Populous Online Code Of Conduct

By: James Travis
Written on: Sunday, May 16, 2004
Fourth edition.
Updated on: Friday, July 09, 2004

This document is an official guideline for Populous Reincarnated players. If you have any suggestions, please email them to me. If you copy this document, you must give credit to the author, James Travis.

  1. Introduction

    First off, it is important to remember that Populous is a game. It is not life and death. Games are supposed to be fun, yet just like at a real life game of football or hockey, if one player constantly whines or gives up in the middle of the match not only is that team no longer having fun (moods are infectious), but that team is one-man short and therefore at a much greater disadvantage.

    The following are some things all new players should read and understand prior to engaging in multiplayer Populous.

  2. Quitting is not an honorable way to die.

    The old adage holds true. Winners never quit and quitters never win. If you're losing, the first thing you should do is re-evaluate your strategy, learn from your mistakes and try to improve. That is the single way you will avoid losses in the future.

    If real life requires you to leave, explain to everyone why you need to quit, and be an adult... If you're playing Teams, apologize to your team mate and offer to play a rematch later when it's more convenient.

    Simply quitting to avoid the humility of a loss, shows that you are taking the game too seriously, and maybe a loss is what you need to deflate your over-sized ego.

  3. Populous is a strategy game Play it as such.

    This may seem obvious, but Populous is a strategy game. This means that it is a game you play by creating and utilizing strategies based on the spells, buildings and units in your possession in order to defeat your opponents.

    Some players, when being overwhelmed by enemy forces, will suddenly in mid-match, create new rules to try and salvage their losing situation. One example: I joined a game where the host turned off all spells except Blast, Landbridge and Earthquake. He then turned off all units except Firewarriors. We were playing the Skirmish map, and he rapidly fortified his front entrance with both Shaman and fifty Firewarriors.

    Knowing that it was impossible to breach that kind of defense with such a limited arsenal, I used the Landbridge to make a path to his undefended back. And it was at this time which he began to call me a cheater and repeatedly spammed the words "No back door!" in the chat line.

    The point of this little story? Don't let others tell you how to play your strategy. If you do, they will always win because they would know exactly what your next action will be.

    A good military commander will want his enemies to be caught off guard, and that is exactly what you want. Don't be caught in always playing the same way. Look for enemies weaknesses and exploit them. That is the point of Populous.

    The very first single-player level demonstrates how Landbridge is used to reach the enemy base. How funny would it be if the Computer crashed the game with an error box saying "No back door!", see how ridiculous it is?

    If you are caught off guard, simply admit that maybe your strategy wasn't the best, do your best to try and recover, but accept that just maybe the enemy might have played this match a bit better then you.

  4. Team games mean team play.

    Team play in Populous is not a tag team match. All four players are on the map at the same time. And it is up to the teams to decide what their strategy will be.

    A lot of new players have no problems with team games right up until the time when the concept of true team play begins to show itself.

    I was once in a team game Where it was Green and myself versus Blue and Red on Face Off. I had killed Red off, and I noticed my ally was losing to Blue. As I began to help, Blue accused me of doubling and told me if I help my ally at all, he would quit... and he did quit.

    What is the point of having alliances if you can not work together toward your common goal of destroying the other team? Imagine a football game where the Quarterback decides to quit if more than one enemy decides to charge toward him. Without team play and coordination, the whole basis and concept of Teams collapses.

    If you truly want to play one-on-one against another player, then play a two-player match and don't punish allies by not allowing them to help their ally.

    I also know that there is a map-pack floating around that allows two players to play on four-player maps. So don't use the "I don't like the two player maps" excuse.

  5. Rushing is not a crime.

    The first rule of warfare as stated above, is to catch the enemy off guard, and while they are weak. If you let the enemy build-up ammunition and troops, then your chance of survival is much less likely.

    Any good commander sees the advantage of a swift and decisive attack. However there are some that feel this is a cheat. They usually only object to it when they are being defeated by it, and only after their initial attempt to counter it has failed. I even played in one match where the enemy attempted to rush me, I was able to repel it, and when I counter attacked I became the "cheating rusher" in his mind.

