|ANNO 2070 - (2011, PC, Related Designs/Ubisoft):
After we had finished Anno 1404 and it's add-on we had to find the answer to the question in which time era the next installment of the game should take place. Traditionally Anno games were set in somewhat medieval times ranging from the recent Anno 1404 to 1701. We needed to find an era that would be appealing gameplay wise as well as fitting the already established game mechanics like the ship trade, exploration of uncharted lands and the economic systems of the Anno games. So our retrieval reached from dawn of man to old Greek or the Roman Empire up to the Industrial Era around 1850. There have been even ideas to reissue old Anno installments like 1503 or 1602 in 3D with our new engine. But soon we came to the conclusion, that all those visions and ideas had either flaws concerning the established gameplay or mechanics or they were to much alike other products out there.
The idea to create an Anno game set in the future came up quite early in the preproduction process. And after some market research, lots of meetings and discussions we decided to go that route. But instead of putting the game in a distant future we came to the conclusion, that it would be better to stay in a somewhat near, believable future. This is why we went for the classic Science Fiction. We also recognized that it would be interesting for the people who would play the game to have modern day topics like environmental pollution, sustainability and energy crisis.
To create a world with which everybody out there could hook up easily, something that everybody can relate to and understand we also took coucil with real scientists of such topics.
But in order to give freedom of choice we decided that it should be possible for every player to chose which side of the medal he would like to play - either the ecology-minded or the exploiting industrial. Therefore we created the to factions of the Eccos and the Tycoons, which both use totally different technolgies to provide the goods for their people but none of them is better than the other, either in presentation nor in gameplay. This was a quite important presetting for us. We didn't want to point a finger at you and your decissions. Both of them have their own business cycles, certain advantages and certain disadvantages. So the player could play either way or simply mix them up, which would create new possibilities but also new conflicts of course. While Tycoons didn't care for environmental pollution the Eco faction was very sensitive to that. To reflect the level of pollution we introduced a complex system in Anno 2070 to visualize the state of your world or island. We changed the foliage, the river and sea color, the lighting and of course the availability of certain goods as well as the potential chance of disasters. To establish this in a performance friendly and visually impressive and readable manner we went through a lot of research and testing in the tech-department as well as in the level design-department. Level design did a lot of work on that to make it appealing and readable. And I think it worked out very well in the end.
Later in the game we also introduced the Techs, which gave further means to enhance and change the play style and introduced another totally new feature to the Anno series: the underwater world.
This was a challenge in many ways. Besides the plain technical obstacles like switching seamlessly at any time between some islands and a underwater world, the visual representation and gameplay impact was hard to handle. We had to invent a new system for the general world layout of the Anno map as well as a completely new island type and style. We needed new vehicles and transport logic, economic cycles, resources and buildings. It changed so many things, it's impossible to tell them all. Once again the tech and the level design teams worked hard on all occuring problems and I think we found a really impressive and cool way to integrate this new feature into the game and a big chunk of it was done by me. Something I'm really proud of.
I think, Anno 2070 is a really impressive game in many things. There's this extremely complex water- and environment-simulation going on all the time, there is rain and changing weather conditions, there are breathtaking catastrophes and the allmighty atomic bomb attack. All of them work great and look astonishing. There's this huge world, even bigger than in Anno 1404 alongside the new underwater realm, there are more and more buildings in three factions, there's the tech tree and the research tree, etc., etc.
And on top of all that is a game with more depth (excuse the pun), related to our modern, today life showing environmental aspects. Even the new military system, always a topic of critique, is greatly improved in this game.
And not to forget the campaign! This time we really did a lot of planning ahead and a lot of play testing over and over again. We also put our attention to the technical part of it and for the first time in the Anno series it was possible to take over islands from one mission to the other, which was a crave whish of us and the consumers as well all the time. I'am quite proud of the new cutscene system I developed with the tech team and of all the cool cutscenes we created for the campaign in level design.
Yes, Anno 2070 is the best Anno ever for me. It was fun to work on it from start till the end.