Annotated: Blue Byte Talk Anno 2070

By Jim Rossignol on October 25th, 2011 at 8:17 am.

Good morning, internet.
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.

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52 Comments »

  1. Finarfin Greenleaves says:

    I am looking forward too it but Ubisoft has a bad track record regarding DRM and support.

    May I remind everyone that with Anno 1404 there was a 17 months delay (during this period an expansion was released) till they managed to patch a game crippling save game bug. The game would randomly corrupt your save games when saving, destroying them forever. This was no rare occurences and happened to some players as often as 1 out of 5 times they tried to save. Endless games on large maps was virtually impossible.

    Is there any word on possible DRM yet?

    • Dowson says:

      Ubi do seem to be standing back on completly destroying the PC exclusive games.
      Its mainly the console ports they like to destroy now.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      DRM is the Ubi Launcher with a one time online activation, but NO always online. After authentifivation no DVD is required to play (and no online connection), although there are online features next to the multiplayer mode which make it “rewarding” to be online. I think thats a pretty fair DRM.

      The save corruption bug is somewhat troubling as it could never be fixed (they really tried, they even invited user with their computers to their offices to try to reproduce the bug) but as it was that rare it was hard to track down. But as much of the code has been rewritten for Anno 2070 the hopes are that the bug is gone.

    • PoulWrist says:

      So we forgot that it also used GFWL and as such was a game noone should ever buy ? :p

    • UnravThreads says:

      PoulWrist; What used GfWL? As far as I’m aware, no Ubisoft game has ever used GfWL.

  2. sonicblastoise says:

    Ahh…Blue Byte. I loved you since Die Siedler 2, and now you bring me this. This is good. This is sweet grapes upon my parched lips good. This is the smell of sweet jasmine flower kissed by gentle sunshine after a long rain. This is the sound of trite Asian platitudes falling on untutored caucasoid ears.

    Also, I just started playing Anno 1404 and it’s awesome.

    • Wulf says:

      Blue Byte gave me Albion. That… I will never forget. I hold hope that some day there will be a sequel to that marvel, but it probably isn’t meant to be. Still… I loved the hell out of Albion, so completely, and it’s one of those few games I sat down and played from start to finish. So alien and interesting that it was intoxicating to a younger version of myself.

      <rant> And it didn’t obey the current gods damn rule of how good = pretty, perfect people and bad = ugly, imperfect people. It actually understood character, subtlety, and the sorts of things that these days I seem to be able to only expect from a rare few developers, like Obsidian. </rant>

      Lovely game though, really was, and for that Blue Byte is a name I shall forever remember.

      And whilst I haven’t been interested in their historical games, I am intrigued by this. This does look like something that I may want to poke. Yes indeed, may want.

      (And Albion had a mute too, on the party! They handled him so cleverly. I mean, sure, it may seem like a cop out to do that, not having to write lines, but the way his story was shaped… too clever for that. And why have only, what… I think only two mute characters… yes, why in all this time haven’t we seen more mute characters in games? What’s up with that. Sorry, I’ll stop campaigning to make games more interesting, now.

      And i say two as I’m not sure if I can count Gordon Freeman and Chell. Their muteness was more of a game mechanic than them actually being acknowledged as mute.)

    • ShaunCG says:

      Dear Wulf,

      You are a beautiful person and I love you very much.

      I’m a huge fan of Albion as well. So much so that I actually ground my party to max levels in my third playthrough and contemplated defeating the final boss in the, ah, traditional way. All 26,000 turns of it or whatever it was. Fortunately for my sanity I didn’t do that, and instead just played through the game again.

      Wonderful RPG, lovely setting, great characters.

      I’m very fond of Blue Byte, to be honest, between Albion and Incubation, which were both quite formative games for me as a teen. Oh yeah, and that Settlers game too.

  3. kukouri says:

    They suck me back in with every new release in this series…

  4. merc-ai says:

    The first half of article is so full of marketingspeak, it hurts to read his responses.
    The game itself looks somewhat interesting to me, but since it’s Ubisoft, I’ll probably pass.

