Travian is a browser-based, massively multiplayer, quasi-real-time strategy game, developed and maintained by a German team dedicated to its upkeep.
The game represents a conflict between a multitude of player controlled empires. The goal is to build up economic and military power through the development of land and construction of buildings and armies; each activity taking upwards of 10 minutes.
Upon creating your account, you choose to be represented by either Romans, Teutons, or Gauls; each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The game itself is also free to play, but if you choose to purchase a 'plus' account then you are granted a laundry list of features which don't grant numerical benefits, but do allow for easier play and more informed decisions. For additional details about the game play itself, check out the tutorial found here.
Analysis: Travian is one of the most balanced, long-term, browser-based games that also includes player conflict that I've seen. In addition, it puts Web 2.0 technology to good use and therefore has implications for the future of web game development. Efficient use of AJAX and PHP makes for a smooth play experience, and when combined with reasonably balanced, if slow, game play; it's no surprise that Travian has the following that it does. On that note, I will warn you that the game is slow, and tedious at times, so it works best when taken as a background activity. But as you build up your empire you'll find more and more details to spend your time on as your war-like neighbors make themselves known and you begin to manage more than one village. If you have any other questions, check out the FAQ and important information forum found here.
In conclusion, if you're in the mood to try something a bit more long-term and strategic than the usual fare, while still maintaining those browser-based sensibilities, then give Travian a try. Click.
If you are intrigued by this type of game and want more, then be sure to keep an eye on M3mnoch's Blog as he is not only developing one of his own, but continues to offer insight into his development as he finds time to write.