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Hints, Tips, Strategy and FAQs for playing Populous III online

     

Etiquette
Contents


Why won't anyone play with me any more?
So what are these things I shouldn't do?
How do I know if my opponent is cheating?
Walhalla's thoughts on game concepts *new*

Q: Why won't anyone play with me any more?

A: You're online, so it's unlikely to be a your personal hygiene! Seriously though, there are a number of things which do get up peoples noses (hehe), some of which are not immediately apparent to the newcomer. People who breach etiquette become well known, and find it progressively harder to get a game. It's easy for these social pariahs to re-register under a different name, but they lose all their accumulated points, and they soon get spotted again.

Q: So what are these things I shouldn't do?

A: Here are a few common pet hates (there are probably hundreds more that people could add, and I expect you have a few of your own - if so, let me know!):

Quitters - If your opponent quits, provided that you see their followers die and you get the victory dance (i.e. it's not a communication breakdown), you still get the point(s) when you return to the lobby. But it's not the same feeling, after a hard-fought battle. So if you find yourself on the losing side, don't quit, but use it as an opportunity to polish your defensive skills. Then maybe, when you win one, your opponent will do the same for you. And you'd be surprised how far down you can get beaten and still have a chance. I've been knocked down to 6 braves, and a totally wrecked village, in a 3-player game, but went on to win, because the other two forgot about me.

Pussy cats - The opposite of quitters. If you've got your opponent on the floor, and he's doing the decent thing and waiting for you to finish him off, don't play cat and mouse with him - end it as quickly as you can.

Pausers - One of the main differences between online and offline play, is that, offline, you can pause as often as you like to have a look around, make a coffee, whatever, and no one cares. Online, you've got real players on the other end of the line, and you'll ruin the game flow for them and disrupt their train of thought. Please don't do it, unless the others consent (send 'em a message and ask if you're busting for a pee, or just go anyway, and accept that your village may look a little different by the time you return B-)

'Stacked' games - If you are hosting the game, there are a number of options which you have available which can profoundly affect game play. If you want to set anything other than the standard defaults for that map, get everyone else's agreement first. Some players set up a very limited set of options, so that only one strategy will succeed - and of course they are standing ready to put that strategy into effect. Don't do it. And if you find yourself faced with a game like that - quit. In my opinion, it's one of the very few times you can do that with a clear conscience.

Hypnotists and swampers - Most experienced players turn off certain spells and buildings at the start of the game, most commonly: Magic Shield, Invisibility, Swamp, Hypnotism, Spy, Boats and Balloons. The reason is that, in the hands of a skilled player, certain combinations are invincible, or as near as makes no difference. Shielded firewarriors in balloons, for instance. If you are host and someone asks you to turn these off, it would probably be wise to do so, in case they know how to use them! It's not really bad etiquette to refuse, but you should realise the risks before you do. However, if you're in a game where these spells are available, in my view you should use them all you want. All's fair in love, war and Populous!

Players who haven't patched - If you haven't got version 1.01 of the game, the game won't work properly online and, at worst, it will crash the computers of everyone who tries to play with you. See the getting started section for details. Get patched - you know it makes sense.

People who don't click 'ready' - The game can't start until all the players have clicked under the 'ready' heading against their names, to change the 'no' to 'yes'. Most people are (fairly) tolerant of this, as it means that you're likely a newbie and therefore easy meat. Don't give that information away so soon!

F****ing swearwords - Most people grow out of writing obscenities online when they're about 15, but a few persist. Don't do it, guys ('n gals). Even if you are 15, it puts a lot of people off, which means fewer people in the lobby, which means fewer games. I'd rather have good games than bad cussing, any day.

Shamen in the Wildmen lobby - Actually, although this annoys some people, I don't have a problem with it. Where else are they going to get a game, when all the other lobbies always seem to be empty? If you don't want to play them, don't! If they come into your hut when you are trying to host, they will usually leave if asked (politely).

Shamen in disguise - Some experienced players re-register in order not to frighten off potential playing partners - then mash the newbies. If you are going to do this, go easy on them, hey? If people get mashed too often, they won't come back, and won't develop into more interesting opponents. Treat it as a teaching/learning experience, and share your knowledge.

Cheats - Don't use 'em! We all know they're out there, but it just kills the game. Where's the satisfaction in winning when you cheat? Cheats are for wimps. And don't try typing 'byrne' on the message line. It doesn't work in multiplayer mode, and is sent to all the other players. This has the same effect as typing 'Hey guys - I'm a newbie and I'm trying to cheat, but I can't even do that properly!'

