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'[GAME] Populous: The Beginning'

This thread has been linked to the game 'Populous - The Beginning'.
Sat 01/12/12 at 23:52:
Regular
Posts: 261
God games used to be the genre that took up most of my time on the PC and the ones I played all had a development team headed by the same man, Peter Molyneux. Many games that I enjoyed came from a developer known as Bullfrog such as Dungeon Keeper I & II, Theme Hospital, Theme Park World and the Populous: The Beginning. They also developed Syndicate which had a cult following which related to the first person shooter which was released this year but I never played it.

Peter Molyneux left to form Lionhead Studios after developing Dungeon Keeper so that was the only game he had a part in development that I actually played, but he helped design the first two populous games and dungeon keeper influencing their sequels. At Lionhead he developed Black and White I & II as well as the more well known Fable series.

Black and White 2 was released in 2005 and I don’t think I’ve played a God game since, although that may depend on what defines a God game. Spore could be considered a god game as you create and customise life forms and you could consider the Sims and Sim City to be god games as you toy with other peoples’ lives so EA’s Maxis could be considered a recent god game developer.

The first two Populous games worked in a similar way to Sim City as you had no direct control over your people and could only modify the land around them. You spend most of your time raising land from the ocean or flattening mountainous areas so that your civilization had space to build buildings and expand in size. As your population grows you gain more mana per second allowing you to cast destructive god spells at your opponent. You could say that your goal was to outbreed your opponent, hence “Populous”.

However, In Populous: The Beginning they decided to allow you to control individual units and decide what to build and it felt more like an RTS than the first two. There were some similarities that remained such as the ability to raise and lower land although your followers flatten the land for you when you place a building plan down. Certain spells can leave the earth scorched which may increase the need to raise land from the ocean and an increase in population increased your mana regeneration rate.

In the campaign or multiplayer you start the game with a Shaman, her re-incarnation circle and some braves. Your Shaman cannot permanently die unless you have no tribesmen left and it would be game over if your last tribesman dies while she is re-incarnating or your shaman dies after your last tribesman is killed.

For an RTS, Populous was very simple and I actually liked the game more because of it. A game will contain a finite amount of trees and wildmen. Wildmen can be converted to Braves (standard unit) by casting a “Convert” spell and this is typically the first thing you do at the start of a game. You then proceed to building houses where Braves will occupy and breed. New braves spawn from the house periodically which can then be used to build buildings or occupy any other vacant spaces in homes to increase the population more quickly.

You then will build training buildings to train your followers for combat or build a boat/hot air balloon for fast map travelling or build watch towers. You can train Braves to become Warriors, Priests, Spies or Fire warriors. Warriors excel at melee combat so you are likely to win a fight if your warriors can get up close; Fire warriors can blast units back with their fire projectiles but will lose if a warrior gets up close and Preachers can get enemy units to sit on the floor and convince them to join your tribe but only if they get close and aren't interrupted. Preachers are immune to enemy Preachers and will stop units from being converted to the other team.

Having an army of Preachers is only a good idea if the enemy has no preachers as the enemy will have to make sure that their shaman and fire warriors blast them and never get close. It is generally best to have mostly Warriors and Fire warriors with only a few Priests to prevent conversion.

In this game the higher you are the longer your range will be so placing a Fire Warrior in a Watch Tower will increase their fire projectile range, a Preacher can preach from a longer distance and a Shaman can cast spells from a longer range. If a Spy warrior enters a watch tower anything in his sight will be shrouded in a fog of war on the enemy’s map which seems to be one of the few useful purposes for a Spy warrior as they are the weakest unit in the game. Spies have the ability to convert into the colour of the enemy tribe so that they can’t be attacked. However, if you right click them you can unmask them to be attacked so if a new unit walks into your village you should be suspicious. They can burn down a building if you fail to reveal them. If a Spy is seen by another enemy spy warrior they will be revealed.

