Summary Notes ~ Discord AMA with Jake ~ August 18th, 2021

On August 18th, 2021 we had the pleasure of hosting an intense Discord AMA (Ask Me Anything) session with the Travian: Legends Game Designer, Jake.

We discussed the upcoming Annual Special, Travian: Tides of Conquest and we received a lot of valuable feedback from a particularly passionate audience of players.

Spoiler alert: next week you will be able to see how impactful your remarks were. Keep an eye out for an announcement, but something definitely moved and made it to the JIRA board 😉

For those of you who could not be there and listen to the conversation live, we have summarized what happened in this article.

Question from Lukas | Pepe_King: “Is Jake aware of the consequences that the watchtower brings with its effect regarding the gameplay? (My View on the Building: Less and fewer Alliances are running OPs and the effect only strengthens the defensive players. Important villas will be built so they can be upgraded to a city if necessary. With 4.6 Costs are secondary too bc its so easy to get the resources needed through farming oasis but most players will have a certain amount of ress in the hero inventory either way. In my eyes, it will affect the game in the way that nobody will run big OPs bc the costs are not in a relation to the impact. It may be more close fights but throughout several years of region Servers I think the game will be more simming than close quarter fights.)”

Jake: Yes, I am aware of the effect that Cities and Watchtowers bring to the game. We want to give players an interesting strategic decision and make them choose between upgrading to a city or sticking with a village. Fights on the map for regions and victory points will still be there. For sure they will look different but I’m convinced that fights will happen. It might be that the fights will be smaller but it can also be that they will be bigger and you don’t have an OP as often.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you will use these new mechanics to your advantage and trick your enemies. For example, launching an OP and/or fakes early in game to scout which villages your enemy will want to upgrade into cities. Trying to find out if a village is important to you and therefore more interesting for you to chief.

In addition to what you are describing, I am convinced there will be other effects too. I’m sure you – as players-  will figure out a way to use it to your advantage and come up with a strategy to still have a competitive game world, especially given the fact you can now conquer Victory Points from your enemies.

Question from Lukas | Pepe_King: “Is the Effect of the Watchtower set for the Special Server or is TG eventually thinking about changing something on that building? Like for example only making the effect *1 so it would be –> 20 units Rally Point + 20 * 1 (Watchtower) – 1 = up to 39 units visible.
Another thought on that topic maybe just being able to build the watchtower in the cap?”

The effect of the Watchtower is indeed set, the Beta is running and within a few weeks all the Tides of Conquest game worlds will start. Changing something now will very likely end up with lots of issues in a live environment, which we really want to avoid.

Besides this, players are already preparing their strategies and if we make adjustments now, they would need to start over from scratch. As we all know, this game requires a lot of planning to get your alliance to victory.

Minor adjustments can be made but changing an entire feature from 0 is not something we wish to do on short notice due to the number of bugs that could come with it.

Question from [A.S] pozitiv: Why does ToC bring features to upgrade defensive play (with watchtowers)? Is this an objective for future game development?

No, this is not an objective for the future of the game as a whole. We want to bring new interesting features to the game which force you into making decisions and come up with new strategies.

The amount of discussion that the Watchtowers bring is really interesting for me to follow, as it shows me it is a feature you are interested in and you are bringing your thoughts and ideas on how to make it work.

In regards to our future objectives for the game, we want to make the game better in terms of usability and improve all systems around it. It’s not that we focus on one type of playstyle and ignore everyone else. We focus on a topic that seems interesting and want to see what we can do with it to make it work within the game. Then, we move on to a different topic, so it’s possible that next year the focus will be heavily on attacking. We will see.

Question from Dobas: “Will we perhaps now, or ever, see custom models for all equipment a hero wears depending on the culture he’s playing, for better immersion? Seeing how the simple style used for these models is something I can get done for a few bucks from an artist on ”upwork” (I don’t mean any offense, it fits the game and looks nice) and the changes to code would be extremely simple. I’ve always wondered why that wasn’t done from the start, I think it would also benefit Travian Games GmbH, because it would create even more incentive to exchange gold for silver to get your hero looking the exact way you want him/her to, without making it a purely ”pay for cosmetics” thing since the use of the items will remain the same.”

When it comes to the current annual special, Travian: Tides of Conquest, I can say no. This time we introduced Alliance banners as the visual aspect. The hero has been left out a bit, as we can only implement a limited amount of new features at a time.

I need to be very careful what I say about this as Marketing is watching me closely. Maybe come back next year and check out what we have in store for you then. That’s all I can say about this at this moment.

Question from ELE: “I heard that this city feature was heavily balanced… wondering what it was before balancing?”

Well, in the very beginning, Watchtowers didn’t have any building costs or culture points attached to them. It was a building without much value, but I know this is not the answer you were looking for.

