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


Using the Electronic Arts Website

Lobby selection page
In the lobby
Getting into a game
Alternative launchers


In the site rewrite of November 2002, the EA registration procedure has been massively simplified - and it works! No need to miss out on your place in the league tables now!

If you are already registered with EA-Europe for another game, you may not need to specifically register for populous - try out your name and password at the log-in screen.


Here is how you do it: Note that there is no need now for a separate registration for Populous.

  •   That's it! You are ready to start playing, but please read the next section and make sure you have upgraded to Populous version 1.01 before you do.

    Q: Ok, I'm registered, so how do I get in?
    A: Having registered, you will be invited to dive straight into the lobby, but to avoid problems playing, there are some sensible precautions which you can take.

    Start with a clean boot (ie. when your machine has just been switched on). Then run your virus checker (You do have one don't you? And you have updated the data file recently, haven't you? Of course you have - foolish not to.) While you're at it, defrag your hard disk and check that you've got plenty of free space (70MB would be good.) With that out of the way, check the icons on the taskbar. If you have any programs running in the foreground (ie buttons with icon and text) close them down or disable them unless they are vital for your online connection. Child protection programs, such as Cyber Patrol and Net Nanny may cause problems, so disable them if you have the password. Similarly, right click each of the icons at the right hand end of the taskbar and disable those which you don't need. Any program using a timer should go, and SETI@Home is a particular menace, so close that. You can leave the volume control, and any software needed for the CD. (EA recommends shutting down your anti-virus software as well. I don't, and it works ok for me, but if you get problems, it might be worth trying.)

    To get onto the site you can either:

    Preferred method
    Start Internet Explorer and send it to ''.
    Start up Populous (with the CD in place, naturally) and select 'Multiplayer', and then 'Play on internet matchup service' (near the bottom). This will automatically start your modem and connect you to the Populous web site ( (This method doesn't work at present as EA have put the matchmaker pages on a different address. They may fix it later though.)

    If automatic connection has been disabled on your machine, establish your internet connection in the normal way before you start.

    At the Populous website, click on 'Play online', which will take you (via a redirecton screen) to the login screen. Enter your player name and password (the player name, at least, is not case sensitive) and on the next screen click on 'Play Now', on the right for the full game, or on the left if you're so tightfisted that you've only got the demo. This will take you to the Lobby Selection page (with a graphical selection wheel).

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    Q: What's this circle thing then?

    A: Each sector of the circle represents one level of player (see Scoring) and provides access to a chat area where players can meet up for games. Thus, in theory, anyone can go into level 1 (wildmen), only braves and above can go into level 2, right up to level 7, which can only be accessed by shamen (shawomen?). Level 8 is for wannabees who only have the Populous demo, and level 9 is a lobby which anybody can enter. In fact the access lock is broken and anyone can enter any lobby but, in my experience, you normally only find players in lobby 1. Players of all grades pile in, so you might as well ignore the other lobbies, although they can be useful if you want to go off for a private chat. Just don't expect to get lucky ;-)

    On the right hand side of the screen is a column which should indicate how many players are waiting in each lobby. Unfortunately, it's broken too.

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    Q: What's all this about then?
    A: Click on help (on the top bar) for a description of the hut system. You can also right-click on the elements in the lobby for a brief description.
    Q: What are all these acronyms people keep using?

    A: They're mostly TLA's. Or ETLA's or ATLA's <g>!

    To translate: They're mostly three letter acronyms, or extended three letter acronyms (ie more than 3 letters) or abbreviated three letter acronyms (less than three letters) - grin!

    Acronyms are a convenient shorthand to save typing, if you know what they mean, or a baffling code if you're on the outside. Most come from online chat and there are a number of sites with good glossaries, just search for 'IRC acronym' in any search engine., for instance, has a comprehensive database which you can search, although you can't get a listing. Other 'abbreviations' are in the form of 'smiley's or 'emoticons' - just type one of those terms into a search engine and you'll get them by the truckload.

    A few acronyms which crop up regularly in the Populous lobby, or which are not found in many glossaries include:

    Away from keyboard
    Angel of Death
    Be right back
    Circle of Reincarnation
    Electronic Arts (publishers of Populous)
    Good game
    Laugh my ass off (not to be confused with In My Arrogant Opinion)
    Mate (English slang for 'friend')
    Never mind
    Shaman grade
    That's ok
    Wassup = What's up? = Is there anything of interest happening at the moment, my good man?
    Team Adept, a clan for Populous players (See clans)
    Team Havoc, a defunct clan for Populous players (See clans)
    Boats and Balloons

    Q: How do I send a message?

