DevBlog: “Vibrant Cities Pack” Cosmetic DLC

In the past weeks we have shared some teasers after the Reddit Community challenged us. Now it is time for a deep dive into the upcoming Cosmetic DLC, Vibrant Cities Pack!

This is the second Skins Pack released for Anno 1800, with the first being the Vehicle Liveries Pack last Spring.

Why the Vibrant Cities Pack? – you might ask. In Spring 2021, we opened the votes for five possible Cosmetic DLC. The choice was in your hands, and the Vibrant Cities Pack resulted to be the winner of the poll together with the Pedestrian Zone Pack. What a great combo, don’t you think?

With this brand new Cosmetic DLC, we will add some great skins to Anno 1800, that will make your cities look livelier and more vibrant than ever: three new skins for each residence building of each resident tier.

“We wanted to create different skin sets and some new models as variations. So, introducing it on the residence buildings was the logic step because these are the most important and most frequently placed building in every city.”

– Tim, Lead Artist

In total, the pack includes 69 skins – three new skins per building model of each population tier (Tiers 1, 2 and 3 each have four models, Tier 4 has six models and Tier 5 has six models, each receiving three new skins). Furthermore, the skins can be divided into four different themes.

Different themes

Now, let’s have a look at the different themes that will be available in the Cosmetic DLC.

Colourful Theme (Tier 1-5)
A great way to make your city pop with some pastel colours. Whether you like blue, red, green, pink, or orange… feel free to use all of them to experiment and express your creativity. This theme will be available for Tier 1-5.

Brick Theme (Tier 1-5)

If you prefer to go with a more “classic” look for your cities, then the brick theme is the one for you. It is something you see often on old buildings in American cities (like Boston, for example). Just like the colourful theme, the brick one will be available for Tier 1-5.

Inverted Theme (Tier 1-3)

This theme can be considered as a counterpart of the unique and new looks, like the Colourful Theme for example. It uses the same materials and colours as the regular asset, but in an inverted way. The roof colour is swapped with the colour of the walls. In this way you will be able to add more variation to the regular buildings, without changing their look too much.

Casino Theme (Tier 4 and 5)

Did anyone say neon signs? Oh yes. But first, a bit of a history class: neon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay in 1889, while the first neon sign was installed outside a barber shop in Paris in 1912. By the 1920s-1930s the first neon signs started glowing in the streets of Las Vegas. Well, now it is time for you to make your Anno 1800 cities shine with some bright and colourful neon lights. The Casino theme will only be available for Tier 4 and 5 residence buildings.

Eager to know more? Tim, our Lead Artist, answered our questions and let us have a peek behind the scenes of this Cosmetic DLC:

In terms of creation workflow, what is the difference between ornaments and skins?

With regular skins we provide texture variations for the already existing assets in the game. Therefore, we create new texture maps (diffuse, normal maps etc.) for these buildings. For the new marketplace variations for example, the workflow is quite the same as for the ornaments, for which we create completely new assets based on our Concept Art.

Speaking of inspiration and reference, have you looked at something specific?

For the colourful theme for example, you can find colourful houses all around the world: Burano (Venice, Italy) or La Boca (Argentina). Also, a lot of old fishing villages are often very colourful.

How did you decide on the different styles for the themes?

For the different themes, we wanted to have some unique ones, like the colourful skin for example, and some themes that add slightly different variations, to make sure you can decide how unique you want your city to be.

Now on a more personal note, what is your favourite skin?

I like the colourful skin the most. This really brings a very new and fresh look to your cities.

The marketplace

Last but not least – yes, there is even more! – three new alternative models for the Marketplace have been added, more fitting to Tier 1, 4 and 5.

The original Marketplace we have in the game is a great asset, but it did not work too good in the late game from a visual point of view, especially with the content of The High Life DLC, like the Skyscrapers. With the new Marketplace alternative models, we wanted to create new markets that fits every tier, from the farmer’s Market to the city Market Hall.

The Vibrant Cities Pack will be available for purchase for the usual 4,99€ (or your regional equivalent) starting from December 14th.

We cannot wait to see your cities come to life with the Vibrant Cities Pack Cosmetic DLC. If you have further questions related to the Cosmetic DLC, feel free to ask them in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or our official Forums.

Happy city-building!

Union Update: Cosmetic DLC, Green Game Jam and Anno 1602 in Minecraft

Hello Anno Community,

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the year – only 5 days until December, how is that possible? As Annoholics, there is no better way to get ourselves prepared for the end of 2021 than looking at our end of the year plans. It is time to dive into this Union Update to find out more!

