girls had no expectation of being allowed in, but impetuous curiosity led me to peek through a breach in the perimeter hedge. I gasped, glimpsing a flash of some living creature, carrot pink. “What can it possibly be?” I said aloud.
“That madam, would be a flamingo,” a kind-faced gentleman interjected, ushering us toward an arched entrance-way. “Are we to be allowed inside?” I startled. “This is no royal sideshow,” he said, “no gift from a King to his Queen, for her eyes alone. These natural wonders are for the pleasure and wonder of us all.”
We’d have parted with every penny we had to cross into that secret garden, and those first few moments within were among the most wondrous of my short life. “What long necks!”, “Over there, with the tusks!”, “How much larger they are in person!” we exclaimed, heads swimming with the novelty of so many creatures, bright and bold.
It was with Blake’s poem in mind that we cautiously approached the house of the tiger. “Are any of these animals… dangerous?” I said, to which our wicked guide replied, “oh, all the best ones.”
Remarkably the zoo even keeps Seagulls— forgive me, Herring Gulls (our guide was most insistent on that topic). To see common vermin under the microscope made me think twice. All living things can be both beautiful and interesting!
Save for the unspeakable bottoms of the baboons (forgive me grand-mama), the zoo is quite possibly the most attractive feature of this already magnificent city. Henceforth, I should be very surprised if visitors do not begin to arrive from the Bright Sands ferries in their thousands.
More postcards sure to follow!
Your little tourist.
Cities in Anno used to consist of a limited number of building types: residences, farms, production buildings, monuments and a few public edifices. Since the islands are bigger in Anno 1800, we want to ensure that cities are not be dominated by repetitive patterns of buildings and that they also reflect all aspects of life in the 19th century. With the rise of the working class as one of the defining factors in this dawn of the modern age, this shifting society discovered a new lust for knowledge, culture and entertainment. In our second DevBlog about the new city attractiveness feature, our tourist guide and game designer Natacha will take you on a trip to the zoo.
We briefly touched on the concept of visitors in our last two DevBlogs. This time, we want to give these highly welcome guests to our island paradise a bit more attention. But before you can open your city gates for curious visitants, you first have to construct an all-new building in Anno 1800: the visitor’s harbor (congratulations to those Union members wo speculated about the addition of such a building in the comments on our previous blog!). The visitor harbor is unlocked with the Artisan tier, providing not only s scenic addition to your shoreline, but also an ideal destination for visitor ferries. Whenever one of these special ships decides to lower anchor at your island, a group of excitement-craving tourists will depart the ship and swarm your island; their exact number is both dependent on your city’s attractiveness, as well as the size of the ship, as bigger ferries can naturally carry more visitors. This follows the simple rules of supply and demand; the more attractive your city is, the more visitors will want to come and see it, leading to larger ships arriving at your harbor.
Besides this regular cadence of visits, certain special events – like the grand opening of the world fair – will lead to additional ferries dropping by. And who could blame them for not wanting to miss such a spectacular occasion in your metropolis?
Once on land, visitors will start strolling around your city and flock to the available attractions. While taking in the sights and breathing the atmosphere of your city, they will also be more than happy to part with some of their cash, making for a profitable business for the city.
If your city’s attractiveness level drops, visitors may decide to leave again. If they are especially disappointed with how your city turned out, they may gather in a spot complain and make it abundantly clear to you what they really think of your island. As you know, we are big fans of having visual feedback delivered to you right inside the game world. This visual feedback is not just eye candy, but also helpful for you to see which parts of your town attract the most visitors.
But there is yet more! Ferries can also bring special visitors to your island. Original drawn in by your reputation as a cultural sanctum or an entertainment hot spot, they may decide to permanently settle and offer their services to you. A high city attractiveness level has therefore a chance to give you access to some exceptional specialist characters (as covered in last week’s DevBlog).
Can we go to the zoo now?
One of our core goals when we first started thinking about the city attractiveness feature was to support beauty builders with satisfying and meaningful gameplay mechanics. We know that many of our Annoholics love to channel their creative energy into some of the cultural buildings, like the palace in Anno 1404. So it was obvious that we would need some large-scale objects in Anno 1800 that players could sink their teeth and creativity into.
Our first idea was to provide a new type of cultural building, which still had to be a true eye catcher in your city. We developed a shortlist of criteria these buildings would have to fulfill: they had to capture the spirit and atmosphere of the 19th century, should be highly customizable to allow players freedom in how they use them, incorporate our items and, most importantly, should be satisfying to see in your city
Not only did the Zoo check all these boxes, but it would also provide a real hotspot for activity and visual feedback inside your city. The mix of open spaces for visitors and various animal enclosures are perfectly suited for a modular building approach, and could offer a lot of visual variety to builders taking their time to craft a unique looking zoo.
Our zoo opens its gates
The zoo will become available to players during the Artisan tier. As a first step, you will have to build the zoo’s entrance gates; given the zoo’s highly modular approach, you should make sure to safe enough space for later expansions. With the gate constructed, you can start placing the first animal enclosures. These can be freely placed, as long as they are connected to the gate, or another enclosure. In the spirit of beauty building, you should also make sure to leave some space for ornament and decorations between them!
Each enclosure can hold one type of animal, and the module will not only update with a visual feedback representation of the slotted item, but the whole enclosure module will visually change, fitting its respective inhabitant. This goes beyond biomes such as meadows or desert landscapes, with certain animals instead being housed in specific buildings or water basins. Of course, your citizens and visitors alike will flock to the most exotic animals on display, as tigers are naturally more exciting to watch than sheep. Here you will once again be able to use the visual feedback to see what visitors find most appealing about your zoo.
Gotta catch them all
On your hunt for the most exotic of animals, you might end up with quite a collection of different specimen. The gate building serves as a general zoo menu, giving you an overview of all currently equipped items/ animals.
There are some additional functionalities with the entrance buildings, such as the ability to create item sets out of specific types of animals, which once completed and equipped will provide certain buffs for your zoo. Furthermore, some items will provide specific titles for your zoo but we will also allow you to choose a name of your liking. Natasha’s National Zoo has a nice ring to it, right?
We are curious!
The visitors and the zoo building are a visually rewarding addition to the game, which is also embedded into the core gameplay in various ways. But as we like to end on a speculative note: the zoo won’t be the only large scale project to give your island a very personal touch. Beside the world exhibition, we are working on a second project, which will make use of modules, items and the attractiveness feature. We want to keep some secrets for later, so we will just say that it will reflect another area of great interest to the people of the 19th century.
As always, we would like to get as much feedback about the visitor and zoo features as possible. City attractiveness is a vast feature with many different intertwining elements but also something new to the series, so we are curious about your feedback and suggestions in the comments below.