One of the minds behind Populous returns to the god game with the upcoming Topia

Coming from one of the people responsible for the late 80s classic Populous, the upcoming iOS game Topia looks set to offer a simplified god game experience on a lush, destructible world packed with herds of “grazers” who rely on you for survival and protection from the predators that hunt them down.

Glenn Corpes knows a thing or two about making god games – he was a designer and programmer on Populous, the brilliant, 23-year-old videogame that established the genre, after all. Topia, his new game for iOS platforms, doesn’t appear quite as complex as that, but it will give players the chance to remake the world as they see fit and guide its inhabitants to a bright future or ultimate doom.

The 3D-rendered world in Topia can be rotated and zoomed through conventional swipe and pinch controls, and more importantly can be rebuilt with tools that allow terrain to be raised and lowered, transforming rocky, inhospitable mountains into fertile plains for your grazers. But with grazers – a generic stand-in for helpless herd animals like sheep or cows – come predators which will hunt and kill them whenever they meet. The sheer size of grazer herds offers some protection from predation and so can you, with mana-powered lightning bolts that can strike the hunters down.

Gameplay goals at this point are fairly simple, such as growing herds to a certain size or escorting them safely from one point to another, but the possible addition of other animal types, including carrion scavengers and perhaps birds or fish, could lead to more complex or multi-layered goals in the final release. It’s definitely not going to be the most elaborate god game ever, but there are some complexities in the simulation: grass will only slowly return to overgrazed areas of the land and animals trapped in barren, grassless areas will grow hungry and eventually starve and die. Keeping your herds happy is vital: Happy herds provide more mana, and more mana means more power.

Topia is running a bit behind schedule (several months, actually) but appears to be coming together nicely, and will hopefully be available this summer for iOS touch devices.