    • kukouri says:

      Maybe, Ubisoft nowdays is DRM happy, but Anno 1440 had alot of DRM, but it wasn’t that bad, and it was a great game.

    • skinlo says:

      Why don’t you wait until you know how good the game is and whether it has DRM, before joining the knee jerk brigade.

    • c-Row says:

      Anno 1404 had the DRM removed with patch 1.1 if somone’s still undecided about whether or not trying it out.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      And Anno 2070 DRM is “only” a one time online authentification with the Ubi Launcher (so your CD Key is tied to your account). But no always online crap.

    • merc-ai says:

      skinlo, at this point it has little to do with DRM. I’m just fed up with the attitude of Ubisoft towards PC gamers (sudden delays? bad ports from console? bullshitting and outright lying? all check), and am not going to purchase games that Ubisoft profits from.

    • UnravThreads says:

      merc-ai;
      Ignore those games, put them to one side. If you get a Blue Byte game, you are getting a good game. Yes, TS7 is technically unsound at times and could do with more patches, but their titles are always high quality and worth buying.

      You’d be doing no better if you just bought Paradox’s similar titles, because they lack the quality and the love that BB and RD put into the Anno games. Seriously, buy this if you’re interested, because I would hate to lose these kinds of games.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Anno 1404 had a lot of issues, but the one I consider the worst is inability to change font size. With proper, large screens, the tiny font just makes me cry, literally. It wasn’t in the first 100-200 hours, but there’s only so much a man can withstand… :( There were/are other problems with interface too. Still a very good and addicting game, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

  5. Echo Black says:

    “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. ”

    Goddamn! I had no idea “Anno 1404″ was a perfect game. Now I have to try it out!

    • westyfield says:

      Yeah, that answer made me cringe.

    • Zeewolf says:

      To be fair, he is just about right. Is it “perfect”? No, but as far as the concept goes it’s close. They took it pretty much as far as it can go, and the only way to really improve it in a meaninful way would be through a complete rethink of important elements or a fairly massive technological leap ahead.

    • cliffski says:

      I’m massively excited by this game, but that answer made me want to punch whoever said it really hard.
      Get over yourselves FFS. gamers want to hear answers about the game, not a load of crappy PR fluff. If you want to advertise, give eurogamers sales guys a call. Save the hyperbole for the ad copy please…

      I’d love to see comments like that just stripped from interviews as a matter of principle.

    • Tams80 says:

      I didn’t quite catch how many awards it got. It was zero, right?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      To be fair, he is just about right. Is it “perfect”? No, but as far as the concept goes it’s close.

      Eh, not really. To start with, the display of information could be much much better in any number of ways. The map design is quite poor – it’s haphazard, nonsensical, and doesn’t make you feel like you’re in some kind of believable world. Same with the whole honor / quest thing, which isn’t very interesting at all and distracts from the good parts of the game.

      Revamp the interface, fix map generation, and tear out all the quest nonsense. Three big improvements that don’t touch the core gameplay. I could probably go on, but I haven’t played it in a while – there are some more fundamental issues that make it an ultimately unsatisfying experience for me.

      I’d love to see comments like that just stripped from interviews as a matter of principle.

      That would be funny.

    • sneetch says:

      I loved the game but I thought the land combat was very poor. It concerns me a little when the lead producer considers the previous game “perfect” but I’m definitely looking forward to the new one.

    • BurningPet says:

      Perfect? Annoying as hell quests (come on, search and click on a random nun or drunk guy?? how stupid is that!? worst campaign ever seen in a game such as this), extremely bad combat mechanics (why even keep them? if you cant create a good combat mechanics, start thinking about other things to create tension with) little improvement regarding the economic system.

      this is not the perfect game. not at all.

    • li says:

      If we remove PR stuff from the interview, what remains?
      The campaign is divided into 3 chapters.
      Further energy production was not really required in the former Anno settings.
      The underwater world is a supporting layer where the player gathers resources of types not available on the surface
      That’s not really a lot of information, but energy production and underwater resources sound interesting..

  6. Don Andy says:

    “No star trek like hyperspace engine”

    I can’t be the only one bothered by this.