When we first pitched the idea of the Watchtower to our Ambassadors, their first feedback was that it was too strong and that there was no way to make it work. So, we went back to the drawing board to find a middle ground, making it 3 visibility per level instead of the 5 per level we had planned originally.

I really appreciate the input and feedback our Ambassadors are giving us and I would like to thank them for their help and support.

Question from Kirachen: “Did you consider making 4 spawn points – one for each quarter – instead of spawning everyone in the center?”

Not directly, we did have a look at the map and noticed that in the South West area (+|-) there is a lot of Mediterranean Sea. Putting a spawn point in this area would spread out players over a very large region, making it difficult for them to work closely together. This could possibly spark the question of whether it is fair or not.

In Travian: Shadow Empires, we did change the spawn mechanic on the map and you were spawning based on your faction and their region. Without factions, we decided to go back to the center spawning.

Question from 14Ways: “How do you guys come up with new Ideas? Is there some other game you get your inspiration from? Or why does this whole city feature feel like stolen from travian kingdoms?”

Travian: Legends is a rather unique game, as there is no other similar browser game using the same mechanics and monetization features. There’s no real game we can use as a template.

I would love to implement features from other games, such as an alliance mechanic that is based on marriages and families like in Crusader Kings. Or some roleplay mechanics such as the matriarch in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but it wouldn’t directly fit into Travian: Legends. Still, they are a source of inspiration! I personally love siege tanks in Starcraft II. When you use them right, in very specific situations, they are super strong. But nothing I just mentioned could fit Travian: Legends.

You are right, Travian Kingdoms had cities first. Travian: Legends had Gauls, Romans and Teutons first, together with buildings, etc. Indeed, we took some inspiration from Travian Kingdoms and made adjustments, so it could work within Travian: Legends.

Question from Харпер: “Let’s imagine, that TG’s Big Boss asks you to transfer only one feature from Special server to standard version 4.6 in all travian gameworlds, including Final. What will you choose and why?”

That is a super tough question!

Annual Specials are completely different from the regular gameworlds, so it is very hard to move a feature. Personally, I really enjoy the conquering mechanic where you keep the tribe of the village you conquer. However, to implement this on regular gameworlds would mean changing the game too much. Perhaps I would move over troops forwarding and troops merging, as they will work both for defense and attacking players.

Question from Lukas | Pepe_King: “I would be interested in knowing if Jake thinks that Region servers would get more competitive when reducing the number of regions with an effect and having more point regions. Bc in my eyes it is way too „easy“ to get the regions with the artifact effects every competitive alliance needs. So when reducing it, it would really lead to more fights in between alliances. When doing that it would need a makeover of the Strategic positions so every spawn region has an okayish way to get to those. Or at least let’s say it should be balanced. Like for example, one region would be close to a Speed but farther away to other important regions while another region is close to gr eyes and so on. “

There are multiple problems we would need to address here.

If we reduced the number of artifacts, it would become easier for one alliance to dominate the round. For example, if there was only one troop training artifact, the alliance that conquered it would most likely win the round and get ahead very quickly. It would be almost impossible for other alliances to catch up, which would make them leave. Having multiple troop training artifacts means that one alliance may get it a bit sooner but others are still able to catch up and they are more inclined to keep going.

Fewer artifacts would mean way more intense fights, this is correct. At the same time, it would cause a decision in the game rather early on and the rest of the round would not be as enjoyable anymore.

Another factor is the type of map that Annual Specials are played on. The Mediterranean Sea occupies big chunks of the map, which means it is much harder to balance the locations, especially if you have fewer artifacts. It can happen that a player spawns on one side of the sea, while artifacts end up on the other side. This would be too far away and too late to conquer it.

Question from Lukas | Pepe_King: “But for what do a Beta then besides discovering bugs? Watchtowers are freakin strong so my thought was to maybe reduce it so it only gives a multiply 1 instead of 3”

Of course, we will have a deep look into your feedback regarding the new features that were presented. However, cities haven’t been built yet in the Beta. All current feedback is based on what you read in the articles we published. We want to see how this pans out within the game. How players come up with their new strategies to solve their problems. What they do with it and how they try to break it. We do not like to predict what might happen based on a feature set article. We want to see how you play it and see how the gameplay evolves in your hands – good or bad.

Besides this, we want you to get out of your comfort zone and force you to develop new strategies and adjust your style. Perhaps sending fakes the way you have done in the past is not fitting with this scenario. That doesn’t mean it is wrong though. It means you need to adjust your plan.

Of course, if we see concrete issues and things go crazy, we will react.

Question from Schneeente: “My question: What is the benefit of the watchtower? How does it change the game for the better?”

In the current state of the game, faking is deemed a necessity. With vacation mode sending fakes 24/7 is a very popular strategy. Players need to constantly check the rally point, as the incoming attack icon is there. After a while, you probably lose track of it. This is part of the game and I do not want to get rid of it.

