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I don’t know. I’ve heard talk in the past from friends who work in EA LA (the EA ‘RTS’ studio) that they’re big fans of Pop:TB and would love to do a sequel. However games nowadays are very expensive to make and Populous’ tribal theme probably wouldn’t be thought of as mass market enough – which is a shame. The original Pop:TB, whilst critically acclaimed (and still loved after all these years by fans which is fantastic!), didn’t sell huge numbers compared to other RTS games of the time and due to this it’s pretty unlikely I would imagine that EA would do a sequel. Peter Molyneux, MD of Lionhead Studios, has also said to me in the past that he’d love to go back and do another Populous game (remember Pop:TB was the 3rd game) but again i think this is very unlikely for the reasons i mentioned above... but who knows! - I remember when Prince of Persia was coming out a couple of years back and thinking “they’ll never be able to resurrect such an old franchise” – and they did! Ultimately though, while EA owns the IP, it’s down to EA and i can’t really comment on what they will do – as i don’t know!
I joined Bullfrog after it had been acquired by Electronic Arts and after Peter Molyneux had left to setup Lionhead. Bullfrog at that time was an amazing place to work – full of very talented, passionate, developers who loved making original games. Over my years of working at Bullfrog (and later when i came to think of it as EA) things changed – we kinda grew up i guess in that we lost the brand and started working on Harry Potter games. Harry Potter was awesome and I really enjoyed all my time at EA – but the company changed quite a lot in the seven years and, suffice to say, Lionhead is much more like the Bullfrog of old – ‘cept this time it has Peter Molyneux too! :)
Good question and one i’m not sure of – i’d guess three years but i wasn’t there from the beginning of the project (I was there for the final 18 months). I think the first six months were just a couple of programmers playing around with gameplay ideas (early prototyping).
What kind of AI scripting did you use? [TLW]Swords
It was completely proprietary. Nowadays companies use scripting languages like LUA etc – in those days it was something made by the programmers. I don’t even think there was a name for it – maybe PopScript? I can’t remember. It was pretty powerful though from memory – one of the testers from Populous:TB worked really hard after the game finished to learn the scripting language and became a level designer/scripter on the expansion disk and did some very cool things with the scripting language.
Yes :) I don’t think EA ever wants to create ‘mid-success’ titles – even when we were making Pop there was very much a feeling of “a game has to sell over a million copies otherwise it’s failed”.
I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean are there any plans to do any more Populous games? I guess i’ve answered this with question 1.
Wow. I was part of the design team on Pop: TB but much of the cool design features were already in place when i joined the team – the design was very much a team effort so it would be difficult for me to answer this without having the design team to contribute their thoughts as well! That said i think we always thought some more troop types could be cool (but we also liked the simplicity of the variation we had) and also the idea of better landscape manipulation – the ability to really mold/raise/lower landscape, more powerful/visually impressive spells., better level editing tools, scripting tools etc. that could be made available to the community (the stuff you guys have done has been amazing and it’s a real shame we didn’t make Pop more accessible for modding), more multiplayer functionality – leagues etc, variations between the different colour tribes... etc!
Loads! Making a game is always an ongoing series of big problems! I think when Pop3 was started it was a DOS game. Then it transitioned to Windows. Then it needed to have Direct3D support (which it didn’t at first as it was software render). Lots of issues with trying to get all the features balanced and working right (a stable multiplayer during development helped a lot for this) and some pretty major features were removed in the final months as we just couldn’t get them working as we wanted them to (such as direct raising/lowering of land).
The success! Up until Pop:TB i always thought that i only cared about making a game that gamers liked and got good review scores as i’m a big gamer. This isn’t the case – it’s sad when you make something that you’re really proud of, that you think is really good, that reviewers are saying is really good... and then to see it be outsold by other games that were much worse (Gangsters springs to mind!). That continues to be my biggest disappointment – plus the fact that we didn’t have the time to add the tools for you guys to easily mod!
Will there ever be a Populous 5? Predator_Oreo
Phew! I can’t remember. I do remember that the final level of the game (the one where you ‘become a god’) was a late addition and was not meant to be the hardest – we just turned off the spell range and thought “this is really cool!”
The four tribes are identical i think.
Phew! Depends on what sort of player you are. It’s a trade off i guess between mana cost and effect. Me i liked volcano :)
Lol – i don’t remember – is flatten more expensive than erode? I love the way that buildings fall into the water – does flatten do that as well?
Umm.. Good question. I think it was because this was the ‘players’ tribe. The name of the tribes (and the names of the Shamans) was a real last minute addition – we wanted to add a story with cutscenes etc. but it never really worked out properly so the story was always a bit weak.
One final comment from Stuart:
Thanks to Stuart and everybody who submitted questions to me!