Suggestions for next development

  • Hello everyone,


    Travian team is telling us that they are reading every topic and every comment, so here is mine with couple suggestions. Please keep in mind that all these points are from my point of view, many of them might not be totally relevant from the game design perspective.


    Release of new servers + specials
    This one is a huge one for me right now. The way you keep developing game, updating and changing the core functionality feels truly irritating. We are overflowed with updates and changes. I am playing on server “A” for couple months, we are getting used to everything, it feels like we know all the rules and the most efficient ways of playing, so we are planning our strategies for next server but guess what. Everything is different, so we start to learn all the announced rules so we can adjust our tactics, but guess what again. Next server is going to have Night Truce.. And again rework of everything, nobody wants to play it, but what we can do? Another server is starting in like a month and nobody wants to wait. We are basically “forced” to play it, because we all love travian and we want to keep playing, but these “small things” are really taking away the excitement.
    My suggestion: Release more servers in a row with the same functionality, so we are not
    getting overflowed and ask each language community before putting some special feature onto the server if they actually want it there. Make polls and communicate with your players!


    Release of new updates before testing
    It feels like travian team completely forgot to what are the test servers for. Exemplary case is the current situation on com2x3. You decided to push huge game changing feature directly on game servers, without putting it first on a full round of test server. We all know what’s happening right now as a result. This is like a complete no-brainer for me as a dev. I guess you must have been pushed by deadlines otherwise I can't find any other logical explanation for this.
    My suggestion: Use your test servers for testing. This should be obvious, but feels like it isn't. Do not change things on live servers and do not put there untested things (by players, not just by your QAs).


    Huge kingdoms
    We all know that this one is an ongoing issue. Kingdoms have tons of players and they are just snowballing so the gap between “small” and “big” kingdoms is bigger as the game server progresses. More players = more tributes, more robber camps etc.
    My ideas:
    Rework VP system - remove the thing that you can steal VP only from the higher ranked kingdom. It’s just making the game more passive and easier to “abuse”. Get bonus % of VP if you actually destroy the treasury for each destroyed lvl. Currently if you send solo attack which goes through and destroy the treasury, you will take only 33% of the treasures, because others are redirected to other active treasury. People will again have a reason to actually cata down the treasuries. This whole topic is for a bigger discussion, but definitely there is needed a huge rework.
    Amount of players in kingdoms - currently there is no limit, which makes the snowballing effect even easier. Lets add a feature that you will receive slots for new members once you lvl up embassy/treasury and you will be able to collect tributes only from your actual members.
    Robber camps - This is a next factor which encourage everyone to invite everyone into their kingdoms. I am not totally sure how it is designed right now, maybe it depends on players or maybe it depends on the actual size of the kingdom, but my suggestion is this:
    Completely remove them! What are they for? Guvs and Dukes has robber hideouts, that has to be enough.
    Natars during the gameworld - this might be sort of a replacement for robber camps and might bring some actual variety into the gameplay. Let’s make them attack us! Random targets at random times. Do not display the amount of incoming troops. Might even send fake attacks or something :D They might also send random scout attack and if they goes through, the report will be visible for everyone on the server or something. Bigger kingdoms will receive more attacks or more frequently so it will help with the balancing issues. I believe that natars have really minimal use right now and there are many ways how we can implement them :)


    Sorry for the long post, but hopefully some of these ideas makes sense. Let me know your opinions and I would love to see also reactions from the admin team.


    Thank you for your time,
    Polenoo

  • Hi @Polenoo,


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I'll pass on your feedback to the rest of the team, await for feedback and then get back to you.


    I can already give you my opinion on some of your topics, as community manager. In my opinion, you have written some very interesting points here. We receive hundreds of player wishes every week (so far each and every single one of them is discussed among community managers and game designers, no matter the original language) and we're always thrilled to put them on the pipeline for release, trying to innovate and make the game better following player feedback, but it's true that there have been several big changes in terms of gameplay in the past months and for those that do not constantly keep an eye on the forum it might have been a surprise. Every new update has a discussion thread attached to it where we keep track of your feedback and react on it, trying to improve the game. Our goal is to make the game more fun to the greatest number of players, but I agree with you that making too many changes at once can make it too irritating when you just want to play and not learn what's new.


    About testing things "live" on normal game worlds, that's never the case. I answered a similar question in the blog recently. All features go through several testing environments before they're released. First internally, then on the public live world. Kingdom Unions (the rebalancing part) was tested just as any other release. Problem is, Kingdom Unions had a second part which we could not test since it was not developed yet (actual unions). We had only developed the rebalancing changes necessary for later implementing Kingdom Unions and when estimating the time for the second part of the feature, it was thought it would be doable for the mid-game, including also all the different pre-release testing environments, but in the end it wasn't the case, as you well know. Just want to make clear that nothing that was untested has been released. The second part of Kingdom Unions will also be tested before release, there's no doubt about it and com2x3 has never been used as a testing environment.