GU 13, Green Game Jam & CDLC Vibrant Cities Pack

Save the date, Annoholics: on December 14th, Game Update 13 will be released! This free update will include several more quality of life improvements and bug fixes. You might be wondering: is that all there is? And the answer is, of course, no. Game Update 13 will also include a new game mode and there is our brand new Cosmetic DLC, Vibrant Cities Pack, releasing alongside it.

Vibrant Cities Pack is the second Skins Pack released for Anno 1800, and the third and last Cosmetic DLC for this year. The theme for this CDLC was chosen by the Anno Community during our Community Vote, together with the Pedestrian Zone Pack that was released back in September. Would you like to know more about the upcoming Cosmetic DLC? Fear not, Annoholics! Next week we will have a full DevBlog dedicated to it. Visit the Anno Union on December 2nd for a full overview!

Last, as you might already know, back in June we announced our participation in the Green Game Jam, and our “sustainable cities” concept ended up winning the UNEP Choice Award! If you would like to know more about this new mode, then do not miss our Green Game Jam Overview that we will share here on the Anno Union on December 6th.

And, of course, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook channels if you do not want to miss some juicy teasers of the upcoming content!

End of the Year Livestream

Another date to add to your calendars: on December 6th we will be live on Twitch! This time to present you the Green Game Jam mode, the Cosmetic DLC Vibrant Cities Pack, and much more! Tune in if you do not want to miss our news and a chance to hang out with the Anno Team.

Community Spotlight

Finally, our favourite part of every Union Update – the Community Spotlight!

Our first pick is this glorious Megabuild Timelapse video by HappySheep242 shared on YouTube. Minecraft ft. Anno 1602? We do not need to add anything else, go check it out!

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Another video, but this one is a great guide created by Itroo Twitch. It is a three-part guide that focuses on the Stores you get access to with The High Life DLC. We are sure many of you will find this super helpful!

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SouthRefrigerator553 shared this amazing collection of screenshots dedicated to New York City – we are blown away by the beauty and accuracy of this creation. Bravo!

Finally, here is a celebratory post for vonWistalia who, after ten years, finally beat all maps with 3 stars on Anno 1701 on Nintendo DS. Congrats!

That is all for today’s Union Update. We hope you are excited as we are for our End of the Year plans. If you have any question, do not hesitate to ask them in the comments below.

DevBlog: The Anno Engine

Last week we celebrated Anno 1701’s 15th anniversary! With it being the first Anno title developed here at Ubisoft Mainz (back then still Related Designs) and marking the start of a series of Anno titles developed by us, we thought it’s a good time to talk about what’s powering all the Anno games since 2006: The Anno Engine. 

For this purpose, we acquired the help of our colleagues Frank (Senior 3D Programmer) and Jan (Gameplay Programmer). 

 

Before we dive a bit into the history and developments of the Anno Engine, we should first clear up one big question: What, by Old Nate’s beard, actually is a “game engine”? 

Game Engine Definition 

The game engine is one of the key technologies that our developers rely on to bring all different game elements together and build the overall experience. You can think of it as a platform or framework containing toolsets for integrating elements like audio, graphics, physics simulation, AI, networking (i.e. multiplayer) gameplay code and turn all of them into a playable game. 

Here assets from various other tools are brought together, e.g., all kinds of different audio files, 3D models, textures, etc., and transformed. Usually, the engine also provides you with tools to create different types of assets (in our case we have “Bob” for adding effects, assigning textures and animations as well as configuring the 3D models, as well as the Anno Editor to create islands) which the engine can then use. 

Without a game engine, the development would have to start from scratch each time. And when we’re saying, “from scratch”, we really mean it. Every single logic would need to be created first. Now we can rely on some basic functionalities we will always need, like drag & drop functionalities, water physics, etc.  

An example from another genre would be, for example, that you don’t need to program each time how a character jumps. Just need to tell your character to jump when button X is pressed. The jumping with animations and physics is already in the engine – you just have to provide the character who does the action and the level to jump in. 

We only talked about video games so far, but can such an engine also be used for non-gaming-related things? 

But yes! Game Engines are probably most famously used by (amateur) movie creators to either create whole animated movies or add visual effects. A well-known candidate here would be the Unreal Engine and you can find quite a few examples for that e.g. on YouTube, like this student project here involving dancing birds (a student project from 2019 from students of the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt). 

