The Unofficial FAQ v0.1a
(16th July 1997)
compiled and maintained by
Mark Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1.0 What's POPULOUS: THE THIRD COMING?
1.1 What's a god-sim?
1.2 What other god-sims are there?
1.3 Is it just Bullfrog and Maxis who release god-sims?
1.4 What was POPULOUS all about?
1.5 What was POPULOUS 2 all about?
1.6 What was POWERMONGER all about?
1.7 What elements of POPULOUS can be found in POPULOUS 3?
1.8 What elements of POWERMONGER can be found in POPULOUS 3?
1.9 When's POPULOUS 3 coming out?
1.10 Is there a POPULOUS 3 demo available?
2.0 What sort of gameplay can I expect from POPULOUS 3?
2.1 What spells/powers are in POPULOUS 3?
2.1.6 Ghost Army
2.1.8 Land Bridge
2.2 What buildings are in POPULOUS 3?
2.2.1 Drum Tower
2.2.4 Spy Centre
2.2.5 Dock Yard
2.2.6 Ship Hangar
2.3 What special abilities exist for my people?
2.3.2 Wild Men
2.3.5 Super Warriors
2.3.8 Angels of Death
2.4 Any groovy landscape effects?
2.5 What's the control interface like?
2.6 How many levels will POPULOUS 3 have?
2.7 Can I form alliances with enemies?
2.8 Can I move my viewpoint around?
2.9 What about multiplayer support?
3.0 What are the system requirements for POPULOUS 3?
3.1 What, no P166?
3.2 How will the graphic engine work?
3.3 How will the AI work?
3.4 Will I benefit from a more powerful system?
3.5 Will 3D graphics cards be supported?
3.6 What about sound effects and music?
3.7 Are there any other version of Populous planned?
4.0 What other POPULOUS 3 resources are there on the Net?
4.1 Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?
4.2 Can I contribute to this FAQ?
4.3 Can I distribute this FAQ?
4.4 What about future versions of this FAQ?
5.0 FAQ release history.
[SECTION 1 - INTRODUCTION]
[1.0] What's POPULOUS: THE THIRD COMING?
POPULOUS: THE THIRD COMING (aka POPULOUS 3) is the sequel to POPULOUS
II, which in turn, as the name might suggest, is the sequel to
POPULOUS, one of the first ever god-sim games.
[1.1] Erm, what's a "god-sim" when it's at home?
A god-sim is essentially a strategic game in which the player has
control over an entire world -- or at least significant macro
management of a portion of that world. In other words, the player has
been afforded divine status (or a close approximation) and is able to
manipulate the mechanics of a world and see the effects gradually
unfold before them.
[1.2] I think I understand. I need a bit more convincing though.
Give me the titles of some of the best god-sims available.
POPULOUS and SIM CITY were amongst the first. Pretty much everything
else branched off from there. Oddly enough, both Bullfrog and Maxis
(the companies responsible for designing these two games) have since
dominated the genre and continue to do so today. Bullfrog's recent
successes include DUNGEON KEEPER, THEME PARK, MAGIC CARPET and THEME
HOPSITAL. Meanwhile, Maxis have kept themselves busy with the likes of
SIM CITY 2000, SIM TOWER, SIM ISLE and SIM FARM.
[1.3] Is it just all Bullfrog and Maxis, or has anyone else released
a decent god-sim?
Hey, everyone's getting in on the act! Perhaps the most successful
spin-offs of POPULOUS has been SETTLERS, which has since spawned a
sequel and mission packs.
We can't forget Sid Meier either. He's been responsible for some of
Microprose's biggest hits, including RAILROAD TYCOON, COLONIZATION and
CIVILIZATION 2. Westwood Studios have also had a fair old crack of the
whip, serving up the likes of COMMAND & CONQUER, RED ALERT and DUNE 2
(although they're both military-based). If it's science-fiction based
action you want, then why not take a sniff at MASTER OF ORION, OUTPOST
and ASCENDANCY? Even LucasArts have joined in the fun with AFTERLIFE.