Hut hogs - There's only one 2-player hut in the wildmen lobby, so if 2 players want to play each other, it looks as if they're blocked if you're sitting in there waiting for a partner. If they ask you to move, don't take it personally - just hop out, let them through, and then hop back. Similarly, if you join a hut uninvited, the current occupants may have other plans, so leave if asked. (Wildmen often prefer not to play against shamen, and who can blame them? They'll come onto it when they're up to speed.) On the other hand, if you want a 2 or 3 player game, and the huts are blocked - just go into a larger hut and launch when you have the number you want. It works just the same.

Loudmouths in the lobby - There always seems to be a loudmouth in every bar on a Friday night, and they often turn up in the Populous lobby as well. You know the type - THEY ALWAYS TYPE IN UPPER CASE SO THAT THEIR WORDS OF *WISDOM* STAND OUT FROM EVERYBODY ELSES. (It's the online equivalent of shouting.) The other annoying habit they have is holding down the return key so that all the other messages scroll
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It's particularly annoying, because the lobby chat system only keeps a dozen or so lines of text, so the previous posts get scrolled to oblivion. There's not much that can be done about it, apart from abusing the perpetrators - and refusing to play with them.

Jumpers - These are people who sit in a hut in the lobby and then jump out just as the host launches. The players are then one short and either have to play a completely different game from the one they were planning, or come back to the lobby and start all over again. Bad show.

Ditherers - I have lost count of the times when I have patiently waited while we accumulated enough players in a hut in the lobby for a game, launch, and someone decides *then* that they need to go for a pee, make a cup of coffee, walk the dog, or whatever. They type 'afk' and leave everone hanging around waiting for them. If you need to do any of these things, why not do it *before* you join the hut?

Q: How do I know if my opponent is cheating?

A: Cheating is a lot less common than most people seem to think. Accusations of cheating often fly around the lobby, and I've even been accused myself, but I've rarely seen it from an opponent. It does seem to be mostly newbies who complain about it - and the people who cheat themselves, of course. So what should you look out for?

God mode - This appears to be the main cheat, where spells can be cast anywhere on the map (ie. the shaman has infinite range). You'll know if you are up against this if, for instance, a volcano appears in the middle of your village while the enemy shaman is still standing in her circle of reincarnation. Another sign is that you get a series of network sync errors when the cheat is initiated, and maybe a message at the bottom of your screen saying 'God mode initiated'. But before you shout 'cheat' just check to make sure that there isn't a *second* shaman lurking around (check the overhead view to make sure she's not hiding from view in a fold in the landscape) - it could be that the distant shaman is just a ghost. That would mean that you're up against a sneaky player (which is good) rather than a cheat. And network errors happen from time to time anyway (see below).

Extended range spells - Similar to God Mode, but the range isn't infinite, and the spell still leaves a trail back to the shaman, as normal. Cooldude introduced me to this one, in a game where his shaman was hitting targets behind my shaman using blast, while his shaman was still well out of my range even with lightning, with both shamen on level ground. As with God Mode, there are a series of network sync errors when the cheat is initiated (but not when it's used).

Training mode - With this cheat, the cheating player is granted all spells, fully charged. If someone plants a volcano and two earthquakes in your village 2 minutes into the game, you have grounds for suspicion. Again, however, be careful before you cry foul - if the opponent also has a thumping great village, the chances are that he's just good at building efficiently and has therefore got the necessary mana legitimately. You can't build loadsa huts by cheating.

Several phenomena are *not* cheats:




Wallies thoughts on game concepts

(dedicated to Salty_TN)

Quitting, Backdooring, Sidedooring, Doubling, Cheating, Resynching, Camping

A Story

Populous Online has a small group of dedicated players. I bet millions of people worldwide play silly games such as Packman, Frogger or Tetris, but Populous Online has maybe a few hundred players. Due to this, most players know each other, or have heard of each others existence. Because the Populous Community is so small and tight, a comparison with a small wild-west yankee frontier town makes some sense. A few shabby huts is all there is. Sometimes people are inside those huts, in times they need pleasure or entertainment, but mostly they dwell in the streets, sleep in porches or are on the move. The town has drawn many adventurers of all kind over time, gloryseekers, outcasts, junkies and mysterious cowboys from places all over the world. They hope to find a better place, or are just running from the authorities elsewhere. They arrive at any time of day, carrying nothing but hopes of a brighter future and a populous disk. Some leave soon, but some settle down, grow old and become respected notables of this town, skilled as they are in its habits and customs.