A big advantage of using a Game Engine is that it allows for real-time rendering of assets, meaning you can directly adjust, change and add elements and immediately see the results. Using a rendering software (like most big-budget productions) means having to wait for the rendering process to finish before seeing the whole scene in action. 

There certainly are more possible applications, e.g. simulations, visualization of building projects and more.

Another point that’s often discussed when talking about Game Engines is the “graphics quality”. 

Is a game automatically beautifully looking just because it was developed in engine X? Which elements are relevant for visual fidelity?

Yes, to a certain degree the respective engine is responsible for it because of the features and assets it provides.  Those can be things like: 

  • The number of objects it can handle (e.g. in one level, on screen at the same time, …) 
  • The shader and illumination effects (e.g. raytracing, ambient occlusion, global illumination, …)  
  • The quality of the texture streaming (i.e. the resolution of textures as well as the loading and unloading of textures. Bad streaming leads to, for example, texture taking longer to load, first displaying a low-res variant when walking through a level before the high-res version appears.) 
  • Animations (e.g. combining different animations for a smooth result) and particle effects (e.g. from explosions, sandstorms, …) 

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the use of the engine (related to: How well does the developer know the engine and its features?) and the choice of art style also impact what’s often generalized as “graphics quality”. On top of that, the individual user’s hardware and the chosen graphic settings of course also impact the player’s experience. 

Finally, you most likely have heard about other game engines, the two most famous ones probably being Unreal and Unity. This leads us to the question: 

Are some engines better for certain types of games? Could we also create a racing game with our Anno Engine?  

It’s first important to note that big engines are often built to support different kinds of games and styles, while the ones from smaller studios – like ours – are very much built around their specific mechanics and requirements. For example, our engine has to deal with constant changes to the level (things getting built, demolished, transferred, etc. ) as well as masses of objects (displaying a lot of houses, street tiles, etc.). 

Other genres like racing or a roleplaying game are not something the Anno Engine is built for: There’s no support for systems like clothing/equipment for characters or physics effects required for car handling. Additionally, the rendering of the game world is set for a high-up camera perspective, not a first-person view: First-person or third-person games can optimize their engine differently, since for them it’s fine to only render the currently visible objects (albeit in higher resolution), while our game has to be prepared for the player to quickly switch different places in the level (or even to entirely different levels/regions), meaning objects have to stay readily accessible in the memory. 

The Anno Engine 

Now that we cleared up what a game engine is and what it does, it’s time take a look at the Anno Engine itself – how did it come to be? 

Let’s go a bit back in time: While Anno 1701 was the first Anno title the team here at Ubisoft Mainz (back then still: Related Designs) developed, the team had created several strategy games before. So, there was a basis from which to work from, especially since their previous title (Castle Strike, have a look) already was a 3D game – in contrast to the first two Anno titles. 

The team built on this foundation for Anno 1701  – using a variety of new shade techniques like e.g. what the team called the “Schön-Shader” (beauty shader) – and has done so ever since.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, an engine is like a collection of different tools – and those can also be separately updated, for example, to support new technologies. And while we have been calling it the “Anno Engine” a few times already in this article, this is actually not quite right: Officially, our engine does not even have a name, even though the idea to name it in some way was discussed a few times over the years. A few tools inside the engine have their own names, though, as briefly mentioned earlier.

We already mentioned above in which ways our engine is specialized to fit the requirements of an Anno game. But, of course, we’re already regularly updating our various tools to make the Anno Engine ready for the challenges of our respective next project. 

Bigger changes and updates are usually not added to the live version of one of our games, instead our teams are looking out for and testing new features to be added later, for the next project. To a certain degree, each Game Update is a minor update to the engine, though, when we’re adding new features or further optimizations. 

Improvements are usually proposed by members of the team, even if the final decision lies with the team leads as well as the production team. 

Updates can be improvements to solve issues we noticed during production (e.g. making it easier for artists to add their assets to the engine, adding new illumination/light effects) or other usability improvements and the support for new technologies (e.g. GPU features like tessellation or AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution. 

Do you have some more examples?

For 2205 specifically, we greatly reworked the terrain system which then allowed for massive mountain systems and generally more detailed environments. Since back then we’re also using external programs (e.g. World Machine and Mudbox) to make the work of our Level Artists easier. 