[1.4] I'm a POPULOUS virgin. Tell me more about the game, else
In the original POPULOUS, you assumed the role of a minor deity. As
well as a groovy beard and fetching pair of sandals, you had the
ability to influence the world beneath you by using a number of divine
powers. The precise strength of these powers was determined by the
amount of mana (magical energy) you had at your disposal, so you
couldn't just dive in and start tearing up the world straight away.
At the start of each level, you were worshipped by a small number of
peasants. The more worshippers you had, then the more mana you had at
your disposable. Thus the general objective of the game required you
to use your powers in such a way as to make life as comfortable as
possible for the peasants and encourage their population to grow.
Naturally, the game wasn't quite as easy as this. You'd be going head-
to-head with another god, who had his own little bunch of peasants to
influence. Eventually, as the two empires expanded and met, conflict
inevitably arose. This is where you could really go to town with your
divine powers, chucking whirlwinds and earthquakes at your enemy's
territories. Of course, he'd be doing the same to you, so you had to
try and minimise these effects.
To emerge victorious and progress onto later levels, the enemy's
population had to be completely wiped out.
[1.5] Cool! What about POPULOUS II?
More of the same really, with a few extra bells and whistles. Your
divine powers were split up into various groups -- as you gained
experience by completing levels, you could bump up specific groups.
I.e., you could specialise in fire-based powers, but at the cost of
your water-based powers. A later add-on pack introduced goal-
orientated levels and even a level of puzzle-solving.
Unlike the previous POPULOUS, you could connect two computers together
via a null-modem cable and go head-to-head against a mate. Loads of
[1.6] Should I ask about POWERMONGER?
Yes, seeing as POPULOUS 3 borrows just as much from POWERMONGER as it
does from POPULOUS.
POWERMONGER took away the god-based stuff and put you in direct
control of a military captain. You would wander around the land,
claiming towns and controlling armies. Much like POPULOUS, your
ultimate objective was to wipe the enemy off the face of the land.
POWERMONGER didn't enjoy the same commercial success as POPULOUS, but
in many ways it was a far superior game. A new polygon-based graphics
engine was introduced, allowing you to rotate the landscape through 60
degrees. The enemy AI was also very well handled. It's also easy to
spot the influence on modern classics, such as SETTLERS, whereby the
occupants of your towns would venture forth to collect natural
resources, converting them into food and weapons.
Of course, you could go head-to-head against a human player, play
through the single-player levels, or take on up to three other
computer-controlled captains in random, computer-generated landscapes.
[1.7] What elements of POPULOUS can be found in POPULOUS 3?
The basic objective is to build up a population and wage war against
the gods. You have a number of powerful spells at your command that
can affect the landscape, to a certain extent. You must make good use
of these spells, your population and your surroundings in order to
successfully defeat the enemy.
[1.8] What elements of POWERMONGER can be found in POPULOUS 3?
You take control of an inhabitant of the land, rather than a deity,
using her to influence the population and thus enable them to do your
bidding. It's up to this individual to see to it that your people are
well-provided for and eventually lead them into battle. Visually,
there's an obviously similarity with POWERMONGER, in that the
landscape's polygon-based, allowing you to alter your viewing angle.
[1.9] When's POPULOUS 3 coming out?
Bullfrog are confident that the game's coding will be wrapped up in
September, so we can reasonably expect to see the game in the shops
any time between then and Christmas. Certainly in the last quarter of
1997 at any rate. (Then again, we all know what happened to DUNGEON
[1.10] Is there a POPULOUS 3 demo available?