    Allow me to put all doubt aside... Rushing is not a crime. Like any other aspect of this strategy game, it is a specific tactic. Just as many Guard Towers and Firewarriors are the tactic of the defensive players, Rushing is a tactic of the extremely aggressive offensive players. And it is not without a big element of risk.

    A good rush requires two things, fast-reflexes and guts. If the rush is repelled the rusher is toast, stale and unbuttered. In team games, it is even more risky because while you are rushing one enemy, the other enemy will probably be able to slip a few warriors or preachers into your base making sure you have no way to recover from your initial strike. Like any other strategy, rushing is a way to use the resources available to you during the game to accomplish your objective, destroy the enemy.

  6. Thou shalt not cheat.

    Cheating, like quitting, is a sign that you are taking the game too seriously. It is a symptom of a bigger problem. The problem is that either:

    1. Your ego is so big that you can't even begin to fathom that someone may be better at the game than you;
    2. You take the game so seriously that all fun that once existed is gone. You are afraid that your reputation as a "pro player" will be destroyed and people will not like you if you don't win every single game.

    In both cases, remember what I said at the start of this guide... Populous is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If you are not having fun you need to take a step back and ask yourself why you are even playing if not to have fun.

    Of course there is also the brand of cheater that cheats for no other reason than to ruin the game for everyone else. This particular strain of cheater can and should be banned by whatever authority is in charge of maintaining a healthy and orderly gaming community.

    Cheats include:

    • Resyncing the game to reverse a nasty situation.
    • Attempting BYRNE codes.
    • Disconnecting as host, forcing everyone to lag-out.
    • Flooding the other team in private chat.
    • Mana trainer programs.

    Now you may be saying "Why on earth did you tell people how to cheat?" Answer, I didn't. I merely brought to light the different types of cheating, so that the next time someone tries it, everyone will know what to look for. For example, If you just get done Destroying the enemy base, and I resync occurs and reverses all your effects and now the enemy is prepared for your attack; that's a resync cheat.

    And I once played an enemy who had six small huts to my fourteen, yet he had full Landbridge, trained units and full Earthquake in the first four minutes of play. Definitely a Mana trainer cheat.

    Now this does not mean you should go around accusing everyone who can defeat you of being a cheater. It's pretty obvious to spot the real cheaters as I demonstrated above, and 99.99% of the people play fairly.

    If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a genuine cheater in an online game, don't go berserk and rant about it. The best thing to do is is calmly ad clearly announce to the others in the game that you suspect that person of foul play, and explain clearly why you believe they are cheating and then wait for a response. The most common case of mistaken accusations are people getting extra spells from Stoneheads or Obelisks.

    If the person or persons cannot adequately explain the suspected occurrences, then the best course of action is to simply state that you do not want to play with a cheater and to calmly and quietly quit and avoid that person or persons in the future. It's the only time when quitting is acceptable (besides very bad lag, which can also be a cheat sometimes on the Host's end.)

    You can, and probably should warn the other players in the lobby that you believe so-andso to be a cheater, it's the polite thing to do. However, you should never flood the lobby with your warning or type in all CAPS as that is seen as very obnoxious yelling.

  7. Your alliance is your bond.

    Alliances that have been decided before the game starts are a very sacred thing, not to be taken lightly. Nothing breaks my fragile virgin heart more than seeing someone betrayed by an ally. And what is the reason? Points. Always points. It's sad and pathetic for people to be so greedy to back stab an ally based solely on one extra point.

    What's even worse, is that usually these treasonous players usually have this betrayal planned out before the game is even launched. It shows a complete lack of trustworthiness on the part of the player and when I ever see it happen that player immediately goes on my list of players I will never join a game with.

    If someone is that concerned with points, that means they are also vulnerable to the temptation of cheating, so I avoid them like the plague. Don't be a traitor.

  8. Watch your mouth.

    You'd be surprised how many people treat online games like a dirty bathroom stall. When talking online, keep in-mind that not everyone likes "colorful" language. And contrary to popular myth, there is nothing adult about using vulgarities every other word, it's actually quite childish and rude.

    I am an adult, and I do not want to see those words used, and there are jobs you will not get because of those words, so you had better break the habit of using them while you still can.

    I have a general threshold, once someone crosses it, they will find themselves very rapidly on mine, and many other players block lists. So, like smoking, if you think being dirty makes you cool, think again.