If you played Anno 2205 and Anno 1800 you probably also noticed the changes to the session system: Switching between the different regions in Anno 1800 is almost instant and without loading screen – with the downside of the game always having these other sessions “ready”, as described further above. 

Whenever the team is planning to do major engine updates, it is also important to keep in mind those changes can affect other teams as well. For example, changes to the terrain system (e.g. uneven terrain) might have an impact on Game Design topics like street connections (can they still connect everywhere on the building?). 

We hope you enjoyed this excursion behind the scenes of Anno!  

Do you have questions to any of the points of today’s article? Maybe you have worked on some projects of your own, maybe with Unity or Unreal? Let us know in the comments. 

Union Update: Ubi35 and this week’s DevBlog

Hey Anno Community, 

Let us share a few news in this week’s Union Update! 

 

Join the Ubi35 celebrations! 

Ubisoft is turning 35 this year! To celebrate the occasion, you can expect events, gifts and other celebrations for many of its brands. 

Keep an eye on the Ubisoft Store for sales on Anno 1800 and its DLC as well as the History Editions – and participate in the contest to win 1000€ worth in Ubisoft Wallet credit. 

You can also expect Free Weekends and giveaways for many Ubisoft titles over the following weeks. 

To find out more, head to the Ubi35 website! 

 

We’re additionally having our own anniversaries, with Anno 1701 and Ann 1503 celebrating last week. And with Anno 2205 and Anno 2070 we still have two futuristic candidates coming up!

Anno 1701 Ship Skin

And as part of those celebrations, we released an Anno 1701 themed skin for the Ship of the Line for Anno 1800 last Tuesday to celebrate the game’s 15th annoversary! Have a look at it below:

We have received some reports of the skin not unlocking for all players and are currently looking into this problem. Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

DevBlog: The Anno Engine

We have a special DevBlog this week where we’ll dive into the technical foundation of the game with two of our programmers: What is a game engine? Will the next Anno be a racing game? And how do we update our engine?

Stay tuned for Thursday!

Anno 2205 compatibility update

Finally, we want to let you know that on Thursday, November 4th, we will release a minor update for the Ubisoft+ version of Anno 2205 to provide compatibility with the latest Intel CPUs.
Just to prevent any confusion when you notice the download 😉

Let’s not forget, that Wednesday also marks the 6th annoversary of this futuristic Anno!

Union Update: Anno 1701 and a first small teaser

Anno 1701 Annoversary 

On Tuesday we celebrated a special anniversary for our studio: 15 years ago we released our very first Anno game: Anno 1701. 

With the previous two games developed by Austrian developer MAX Design, the opportunity to work on an existing series was an exciting one. Anno 1701 also marked the first 3D entry of the series and many probably remember it for its campaign (The Sunken Dragon) and the marketplace which portrayed not only the progress of your city, but also its mood. 

While we changed our studio’s name since 2006 from Related Designs to Ubisoft Blue Byte and now Ubisoft Mainz, we’re still happily developing Anno games. 

 

As a little surprise to celebrate the occasion, we released an Anno 1701 themed skin for your Ship of the Line in Anno 1800. It’s available for everyone, just select one of these ships and click the customize button. 

More Annoversary News 

Unfortunately, however, we have to cancel the Anno 1701 live stream planned for tomorrow (Friday). The streams for Anno 2205 (November 5th) and Anno 2070 (November 19th) are still happening as planned, and we will inform you of the precise times closer to these dates. 

 

Anno 1701 is not the only game celebrating its annoversary this week, however: On Sunday, Anno 1503 turns 19! It was the second game in the Anno series and probably famous for its hard initial difficulty and the use of individual market stalls to sell various products to your citizens. It also introduced different biomes on its map and added a large number of different scenarios for all kinds of playstyles. 

 

What was your first entry to the Anno series? 

“Vibrant Cities Pack” Teaser 

Following a “quest” from Reddit user Rooonaldooo99 we released a first small teaser for Cosmetic DLC #6 on Twitter earlier today. 

Of course we also want to share it here: 

You can expect more details on the Cosmetic DLC as well as our remaining content for this year in late November.

Union Update – Annoversary Weeks, Mainzframe & Community Spotlight

Hello Anno Community, 

This week we would like to give you some *juicy* teasers of what is going to happen in the next few weeks. What are we talking about? Annoversary Weeks, of course! Let’s see what we have planned to celebrate in the next few weeks. 

Annoversary Weeks 

Exciting times, Annoholics! We are about to enter a period that marks different anniversaries… Annoversaries, as we call them! Four of our beloved Anno titles were released between October and November in the past years. Let’s go through them all with order. 