Not at the moment. Bullfrog won't be releasing a demo until the final
game is complete, so don't expect to see anything playable until at
If you've got a frighteningly fast modem, far too much money, or just
happen to be plain bonkers, you can find an AVI video clip at either
of the following URLs:
US - http://www.bullfrog.ea.com/populous3/populous.avi
UK - http://www.bullfrog.co.uk/populous3/populous.avi
Be careful though, it's a whopping great 24Mb! Bear in mind that it's
also a work-in-progress look at the game and things may well look very
different in the final version.
[SECTION 2 - GAMEPLAY]
[2.0] What sort of gameplay can I expect from POPULOUS 3?
Unlike its predecessors, which were very much open-ended, POPULOUS 3
promises to offer goal-orientated, objective gameplay. Within each
level, you'll be building towards a purpose -- such as colonising a
specific region of the landscape, obtaining certain spells, defeating
up to three computer-controlled opponents, etc.
Whereas the previous POPULOUS games had you influencing events from
your lofty cloud, POPULOUS 3 sticks you right in the thick of things.
For the most part, you'll be controlling a shaman who wanders across
the landscape, influencing people and casting spells.
Once a level's complete, you'll be rewarded with new spells, new
buildings, more powerful attacks and new abilities for the members of
[2.1] What sort of spells/powers will feature in POPULOUS 3?
In order to cast a spell, your shaman (or another designated member of
your population) must be in a direct line of sight with its intended
target. Gone are the days of arbitrarily casting earthquakes here and
there across a landscape. If you want to burn an enemy's town to the
ground, then you must manoeuvre your spell-caster close to the town
before letting loose.
The precise number of spells that will be made available isn't known,
but the following should definitely be appearing:
If something is combustible, combust it! Use this to raze enemy
buildings to the ground, start off forest fires or barbecue
Simply choose a line of direction and watch as the landscape's torn
asunder by a massive rift.
Closest to the old POPULOUS land raise/lower power. If there's a
particularly steep incline nearby, you can smooth it out into a
slightly more manageable slope.
Similar to POPULOUS II's firestorm. Instead of a few lashings of rain,
send burning lumps of fire down upon your hapless victims.
You can only build on flat terrain, so this spell will come in handy
should you need to expand into hilly terrain. Simply choose your
destination and watch as a spiralling configuration of fireballs cut
away the land, leaving it nice and flat.
[2.1.6] GHOST ARMY
Similar to MAGIC CARPET's undead army. Summon up legions of ghosts to
do your bidding. They're a bit weak, but should be enough to give the
enemy brown trousers.
Unleash a cloud of swarming insects on your poor enemy and watch as
they run around like headless chickens, trying to shake them off.
[2.1.8] LAND BRIDGE
If you find yourself unable to expand anywhere on the land, perhaps
with an aggressive enemy located just over the hill, why not expand
across the ocean? Alternatively, some enemy may be fortified on a
remote island, so this is the only way to reach him.
One of the classic POPULOUS spells. Pick your target and fry your
victims with a heavenly electric current. Chortle.
The original POPULOUS volcano wasn't really anything more exciting
than a big hill. This time round, the volcano's looking pretty much
like the one from MAGIC CARPET. Stick one in the middle of an enemy
town and watch as it rises, shattering his buildings, burning the
fleeing citizens with its great balls of fire. Goodness gracious!
Cast a couple of these whirling elemental dervishes at the enemy and
watch as his men (and roof-tops) get whisked up into the land of Oz.
The shortest route between you and your enemy is that hard-to-defend
mountain pass. Instead of wasting valuable men, simply lay down a bit
of swampy terrain and cackle sadistically as the enemy sinks without a
Your enemy's got far too many people in his towns for your liking.
Infect a brave volunteer from your village with all manner of poxes
and send him into the enemy's territory. If it makes you feel any
better, stand on a nearby hilltop and chant, "Nyeah-nyeah, you've got
the lurgy!" until your throat bleeds.
Don't forget, your enemy has the capacity to use all these spells back
on you, so don't get too cocky.
[2.2] What sort of buildings will feature in POPULOUS 3?
