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If you are having problems playing, first make sure that the game works in single-player mode (ie. offline). If that doesn't work properly, going online can only make things worse. Check out the 'other sources of help' section for documentation to help you put that right.
If you are only having problems when online, they are likely to be one of two: excess lag or frequent crashes.
I bought a copy of 'Partition Commander' which allows you to set up multiple copies of Windows (98 SE, in my case) so I have a small partition with a fresh Windows install and no software apart from Internet Explorer, ICQ and Populous, which I find gives significantly less lag.
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 (because I'm paranoid) and it works ok for me, but if you get problems it might be worth trying.)
Another possibility as a source of crashes, particularly if you are hosting, is your ISP. AOL is generally considered in the lobbies to be prone to this problem, and I sometimes wonder whether my current ISP (BT Openworld) might also be an issue. Certainly it sometimes spontaneously disconnects me, and it invariably does so after two hours online.
Sometimes the crashes occurred just as I was leaving the lobby, so I thought that maybe it could be a problem with my modem. I got a copy of Modem Wizard and that seems to have had a dramatic impact. I'm getting far fewer crashes, it has speeded up my modem connection when surfing, and I can even host games now, which I couldn't before. The program analyses and optimises your modem settings, as well as some other neat tricks. You can get it in the UK from www.jungle.co.uk for under £12.00 (UK pounds) on special offer, as at July 2001. The program works by optimising the hardware, software and registry settings associated with your modem. I would recommend getting a copy, and have it do the job automatically, but you could of course adjust the settings manually. Here is the list of settings it recommended for my setup (56k modem, 500MHz Pentium III, Windows 98SE):
Dial-Up Network Connections
Dial-Up Adaptor Settings
There are three registry settings which need to be optimised. Modem Wizard set mine as follows:
If you are confidant that you know what you are doing, you can easily find information on the web to enable you to edit the settings direct in the registry, or you can find freeware routines to do the job for you. If you decide to mess with these though, you are a braver (wo)man than I am, and I take no responsibility whatsoever should it go horribly wrong. Oh, and backup your registry first, natch!
Note that the above settings are those recommended by Modem Wizard for my particular setup. Yours may be different. In the CD-ROM Tech Support system, EA specifically recommends turning *off* all compression, so don't take any of this as gospel. Just find out what works for you.
See also the other sources of help section.
This is not an online problem as such, but caused me some head-scratching and I only fixed it by accident, so I'll pass it on in case it helps someone. The problem was: if I selected hardware (as opposed to software) rendering during the installation, the graphics worked fine but the text on the control panel was pixellated and unreadable. I wanted to use hardware rendering (ie. on the graphics card) to take some of the load off the cpu and hence speed things up a bit. In the end, I fixed it by installing the new DirectX drivers from Microsoft (version 8.1 instead of 7.0) for another game. You can get the latest drivers from here if you need them.
If you have a firewall, it monitors all the traffic which enters and leaves your PC from the internet, and stops anything which it has not been specifically told to allow. When you play as the non-host, Populous is acting like a browser (getting and sending information), but when you host, your machine is acting as a server, responding to the data requests from other player's machines. In order for this to happen, you need to configure your firewall appropriately. Before you ask, I have no idea how to do this!
The other possible problem is when you have shared access to a single internet connection with several PCs, on a local area network (LAN). This is a cool way to maximise access without having to have multiple connections and accounts. It can be implemented with either dial-up or cable connections. There are a number of programs which allow you to do this, but if you have Windows 98 or later, the facility is built into the operating system. In Windows 98SE it is called ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) and can be installed from the Internet Tools section of Windows Setup (Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows Setup). This will allow you to play Populous online, but the downside is that you won't be able to host. If you try, you will get to the game setup screen, but the other players will never arrive. The reason is that Populous has to use your local ip address. Your machine has a local address which is different from the ip address of the internet connection. For hosting to work, Populous should use the internet address, but it actually grabs the local address, which is invisible to PCs on the internet, which is why the other players can't find you. This problem has apparently been fixed in later versions of Windows, where I am told that Populous hosting works fine on a shared connection.
I used to really enjoy Populous 3: The Beginning on my Windows 98SE PC. That machine died and I now have a new Dell PC with Windows XP Pro. This game will now not run but I cannot find out why or how to fix it. The XP Compatibility tag makes no difference, whether used on the install app or the game .exe. Curiously the downloadable demo works fine and 'Undiscovered Worlds' works about 90% okay. Do you have any ideas - I can't find anything on the web. I have a sneaky feeling that the game .exe is essentially 'wired' not to run on XP as it says on the box 'windows NT not supported', but since XP is a home operating system, there should be some way around this.After various suggestions, he came back with the solution:
I believe this problem to be related to securom copy protection which was apparently only applied to the European release. I am using a laptop with a Toshiba combo drive(SDR2102) which uses only Windows native drivers and so I can't investigate copy protection with different drives or drivers.(Note that the pop3euro.zip is a crack designed to allow you you run Populous from a copy CD-ROM instead of the original. If you already have a genuine CD-ROM, then it would seem to be fine to use the crack to make it run, as described above. Using it to avoid buying the game would, of course, be illegal.)
- Install Populous The Beginning
- Download pop3euro.zip This is available from www.thewheel.freeserve.co.uk/downloads.html
- Apply patch as per instructions
- Reinstall Populous The Beginning over the top of the previous install (i.e. don't uninstall). I selected 'full' – Hey it's an old game
- Launch game from autoplay welcome window 'play' (other access modes don't work for me).
All set. No compatibility requirements apparent.
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Last updated: 9 February 2006