19 years ago, on 31 October 2002, Anno 1503 was released. Developed by MAX Design and published by Sunflower Interactive, it is the second title of the Anno franchise and a direct sequel to Anno 1602. 

Four years after Anno 1503, another title was released: Anno 1701. The 26 October marks the 15th Annoversary of this gem. It was developed by Related Designs, that – spoiler alert – is now known as Ubisoft Mainz. This makes Anno 1701 the first Anno title developed by us.

Now, let’s jump a bit further into the future (in every way). Anno 2070 was released on 17 November 2011, exactly 10 years ago.  

Finally, the youngest among these four titles, is Anno 2205, which was released 6 years ago, on 3 November 2015. 

Now that the trip down memory lane is over, you might be thinking: How are we going to celebrate? First, we will have a “birthday blog” for Anno 1701 here on the Anno Union. Second, for these occasions we will have not one, but three Anno streams! The first one will take place on 29 October and we will be playing 1701. Then we will go live on 5 November with some Anno 2205 and finally, on 19 November, we will play Anno 2070. We cannot wait to hang out with you on Twitch to celebrate all together! 

Last but not least, we prepared a little surprise for you. More info coming soon! 

DevBlogs: The Role of QA & From Bug Report to Game Update 

In case you missed it, we published two DevBlogs dedicated to work of the QA teams. The first DevBlog focuses on the role of QA: which roles do each team fulfill? Is there a difference between the work before and after the game release? The second DevBlog gives some insights into which steps are taken from finding an issue to a fix being released.  

Mainzframe 

A new episode of Mainzframe went live last Friday, this time with Marcel, Brand Manager, and Oliver, Community Developer, sharing some insights about working on Anno. 

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You can also check the previous episode with two of our UI Designers, Farah and Jaq. 

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Community Spotlight 

Our first pick is this screenshot shared by Goldene_Gans on Reddit. Look at those Skyscrapers! The spotlights create an amazing effect on them and the rest of the city. 

NobleX35 shared this picture on our Discord serverexcellent job on the palace layout! Everything seems in perfect harmony 

Finally, look at this pixel art works created by Australis: we love every single pixel of it! It makes us feel very nostalgic.  

That is all for today’s Union Update. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to write a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook or our official Forums. 

DevBlog: From Bug Report to Game Update

In summer, we talked about the work of our QA teams, which focus each team has and the importance of these teams for the overall production process of the game – doing a lot more than just looking for bugs or playtesting Anno 1800. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we heavily recommend you do so before you continue reading to first learn about the tasks and areas of responsibility of our three teams: our internal QA team, the Live QA team and the Quality Control teams.

And as we mentioned back then, we now want to give you some insights into which steps are taken from finding an issue to a fix being released

In order for you to get a quick first overview, have a look at the graphic below. We will then go into more detail in the blog itself.

Finding or Reporting an Issue

Usually, there are two ways for an issue to pop up on our radar: either it’s being reported by you via one of our channels (or forwarded to us by one of the Anno Companions) or we notice it during internal testing – or playing 😉

In both cases the issue is being put into JIRA, which is a tool that can be used for various purposes, in this case, we use it to report and track bugs. During this process, each issue is categorized on several factors and tagged if required, most importantly: severity (impact of bug if encountered) and probability (how likely will players encounter this issue)

These two factors then make up the priority (e.g., a high probability but low severity issue will result in low or medium priority).

Reproduction

The next step is super important: We attempt to reproduce the issue, meaning we try to make it appear on purpose on our end. This helps us locate potential causes for the issue which in turn makes it a lot easier for us later to address and fix the problem later.

This step can sometimes be quite work-intensive. For example, to reproduce issues from the live version, the QC team sometimes needs a very specific hardware combination for tests, which might be extremely hard to come by.   Sometimes this also means having to work with hardware manufacturers like AMD or Nvidia directly to get or test specific hardware combinations to reproduce and investigate specific issues.

It’s therefore extremely helpful for us if you, when reporting issues to us, add as many details as possible: Can you reproduce it yourself? What did you do before the issue appeared? Which hardware are you using? Etc.

For Anno 1800, due to the variety of options to set up a game and each player’s unique playstyle, it often happens that the Live QA team might need to ask for save files, screenshots, videos or system information after receiving the initial report. This is when the Customer Support and the Community Management teams come into action: They will reach out to the player and provide more information if possible.