  7. c-Row says:

    Someone should have asked them about Battle Isle.

  8. N says:

    Lol, it’s like he’s interviewing a public relations-droid ffs.

    Extreme Assault was awesome btw:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KWsywyJtjA

  9. AshEnke says:

    What I’d like to know about the multiplayer is if it has some LAN support.
    Sadly it has become rarer and rarer.

  10. UnravThreads says:

    Some of these comments seem a bit dickish. The guy is German and clearly not a native speaker, hence why he sounds a bit “robotic”. Jeez, give him a break.

    Anno 2070 is actually one of the few games I want this year. I got a little fed up with Anno 1404′s need for the Orient, because to me they became necessary way too early and I felt as if it pressured me to develop before I was ready. But yes, I’m really looking forward to 2070.

  11. AdrianWerner says:

    Anno 2070 looks incredible. He’s right about 1404, it pushed the concept as far as it could go, a break from historical setting was necessary. 2070 brings a lot of fresh ideas to the IP, so I’m very hopefull. I’m also a bit scared that Blue Byte is the main developer right now instead of Related Design, but I loved Settlers7, so I will try to trust them.

  12. Bursar says:

    Bluebyte… is that the Battle Isle Bluebyte? That brings back good memories. On a side note does anyone know if there is there a version of Battle Isle 2 and/or 3 available that works on a modern PC?

  13. Lemming says:

    This looks beautiful…

    …and then I see Ubisoft DRM and GFWL in the same article comments and suddenly I’m very sad indeed. :(

  14. frenz0rz says:

    Blue Byte gave me Settlers 1 & 2, which introduced me to my first proper strategy series, and helped instil in my younger self a strange and continuous sense of satisfaction from making things as efficient as possible that has persisted to this day. Dare I say it, I might never have gone on to enjoy the likes of the Civ series, and later my long-term obsession with the GalCiv series, without first playing Settlers. Thanks a lot chaps.

    Shame the later games were a bit naff though.

    • kert says:

      I never saw it called “Settlers”, i played a version called “Serf city” on PC which supposedly was S I.

      Wonderfully obscure user interface, with a lot of guessing going on about which button does what. Figuring the buttons out was like a mini-game in a game.

      Endless fun overall.

  15. Carra says:

    I’ve been wanting to replay Anno 1404 lately, it’s an amazing game. It’s the first game in the series where I felt that they really added some fun, new items. The added Muslim faction was a great idea which made the whole game more better. Before that, I felt it was mostly the same game I was playing but with better graphics.

  16. ShaunCG says:

    An accidentally amazing interview. Solid questions, but the star of the show is the very German and very Marketing respondent. Unintentionally hilarious!

  17. Vinraith says:

    DRM note: Anno 2070 requires a one-time activation on install. No “always on” DRM here.

    I hope Ubi keep their word on that one. This is liable to be a first day purchase if they do.

    • Prime says:

      I hope they stick to it as well. If they do I will consider dropping my personal Ubisoft embargo for this title. It’s been the most appealling Ubi game to me for quite some time.

      In this day and age Day One purchasing is just asking for trouble, however.

    • Biscuitry says:

      Given how much they’re asking for it (£35 from their own store, possibly cheaper elsewhere), I think waiting for a bit until the price drops would be prudent anyway.

  18. Highstorm says:

    Is this coming out in the U.S. under the same title? I guess Anno 1404 was titled Dawn of Discovery here for whatever reason. I’m really excited for this and want to be sure I don’t miss it, so any information of the NA release would be appreciated!

    Edit: Found this with some digging, for anyone else wondering:
    http://forums-de.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3231027629/m/5841084139?r=5131061359#5131061359

  19. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Did you ask about what happened with Anno 1404 and Steam?

  20. gayylalgli says:

    First few games of that were actually quite entertaining to watch. Then they could afford auto-snipers and it all turned to one-shot shit. I agree Leman, this is just another sniper-fetish FPS from the looks of it. I’ll be glad to give it a pass.
    Agreed, i don’t think they should be compared purely due to play styles and target audience.These just look like high quality textures and skins from FPS Banana which most of us can already have.vi da nam

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