Not much is known about how the buildings will affect the gameplay,
although its expected that certain buildings will fulfil certain
As in POWERMONGER and SETTLERS 2, you'll be able to see the
construction of your buildings in progress. They'll start off with
spindly, fragile frames that are susceptible to damage, before
gradually assuming a more solid form.
[2.2.1] DRUM TOWER
A useful building to have. Typically built by Braves (see 2.3.3),
these structures will emit tribal rhythms, summoning Wild Men (see
2.3.2) to your cause.
Temples are used by your Preachers (see 2.3.6) to keep your men in
check and make sure they remain loyal to your cause.
Naturally, your followers will need somewhere to live. Braves can
construct basic accommodation, growing more elaborate and hardy as
gain experience. Without a house, your followers will soon desert you.
[2.2.4] SPY CENTRE
Sooner of later, you'll need to know what your enemies are up to.
Rather than risk your Shaman (see 2.3.1) on a scouting mission, spy
centres will teach your men the art of espionage. Once fully trained,
a spy can wander into an enemy camp and give you the low down on their
[2.2.5] DOCK YARD
No known details for this building type. Stay tuned!
[2.2.6] SHIP HANGAR
No known details for this building type, although its inclusion would
appear to indicate that the ability to travel across water will play
some part in the game.
[2.3] What special abilities exist for my people?
Each individual of the land has a certain ability that dictates what
they can do, or what you can do to them. Most abilities have to be
earned by successfully completing a level.
You only get one shaman. She acts as a direct conduit to the gods --
they essentially channel their power through her. It's the shaman's
task to build the population up, cast spells and take the battle to
the enemy. Lose the chick and the game ends.
[2.3.2] WILD MEN
Wild Men roam the land at the start of a level, offering no particular
allegiance to anyone. Your shaman will need to win their confidence if
you're to start building a decent population (and hopefully introduce
them to the marvels of toothpaste and a good comb). Build a Drum Tower
or perform obscure religious ceremonies to attract them to your cause.
There's only a finite number of Wild Men available on each level, so
it's best to convert them as early as possible, else your enemy will
get to them first. If you're running a bit low then it's always
possible to convert the enemy's people to your cause.
If your shaman manages to attract Wild Men, they will be converted to
Braves. Braves can build basic buildings, such as Drum Towers or
Temples and also fight, but only with their fists. One-on-one against
an enemy brave, the fight will be balanced, but to succeed against
anything more formidable the Braves will have to be considerable in
If trained well, a Brave will be rewarded with conversion to a
warrior. They're twice as tough, a bit faster and have the ability to
wield a sword. If you're attacked by a horde of enemy Braves then a
small band of Warriors should be enough to see them off.
[2.3.5] SUPER WARRIORS
Super Warriors have the ability to use magic, which usually comes in
the form of lightning-casting fists. A small group of enemy warriors
could just about kill one, but if a bunch of enemy Braves attempt the
same feat, they're pate.
Once your population begins to expand, keeping everyone in check can
be a difficult task. To help prevent deserters, preachers can be
assigned to temples. They'll hold regular ceremonies that your men
will obediently attend, praising your name and thus boosting your mana
for spell-casting. Preachers can also wander into enemy camps and
convert the people he finds there.
Spies are trained at a Spy Centre. Send them off into a nearby enemy
village and he'll soon be reporting their status. If the enemy's also
well versed in the art of espionage then there's a good chance your
spy may be rumbled.
[2.3.8] ANGEL OF DEATH
You can send an angel of death into enemy territory. Any individual
encountering the angel will simply die of fear. The more hardier
enemies won't go down so easily, affording them a slight chance to
dispatch the angel.
[2.4] Any groovy landscape effects?
POPULOUS 3 promises to contain a flourishing eco-system. This will
most likely manifest itself in the vegetation -- i.e., trees will grow
old, wither and die. The landscapes themselves will be thematic, so
you'll have lush meadows, snow, desert, Martian and night settings.
