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Hints, Tips, Strategy and FAQs for playing Populous III online
Important Note: All of these launchers used the official Electronic Arts server. Since this was closed on 8 January 2004 they no longer work. This page has been left in place just for historical interest.
What's a launcher?
Launcher with Flood Control and Blocking
Enhanced Lobby Selection Page (Poplaunch Plus)
Dual-Function HTML Launcher
What's a launcher?
A launcher is a piece of custom software which allows you to use the Electronic Arts lobby and game server (www.populous.ea-europe.com) without going through the log-in procedure. In fact, you don't even need to be registered, and you can use any name you want. If you do use your registered Populous name, however, you will still earn points for your victories (when the points sytem is working), provided of course that you spell it correctly, including the use of capital letters. The advantages of using a launcher are to save time, to fake your grade, and to hide behind a fake name. Launchers will often also get you to the lobby even when the official entrance pages are broken. Not all of these reasons are pure and noble - please use this page responsibly!
There are two types of lobby launcher available from this page.
The first type requires you to download and install files on your PC. In return, you get complete independence from the Electronic Arts website - you only use their server. This has the advantage of allowing you to play when the website (but not the server) is down, and it also allows various modifications to improve the function of the lobby. A launcher using the original EA files is available here and various modified versions of the files, with added features are available here.
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When you enter the Electronic Arts Populous lobby in the normal way from the EA website, your browser downloads a number of files to the Temporary Internet Files folder on your PC in order to run the lobby applet. This takes some time, and of course won't work if the EA site is down. The local lobby client available here stores all these files in a special folder on your PC (normally c:\poplaunch) and explicitly tells Internet Explorer to load them from there rather than from the EA site. Your computer can then interact directly with the EA lobby server, without any contact with the EA website. The files used are identical (apart from a small version notification in the lobby welcome message) and everything else should work exactly as before.
Installation is simple.
Further details are available in the readme.htm file which is installed in c:\poplaunch\readme\version000
- Download this file poplaunch000.exe (468KB) to a temporary directory and run it.
- Accept the suggested folder (C:\poplaunch)
- Double click on the file poplaunch.reg (using Windows Explorer)
- Launch by double-clicking on poplaunch.htm
Having the lobby files installed locally means that we can modify them to add features to the lobby client. This is an ongoing project, but the feature list for the current release is as follows:
Current Version: 1.06
(Released 2 February 2003)
What you get:
Full details for installation and use are in the readme106.txt file (17KB).
- You can block chat messages from individual players.
- You can list blocked players and save the names to disk, so that they are automatically blocked every time you enter the lobby.
- There are extensive defences against flooding - flood messages do not appear on the chat screen.
- You can switch on information messages, so that the lobby can tell you what it's blocking.
- 'Censoring' of words in the chat window. ie. Replacement of words which you consider objectionable by other words of your choice. (eg 'fluffy' could be replaced by 'fl**y').
- For huts which are not vacant, a numerical ping is shown by the hut, as measured from your computer to the hut's host.
- You can resize the size of the lobby applet screen, to see more of the chat history and players list.
- Configuration setup in poplaunch.htm so that you can choose which features are enabled on startup.
- You can log chat messages to a file for reading later.
- You can easily find your IP address for setting up IP games.
The installation is available as a self extracting file (poplaunch106.exe 112KB) or as a zip file (poplaunch106.zip 50KB). Use the self-extractor unless you are installing to a different folder (read the readme106.txt file first!) or have an aversion to downloaded executables.
The software is offered as is without warranty. It is your responsibility to ensure that you can install and run it legally. By downloading it, you accept these conditions.
Many thanks to <<--xs-->> for some code segments, bug fixes, suggestions and encouragement.
Please send any bug reports or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Once you have installed the latest version of the lobby client (see previous section) you have everything you need, and you can configure the lobby however you want it by editing the variables in the user section of poplaunch.htm. Some people like to fiddle with buttons and stuff though, so for them I have designed an enhanced version of the lobby selection page. It works with the same lobby file, so the two versions are compatible, but the enhanced version has some extra features:
Download the self-extracting file (poplaunchplus100.exe) or, if you have installed the files anywhere other than in c:\poplaunch, download the zip file poplaunchplus100.zip. The installer and the zip file contain the same files, namely:
- You can select all the options for the lobby by clicking radio buttons
- You can enter the height and width of the lobby in text boxes
- The lobby opens in a new skeleton window, which can be minimised to fit the lobby applet exactly, and so maximise the amount of screen space available for other programs, such as AIM or ICQ. The lobby number is shown on the title bar.