At the same time, I would like to give more meaning to fakes. Right now it is a tactic and there is no immersion. There’s no epic battle attached to it. Making fakes harder to perform and increasing the ability to call them out improves the game as a whole for the better.

Question from [A.S] pozitiv: “Don’t you think that watchtower will force fakes into becoming 80 troops as standard and therefore completely mute offensive play?”

This is really up to you as a player. Yes, you might want to take precautions, if you think a village in a certain location has a certain amount of population and could turn into a City. However, there will also be those villages where you just know that the enemy will not spend their resources on turning it into a city and you can go with lower amounts.

Then, there are those in-between where you may want to take a gamble and it either turns out great or you made a wrong choice. This goes back to what I’ve mentioned before, we want you to make different choices and adjust how you play to keep it interesting.

At the same time, you can also use this to your advantage. Yes, you need more troops to do a fake. At the same time, if you plan one in a good way, you may end up forcing your enemy into upgrading into a city when it actually makes no sense. They will spend resources and settlement slots. You force their hand, in a way. You can play this out both ways, in my opinion, and I like to see a bit of risk in the game.

Question from dliskov: “About game features – If we talk about new version you add hospital, new rules complicating help inside the meta for building hammers. Why it was decided not to add the functionality “when capturing a village, it remains the race that it was originally, and not the race of the invader”?”

The hospital is a very stable feature, it works the exact same way for every single player.

However, it is not the same if we consider the conquering mechanic of the Annual Specials. On regular 4.6 gameworlds, players tend to stick to a role, as either defensive or offensive. This choice is something we’d like to keep, as it honors the original classic version.

Question from platzi: “Did you consider designing another item to replace the horn of the Natarian on this kind of server or to add something that makes it back useful?”

For this specific item, we didn’t consider making a replacement.

When it comes to Hero items, I always need to think very broadly, as we have many items and they need to be balanced with one another. Rather than replacing one item pertaining to a very specific unit/tribe with another single item, I would look into creating a horn for Teutons, Huns etc. etc.

Question from Schneeente: “Do you agree that attacking on an annual special server is already significantly harder, more frustrating and less beneficial than on regular servers? And if you agree, why do you give the defenders an even bigger edge (an additional advantage with cities + watchtower) instead of making it easier/more beneficial to attack?”

Yes, it is harder because you need to play the full map but you can in fact destroy victory points of your enemy. You can destroy an entire alliance by attacking them and removing them from the playfield. So the big benefit of attacking is removing victory points from your enemy and adding them to your own. No matter how much you defend, there is no way you will be able to gain as many victory points or as quickly – for that matter – as by attacking and conquering those points for yourself.

Question from Lemon: “How tall is Jake?”

I’m so tall that on a regular basis I walk into door frames and hit my head. That kind of tall.

Question from Grändi: “Is Jake your real name?”

It is not the name that is written on my passport but this is how everyone calls me, with the exception of my mother!

Question from Lukas | Pepe_King: “Is it possible to bribe you to get a turtle into the alliance banner generator?”

We had a tough time predicting which shapes and colors would be used when we were creating and designing the banner options. Now that the feature has been live for a little bit, we see that more people than we expected are in fact using an animal on their banner.

For sure, we will provide more animals. If you have a specific list of animals you would like to see, please suggest them in the #suggestions channel on Discord, so I can take a look at them! In general, you might see more options for the alliance banners in the future. Maybe, possibly.

Question from Kyle: “why is the beta 1x world when the new features seem to be only accessed after a little bit of the world has gone by therefore meaning most won’t experience and experiment with them before the proper server is released?”

For us, the Open Beta is a way to test if the entire construction works with a certain mass of players playing it. 1x speed is the most played speed among our players and we want to make sure the pace is progressing the way we envisioned.

In addition, we do not want this Open Beta to compete with the actual Travian: Tides of Conquest gameworlds. If we had a 10x Beta, for example, it would be something so out of the ordinary that no one would end up playing the actual Annual Special gameworlds.

Question from Bac: “why can you take Victory Points to another alliance when you switch but you can’t do that with your bonuses donation? Is alliance bonuses more important than winning server condition?”

These are two separate topics. Regarding Victory Points, you shouldn’t be reset back to 0, if your alliance disbands for example. At that point, you might want to join another alliance and if you have nothing to bring to the table, it is much harder to get picked and continue the game. You need to retain these points, so you bring something to the table.

Alliance bonuses are bound to the alliance, instead. What I don’t want is your top contributing players of the alliance to leave and all of a sudden the alliance bonus drops a few levels. This impact would be too high, in my opinion, and this is why they work differently.

Thank you, once again, for your valuable questions and for your passion! See you on the battlefield!