ubisoft discussions

Quick Suggestions

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    There is already an excellent suggestion list here: [Suggestions] ~ Some small and not small things that could improve the game | Ubisoft Forums

    This is more of a middle-ground suggestion for a development tweak that could change gameplay significantly, but doesn't require massive new game mechanics, entirely new regions, new product chains, or asset classes.

    Items – the under-appreciated game mechanic

    What’s currently great about Items:

    • Items can be used to add a massive amount of personality and customization to assets that are essentially all the same.
    • Items can provide a whole separate set of incentives to engage in other gameplay mechanics like expeditions, crafting, research etc.


    What’s currently not that great about Items:

    • Item slots are limited to ships, a small number of public buildings, and, exhibits. All of these assets with items slots have an influence point cost. This means the total number of slots available at a given time is restricted by both scarcity and cost.
    • Most items are acquired through a chance mechanic of some sort, with the more useful items generally being rarer. This means you end up with a lot of items you don’t want, these items become a recycling burden rather than a bonus.
    • Over a long game, rarer but more useful items get retained which eventually leads to item conformity not novelty. E.g. Vice-Admiral Adams might be rare, but play long enough and you can have a fleet of Vice-Admiral Adams clone on every ship.
    • Item slots are divided based on destination, rather than item type which leads to weird outcomes. E.g. you can make a bag of fertilizer your local trade union rep, while the council members of the Town Hall can consist of a poster, a note from the queen, and an Actor making the Theatre down the road more appealing… from the Town Hall…
    • Acquisition of items from the Research Institute nerfs items acquired via expedition.


    Items aren't really broken, but they are a bit of a missed opportunity to add a lot more personality to a game.

    This is a bit of a long list of suggested tweaks since items are already an embedded game mechanic, so I'm going to break it up across multiple posts. For the tldr-inclined, it can be summarised here:

    Item Fix 1: Add item slots to public buildings
    Item Fix 2: Add item slots to production buildings
    Item Fix 3: Add item slots to harbour buildings
    Item Fix 4: Add item slots to arctic buildings
    Item Fix 5: Add item slots to the Museum, Botanic Gardens, Zoo and Research Institute
    Item Fix 6: Group items by item type, rather than where they are used
    Item Fix 7: Add novelty with more distinct person items, but with the same bonus
    Item Fix 8: Make person items mortal, make equipment break
    Item Fix 9: Narrow the scope of the Research Institute
    Item Fix 10: Make Expeditions worthwhile again
    Item Fix 11: Enable custom names for buildings
    What is potentially bad about overhauling items in this way?

  • Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

    Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

    Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 1: Add item slots to public buildings
    If there is a plague, shouldn’t the antiseptics, the Dr Salvador and the Nurse all be in the Hospital instead of the Town Hall…?

    Give all public buildings item slots, any existing Town Hall items that impact on a public building can then be shifted to that public building instead. E.g. Dr Salvador can work at one hospital, to only add +1 doctor and +15% movements speed to that one hospital.
    This should leave the Town Hall just for politicians, taxes, regulations and consumable distractions from rampant corruption like fireworks and bottles of beer – i.e. the kind of things that would normally be found in a Town Hall. 

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 2: Add item slots to production buildings
    If I am a farmer, why would I elect a Balance Plough as my union rep, instead of just using it on my farm …?

    Give all production buildings item slots, with any existing Trade Union that that impact on a particular production building can then be shifted to that production building instead. So that Award-Winning Brewer only gets to improve one Brewery at a time.

    What’s left for Trade Unions is the more legitimate Trade Union activity, which include union representative people items, and general working condition improvements that aren’t specific to a particular type of production building.

    Similar to Town Halls, this makes the influence cost of Trade Unions and range more sensible – it’s a measure of the political influence a Trade Union has over an area instead.

    Does this make all those ideal building layouts clustered around Trade Unions a bit redundant? Definitely - but in return is more layout flexibility since there is no “ideal layout”. Expanding the pool of item slots to all production buildings also creates a much larger pool of slots for common and uncommon items to go to so there is much less "useless" items.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 3: Add item slots to harbour buildings
    Shouldn’t that Fine Fishing Net be in a Fishery rather than taking up space in the Harbourmaster’s Office….?

    As above, only with the items now being distributed to the harbour buildings directly, the Harbourmaster can focus on the actual role of the Harbourmaster – speeding up load times, applying taxes on goods within range, taking bribes etc. The Harbourmaster influence range is then a reflection of how much of the port is “regulated” or not.

    This is going to muck up the Docklands set a bit, but that can be fixed by adding more trade-specific items for the Docklands in general. E.g. Items to represent trading companies that improve the cost of particular goods – e.g. a Weyland Yutani company representative might add an extra advanced weapon item per trade. Because Weyland Yutani is a very reputable company...

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 4: Add item slots to arctic buildings

    If the arctic public and production buildings have item slots, the Arctic Lodge becomes a little… pointless, which is what a lot of people say about the Arctic region in general…

    The thing the Arctic doesn’t have much of however is entertainment – taking inspiration from recreational activities in Antarctic bases would provide inspiration for what kinds of things could happen in the Arctic Lodge instead. i.e. this could actually be quite quirky and cold-region specific. 