    We could've waited 2 or 3 months without announcing Kingdom Unions at all and continue with normal game worlds until everything was more than ready, but that would've also meant no more new features in the meantime.
    I personally prefer the approach of less-frequent bigger updates with no big changes in between, but I'm not sure all would agree and it might make the game more boring in the eyes of some players that like to see their feedback have an immediate impact on the game. In my experience as a gamer, I've sometimes seen devs take so long in delivering updates in early access titles, for example, that the games are deemed "inactive" or "abandoned" by the players. There's a point in the middle that is just the right spot, and if there's a consensus about it, I'm sure it could be implemented for Travian Kingdoms as well, since as I mentioned in the beginning, we're just trying to make the game as much fun as possible for everyone. In any case, Kingdoms Unions will not be "tested" directly on a live game world, as no matter what, the testing phases have to be passed first. This means the test server should get the full release very soon, as it always happens once our QA colleagues are done with it .


    I will stop here since I don't want to steal your thread completely and there were many other interesting topics you mentioned. Just my small and personal insight about the current situation.


    Thank you for your time and feedback too!
    JJ

  • Hi JJ


    First of all thank you for your reaction and opinions. It's a really good thing that you are hearing out your community and discussing players wishes and ideas.
    Yes recently it was from my point of view really irritating experience regarding new changes and special worlds. Personally I wasn't able to play the same version of game two times in a row.


    I understand your point about the testing and making the kingdom Unions. From my dev and QA point of view its totally normal. Estimating things is just a hard thing to do. But as you said, each update is tested internally and then on the public. How would you test the second Unions part on public - test servers? I can imagine that you would put it for a week on test servers and then right away on live ones. But here comes 2 issues:
    1. The most important one - really small place for mistakes
    2. I really doubt that you can get enough data trough this period of time to confidently release the update to live servers
    I am totally into consistent developing of new changes. That's a great thing! But I would prefer that all the changes are firstly updated to test servers for a longer run, where they can change each week, because its a test server and everyone is expecting such things to happen, instead of putting multiple changes through-out the live game worlds.


    Looking forward to reactions on other topics. Mostly to those Natars :) I've got plenty of ideas in my back so lets see where this discussion brings us :)


    Have a good one!
    Polenoo

  • Hi again, @Polenoo,


    Always happy to share ideas :)


    Yes, I hear you about the constant changes. It's a recent complaint, but it's not the first time we get that piece of feedback and I completely see your point. I will pass it along and wait for a reply. About extending testing times... I'm not an expert in that field whatsoever, but as far as I know, we never wait a full test round until its end, mostly because we want to deliver as fast as possible and waiting a full round with normal speed (the most accurate and helpful way for our developers to test new features) would take us up to 6 months. As you can imagine, almost half a year without new features is definitely too long. Even if we go the quick and dirty route with a speed test world and risk facing problems when bringing them to normal speed rounds, we're still talking of 2 months time. I was thinking of your idea of only bringing changes to the test server while waiting to implement the new features only in new game worlds, but then there would probably have to be exceptions... That's because we usually bring a lot of quality of life improvements, bug fixes, etc. and it would be very complicated when several different game worlds run different versions, meaning we need to develop a fix individually for each. This would demand a lot of manpower to maintain and give support to while our plans for new features get buried in the pile of work. As it currently stands, the fewer versions that are running simultaneously, the faster we can work, and given that we're constantly starting new games, it could quickly become too chaotic... Also, you risk people dropping their game world in the middle to try the new thing, which we have experienced in the past. This is all to say that I don't have the perfect solution either, but this is a topic I will bring to the table for the team to discuss so a possible compromise can be reached. In the end, it should be that signing up for you doesn't mean learning what "these guys have changed this time" while also not disturbing the flow of updates or increasing the workload of our already up-to-their-ears devs. In any case, I thank you for the feedback and I'll try my best to get a few inputs and internal discussion on this.


    About the idea with the Natars, well, I personally really like it as a fellow player, but our game designers are the ones you need to convince. I will try to bring them on-board the conversation next week after I meet with them to discuss yours and the other players' suggestions, ideas and feedback. We've heard a lot of wishes in the recent past about more NPC action and this could be a good way to handle it, but I'll let the experts and the other players give their opinion on the topic :D .


