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  • Queglar
    Original poster 30 posts

    This suggestion was actually inspired a while ago by this blog post: DevBlog: Game Writing and detective stories - Anno Union (anno-union.com): (https://anno-union.com/devblog-game-writing-and-detective-stories/)

    With a recent reminder from comments on the blog about being overwhelmed with too much going on: DevBlog: “Seasonal Decorations” Pack Cosmetic DLC - Anno Union (anno-union.com): (https://anno-union.com/devblog-seasonal-decorations-pack-cosmetic-dlc/)

    This is totally a suggestion just for Campaign mode - there's no need for a narrative in multiplayer or sandbox, and those modes are really to skip the narrative entirely.

    I think the campaign game is one of the best features of Anno 1800 since it provides a nice narrative structure which adds a whole new way of playing a city building logistics game - adding a narrative also adds a whole new set of gameplay motivation different to multiplayer or sandbox.

    The biggest issue I see with Campaign mode though is not the *lack* of a plot, it's that the triggers for them mean you will invariably get pestered to do all sorts of different things at the same time - everything just merges into one blob of things to do and you've forgotten what you are getting, who you are getting it for, and why. i.e. it becomes like a Michael Bay movie - too many plot threads that have no apparent relationship to each other, then something explodes (or an AI character threatens you. RPG games also fall into this trap - some of the fetch and carry quests in an RPG game are super well thought out and detailed, but there are so many of them happening all at once you only remember there were lots of fetch and carry quests.

    It's worse if you are a new Anno 1800 player, your "reward" for getting DLC along with it is a lot of quest spam before you have even finished the default Campaign - remembering the last quest in the Campaign is 500 engineers on Bright Sands:

    DLC Current Trigger
    Bright Harvest (silos) 300 workers
    New World (Campaign) 1 artisan
    Land of Lions  100 artisan
    Docklands 250 artisan
    Sunken Treasures 700 artisan
    The Passage 1 engineer
    Bright Harvest (tractors) 500 engineers
    Tourist Season 500 engineers
    Seat of Power 1 investor
    The High Life 5000 investor

    (triggers are as far as I know them at 19/02/2022)

    Add into that the AI quests, disasters, revolts, running out of money, not supplying your residents with needs, epidemics, AI and pirate attacks and constantly being told "this city is a magnet for genius" (only to get another damn Abbé).

    So here are a few changes I think could make the existing narrative be a bit more memorable, and reduce the bombardment.

    (1) No DLC triggers until the Campaign has completed in Campaign mode
    Before you get ANY DLC quest triggers, you have to complete the last quest of the Campaign (A Dream of Our Own).

    This also means new players will experience Anno similar to old players - with a lot less stuff going on! It's possibly something that's overlooked a bit - the fully expanded game is easy to master if you've been playing it for a while since each DLC has added a new game mechanic progressively. Since I really like playing Campaign mode, I always prefer to replay it with different AI characters, but I'm not surprised some new players find the experience a bit overwhelming with all the prompts you get. It also ruins the existing narrative written - e.g. "hey sorry Sarmento, I know I said I was going to pick up those refugees from the burning remains of Prosperity, but I have to run off to the other side of the world to Enbesa to find a way to get into the Great Library on Kidusi Anitoni...

    (2) AI Region Expansion Locked Behind Player Actions
    The AI won't expand to another region unless the player completes a certain quest, or builds a unique building in that region. This is to give the agency back to the player and reduce the "land rush" to unlock all the regions asap to get out there before the AI takes everything.

    The AI expansion triggers are a little... odd... especially when compared to the player trigger for the DLC:

    Region DLC/Campaign Trigger AI Expansion Trigger
    New World 1 artisan As soon as the AI reaches artisan
    Enbesa 100 artisan 2 hours game time after the AI builds it's first hospital
    Cape Trelawney 700 artisan As soon as the AI builds a hospital
    Arctic 1 engineer When the player builds an airship

    (triggers are as far as I know them at 19/02/2022)

    It's weird because the AI players aren't really "players" like in a multiplayer game - they don't follow the same rules as normal humans, so it doesn't make much sense to pretend they AI is actually getting to artisan level like a human does, or building a hospital when a human does. It makes more narrative sense (and reduces the land rush mentality) to base the AI expansion trigger of the plot, or, of what the human player builds in that region (i.e. similar to how the Arctic works).

    Region Building Trigger Plot Trigger
    New World Player builds jornaleros residence A Bastion for All (Chapter 3) - Sarmento is appealing to anyone to accept refugees.
    Enbesa Player builds musician's court Fascinating North - Quizzed - Emperor Ketema is asking about the Old World
    Cape Trelawney Player builds harbour in Cape Trelawney The expedition is over - the Queen first says build a city here
    Arctic Player builds an airship The Faithful expedition is over - you've found everyone and discovered what can be settled in the Arctic

    (3) Only One Quest at a Time...
    If the pressure to expand is reduced a bit, the idea is the player can approach them in their own time. So not only are all the DLC quests locked behind completing the Campaign in Campaign mode, all DLC quests have to be actively "accepted" to start them, as soon as you accept one, you can't start any other ones until you have finished the active one.

    Probably the most potentially game-breaking one since if you get a bugged quest you might be stuck there till a patch is released. Either way, the idea is to nudge the players full attention to one quest at a time - it's such a common suggestion for productivity tools because multi tasking is a myth and is generally bad for your brain in terms of rewards etc.

    (4) Get a Secretary!
    The game starts off with a letter from your sister, all quests should have the same process where you actively engage with a transcript/written explanation of the quest.

    The super-cool version is you have a "Captain's Desk" - a fancy graphic backdrop of the desk on your flagship with all your correspondence on it, you can pick out any the quests by picking up the letters from that particular quest giver. Existing quests is just a transcript of the voice overs, but you can even use this as a way to add extra context in as well. Letters also mean you can add in additional quests without have to get the voice actors back into the studio...

    Main purpose behind this is to enable you to go back through previous quests/correspondence with quest givers so it's effectively giving you their backstory with them. i.e. yup I've done that quest, here's the correspondence to prove it. Also adds a bit more personality to the AI if they send you letters...

    (5) What about those AI player quests?
    AI player quest chains get converted into quests with letters, the random ones on the map are only for plot-less destruction (gun for hire) quests, and, delivery (fetch and carry) quests with money rewards.

    The AI player backstories in the chain quests are totally buried under the deluge of busy work, which means their personality is also a little lost. They also tend to repeat if you play the game long enough e.g. I know you want to be Royal Von Malching - I've already helped you once and you're still just a commoner so get over it!

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