Your Shaman unit has a wide variety of spells and provided she has enough mana generated from your tribe she can cause a large amount of destruction to your base with a single spell. She is very weak in physical combat and should prevent enemy units from getting to her by hitting them with fireballs or lighting. She can temporarily convert a group of enemies to her side so she can convert half the enemy force charging at her and they can fight amongst each other. She can cast a magic immunity shield on her tribesmen to prevent this from happening. She can temporarily make her tribesmen invisible to get to the heart of a base without any conflict. A few examples of the most powerful spells is an Angel of Death which swoops down and picks up enemies and spits them out 1 by 1 and a Volcano which elevates the area it is cast on and then pours down lava, destroying buildings and enemies that come into contact with it. The lava leaves scorched earth so that the tribe won’t be able to re-build on the land. All the powers at a Shamans disposal makes them feel far more powerful than any other unit and you feel powerful when controlling her.

One thing that makes the game stand out is its tribal theme as the Braves, Shaman and Preachers speak in an unknown language and the Story in the game is about a single tribe conquering all the other tribes so that the Shaman can ascend to become a God. The Shaman has her own magic words for her spells when she casts them such as “Sho-ka” when casting lightning or “Kaka” when casting a fireball. If you click on an enemy unit or building with your tribesmen they will shout like a warcry as they charge towards the enemy. When a Shaman dies, magic dust glitters across the screen before she re-incarnated and it is quite amusing to watch a tribesman jump up and down to flatten the land, ready to build on it.

Ultimately, I’m not a big fan of RTS games but I enjoyed Populous: The Beginning for its simplicity as well as its charm and I hope for another God game like this in the future.

Peter Molyneux has created a Kickstarter for Godus, a God game that seems to be based on the the first two Populous games as well as a mixture of Black & White and Dungeon Keeper. He seems to have gained a reputation for overhyping and promising and he has only given his studio “22cans” 6-9 months to make it, but I look forward to playing it regardless of whether it is done through Kickstarter or a Publisher comes to support it.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Sat 01/12/12 at 23:52:
Regular
Posts: 261
God games used to be the genre that took up most of my time on the PC and the ones I played all had a development team headed by the same man, Peter Molyneux. Many games that I enjoyed came from a developer known as Bullfrog such as Dungeon Keeper I & II, Theme Hospital, Theme Park World and the Populous: The Beginning. They also developed Syndicate which had a cult following which related to the first person shooter which was released this year but I never played it.

Peter Molyneux left to form Lionhead Studios after developing Dungeon Keeper so that was the only game he had a part in development that I actually played, but he helped design the first two populous games and dungeon keeper influencing their sequels. At Lionhead he developed Black and White I & II as well as the more well known Fable series.

Black and White 2 was released in 2005 and I don’t think I’ve played a God game since, although that may depend on what defines a God game. Spore could be considered a god game as you create and customise life forms and you could consider the Sims and Sim City to be god games as you toy with other peoples’ lives so EA’s Maxis could be considered a recent god game developer.

The first two Populous games worked in a similar way to Sim City as you had no direct control over your people and could only modify the land around them. You spend most of your time raising land from the ocean or flattening mountainous areas so that your civilization had space to build buildings and expand in size. As your population grows you gain more mana per second allowing you to cast destructive god spells at your opponent. You could say that your goal was to outbreed your opponent, hence “Populous”.

However, In Populous: The Beginning they decided to allow you to control individual units and decide what to build and it felt more like an RTS than the first two. There were some similarities that remained such as the ability to raise and lower land although your followers flatten the land for you when you place a building plan down. Certain spells can leave the earth scorched which may increase the need to raise land from the ocean and an increase in population increased your mana regeneration rate.

In the campaign or multiplayer you start the game with a Shaman, her re-incarnation circle and some braves. Your Shaman cannot permanently die unless you have no tribesmen left and it would be game over if your last tribesman dies while she is re-incarnating or your shaman dies after your last tribesman is killed.