    If you can't convey your thoughts and emotions in a civilized manner, use a thesaurus instead of a coarse word.

  9. Pause abuse.

    Pausing is a feature of the game, it is meant to temporarily hold the game while someone goes away from their computer or work in another window. However there are some people who use the Pause feature to look around the world, and to help them aim spells (especially Lightning). It might be okay in single-player, however in multi-player it is extremely frustrating to the other players who actually came to play the game. Not to look at a frozen screen while the offender gets a grasp on what is happening around the world.

    This is called "Pause abuse". I've encountered it several times throughout my time here. One of the most famous instances of it occurred on Face Off, when one player had the hill (this was FFA), I side-doored the player and as my men and Shaman were crossing the bridge, the player Paused the game for about 10 seconds, and then immediately unpaused and Lightninged my Shaman. This exploit comes from the fact that while paused, you can still select spells and buildings from the Panel.

    As my attack continued, the player would pause continuously every time I would send my shaman or more men, and always followed up with a spell action. It was very obvious that this was a clear case of Pause abuse, and it is considered quite dishonest. Don't do it.

  10. Rigged games.

    Probably the most annoying type of match, is one that is rigged. What do I mean when I say "rigged" in Populous terms? Well, a rigged game in Populous is when the host appears to set everything up like normal and waits until everyone is ready to start, and then quickly changes a critical setting and starts the game before anyone notices. An example of this would be quickly changing Shaman Limit to 1. When you are unfortunate enough to be in a game where the host has rigged it. The best course of action is to calmly inform everyone of the hosts mis-deed and then quietly quit the game. This is another rare instance when it is acceptable to quit. After all, you didn't agree to those settings, they were forced upon you.

    Another suggestion, if you feel the underhanded host should not receive a point for his trickery, you could try to solicit the other players to attack and kill him. But do it calmly, don't go around flaming and ranting about it as that will just make you look bad and give the host more credibility.

  11. Poor sportsmanship.

    I am not talking about cheating or quitting here, those have already been covered in the previous sections. What I am talking about specifically are bad losers and bad winners.

    First let us talk a bit about bad winners. These are the kind of people who try to act like they own the world, "they are the best and they know it" kind of people.

    Example: I was once playing a two vs me because my ally had quit. Now I don't mind being doubled, in-fact I think of it as great practice. What I do mind is a bad winner.

    As the two shamans and about one-hundred-twenty-five troops pour into my humble base, one of the two players proceeds to chat about how bad he is "owning me", as if he was the one doing all the work. Of course the obligatory "James is a n00b" followed, and as my reincarnation site crumbled to the ground, I said "GG", he did not. That is a bad winner.

    Had I actually been a new player, his behavior would've probably led to my leaving the Populous community... After all, no-one wants to play a game if everyone in the community acts like that, and the new player would not know any different.

    Now let's move on to bad losers. Bad losers are usually very egocentric (just as bad winners are), except they think they are the best but if they lose then the excuses start rolling like a snowball down a mountain. You have to use a front-end-loader to shovel all the crap they start spewing out. From the "cheater!!!" to "backdoorer!!!" to the "I was playing using my feet while downloading and chatting on MSN", excuses just keep rlling in.

    Then they have a ninety-percent chance of a quit before the game ends. There is also the problem of if this person is the host, and the second player cannot host, then the bad loser's selfishness will ruin the game for the rest of the players (if any).

    The point I am trying to make is, bad-sportsmanship will ruin the game, but beyond that, will rot the community. We need to embrace the civilized new player, not drive them away with bad attitudes and poor sportsmanship.

  12. Conclusions.

    These are general purpose etiquette rules for online play. As with any rule, there will be some rebellious players who will break them no matter what. However they should be adhered to by the majority of the community to ensure fair and fun game play for all concerned.

    And there some cases where these rules can be legitimately bent. For example: The Restrictions lobby in the game is meant to be a place where the connected players can decide on the type of game about to be played. It is there that the players should agree to the specific options and "unwritten rules". It is there that players can all agree whether or not to rush or back/side-door.

    It is my rule of thumb: If no agreement is made on rushing or any of the other rules at the Restrictions lobby, then anything goes. All is fair in love, war, and Populous... Except what is written above.

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