These reproduction steps are therefore also detailed in each JIRA ticket so that everyone working on this issue can quickly check it for themselves. Also added is a reproduction rate: Can the issue be recreated every time when following certain steps or does it only happen occasionally? Or are we even unable to reproduce an issue that has been reported to us?

Fixing the Issue

Fixing the issue means further investigating the cause of the problem based on the information provided.

This happens based on the prioritization we’ve done in step 1. Additional factors are available resources inside the team, which can mean that even if an issue has a low priority, the fix will still end up in the update if we have free resources in the responsible department. Keep in mind that the team is simultaneously also working on the next content update or DLC.

We also want to highlight here that of course the team responsible for the fix greatly depends on the kind of issue. A wrong quest text? A missing texture? An item effect not working? Misaligned icons? Each might need a certain specialist to address it.

While in some cases it can be, for example, possible for one of our coders to figure out the cause and location of an issue without reproduction steps, this is not the norm and always greatly extends the time required to create a fix.

That said, any kind of fix can take time because usually finding the exact cause is not a matter of minutes: We must figure out what exactly is leading to the behavior we have observed and reproduced. Additionally, there are possible risks, especially since video games like Anno 1800 are super complex: Fixing one issue can lead to a different system not working as intended anymore, new bugs can appear, etc. Some systems of the game are far more tricky to work on than others.

Testing the Fix

Therefore, each fix needs to be tested properly. Not only isolated just for itself (is the bug solved?) but also in combination with the rest of the Game Update – i.e., the new version of the game. This is to make sure that a fix is not breaking something else, as mentioned above.

Detailed reproduction steps are therefore also important for the testing since we need to know how one could initially encounter the bug: Does the issue now NOT appear anymore after following the outlined steps?

As you might have guessed, similarly to the previous steps, testing isn’t done in a day. We usually enter a “validation period” before we deploy a Game Update. This period usually is about 2 weeks long and consists of two phases:

  1. The first one happens internally here in Mainz and it’s a “Feature Freeze” which we call the “Golden Ticket Phase” – because only QA-approved, “golden” JIRA tickets are still allowed to be worked on and included in the update. Everything else will have to wait for a future update.
  2. In the second week, our colleagues in the QC teams are doing the validation of the update. We are not working on the update anymore at this point.

Of course, it can happen that a specific fix or even the Game Update itself turns out to be not working or to have issues. In that case, we need to go back to the previous steps (including another round of validations) which in the worst case can mean having to delay the release of the Game Update.

Game Update Release

When the new version has been tested and validated, we’re almost ready for release. During this process, we’re also in contact with colleagues in other teams so everyone is aware we’re planning to release the update that day.

We also usually bundle multiple fixes together in such a Game Update: This might mean that some issues are already fixed and waiting to be released to the live version of the game, but due to the amount of work involved, there is a balance we have to strike between addressing a problem in time while still not overburdening our teams with constant releases.

The “Hotfix” is an exception, and we talked about it in our previous DevBlog.

Our major Game Updates which release alongside a DLC usually go live at 6 PM CET while the smaller ones usually go live at 2 PM CET. And if you haven’t noticed yet: Our favorite release day is Tuesday. ?

Since we regularly see misunderstandings about our internal processes and the time it takes to address and fix bugs and other technical issues, it was a priority for us to shed some more light on this topic specifically.

As we have hopefully made clearer in this blog, the process behind bug reporting and bug fixing is not an easy one: It takes time and, most importantly, a lot of patience and resources. If you have any questions about it or would like to know more about other specific processes, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below!

Union Update: Bug Process DevBlog & Community Spotlight

Hey Anno Community!

Our latest Cosmetic DLC, the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” was released a little bit over a week ago, and since then we have seen so many beautiful screenshots you shared with us and the rest of the Community. We hope the reworking of your cities wasn’t too hard, but we can definitely say that the results are amazing!  

Without further ado, let’s dive into this Union Update. 

Jumping trains and other feedback

In the wake of the Cosmetic DLC release, we have received reports that whenever a train or any type of feedback unit gets close to a Pedestrian Bridge, the units will then “jump” instead of moving below the bridge. We would like to thank you for all the reports regarding this bug and we can confirm that our teams are investigating the issue.

You also provided feedback on some elements of the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” which we will have another look at regarding their technical feasibility (e.g. allowing road-bridges longer than two tiles over the canals), since everything involving the road logic always comes with a bunch of technical challenges.