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 5: Add item slots to the Museum, Botanic Gardens, Zoo and Research Institute
    Historians, curators, botanists, plant breeders, zoologists, gamekeepers – there’s a potential overlap of people item slots between the University, Museum, Botanical Gardens, agricultural production, livestock production and the Research Institute. Do you put your Legendary Professor of Crop Rotation of the 13th Century in the Botanical Gardens to increase attractiveness, in the University to increase influence range, or in the Research Institute to increase the research points generated? Basically it’s just more item slots to add more personality to each building.

    Posters, tools and equipment item slots can also be used to improve attractiveness, range and/or research production rates as applicable.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 6: Group items by item type, rather than where they are used

    If the scope of item slots is expanded, the item type can become more relevant than where they get applied. Items can be broadly broken into these types:

    a)      People
    b)     Consumables
    c)      Equipment/Infrastructure
    d)     Regulations/Paperwork/Articles
    e)     Cultural

    Certain types of items make more sense in certain assets, and can be used to add a bit more depth. E.g. Ships might have a People slot, and equipment slot, and a consumables slot (with different numbers for each depending on the size of the ship). A Town Hall would have slots for people (the Town Council), regulations, and consumables. A museum could have one for people, equipment (like posters), and equipment.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 7: Add novelty through more distinct person items, but with the same bonus
    To avoid an attack of the clones situation, just add more people items with personality but the same benefits. This would also allows for “people packs” as cosmetic DLC where certain people items are thematically related in some way.

    e.g. “Captain Shmirk”, and “Lieutenant Smock”, Chief Engineer “Schotty” and Ship Surgeon “Smones”, all appointed to a battleship called "Enter-Prized".

    Similar to ornaments, people packs don’t fundamentally add new/different items, they just add more variety to the existing people items without dramatically impacting on game balance because they all have the same item bonuses.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 8: Make person items mortal, make equipment break
    An easy way to make person items more valuable is to make them vulnerable. E.g. I might think twice about sending Captain Shmirk on the battlecruiser Enter-Prized on a suicide mission if there is a chance the destruction of the ship will kill him. There is still a chance the people items can survive for long enough to be rescued - if you get to them before the sharks do…

    Fires and illness on land and sea also become a lot more interesting if it means people items can die from them. Whereas equipment on a ship that is destroyed should be lost since it’s a bit weird that cannons can float in the ocean. Instead of making recycling items a burden for the player, add in a natural attrition rate to automate some of the turn over instead. Making item loss more of a risk also increases the value of item production - which then becomes a whole side hustle.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 9: Narrow the scope of the Research Institute
    The Research Institute makes all items easier to acquire, which actually results in reducing all item value and novelty for all of them. It also really nerfs the expeditions mechanic since they are effectively competing in item acquisition, instead of complementing each other.

    It’s also kinda weird e.g. Indiana Jones would never go on an expedition to get the Holy Grail if he can just “research” it into existence at the Research Institute! So the real thing here is to make the Research Institute and the expeditions, focus on different items exclusively, but have those items actually complement each other in the item slots of the public buildings.

    Cultural Science: Select from a list of “research thesis” topics, when complete you produce a item article or research paper item that can be placed in a museum/botanic garden/zoo item slot to provide an attractiveness boost. Each thesis could be named after real and/or ridiculous topics. Some these topics could also lead to creating regulatory polices or tax policies for the Town Hall. Since each thesis topic is known in advance, it provides a bit more agency over what type of item you are going for.

    Technological Advancement: Select from a list of "prototype" items for equipment and/or consumable items. E.g. if you really like the ExtermiN8r cannon and want to equip all your ships with it, research the ExtermiN8r prototype blueprint. Place it in the item slot for a Heavy Weapons Factory and it will produce ExterminN8r items instead of advanced weapons.

    Particularly if equipment items are frequently lost at sea, this adds a whole new side hustle in item production e.g. consumables for cannon ammunition, consumables for medicines, consumables for fertiliser.

    Talent Development: Select from a list of person items to offer “Academic Tenure” to. This also means though that you'll only get academics, scientists, engineers, but these person item types will *only* come from the Research Institute. These person item types can then be put in the item slots of the University, Museum, Botanical Garden, Zoo or even the Research Institute to provide a bonus to those buildings.

    Generally though, the idea is to expand the number of ways you can acquire items, but make certain item types exclusive to the manner in which they are acquired.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 10: Make Expeditions worthwhile again
    Make all plants, animals, and artefacts exclusive to expeditions, with some of the cheaper ones still available through Madame Kahina.

    Expeditions should indicate up front what cultural item they are on an expedition for, successfully completing an expedition only results in that one item. This makes each expedition have a much clearer purpose/narrative – you are funding an expedition to go acquire a specific artefact/plant/animal, rather than a random one rolled at the end. The difficulty of the expedition is related to the rarity of the cultural item, but the added benefit is also to reduce the accumulation of excess items that you don't want or need.

