Ich Bin Ein Travianer

Posted by: on Sep 27, 2013 | One Comment

Travian "T"oo long! It’s been way too long since last I posted. I’ve been both lazy *and* busy. Just got back from Munich, in fact, because I’m officially working on Travian, the mightiest browser-based strategy game of them all.

I shamefully confess I hadn’t heard of Travian until my friend Josef recommended me to the powers-that-be at Travian Games GmbH. Now I’m officially hooked. Travian is a completely different take on online gaming, on gaming period. It’s “free-to-play”, and you can gain advantages by spending real-world money – Travian’s got to make money somehow, renting out servers ain’t cheap – but the game is wonderfully designed so that forking over real gold for in-game gold is truly, madly, and deeply optional. You can do well at the game and spend nary a dime.

The game is pretty staggering in its intricacy. It debuted in 2004, and it’s been updated and expanded ever since. The setting is ancient Rome. You expand your settlements, cultivate resource production, and raid and form alliances with other players. The ultimate goal is to complete a “World Wonder” and thereby defeat the Natars, the non-player enemies that are threatening the world. Once a World Wonder is built, a winning alliance is declared, and the server resets.

Travian title logo

It’s hard to capture the complexity of Travian in a paragraph or two, so check it out for yourself. It’s basically a vast and complex board game, with all the fiddly rules and tally-keeping handled for you.

One of the coolest things about the game is the broad player base. Travian has servers everywhere from Estonia to Indonesia. 1.6 million “likes” on Facebook. So what am I doing for Travian, exactly? World-building. I’m coming up with a story for the game, answering questions like “who are the Natars?” and “how is Travian different from historical reality?”. That kind of thing.

Speaking of historical reality, the trip to Munich was amazing. Germany is like some kind of fantasy realm where bad architecture and cars that are not either Mercedes or BMWs and street litter have been erased from existence. And German is such a weird language. Sometimes I can almost understand it, but most of the time I feel like I’m in one of those Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes where Picard is forced to go to the Klingon homeworld for some reason. Like settling a succession crisis for the next Klingon emperor, or working on a browser game.

Thanks to Erik, Robin and… Jesus, everyone in Munich for making me feel so welcome. The newest iteration of Travian, version 5, is gonna debut sometime early next year. I have an account on the super-secret test server, and oh my Lord, is v5 ever an improvement. I cannot wait for it to go live, and it’s an unbelievable honor to be a part of it.

two Travian dudes, just hangin' out

They’re “just friends” – honest!

1 Comment

  1. Rafael
    October 3, 2013

    Don’t worry about understanding German Arvid, you just have to use one sentence for every situation:

    “Hallo, mein Name ist Arvid. Ich esse gerne Schnitzel und hätte gerne Sauerkraut dazu.”

    Just kidding.

    But nice to read, that you like the Country of Beer and Sauerkraut, although the rest of Germany doesn’t count Bavaria as part of the rest of the country (neither do the bavarians. They call it “Freestate Bavaria” for a reason), maybe you get some inspirations for some futute projects?

    What do you think about the people. I know, we Germans can be a bit reserved, but we are your bestest friends, once you knwo us a bit better ;-).

    But nice to read, that you liked it…but I will not play Travian, because I have less sparetime than before and two books to write (At the moment my second novel has a wordcount of 90.000 words and I have just written two thirds of the book).

    Well, like I said, I hope you liked Germany. And next time, you visit the countryside with all of it’s wooden, forestinfested glory :-D.

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