[2.5] What's the control interface like?
All control's done through the mouse. In fact, you'll be able to play
the game entirely one-handed. Having said that, there will be various
keyboard shortcut options for those who prefer to customise their
[2.6] How many levels will POPULOUS 3 have?
30 single-player maps are confirmed, plus a small number of extra,
hidden levels. It's expected that there will be different maps for
Given the nature of the game's graphic engine, it should be possible
for the computer to randomly generate levels (a la POWERMONGER), or
accept customised player levels.
[2.7] Will it be possible to forge alliances in POPULOUS 3's
Of course. Players can team up together to get rid of one another.
It's also possible to get the computer to control a side in
multiplayer mode. Some single-player levels will also feature up to
three computer-controlled enemies -- it's possible that they could
form alliances against you.
[2.8] Can I move my viewpoint around like I can in SYNDICATE
WARS and DUNGEON KEEPER?
Of course you can. The landscape can be rotated through 360 degrees,
zoomed into and zoomed out of. As your shaman moves around the land,
then the landscape will 'roll' to reveal new features (see 3.1.1).
You can also switch to an overhead plan view of the landscape, which
gives you the opportunity to plan out your advances on the enemy's
[2.9] What's the beef on multiplayer support?
As shipped, POPULOUS 3 will allow up to 4 players to slug it out with
one another over a LAN network, IPX or DirectPlay IPX. TCP support
will most likely be made available in the form of a patch.
2 players can go head-to-head with one another via a modem or serial
[SECTION 3 - TECHNICAL INFORMATION]
[3.0] What are the system requirements for POPULOUS 3?
Although a game of enormous strategic scope, POPULOUS 3 won't be as
demanding of your hardware as other major titles released this year.
Bullfrog are currently recommending the following minimum specs:
Pentium P60 processor
MS-DOS and/or Window 95 operating system
Supports all common sound cards
[3.1] I'm a bit suspicious. What with everything that's been
mentioned in the previous section, not to mention all those
gorgeous screenshots, I would have thought a P166 would have
been the minimum requirement?
You're forgetting that the lads and lasses at Bullfrog are pretty
nifty when it comes to design and implementation. The 3D graphics
engine used by POPULOUS 3 is in fact a lot simpler than it looks. And
whilst the enemies will behave realistically, the AI routines are also
[3.2] A simple graphics engine? But I want the best!
Calm down. What's more important -- a graphics engine that looks good
on paper but results in the game playing like a dog, or a graphics
engine that sounds rather simple on paper but enhances the gameplay
like there's no tomorrow?
The POPULOUS 3 landscape is wrapped onto a sphere. It's comprised of
3D polygons and is fully rotatable and scaleable. The spherical nature
of the landscape eliminates the need for processor-hungry distance-
fogging. Instead the landscape 'rolls' into view as your shaman walks
towards (or away from) the horizon.
The landscape itself utilises colour ramps, which enables the
topographical features to be bitmapped according to their altitude
(blue at sea level, white for the mountain tops). This is a lot faster
than the bog-standard method of tiling pre-defined textures.
The levels can easily be designed in 2D by using two bitmaps. A
displacement bitmap refers to the colour ramp, which will enable the
graphics engine to shape the landscape according to colour. A bump map
is then applied to the displacement bitmap, allowing certain areas to
be highlighted and shadowed, thus maintaining the illusion of light
sources (again, much quicker than actually having to render light
sources on the fly).
The ease with which landscapes can be built will hopefully allow for
many player-made levels, not to mention the possibility of random,
Each of the game's initial 30 levels will basically comprise of a
dynamic 4Mb bitmap. The key word here is "dynamic". For example, if an
army of yours trudges across fields of snow, they'll leave little
footprints behind. If you decide to cast a rain of fire down upon an
enemy, then the grass he's sitting on will become scorched and burnt.