    If you don't like any of the items currently up for expeditions, just wait a while for the re-roll.

    For rescue missions, you should know who you are rescuing in advance. Particularly if the item slots are expanded into public and production buildings, conducting rescue missions for specific person items is a lot more useful since there are a lot more person item slots to fill. Or if you are completely heartless, let the riff raff drown and only rescue the elites of society...

    Pirate hunts are really glorified mercenary work – not that there’s anything wrong with that… The reward for a pirate hunt should be all money, maybe the occasional bonus trade good. Maps should be purchased exclusively from neutral AI, if you pick up an item it is rare but is a cosmetic character item. Fit out a ship just for mercenary work, call it the Cowboy Beebop and send just to collect a bounty on a pirate or criminal, that would be kinda cool.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    Item Fix 11: Enable custom names for buildings
    You can name ships, bus stops, cafes, restaurants and bars – why not public buildings?

    If you’ve gone and customised and personalised all those public building with items, you should also be able to name it. Same applies to production buildings – “Ironbright Engineering” Cab Assembly Line, led by Bruno Ironbright, founder and Engineering Giant etc.

    Just like bus stops it’s totally optional and totally randomly generated for those who don’t care to name everything - it's just a cosmetic thing for super fans. On the other hand, add the building names to the stats screens and it might serve a item management purpose as well.

  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    What is potentially bad about overhauling items in this way?
    Performance (?): If the reason why item slots are so restricted is due to performance issues, then opening up the number of item slots in this way could potentially tank the game, which possibly makes this whole thing kinda redundant.

    Game Balance: If item slots are restricted for game balance, then a lot of these changes should actually balance each other out. E.g. If the items from the Trade Union that used to benefit a particular production building are shifted out of the Trade Union into individual production buildings, then that prevents stacking the same items on top of each other.

    Min/Max Players: This is going to make the current “ideal layout” guides kinda redundant, which is probably going to muck some players up a bit. While I must admit to being bias towards beauty building, I think even the min/max players will benefit from freeing up the layout a bit anyway - e.g. you can still go full industrial production in a particular good, it's just whereas before it was to cluster around an item in a Trade Union, now it's to maximise getting as many of those items as possible to put in all the production buildings instead.

    Impacting the Influence Point System: This does impact on the influence system since it means adding item slots to buildings with no influence cost. I actually don’t think this a is a negative though - “influence” should really should be about how much you can impact the behaviour of the people the residents of a city through taxes, working conditions, happiness etc. It's still just kinda weird you can put a plough in a Trade Union down the road and all the farms nearby a magically more productive.

    Changing the Cost of Production: I don't think this one is necessarily bad either. If the end result is this makes production costs higher, then you can just add more items that reduce the cost of production. If it reduces production costs - I don't actually think that's a bad thing at all. If you don't have to carpet bomb the New World with cash crops and can keep more of the islands in a more "pristine" state then that should be rewarded with more island attractiveness. i.e. what's wrong with turning the jungles of the New World into an eco-tourist destination...?

  • Ubi-Thorlof
    Anno Dev Team Community Developer 336 posts

    Hey Queglar - first of all: Thank you for this incredibly detailed and thought-out feedback.

    There's no doubt that improvements could be made to the current system by addressing some of the points you made like providing more options where and how to use items in the game (your first 6 points).
    Especially now, in its fourth Season, some systems are not working in the same way anymore - from a Design perspective - to how they did on release and without all the DLC. You for example mentioned the expeditions, which lose usefulness when the "Land of Lions" DLC with the Research Institute is activated. Without that DLC, however, they're still a big source for items (also in early game) and then lose relevance in late-game. That is okay, generally, not all systems have to have the same impact early on as they have after 60h or more of playtime.

    While the topic of items will have to be discussed again for any potential future project (where feedback like yours would certainly play a role), we're currently not planning to overhaul the existing system in such a major way for our live game. Various systems and mechanics are designed with the current functionality in mind and reworking, rebalancing and finally testing all this would be a major effort and most likely come with a lot of risks to break existing systems.
    It's easier to rework a system like this before release, mid-development, than to do it when the game is out and people depend on changes not destroying savegames and generally updates being savegame-compatible.

    As with all things, another factor is available time and resources. So, on top of potential risks and technical feasibility, we always have to prioritize tasks for the individual teams: There has to be enough time for the features of each individual DLC but also some quality of life improvements as well as bug fixes.

    So, to conclude: Some great thoughts on providing even more options to tweak productions (though, I believe items "breaking" would add an unnecessary amount of micro-management) which are worth revisiting for any future project that involves such a system. But for now, in post-launch, such a rework is rather high effort and currently not planned.

    Official Response
  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    @ubi-thorlof

    Oh - totally appreciate how time an resources limit what you can do with any retrospectives the late in the game development. I'm a total game design nerd, so part of the reason why I’ve liked this particular Anno the most is how it’s been given a few seasons of post-release development to try out a few different mechanics and see how they go. i.e. I’m not going to be bummed of absolutely none of my suggestions ever get implemented – it’s been cool to see Anno experiment with this stuff regardless! 😀

Suggested Topics