The town has a name that none of these travellers ever pronounces. Folklore however indicates that the more commonly used name is 'The Lobby' (34 souls, and a graveyard).

There is no Law in this town, no sheriff or deputy. No prison and nobody seems to care. Basically the town is in anarchy, always has been, always will be. One thing that binds these adventurers is the fact that they like the entertainment on offer there. This common feeling resulted in a rudimentary form of culture. Although there is no Law, the people that live there share some common believes, likewise behavior. The inhabitants tend to call eachother 'bitch'or 'scum'or 'noob', which is generally nothing personal, it just means 'Hi fellow inhabitant, greetings, it's a lovely day'. Naturally dissident or rude behavior as commonly seen in frontier towns like this is often seen, without any chance of prosecution or penalty. The only thing to worry about is that with such dissident behavior the newcomers wont get invited into anyones shacks, for a meal or an evening well spent.

To help these new adventurers I wrote down some thoughts on this culture. Personally I think that the values written down by me are generally accepted. However, they are in no way binding or enforced, and they are very much just mine. If you arrive as a newcomer (or and oldcomer but you never understood how to behave) you should be on the safe side following these guidelines. I won't go into behavior that is generally unacceptable in other towns though, such as cursing, infecting people or otherwise behaviour that is accepted nowhere, only into matter that is specific for 'The Lobby' (we hang first, ask questions later) I truly understand that this is highly personal and that people can do whatever they want anyway.

Quitting

I define quitting as "willingly and on purpose dropping out of a game of populous, regardless if you are winning or losing, without having reached agreement with the other players about this".

Anyone asked would admit that quitting is totally and utterly unacceptable. Yet,it happens every day. I have a policy myself, never to quit, ever, period. And yet, to my shame and own disbelief, I must admit that (even) I have quitted twice. That proves to me that there can be circumstances in which any man could become victim of his/her temptation to leave the game. Quitting, don't do it. Always fight to the last brave, the last convert spell. In my eyes, If I lose a game without having used my very last spell, my very last brave and without having run with my shaman naked across the level, I am dishonored. The two times I quitted (shame on me) indicate for me what acceptable reasons 'could' be. One time, the lag was so incredible, my followers where skating across the level forward and backward, my shaman was flying through the sky and playing was completely impossible. Out of nowhere earthquakes hit my base. The only solution was to quit, because I wasnt even able to message my fellow gamers that I would leave. I am not so ashamed about this time. The other time was when a player cought me on a bad day, in a bad mood and he rubbed salt in a wound. And kept pushing it. And then I said, bye, and pulled the plug. I am very ashamed about this time. It won't happen again. I hope.

Backdooring/Sidedooring

Backdooring/Sidedooring is harder to define. Generally it means connecting to the enemy base from a different side than is regarded 'normal'. What 'normal' is, is the real question. In my opinion, a globe is round (in fact its a flat square pancake, but nontheless) and every direction can be used to attack. Whatever the designers of the level had on their mind, is irrelevant. You can use the land there is, or make new land for new battles. This opens a door to a higher populous skill called 'creativity'. It creates multiple new possibilities and strategies, and sometimes it is even necessary to break out of a stalemate situation. Some people however choose to play according to the idea of the level. On PP that means taking any of the three entries. On Craters it means playing via the islands with the Heads, on FO it means playing over the Hill. I can only advice, if you are not certain about backdooring/sidedooring, reach agreement with your fellow players if it can be used or not. Whatever you agree on is the rule. In my opinion, stop complaining and start playing! Just pay some extra attention to your base.

Doubling

Doubling is the hardest game concept of all to describe, and to decide whats acceptable and what not. Instead of a right/wrong judgement based on a definition from my side I introduce a slippery scale from 'likely acceptable' to 'likely unacceptable'. I will give a few examples starting with acceptable forms of doubling generally slipping into more disputable amongst certain groups of players. In the end of course the acceptance of actions is determined by the consensus in the game.

First I need to mention that doubling acceptability varies with the number of players in the game. Generally, when both teams have 2 players, doubling can be part of the game, making it more exciting and challenging. After one player lags out, or is defeated, the rules for doubling change! In 3p (ffa) games, doubling has a completely different meaning again, as it is an essential part of the game.