[3.3] What about the enemy AI? If the coded routines are small,
does that mean the AI will be too simple?
It's a matter of perception. To quote Alan Wright, POPULOUS 3's
project leader at Bullfrog:
"Largely, it's the illusion of intelligence which has a big impact on
anybody watching the game, when in fact the sprites are not very
intelligent at all but just go through very set states with a bit of
randomness here and there. The amount of effort that goes into the AI
is not directly proportional to how you perceive it. A bit more effort
on the AI has a far greater effect on how you perceive it."
Consider the way enemy craft behave in something like TIE FIGHTER or
X-WING. You'd think most craft would have huge wads of AI code
attached to them, when in fact there's nothing more than a few dozen
lines governing their behaviour.
As with the graphics, it's not the relative size of the code that
counts, but the way in which those elements of code are reflected
within the gameplay.
[3.4] Okay, will I benefit from a more powerful system?
In terms of gameplay, a more powerful system is unlikely to make too
much difference. However, a more powerful system will afford you
various visual enhancements. For example, it's likely that a P100 will
be necessary for anything beyond the basic VGA 320x200x256 mode.
Meanwhile, a P200 will quite happily run the game in a stonking
1280x1024x256 resolution. If you've got some flashy graphics cards
tucked away inside the machine, then all manner of texture filters
will come into play. Nothing that enhances the gameplay, but at least
it's something to show off to your mates.
[3.5] Will 3D graphics cards be supported?
Yes. 3Dfx and Direct3D support is planned, although it's not yet
known if these versions will be included with the final release or
released at a later date via a patch.
The biggest benefit these cards will give lies with various texture
filters. These enable certain effects such as transparencies (smoke
and fog), reflections (a la MAGIC CARPET) and heat haze (from burning
[3.6] What about sound effects and music?
Expect your usual ambient sound effects. On top of that, it's possible
that your shaman will have her own proto-language, meaning you'll be
able to hear her incantating various spells and what-nots.
I dare say some audio music tracks will be pulled off the CD to
accompany your world-wide domination, as is the current Bullfrog
[3.7] Are there any other versions of POPULOUS 3 planned?
Bullfrog are working on a PlayStation version, although that isn't
likely to arrive until 1998.
[SECTION 4 - POPULOUS 3 NET RESOURCES]
[4.0] Give me some POPULOUS 3-related URLs!
Okay, try the following if you want the official low-down on
POPULOUS 3 (including screenshots):
US - http://www.bullfrog.ea.com/populous3/index.html
UK - http://www.bullfrog.co.uk/populous3/index.html
Various unofficial POPULOUS 3 pages are bound to pop up sooner or
later (I may even do one myself). As and when they do, I'll mention
[4.1] Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?
New versions of the FAQ will be posted in the following
The latest version will always be available at the
Alternatively, you can a message to email@example.com with
the word "FAQ" in the subject header and you'll automatically be
added to a distribution list, receiving the latest version of the
FAQ as soon as it's available.
[4.2] Can I contribute towards this FAQ?
I certainly hope so. If you have any information that you think should
be included in this FAQ, or have noticed any errors, please send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributors will be fully
[4.3] Can I distribute this FAQ?
Of course, that's the whole point. Feel free to distribute this FAQ in
any medium you see fit. All I ask is that you distribute the FAQ in
its entirety and make no changes. If you feel something needs to be
added, deleted or changed, please email me and I'll consider it for
the next update.
[4.4] What will happen to this FAQ once the game's released?
Once the game's released, v1.0 of this FAQ will be available. It will
focus on specific gameplay issues, tips and strategies, as well as
keeping everyone informed of various patches, add-ons, etc.
[5.0] FAQ release history.
v0.1a + Corrected the formatting to prevent ugly line wraps.
+ Corrected a few minor typos.
+ Added the FAQ release history info.
v0.1 + First release.