For an RTS, Populous was very simple and I actually liked the game more because of it. A game will contain a finite amount of trees and wildmen. Wildmen can be converted to Braves (standard unit) by casting a “Convert” spell and this is typically the first thing you do at the start of a game. You then proceed to building houses where Braves will occupy and breed. New braves spawn from the house periodically which can then be used to build buildings or occupy any other vacant spaces in homes to increase the population more quickly.

You then will build training buildings to train your followers for combat or build a boat/hot air balloon for fast map travelling or build watch towers. You can train Braves to become Warriors, Priests, Spies or Fire warriors. Warriors excel at melee combat so you are likely to win a fight if your warriors can get up close; Fire warriors can blast units back with their fire projectiles but will lose if a warrior gets up close and Preachers can get enemy units to sit on the floor and convince them to join your tribe but only if they get close and aren't interrupted. Preachers are immune to enemy Preachers and will stop units from being converted to the other team.

Having an army of Preachers is only a good idea if the enemy has no preachers as the enemy will have to make sure that their shaman and fire warriors blast them and never get close. It is generally best to have mostly Warriors and Fire warriors with only a few Priests to prevent conversion.

In this game the higher you are the longer your range will be so placing a Fire Warrior in a Watch Tower will increase their fire projectile range, a Preacher can preach from a longer distance and a Shaman can cast spells from a longer range. If a Spy warrior enters a watch tower anything in his sight will be shrouded in a fog of war on the enemy’s map which seems to be one of the few useful purposes for a Spy warrior as they are the weakest unit in the game. Spies have the ability to convert into the colour of the enemy tribe so that they can’t be attacked. However, if you right click them you can unmask them to be attacked so if a new unit walks into your village you should be suspicious. They can burn down a building if you fail to reveal them. If a Spy is seen by another enemy spy warrior they will be revealed.

Your Shaman unit has a wide variety of spells and provided she has enough mana generated from your tribe she can cause a large amount of destruction to your base with a single spell. She is very weak in physical combat and should prevent enemy units from getting to her by hitting them with fireballs or lighting. She can temporarily convert a group of enemies to her side so she can convert half the enemy force charging at her and they can fight amongst each other. She can cast a magic immunity shield on her tribesmen to prevent this from happening. She can temporarily make her tribesmen invisible to get to the heart of a base without any conflict. A few examples of the most powerful spells is an Angel of Death which swoops down and picks up enemies and spits them out 1 by 1 and a Volcano which elevates the area it is cast on and then pours down lava, destroying buildings and enemies that come into contact with it. The lava leaves scorched earth so that the tribe won’t be able to re-build on the land. All the powers at a Shamans disposal makes them feel far more powerful than any other unit and you feel powerful when controlling her.

One thing that makes the game stand out is its tribal theme as the Braves, Shaman and Preachers speak in an unknown language and the Story in the game is about a single tribe conquering all the other tribes so that the Shaman can ascend to become a God. The Shaman has her own magic words for her spells when she casts them such as “Sho-ka” when casting lightning or “Kaka” when casting a fireball. If you click on an enemy unit or building with your tribesmen they will shout like a warcry as they charge towards the enemy. When a Shaman dies, magic dust glitters across the screen before she re-incarnated and it is quite amusing to watch a tribesman jump up and down to flatten the land, ready to build on it.

Ultimately, I’m not a big fan of RTS games but I enjoyed Populous: The Beginning for its simplicity as well as its charm and I hope for another God game like this in the future.

Peter Molyneux has created a Kickstarter for Godus, a God game that seems to be based on the the first two Populous games as well as a mixture of Black & White and Dungeon Keeper. He seems to have gained a reputation for overhyping and promising and he has only given his studio “22cans” 6-9 months to make it, but I look forward to playing it regardless of whether it is done through Kickstarter or a Publisher comes to support it.

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