- You can generate a random name, or anagram name at the touch of a button.
- You have control over the length of the random name, the types of characters used, and the case.
- You can generate a semi-random name by using the template feature. By entering text such as 'ARAcvc', your names will be generated like this: ARABIF ARADEJ ARAWAP etc, with the 'v' being replaced by a random vowel and the 'c's by random consonents. 'n' gives a random number, 'o' gives a random non-alphanumeric character, and any other character or symbol will appear as you typed it.
Launch the new lobby selector by double-clicking on poplaunchplus.htm (normally in c:\poplaunch).
- poplaunchplus.htm - the launcher page
- poplaunch.css - style instructions for the launcher page
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Choose Lobby has the advantage that, um, you can choose which lobby to go to. In fact it takes you to the lobby selection page on the Populous site (You know - the one with the wheel thing which you click to choose the lobby.) However, it does have some disadvantages:
- When EA are having problems with their site, the lobby selector is often affected, in which case this launcher won't work.
- Any spaces or special characters in your name will be converted to escape codes, such as '%20'.
- It takes longer to get there.
Lobby 1 will take you directly to Lobby 1 (do not pass Go, do not collect £200). There are several advantages to this:
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- It will often work when the rest of the EA Populous site is down.
- That's where players mostly hang out, so it's quicker to get where you want to be.
- You can put spaces in your name. In fact, you can use any characters you want, including 'alt' coded characters.
- If you want to be anonymous, just accept the name offered - it is a random string of between 4 and 8 characters, newly generated each time you load the page
- The suggested name is already preselected, so when the page loads, you only have to start typing to input your own name.
- If you don't like the suggested name and can't be bothered to type something, hit 'New Name' for a different one.
- The maximum name length is set at 20 characters to keep the lobby message area readable.
What if they don't work?
When the EA lobby system is working properly, both the above launchers should work fine. However, if neither of them work, the only solution is to get a low-level launcher and run it direct from your PC. <--xs--> wrote the original one with a little help from Shakey Jake - well done guys! The local launcher offered here (see above) is functionally equivalent but the original version is still available from DrummerKa's site at www.drummerka.com. Here is how you install DrummerKA's version:
- Download the launcher (MatchMaker.zip - 429KB) to a suitable folder on your PC (eg C:\downloads\poplaunch)
- Open the zip file and extract all the files to any folder (the same one is fine - just enter a . in the folder panel). You'll get the following:
- Open the file readme.txt and check for any new info.
- Double click the file poplaunch.exe to run it (it's a standalone zip-extractor). Accept the suggested folder (c:\poplaunch) then let it unpack the files.
- Go to C:\poplaunch and double-click the file called poplaunch.reg. This will load an entry into your registry. I was initially nervous about this, but it's just a single line addition to give permission to run the Java code.
- You can now run the launcher by double-clicking on poplaunch.htm
Two possible problems which I know of:
Here are a couple of refinements:
- You must use the default folder for the installation (c:\poplaunch) otherwise it won't work.
- If you can't see the file extensions (i.e. you just have two files named poplaunch in the C:\poplaunch folder), you need to turn on extension display in Windows Explorer. Do this by clicking on 'Tools' | 'Folder options' | 'View' and then uncheck the box marked 'hide file extensions for known file types'.
- Put a shortcut on your desktop:
Right-click on poplaunch.htm, drag it to the desktop and release. Select 'create shortcut here'.
- Change the default player name:
Open poplaunch.htm with Notepad
Use search to find *both* occurrences of the word 'wildy'.
Replace them with your chosen name (keep the quote marks).
Save the file.
I've installed the launcher on my PC (Windows 98SE) and it works faultlessly. As a bonus, you lose the dialogue box which tells you about the expired EA certificate, and it's faster than the other launchers.
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Last updated: 17 October 2011