As soon as we have news regarding any of these topics, you will read them here on the Anno Union.

DevBlog: From Bug Report to Game Update 


Next week we will dive again into the world of QA with a new DevBlog, this time focused on the interesting and rather intricate topic that is the bug fixing process: From your bug report to us releasing a new Game Update.  

Issue prioritization? Golden Ticket phase? If you are curious to know more about our internal processes, then don’t forget to visit the Anno Union next Thursday!

Community Spotlight

As pointed out at the beginning of this Update: There are so many fantastic screenshots! Time to share some of them here in this week’s Community Spotlight.

Our first pick is this screenshot taken by Mithaladriel: here we can see this lovely residential district crossed by canals. We recommend checking the whole thread on Reddit, we know you’ll love it as much as we do!

“I could spend all day making little marketplaces” said Takarazuka on Discord. We share the same feeling! This marketplace looks so lively and colourful.

@MrTNT1970 used the new canal system in a very peculiar way and… YES, we approve it and love it!

LeGeektateur shared a new series of screenshots on our official forums, but this picture in particular caught our eyes. What a beautiful pedestrian zone and such a wonderful view!

Finally, our last shout-out goes to DerBaronTV for creating and sharing his “Anno Bible”. The whole team has been blown away by the work done on this, bravo! We think this will be a great resource for the Community – we definitely had to share it on the Anno Union. You can find the Anno 1800 Bible here.

It’s all for today – we hope you enjoyed this Union Update! If you have any question, do not hesitate to ask them in the comments or ping us on our social channels on Twitter and Facebook.

Union Update: Pedestrian Zone Pack & Game Update 12.1

Annoholics, today we released the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” Cosmetic DLC! 

In addition to canals for both your cities as well as your industrial areas, the DLC is also adding several pedestrian-focused ornaments like an underpass, public toilets, a pavilion and new groundplanes.  

We went into detail on all ornaments and the development of the canal system in last week’s DevBlog, click here to check it out or quickly recap the content while waiting for the download to finish. 

We can’t wait to see your transformed cities! 

Game Update 12.1 

Together with the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” we’re releasing Game Update 12.1 and address several issues you have been reporting to us. If you haven’t done so already, check out the full Release Notes. 

 

Since we noticed some questions regarding some points of the Release Notes and some issues which did not make it into this Game Update, we also want to use this opportunity to address your questions: 

Starting with some bad news, but it’s something we have seen multiple comments about recently: We have investigated the issue with Anno 1800’s achievements having been unlocked for some players at the beginning of September during the technical issues with Ubisoft Connect. Unfortunately, this issue cannot be fixed retroactively, and we are not able to reset your achievement progress. 

 

A point from the Release Notes that has been discussed and asked about since yesterday is the tree planting feature: As stated in the Release Notes, trees can now not be placed next to roads and buildings anymore (i.e., the places where they would disappear from after loading). 

The reason for this is, that the game automatically removes trees etc. close to buildings to make sure they’re not “growing” into the building model itself. You can already see that when you place a building or a road somewhere: Vegetation nearby is automatically removed. Upon loading, the game does this check again and removes vegetation that is too close to a building. So, to avoid that you can place trees in these spots which would lead to them disappearing after loading, these spots are now blocked automatically. 

We are investigating options to add more ornamental trees in a future update. 

 

Further Issues

Furthermore, we’re still investigating more issues you have reported to us, for example, the one regarding rewards from Anarchist defector quests, which does not seem to be solved for all affected savegames, and that for some players the Orchards are not unlocked even when reaching the requirements.

We have also received reports about more quest issues which some players are facing, some related to resident quests and others like for example the Skyline Tower construction being stuck during the “barbecue event” (as a workaround, demolishing the tower and rebuilding it will allow you to finish it, albeit without the related questline). 

 

As usual, we will keep you updated on future Game Updates. 

Until then, we hope you continue to enjoy Anno 1800 and have a lot of fun with the newest Cosmetic DLC!

DevBlog – “Pedestrian Zone Pack” Cosmetic DLC

We have shown you some first pictures of the “Pedestrian Zone Pack” Cosmetic DLC in late August at gamescom – but now, with release less than a week away, it’s time to take a closer look at the contents of this CDLC. Did anyone say “canals”?

What’s in the pack?

A quick recap: In April this year we once more presented you with several potential themes for Cosmetic DLC, with “Pedestrian Zone” winning the vote together with “Vibrant Cities” (to be released at the end of the year).