Doubling in its broadest definition (allowing barely anything) means 'damaging any of the interests of a non-allied player that is not assigned to you as primary enemy' (primary enemy - players generally decide up-front who is to take who on)

This means that blasting a red brave when you are primarily fighting green would be unacceptable. For me, this is a very much acceptable playing technique. FO would be unplayable if you could only attack your direct enemy, since you are to rid the hill of BOTH enemy shamen and troops.

Doubling in its narrowest definition (allowing a LOT of actions) means something like 'deliberate and coordinated attack on one of the enemy players base, by more than one player, in order to push him out of the game'. This means that a lot of actions are not subject to this definition, therefor NOT to be called 'doubling' and thus acceptable. Some skilled players enjoy playing with no rules whatsoever regarding this, and take the risk gladly as it enhances the danger and the thrill. It also stimulates allies to help each other out when in trouble.

My primary criterion for doubling is: does it increase the FUN of the game?


Examples 2v2 2v2 one player down 3p ffa
Damaging any of the interests of an unallied player that is not assigned to you as primary enemy Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable
Killing enemy followers that attack your shaman or other interests Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable
Supporting the defence of your ally with troops Acceptable Disputable Impossible
Making land that your ally can use to build on Acceptable Disputable Impossible
Destroying non-assigned-enemy interests in public areas, such as the middle, the hill, the volc or whatever Acceptable Disputable Acceptable
Supporting the defence of your ally with shaman Acceptable Disputable Impossible
Deliberately destroying non-assigned-enemy interests that could be regarded as 'base-defence' Disputable Unacceptable Acceptable
Deliberately destroying non-assigned-enemy interests that could be regarded as 'base' Disputable Unacceptable Acceptable
deliberate and co-ordinated attack on one of the enemy players base, by more than one player, in order to push him out of the game Disputable Unacceptable Acceptable

Conclusion: In 2v2 games a lot more is allowed than when one player is down. In 3p games everything is allowed. (Read my piece on 3p games to see why that is, and why it doesnt matter). Defensive doubling is more acceptable than offensive doubling.

Cheating

'Deliberately and secretly using of features, spells, trainers, etc. that other players agreed to and accepted not to use, or cannot use'

I dont know if this is possible, I believe not but if it were it wouldn't be acceptable under ANY circumstance. The basic rule in populous is that the possibilities for each player are the same. Victory and defeat should be decided by the various aspects of skill, not by the use of unique powers.

The very new concept of superfollowers, is not exactly cheating. On the other hand, its not something that everybody knows how to use yet. Based on that criterion it could be disputable. I think though, that although the concept of superfollowers is a rather cool flaw in populous, it wont be used much in the end as it is time and attention, followers and mana consuming.

Resynching

Never acceptible, unless is proven that it helps restoring a network problem (which is a theory). In any case, its not acceptable to use it to undo an unfavorable action of another player, or a mistake of your own.

Camping

Camping, camping. After 'doubling' probably the most debated game concept. The popular curse 'camper!' is derived from this concept. As easy as it seems, it is not. There is a thin line between camping and defending, and there is a lot of confusion these days about what is what. Even the best players can get pushed into a defending position, but they are not necessarily camping. Camping can get annoying on the other hand, when this defending is so succesful and creates a stalemate in the game. I think the definition should be something like this: "Camping is the prolongued defending by a player of his own base of such an extent and with such persistance that it results in refraining from any offensive tactics, when the situation does not require this (i.e. base under attack, necessary maintenance, land expansion, etc.)"

Opposite to popular belief, camping has nothing to do with charging spells or training troops or any other preparation for attacking. Simple example: Sitting in a tower awaiting enemy attacks time after time could easily become camping, when it becomes a means of survival instead of part of a strategy for winning.

There is a simple rule of thumb. Campers never win, because they don't attack. Personally I consider it a challenge to defeat a skilled defender. Now that I think of it, there is another downside of camping. In a balanced and exciting 4p game you could be expected to help out your ally. If you sit in a tower defending just your own base, that may not increase the fun of the game and the mood of both your ally and your enemies.

Let's face it, if you are under heavy attack, your base is damaged and you are pushed into a defensive position, nobody will blame you for charging and using a couple of lightnings, waiting a few rounds to breed new braves and train some troops.

Let's say you are blue and your enemies control the hill on FO. You want to make some land for yourself and in the meantime you get eqed repeatedly from the hill. I wouldnt consider that camping. But if you are blue on PP, your entire and undamaged land is filled with large huts, your defense is sound and you have full spells. Put your shaman in a tower and start lighting every shaman that is in sight. There's a danger that you might be camping here.

Walhalla

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