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Games 2.0: Lessons from Travian February 14, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in asynchronous gaming, casual games, game mechanics, games, games 2.0, gaming, social gaming, user generated content.

Travian is a popular in-browser asynchronous massively multiplayer game; you build a village in “Roman” times and set off to expand your empire, raid others and form alliances. It has many of the games 2.0 characteristics that I’ve been blogging about and has been growing nicely, as Alexa shows:

alexa graph for travian

As a passive web game:

it’s persistent. it’s massively multiplayer. it’s competitive. it’s social. it’s portable. it’s passive.

passive web games are setup to permeate your life. they become habitual. they are inherently attractive to gamers with little time — whether that time is taken up with work or other games. they fit unobtrusively into the corners of your life, taking as much or as little time as you want to invest.

… it’s a game you’ve never heard of, but, it gets 225 million page views a day

Most game reviews are glowing, noting the appeal to both casual gamers and obsessive gamers. One review though notes that at heart this game is about negotiation and diplomacy:

Politics is the name of the game, as while there’s room for intelligence to make a difference in combat, in the end, if someone has enough troops (and the resources required to build them) they can crush anyone. So friends are important, or at least fellow wolves

The reviewer complains that the scale of the player base ultimately becomes a problem for a diplomacy based (ie social) game. With 20,000 or more players, it far exceeds Dunbar’s number.

I can’t help but think whether building such a social game on top of an existing social map might improve gameplay even further.


1. MaxS - February 14, 2008

Ah, finally Travian gets its well deserved attention. its absolutely fantatic game both in concept and execution.

i have to admit we were heavily influenced by travian while designing Knighthood, not to mention my co-designer run one of the biggest clans on travian.

2. BenS - February 15, 2008

We too love Travian, but we were more fond of Urban Dead, which greatly influenced our game Tooth & Claw.

3. Simon - February 16, 2008

alexa shows it beats habbo in terms of traffic, quite impressive :o)

4. web game - March 29, 2009

I\’d get so much more work done if it wasnt for travian 🙂

5. Dan Massicotte - May 4, 2009

Sure is hard to macro-manage Travian and still get work done.

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