Geometry System of Populous: The Beginning [closed]

I want to to develop a game like Populous: The Beginning with my friend. But we could not find out what type of geometry they have used for the world.

We know that - all tiles have the same size - all tiles are squares

So.. It cannot be a Icosahedron, because there are triangles, nor cant it be a standard sphere geometry, because not all tiles have the same size.

Can someone help me?

• Since the guys at Uber are now creating the game of my dreams called "Planetary Annihilation", they also shared their thoughts and techniques of how they solved the problems. This blog post of Mavor really is genious: mavorsrants.com/2013/02/planetary-annihilation-engine.html Jun 12, 2013 at 10:05
• This is not a direct answer to your question, but you may be able to find some useful information here: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/56231/… Jun 13, 2013 at 5:31
• I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about how a specific game accomplished a specific task.
– user1430
May 13, 2015 at 17:57

Triangles you are seeing are likely just a product of the rendering system -- everything, in the end, has to be broken down into triangles for rendering.

I suggest you do this: search google (images) for "sphere tessellation". You will get an idea of the many, many ways of doing this. Your game does not need to be tessellated in exactly the same way as Populous: The Beginning (which, by the way, is a great game which I love). Meaning you don't even need to use square tiles, if you don't want to; you could use any hexagons, triangles, pentagons, arbitrary quadrilaterals like kites, or even voronoi tessellation (irregular, non-repeated polygons).

What's important in any tessellation used for game logic is connectivity, i.e. the fact that your "grid" forms a (somewhat) connected graph for movement purposes.

EDIT: Probably what they've done is something a little like StarControl's melee -- they actually have a wrapping 2D grid (modulo in x and y). Then, when you view the sphere, you can only see one hemisphere at once, which makes it possible to map the tiles without too much noticeable distortion. And at a closer zoom, all would look perfect.

• The problem with non-square tiles is texturing. It´s really hard to create a texture image and then calculate the UVs for it to map it on the world. If I had squares, it would be as simple as possible. Using A*, pathfinding is easy with every sort of tiles, I know. Aug 23, 2011 at 9:11
• The problem with a 2d perspective project of a sphere (as used on Earth's world maps) is that while you do get square tiles, you also get warping: increasingly small tiles toward the poles. What's more important to you, dealing with the difficulties of UV mapping easily, or ensuring your tiles are well-distributed for game logic purposes? If you do find out what P:TB uses I'd be interested to know. Aug 23, 2011 at 9:20
• I think both ways are not possible for me... There is a Map editor for P:TB where you can enable the grid. There are definately used squares as tiles. But the strange thing on P:TB is that you can either see the complete planet, or see a part of it. There is nothing between. I think they could have faked it, so that it only looks like a Sphere in the end. But I´m not sure... Aug 23, 2011 at 9:27
• I was just thinking that. Probably what they've done is something a little like StarControl's melee -- they actually have a wrapping 2D grid (modulo in x and y). Then, when you view the sphere, you can only see one hemisphere at once, which makes it possible to map the tiles without too much noticeable distortion. And at a closer zoom, all would look perfect. Aug 23, 2011 at 9:33
• ^^ ok, then I think it´s really a fake. The fact, that the planet is completely round (no hills) when watching at the full planet, indicates that there is used a normal sphere geometry for it. We can see it here: s.uvlist.net/l/y2008/09/53528.jpg Aug 23, 2011 at 9:43

The problem here is that Populous maps are not spheres at all. They're a Torus, more analogous to a flat torus manipulated on screen to look like a sphere than an actual sphere.

For example:

• Populous maps are squares when viewed outside of the populous engine
• Populous maps in game are visibly warped to show/hide the curvature by moving from the normal to the close up/overhead view
• When viewing the overhead globe, the terrain is visibly warped to ensure a spherical appearance
• One can navigate around the world using non-euclidian geometry

The game is played from a third-person perspective with the camera at a variable height and capable of rotating 360°, enabling the player to quickly move across the planet's terrain. While the terrain's topology is a torus, the map is locally projected onto a sphere to give the illusion of a planet. On maps where there is no fog of war, players can see what opponents are doing at any time. Extensive support for 3D acceleration enables the player to view the game in 16-bit or 32-bit colour.[10] The landscape and real-time structure building and follower movement are also shown.

Also, notice here:

If the overview is of half the planet, as it the minimap, why does the minimap show so much more water? And why does the water texture not reflect the true proportions of a sphere by showing an almost side on view at the edges?

Also as noted in comments on the other question, notice in this screenshot the planet is perfectly round:

If it were a true sphere, we'd be able to see hills and objects sticking up from the edge of the planet. For example, here's Planetary Annihilation, see the trees and cliffs jutting out over the horizon:

Instead, for a modern game I would advise tessellating an icosahedron. You'll find many questions on SO on how to do that in a programming language of your choosing

But Triangles?

Yes! It's possible the engine uses quads but quads are generally split into triangles by the drivers and graphics card, and quads have downsides. Games built in the last 20 years will be using triangles

• Just to clarify (because I found this recently) the Populous maps aren't real projective planes, they're toruses, like Asteroids. The Wikipedia article has been corrected. Nov 4, 2020 at 9:56
• updated to mention torus* Nov 4, 2020 at 12:40