Here I will be posting a daily synopsis of the events of the summit. I may not get them out day of but I will be taking notes that I can refer back to in order to type them up later. I will be adding all content to the original thread post and will post a separately to notify you when I've added new content. Please feel free to give feedback on what I post.
Today was a great start! Today was mostly about getting to know each other. The reps started arriving in the hotel through the day and we started to get to know each other. In the afternoon we made our way to HQ where we started a lengthy introduction and tour session. We met members of community management who will be with us all week and are facilitating the workshops. We also met a lot of important members of the Travian: Legends team like Game Director and Game Designer. We also took a tour through the whole office and got brief introductions to all the staff that were in the building. There are quite a lot of staff across the many departments.
After our introductions and tour we prioritized the topics on the agenda board. Martina had taken the topics the reps had sent in and organized them into cards on a board. We were given 8 stickers to mark the ones we felt needed to be covered first. I will need to check my photos to try and piece together my 8 choices. However I will be posting pictures of the group selections as well.
Once this was done we had an hour left until we were going to wrap for the day so we started discussing the the topics on the agenda. Our first (and only - we spent a lot of time on it) was endgame. To simplify the agenda board the cards were based on broad topics and not specific ideas. However Jake (Game Designer) was well aware of what ideas we had submitted related to it, as well as things he and the team have thought about.
I will try and keep to a brief overview as it was a lengthy discussion. It is important to note THESE ARE JUST IDEAS. They may never see the light of day and even be seriously considered for development and implementation. They are also independent ideas and are not directly related to each other. That said if you have feelings about something please share and I will do my best to pass it on. Here are some of the ideas:
- WW Spawn
- Randomize spawn
- Reduce number of WWs by cutting grey zone
- Endgame Length
- Reduce WW build time
- Change balance of building times i.e. increase length of earlier/lmid levels, decrease later
- In order to increase the length of time a WW can be more effectively attacked
- Increase catapult damage to WW
- Building Plans
- Make it so if you own extra plans they reduce WW build time
- Need 3 plans to build to 100
- Losing building plans increases current construction time of WW
- Fixed Building Plan Village
- Option 1 - conquer spawning village and plans cannot be moved
- Option 2 - take plans from spawn village and plans cannot be moved from village that take
That is the broad strokes of what was discussion. If you have any questions please ask. Until next time!
Today we started getting into the meat of things. First I’ll give a brief explanation about the difference between Game Design and Development.
Game Design figures out what to put into the game. They take the idea that farm lists need to be improved, figure out how and explain it to the development team.
Development implements what the game design team sends them. They write all the code and makes sure it works.
In-game Wave Builder
Blocking of VPN/TOR
Universal Account (Not a Lobby Account )
Improve Performance for Mobile Devices
More to come when I’m back on my laptop!
The fourth and final day started 30 minutes earlier than Day 2 and Day 3. We quickly got into the thick of things by meeting with the UI/UX team. This was an opportunity for us to show them pain points in the current UI/UX design. For instance we discussed the fact that on player profiles it says "Artefact" next to it but it doesn't tell you which it is. Some changes we suggested were minor in both importance and in anticipated difficulty of changing. Others were clearly going to pose greater problems and thus will take longer to address. It is important to note that just because we brought it up, doesn't mean it will get done. Like the other teams the UI/UX team has a significant backlog and have a lot already scheduled.
UI/UX Topics Covered:
Rally Point / Market page refreshes
Rally Point search / filtering
Troop Travel Time Update (i.e its mixed infantry/cav and you delete the infantry, it would show the travel time of just the cav)
Icons for forwarding / merging instead of text
Delete all button for reports / IGMs
Link List - add line you can use to separate sections
Treasury add coordinates to artifact list
Add hero XP to player profile
Custom hero item icons
Improving game map
General UI improvements (inc. daily quest box jumping)
After a short break we started tackling community management topics. This included a discussion of what platforms Travian currently uses to communicate with us (Forum, Facebook, Blog, Email, Youtube & Infobox). We also discussed how to better support new players and how to maintain communication between the representatives from the summit and HQ in order to keep closer ties to the community. We also covered a few miscellaneous topics and Travian Academy - the training program that is being rolled out to train Community Managers.
On the subject of platforms we were asked of us whether we felt any of those platforms were less important and the consensus was that they each played a different role. For instance Facebook is very popular among the Turkish and a few other domains. On the other hand the forum is wildly popular with the Russian community. Everyone unanimously said the info boxes were something they used to get information from Travian. The others; blog, YouTube and email weren't directly mentioned but they play an important role. YouTube hosts any videos produced, the blog produces big updates that are shared across multiple platforms and email is particularly useful for trying to engage lapsed players.