With this Cosmetic DLC we’re adding a bunch of ornaments to your game that focus on your downtown area to help you improve the daily life of your inhabitants there. Public toilets, convenient during long shopping trips and market halls, especially useful for the traders from the “City Lights Pack” Cosmetic DLC.

“With this DLC, we wanted to create a set of ornaments, that is focusing on the city centre again. With our last Season 3 DLCs, we introduced a lot of new city centre focused content like the hotel or the skyscrapers, so we wanted to provide ornaments that are fitting the cities with are getting even bigger and more modern now.”

– Tim, Lead Artist

A busy downtown area with railroads for electricity and streets for the transport of goods to the Restaurants and Shopping Arcades can be a dangerous terrain for pedestrians in these early industrialized times. Help them out with a Pedestrian Bridge or go below ground with an Underpass.

Generally, we focused on ornaments that fit the city centres and the now more advanced look of our players’ cities. That also meant using more modern construction materials, for example for the underpasses or the market hall. You could find a lot of these structures in big cities back in the days.

There was something several of you have mentioned you would love to see in Anno 1800 and also our Art Team was very keen on implementing: Canals for your cities!

In addition to various ponds and fountains, your population will now be able to take a stroll along the new canals which you can use to decorate your cities. And not only that: The “Pedestrian Zone Pack” does include two types of canals. One fitting to your population centres, a much more decorative and elegant design filled with fresh and clean water. The other for your industrial areas in a darker, dirtier design with sewage pipes to complete the look.

Add to that new ground plates and ornamental trees to create and decorate plazas in your cities with, as well as Pavilions to relax and the Enclosed Greenery system for little park areas and you have a packed bundle of ornaments for your pedestrian zones.

(As with previous Cosmetic DLC, please note that they’re purely ornamental and do not serve any gameplay purposes. While your inhabitants, the “feedback units”, will interact with the ornaments, your transports will not, for example, use underpasses or bridges.) 

Canal System

We already mentioned the new Canal System above, but with it being the highlight of the “Pedestrian Zone Pack”, it certainly deserves some special attention. We once again brought Tim, our Lead Artist, onboard to provide some insights for this section and answer some questions, like:

Were two types of canals planned from the beginning?

I remember we initially had only planned the urban version that fits the city centre. While discussing and scribbling the first ideas how the canals could look like, there was also this one more industrial-looking canal as an idea. So, we ultimately decided to do both, one more city-themed, and one more fitting the industrials areas.

The system gives you a lot of freedom to be creative with the look of your city. You can decide the whole look by yourself: Do you want to build small, tight canals or big rivers or even lakes? – It’s up to you, with the tiles (like you might be used to from “Land of Lions”) automatically combining themselves to larger water areas when placed next to each other. You will even see some of your citizens enjoy a boat trip on the canals (not the sewers, though, brrrrr). 

Designing and creating a system like the canals is always more challenging to create than single ornaments because we need to create a whole set of assets (different canal tiles, different corners, “open” tiles for when multiple canal tiles are combined etc.), so you can build any shape you want with them. On the other hand, there are a lot of technical constraints. It takes a lot of time to test this feature in game, because with all the other assets and the corresponding game mechanics it can create a lot of issues and edge cases we need to find and fix (e.g. crossing with roads, with the new bridges, …). 

Defining the style, on the other hand, was very much straight forward. There are a lot a real-world references we used as inspiration. The most famous one is probably Venice. But there are also a lot of other European cities like Birmingham, AmsterdamBruges or Annecy, for example, that are iconic for their canal systems. 

What is left to say? Well, below you can find a full list of all ornaments included in the “Pedestrian Zone Pack”. Stay tuned for Tuesday next week at 6PM CEST, when the Cosmetic DLC will be available for purchase for the usual 4,99€ (or your regional equivalent). 

We can’t wait to see how you’re incorporating these new ornaments – and especially the canals – in your cities!  

List of all ornaments: 

  • Pedestrian Zone Entrance Gate 
  • Pedestrian Bridge 
  • Archways (3 total: one with a lamp, one with flags, one with a clock) 
  • Underpass 
  • Underground Toilet  
  • Toilet House 
  • Market Hall 
  • Pavillon 
  • City Canals (consisting of multiple elements) 
  • Sewer Canals (consisting of multiple elements) 
  • Canal Bridges (a small, a medium and a large one) 
  • Groundplanes 
  • Enclosed Tree 
  • Enclosed Greenery