    A: Type it in the bar at the bottom of the screen and click 'SEND' (or press 'Enter').
    Q: Why do so many players have 'TA' at the end of their names?
    A: It shows that they are members (or are pretending to be members) of the Team Adept clan. Since entry to the clan is by passing an initiation test, it indicates that they will be experienced players (regardless of their apparent grade) so they will probably beat you (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this). On the other hand, because they are experienced and have sorted out their PC settings, games with them should crash less often than when playing with newbies. Some TA members don't include the initials in their names, and some good players are not members, so it's by no means an infallible guide.

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    Q: How do I get to play a game?

    A: Each hut represents a potential game. Players can enter a hut (join the potential game) by clicking on it. The yellow bar above the hut will show how many players are in that hut, with the left-most player being the host. You can identify the players in the hut by clicking on the individual icons, or on the yellow button at the end of the bar. If you change your mind, you can leave the hut by clicking in the Circle of Reincarnation.

    The first person into a hut (in the left-most position on the bar) will be the host. So, if you want to be the host, get in there first (or join a hut where the first space is empty) and you will find that there is an extra (brown) button on the bar for that hut. When the hut is full, click on that button to launch the game. No one else can do it, so don't hang around waiting or you will hack everyone off. As a newbie, I would recommend that you join other peoples games to start with, rather than hosting your own, at least until you have figured out what needs to be done.

    If you're a newbie, I would recommend that you go for 3-player games to start with. Just about everybody will be better than you at this stage, so any 2-player games you have are likely to be short and brutal. 4-player games will be worse, because they usually work as two teams, 2 vs 2. Because you don't know what you're doing (yet!), you won't be pulling your weight and your partner will have a hard time of it. Your team may well lose therefore and it will be all *your* fault! It's not a good idea, therefore, to pretend that you are better than you are.

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    The Populous lobby has a scoring system, based on the number of victories you achieve, which allows you to move up the ranks and even to join the shaman's league.

    Q: How do I get to be a Shaman?

    A: You do it by scoring points, with a different number of points required for each of the 7 levels. The site Rules help page explains the scoring quite well, but the essence is that you get points for winning games, with 1 point for winning a 2-way fight, 2 points for a 3-way, and 3 points for a 4-way, with the number of points reduced if you are allied with other players.

    Q: How many points do I need to become a shaman (or any other level)?
    A: The points levels are as follows (as told to me by EA tech support, 15 March 2001):
    GradeMin. points
    Fire Warrior    80
    Q: How do I find out how many points I have gained, or whether the points system is working?
    A: There doesn't appear to be any mechanism to do this, although EA tech support wrote to me on 15 March 2001:
    The feedback via e-mail function should be working again within the next 2 weeks. We have a new mailbox setup that will be monitored daily, and all feedback will be read. We do not yet know if points status and league position will be available via this e-mail system, it is something we are currently looking into.
    Q: Is the scoring system working?
    A: According to EA tech support on 27 February 2001 (you can tell I've been bugging these guys, can't you!), the scoring system is one of the issues fixed by the patch to version 1.01, so all scores are now being recorded correctly. Similarly, they said that the league table is being updated every 10 minutes. The system was out again over the summer, but was fixed again at the end of October (2001).

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    Alternative Launchers

    Q: Is there any other way of launching Populous?

    A: Yes there are other ways. Using a launcher will enable you to join the lobby with any user name, and at any (apparent) rank. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this. Experienced players do it all the time because, as Shamen, it would be hard for them to get games with newbies, and killing lots of newbies is how most of them get their high league positions. Newbies do it too - I played against AMPmaster last night, who for months was top of the league, yet I beat him easily, so it was clearly a newbie impersonator.

    Points to remember: If you use a launcher, and use your registered name, your account will still be credited with the points, even if you use a fake rank. If you impersonate someone else, and win, they get the points. If you use a non-registered name, no points will be credited.

    The security on the Populous site is laughable To demonstrate just how easy it is to circumvent, I spent an hour and wrote a Javascript launcher which you can access here. I have limited the name length to 20 characters, you can't include spaces in your name, but it will get you in.

    Using a launcher is sometimes the only way to get a game:

    • If the EA registration process is broken (which it was for about 6 weeks as at 29/9/01) then the only way in for new players is with a launcher.
    • If the normal entrance system is down. This happens sometimes, so that you can't access, even though the lobby is working.

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    © Peter Lapinskas 2001 - 2004 Site owned and maintained by Peter Lapinskas aka 'CD Player' Last updated: 28 April 2004