    Regards,
    JJ

  • Hi @'JJ'


    I totally get your point. Regarding the testing I meant it more like:
    Test new set of features on test servers which lasts for 2 months. Trough out that time you have time to fix all the bugs (functionality and game design related), collect all the feedback from players and after that push it to live game worlds. Of course that you will have to release small updates to live servers, there are always unexpected bugs/unworking features in certain scenarios, but these are only small edge cases. The point was that this "method" will be applied only to new features and hardcore gameplay changes. Real case scenarios:

    • Let the kingdom Unions play out first on full round of test server with both functionalities working (first and second part of changes) and then put it to upcoming servers.
    • Night truce. I understand that these are really not able to be properly tested on international test servers because of the time zones, but at least put it to some really populated same language speaking country. What happend now was a bug fest :D First couple weeks were really funny with the amount of bugs and really huge ones with FL, which lasted for more then month. All of this could be avoided with one round of a test server :)

    Dropping players from one server to another because of changes in the game is happening also right now. For instance kingdom Unions were applied only to new upcoming servers so if players from active worlds wanted to try it they had to either drop the last one or play 2 worlds in the same time.
    Either way thank you for bringing this into your internal conversation and hopefully it will be at least somehow helpful :)


    Regarding the Natars, yeah I really believe that there is a huge potential :) I can see reactions from my fellow clan members and mostly new players when natars are sending out scout attacks during the 3day countdown for WWs. It's basically like their only integration with huge scale of players and they love it! So I am really looking forward to reactions from your game designers :)


    Thank you as always,
    Polenoo

  • Hey @Polenoo, thank you very much for your constructive feedback and ideas! :)


    I will answer the issue of "too many changes" and "too little public testing" as one, since I believe they're strongly connected. Here's a bit of a story of how we got to where we are: In the past we had quite long stretches of time without any updates, which was certainly not ideal. It made people unsure of whether the game's development was even alive and ongoing still. Therefore we took on a new philosophy of having very regular updates, ideally every other week, at least every month. We were indeed able to deliver those, but at a cost (that you correctly identified). Very recently we've hence been changing our process again towards taking a bit more time between releases. We're basically trying to find a middleground between regular updates and still having enough time to test and giving players enough time to get used to new stuff. This should hopefully alleviate some of your concerns in the future. We're definitely aware of it.


    As far as the "huge kingdoms" problem goes, I definitely agree that it can make game rounds pretty boring due to one or very few kingdoms having basically no competition. It's usually neither fun for the winning kingdom due to lack of challenge nor for the other kingdoms due to having little to no chance to accomplish much. Now, we can't really prevent people from playing together in our game (even putting a limit on kingdom members will just create more "meta kingdoms" with more wings, as we've seen in the past that cooperation with their friends is usually more important to players than being part of the official winner's list in the end). What we certainly can do though, is try to reduce some of the snowballing factors you mentioned, have less of a "slippery slope", basically make the big ones not get bigger faster and faster as much as is currently the case. You've mentioned some possible approaches that we'll definitely take into account for future changes, and there are many more. The idea of making use of the Natars is particularly interesting as we've been discussing such a feature for a while. For example, Natar armies could regularly attack the kingdoms with the most treasures (cause they really want to have shiny golden thingies :D ), making life overall a bit harder for them. This whole aspect of bringing kingdoms somewhat closer together in power level by pushing smaller ones and challenging bigger ones is one of the next big topics on our "to do" list.

  • Hey @FabianF


    yeah finding the right balance between releases of new updates might be able to do it :)


    I dont see a problem in meta kingdoms with more wings, because of the fact that its happening also now and with the current design of the game it will always do. The main point though is that more wings kingdoms has, more and more weaker they are. Lets say one meta kingdom is separated into 3 wings. Communication between kingdoms is harder to keep up. Kings aren't able to snowball that much because they have 3 times less tributes. Same goes with members because of less number of robber camps. Same goes with generating of VP etc. Of course you are not able to stop people playing to together.. nobody would play travian then, but you can stop allowing them to create huge kingdoms with these small "limitations". This could be one approach, but I am not sure about the outcome though.


    On the other hand, yes Natars would be able to help with the balancing issue quite really well. As you said, more treasures kingdoms has, more attacks or stronger attacks they will receive. It will help with regulating of armies and will keep them busy. But I am not sure if they should attack only treasuries, because it will be really easy to predict their behavior and kingdoms will be defending them quite easily without any looses. Treasuries will be stacked up with huge perma def and it will even more discourage people from attacking them.
    More attacks on random players in a huge kingdoms, will force them to move their def units quite often which will make them more vulnerable to enemy attacks and that will encourage people to be more active in general.