By Jim Rossignol on October 25th, 2011 at 8:17 am.
Blue Byte’s trading and building game Anno has leapt from the past into the future for its next instalment, Anno 2070, which is due to arrive on our shores on November 17th. We thought we’d have a chat with the game’s lead producer, Christopher Schmitz, to confirm a few details of what to expect from the sci-fi reworking on the classic strategy series.
RPS: Hello! Could you begin by telling us a little about yourself and then a bit about the studio?
Schmitz: My name is Christopher Schmitz and I work as Head of Production for Ubisoft Blue Byte in Germany. Blue Byte is the German development studio of Ubisoft and is mainly responsible for all the Germany based productions like the famous “Anno” as well as the “The Settlers” series. Blue Byte, an Ubisoft subsidiary, is in charge of the production of the game Anno 2070. The game is being produced in collaboration with our partner studio Related Designs, that partially belongs to Ubisoft and that also worked with us on the Anno brand before. As the Head of Production I’m responsible for the successful development of Anno 2070 and oversee all relevant stages of development. The work of our developers at Blue Byte and at Related Designs again proofs to be excellent and we are all having a good time.
RPS: Looking back a bit, how do you guys feel about Anno 1404? It seems to be me that it was the first game in the series to really hit a nerve with wider audiences? Is that the case?
Schmitz: Yes, Anno 1404 received the best ratings in Germany and the international press also celebrated ANNO 1404 as the first Anno to be successful internationally.
RPS: What do you guys feel you learned from Anno 1404 that you’ve brought forward into Anno 2070?
Schmitz: We wanted to keep the gameplay principle and not move to far away from the core experience. By introducing a new setting the change is already very drastic and we did not want to change too much about what makes the game an Anno game. Still we have great innovations in gameplay as well.
RPS: Can you tell us a bit about the setting for Anno 2070? Why take things into the future?
Schmitz: Anno 1404 is by far the best product of the series and is a highly appreciated award winning product. It seemed like a desperate undertaking to improve such a perfect game. Therefore we thought it is now the right moment to move the Anno brand forward to its next stage. The new setting offers new approaches to increase the game depth and offer a fresh and exciting new experience without losing the Anno experience that our fans like so much.
RPS: What sort of story, or *stories* does Anno 2070 tell? Can you tell us a bit about how a campaign game might unfold?
Schmitz: The campaign is divided into 3 chapters. The first chapter will act as a kind of introduction to the game and its mechanics, starting with the Tycoon faction and then unlocking the eco faction. In the 2nd one the player will learn more about the story, involving the Tech faction and their motivations, while the 3rd chapter will require the player to make use of all options available to him.
RPS: And are there still more freeform options for playing the game? What does those consist of?
Schmitz: Traditionally The heart of Anno is the endless mode, where the player can set up the game as he likes. Options involve things like map size, victory conditions, island fertility, resource amount, what kind of enemy AIs to play with etc.
RPS: We’ve seen a bit about how the game offers different technology tries, some good for the environment, some not so good… can you explain how those work within the game world? What’s the pay off for each?
Schmitz: The future setting now offers a dynamic world that changes according to the gamers playing style. With the ecological system there is a completely new challenge for the player to take care of. Further energy production was not really required in the former Anno settings. Last but not least you will be able to decide in which way you want to play the game. On one hand you can choose an industrial and efficient direction, or on the other hand you might prefer a sustainable way. Sustainability or rapid growth, it is up to the player.
RPS: What can you tell us about the underwater cities? Did designing that offer any particular challenges?
Schmitz: The underwater world is a supporting layer where the player gathers resources of types not available on the surface and to tap resources that have already been tapped on the surface but ran dry. The population will always live on the surface, so the cities that grow on the surface island will at some point be dependent on the resources gathered underwater.
RPS: The game seems vaguely grounded in realism, but what is the most outlandish or unusual piece of science fiction technology that appears in 2070?
Schmitz: We tried to keep it believable as much as possible and only use things that people can identify with. No star trek like hyperspace engine etc. I would say some of the most “sci-fi” things we have fluff wise are flying cars. Some people might know about the cooled superconductors and that they bend magnetic fields which could be seen as theoretical base for our flying cars, though everyone would agree that its nothing that would really work out given the requirements and costs associated. Though who knows what solutions the people of the future might find. In Anno 2070 they seem to have found a way!
RPS: Can you tell us anything about multiplayer options for 2070?
Schmitz: We will have traditional multiplayer with up to four expansive parties and four non-expansive non-human parties. Each human controlled party might consist of 2 or more players which share everything and can control everything with a total player count of eight max. How you play is your choice really. We offer a lot of victory conditions, like an amount of credits, be the first to build a monument or even both monuments. Or, if you like fighting, be the last party on the map, or control x% of all island space available. Of course you will also be able to disable all of them, just building along with your friends to have a fun time.
RPS: Thanks for your time.
DRM note: Anno 2070 requires a one-time activation on install. No “always on” DRM here.