- Anno 1800
DevBlog: Amusements Pack Cosmetic DLC
Hey Anno Community,
Today we want to take you a bit behind the scenes and magic of your very own future amusement park, which will open its doors next week thanks to the release of the eponymous “Amusements Pack” Cosmetic DLC.
Before we dive into the process of bringing these new ornaments to life, let us go far afield to talk about ornamentation and the concept of Cosmetic DLCs in general. One thing that makes the Anno community so special is that the games manage to attract many different types of players, who all manage to carve out enjoyable niches within the games’ plethora of systems to find what they are looking for. Traditionally, two of the most prominent tendencies within the community have been the min-max-ers who don’t mind their citizens living in abject squalor as long as they can manage to cram just a few thousand more onto an island to reach that next record- and then there are the self-styled “beauty builders” who use Anno games as interactive dioramas to realize their wildest modelmaking fantasies without too much worry about the efficiency of it all.
When coming up with ideas for our post-launch strategy and DLCs, we always have these different playstyles in mind, and try to think up with new content that will offer something for everyone. Both of our currently available Season 2 DLCs, “Seat of Power” and “Bright Harvest” are good examples of this philosophy, as they offer new gameplay mechanics for the economically-invested crowd, and add stunning new sights to the beauty builder’s toolbox.
The downside is of course that such fully featured DLCs will take several months to develop, which inevitably means that there are always some lulls between new Anno 1800 content coming out. This is where Cosmetic DLCs come in, as they allow us to deliver some new Anno 1800 content in-between the major DLCs. Where a DLC like Land of Lions takes months of work from a sizeable team, the Cosmetic DLCs will take a few artists a couple of weeks to design and implement. This also gives us the opportunity to create some strongly thematic content that may not appeal to everyone (for example, anyone who is not into Christmas themes id unlikely to enjoy the Holiday Pack).
This is also why we do not include the Cosmetic DLC Packs in the Season Passes, as we do not want to drive up the price with content that we know won’t appeal to a big part of the community (the min-max’ers). That is why we think that an à la carte approach is the best way to go with the cosmetic packs, allowing everyone to get exactly the content they want to see in their cities.
These were some of the considerations we had in mind when we came up with the Holiday Pack last December, which was the first such DLC for Anno 1800. Following its release, a few things quickly became clear from your feedback: 1) Anno players love more ornaments but would 2) prefer content that would feel right at home throughout the year, rather than just in the run-up to the Holidays. We also immediately received lots of feedback and long wishlists for future cosmetic packs (these lists were the origin of the agricultural and industrial ornaments that were added to the Bright Harvest DLC).
As a next step, we took this list of community ideas to our artists to see where they saw the potential for a nice themed pack of 15-25 ornaments (depending on their size and scope), and to check the feasibility. For example, we saw a lot of players asking for some form of harbor ornaments, and we actually did some technical tests to see what form these could take, but found the idea clashing with the general lack of harbor front building space.
In the end, the team came away with three topics that we could see making for visually interesting Cosmetic DLCs: a circus, general props for urban life, and the amusement park. With this list, we decided that it would be cool to give the Anno Union who has been so supportive of the game throughout its development the choice of which pack we should tackle next.
That’s why we launched our latest Anno Union vote in April, to give you all the deciding vote between the tentatively named “Bustling City Life, “Trip to the Big Top” and “A Day at the Amusements” DLCs. Of course, every one on the team had their own favorite they were rooting for, so rest assured that we kept close tabs on the voting, and every change at the top of the polls was immediately shared in various chats! In the end, the Amusements Pack took the day, with the slimmest of margins over the City Life Pack.
With that decision out of the way, our artists immediately got to work on ideas, starting with a series of quick concept scribbles. These sketches are intended to quickly produce a wide range of potential ideas, allowing the team to get a feeling for what things could look like inside the game.
When selecting which scribbles, we want to take to the next stage, we consider a few things:
- Player fantasy: What are things that players expect based on the chosen topic? For example, it was obvious from the start that the Amusements Pack should include a ferris wheel, so we even put it into the artwork for the vote.
- Variety: We want our Cosmetic DLCs to have a good mix between different sizes of ornaments, to give players flexibility in how they can use them. In general, we want to have 1-2 big showpieces (like the Holiday’s Pack’s merry-go-round), a few medium sized ornaments, and several versatile small ornaments you can use to fill any gaps between other buildings.
- General fit: Despite rumors of an alleged first-person mode, Anno is of course played from an isometric perspective. This is of course also something we need to keep in mind, as not everything that looks cool when standing before it in real-life will translate well into an isometric game perspective.
It was during this phase that the idea for a rollercoaster as the second centerpiece of the DLC alongside the ferris wheel first came about, with everyone loving the idea of having such a massive ornament (one of the biggest in Anno history).
Next come the first rough 3d models for the chosen concepts. While very rough around the edges and untextured, they give the team a good feeling for how well they fit into the game world, and alongside already existing buildings and ornaments (see #3 in the list above). Once an idea passes this final hurdle, it is in for good, and we can get to finishing and polishing to be ready for its grand debut in the game.
Of course, it would not be Anno if the world weren’t bustling with life, so of course the Cosmetic DLC packs also call for some customized feedback units. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “feedback unit” is our internal term for any kind of citizen walking around your city to give you visual feedback for how things are going (like the groups of tourists gathering around the rarest zoo exhibits). For example, our Christmas market from the Holiday Pack just would not have been the same if the man himself, Santa Claus, hadn’t been making an appearance in it!
Once all ornaments and their respective feedback units are finished, all that is left to do is to create the thumbnails for the construction menu to allow you to place these all over your burgeoning industrial empires, which is where our UI team comes in to help get the DLC over the finishing line. Speaking of the build menu, some of you may be curious about what exactly is included in the Amusements Pack? If so, look no further:
- Ferris Wheel
- Ticket Booth
- Ice Cream Stand
- Cotton Candy Stand
- Tin Can Alley
- Shooting Game
- Food Stand
- Beverages Stand
- Strongman Game
- Face in Hole
- Barrel Organ Player
- Balloon Seller
- Portrait Painter
- “Welcome” Gate (with a second variation of it)
- Bar Table
And the best thing is that you won’t have to wait very long at all for your very own amusement park to open, as our second Cosmetic DLC will already be out on August 11, at 6pm CEST/ 12pm EDT/ PDT, for a price of 4,99€/$.
There is one last question to cover, and that is the “Bustling City Life” Pack, which put up a very brave effort in our Anno Union vote and came in an extremely close second. We have been receiving lots of questions about the possibility of doing this second pack as well ever since. The answer is that we would love to do so! Should the Amusements Pack prove to be as popular with players as we all hope, we would be very excited to do the City Life Pack for you all for release after Land of Lions, towards the end of the year, including a small pond with pedal boats to help your citizens cool down in the heat. For now, we cannot wait to see all our beautiful screenshots of the Amusements Pack next week!
The Anno Team