Thursday, 10 July 2014

Topia for Android and future updates

Topia for Android and future updates

      A few weeks ago Topia was quietly released on Android. The conversion was handled by madmunki who aren't just another porting company, they're the guys behind the wonderfully weird Spunland and also, people I worked with in various places back before I 'went indie'.

     We didn't make a big deal of the launch because, as a lot of people have pointed out, Topia isn't really much more of a game than it was when we released the iOS version in late 2012. 

Why isn't there more of a game in Topia already?

        Ever since I wrote the graphic engine and landscape system of Populous over 25 years ago, I'd always wanted to create a smooth, more organic version. I started on this with the Powermonger engine but the Amiga and ST just couldn't draw enough polygons to make it work and dynamic modification wasn't part of the design anyway. The idea did surface in a few places later. Magic Carpet had a dynamic landscape (though only  indirectly through spells and weapons) which also showed up in Gene Wars. When Populous 3 (released as Populous The Beginning) started development it seemed like the idea suddenly made sense but by then none of us who had worked on the previous Populous games were directly involved and were unable to steer the project in a more 'Populousy' direction. Direct control of the landscape wasn't part of the game. Sorry to all of those who think of Populous the Beginning when they hear the word Populous but some of us consider it more of a weird RTS than a true sequel (OK, I know it was released as a prequel but you get my point). I did like the way it faked a spherical world though...

    So, basically, in 2010 I was talking to Josh from Crescent Moon and he had an idea for a god game that seemed like the perfect fit for the landscape system I'd been itching to try for over two decades. I set about doing what I'd done many times before. Creating a landscape system and the means to render it. The cool thing about Topia was that when I finally got round to making that organic sculpting system, the iPad was the perfect platform. The tactile controls make the landscape moulding feel even better than it does on a mouse.

   There was a big problem though. I was doing what I'd done many times before: Creating the underlying world management, the control system and rendering. This is basically exactly what I had done for Populous, Powermonger, Populous II, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper etc. The big difference was that with all of those games there were other talented programmers involved who went on to turn my groundwork into an actual game, or handled the hundreds of more mundane programming tasks. With Topia, I had none of that and, to be brutally honest, I just didn't have the time or money to finish it so we were forced to release it with just the tutorials and 'sandbox' mode.

Now, things are changing. Topia will be getting more gameplay, more creatures, more landscape modification effects. The exact details haven't been completely decided but more information will be coming soon.
The next version may well feature shoals of these guys...

Running on a Linux Laptop (long story...)

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