For tutorials we discussed the value in creating short videos describing different aspects of the game. For example there could be a video on how to apply to an alliance. I know, this isn't very interesting for those of us who have been here forever but it can useful for newer players. They would start out covering more basic topics and gradually more advanced topics could be covered. The idea is to have them be no more than 30 seconds to keep the viewers attention. On its on this likely wouldn't be a game changer but with other game design changes being developed I expect the new player experience will be significantly better.
The details of exactly how the reps and HQ will stay in touch haven't been worked out yet but (as of writing) we have only just left! The idea though is that we will have a direct line to HQ that we can use to send HQ information as well as for them to send it to us. Yes two way communication! This was a subject that I spoke about several times, that is is vital that the community hear more from HQ about why things are the way they are. There are some ideas being considered but the need has been acknowledged and will be worked on in the coming months.
Travian Academy is (at present) roughly 12 modules that CMs need to complete for training purposes. These modules cover the basics of community management to more advanced topics like handling toxic users. This is a new initiative - the CMs are all at various levels of completion and it will take more time for them to complete them. The knowledge and training the CMs are receiving is designed to improve how they communicate and interact with the community. In turn they will use this information to better train Mods and improve the community experience.
We also covered the fact the forum warning system needs to be fixed. I doubt we've noticed this but this is just part of the larger effort to improve the community management experience.
After lunch we spent time with members of the marketing team. This was about trying to get the essence of what brought us to Travian and why we stay. One of the things I emphasized was that this was a team game. It is designed to be played cooperatively and that is something new players really need to understand if they want a chance to succeed.
There may also have been some interviews done that might be posted by the social media manager at some point.
In the four day summit we've tackled game design everyday, which really points to its importance. This is where the large majority of topics need to start before they reach other departments and ultimately in the game we play.
Today was about wrapping up some loose ends.
Regarding tribe balance the outcome was that the majority felt no additional balancing was currently needed for the tribes. I disagreed but this was generally a majority rules event. Despite this the subject will be closely monitored and if it becomes clear changes are needed the game center is willing to consider them.
***NOTE: THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL - IT MAY STILL CHANGE***
We had discussed this yesterday but there was some lingering confusion as to what exactly was being done. Even now I'm not sure I fully understand and will need to see of it written out in a more detailed context to evaluate it better. The general result is that 1.1 will look like this:
"Each player may only own and play one account per game world.
An account must always be played for its own benefit. Accounts that exist solely for the benefit of other accounts may be permanently banned."
There was... disagreement about the removal of this language. As had been said the from Day 3, it was the Game Center that proposed removing it entirely. The Russian, COM, Turkish, and Italian representatives were enthusiastic about the change. Germany and France were strongly opposed without a similar style of replacement, and Hispanio also voiced opposition. That said we all agreed it wasn't working at present.
While we had brainstormed replacement language there wasn't anything that reached consensus. At that point I knew that the room sentiment was in favor of removal but I (and others) knew there was still a problem. The summit revealed clear cultural differences between communities regarding the use of tech accounts but those opposed to tech accounts were in the minority.
My proposal was to add hard coded protections into the game i.e. expand the current push protection system to try and contain techs. In general this would limit the number of hours of resources you can either raid or have sent to you from a player regardless of whether they are in your alliance or not. At the same time the confed rule is likely to be added which will restrict merchants and reinforcements within an alliance.
France had an additional point that would increase the population required for an account to send resources to other accounts from 40 to 200.
This isn't perfect... but the additional protections are better than no protections. As I said this also isn't set in stone and we likely won't see a roll-out for a while. If you have feedback feel free to provide it in this thread as we can still influence the result.
Dinner & Goodbyes
After we finished up for the day we went and enjoyed a medieval dinner! It was quite the experience with time period appropriate decor, garb, food and music. It was fun trying to eat with just a giant knife and your hands. After dinner we walked around Munich City Center for a bit and it is quite an amazing place, lots of great architecture.
I'm quite sad to leave Munich, it is a beautiful city. I also had such a great time meeting everyone at HQ and getting to talk about Travian all week. Coming away from this I can tell they really care, they get there are problems and they are trying to fix them. Every team has a long list of things they are currently working on and after this week we've added even more for them when they have time. Some changes will be easier than others and seen sooner rather than later. Others we definitely will not see this year.
I know the community has a lot of frustrations and I did my best to present them. They heard me and I am confident that in time we will see improvement, we just need to be patient. The best laid plans can fall apart, a project member can quit, critical problems can pop up. They will do their best though, regardless of the obstacles.