VCMI: Open-Source Engine for Heroes of Might and Magic III

269 points9
nathell9 days ago

I still spend inordinate amounts of time playing Heroes 3. It’s been a strong procrastination feeder over the decades, but it also gave me a lot of fun!

I mostly play HotA in HD Mod these days, but I had used VCMI on Android (with SoD). It’s been a bit rough – the client-server thing that it does would have connection issues, the mechanics differed in subtle ways, etc. But I’m also super grateful that it exists.

SantiagoElf9 days ago

Same here. Heroes 3 with HD Mod, but without HotA addiotions.

Tons of fun - usually I start a XXL map with 5 computers, I play Kyrre from Rampart and rush to find first the Dragon Utopia get Town Portal/Dimension door and hunt them down the map.

bombcar8 days ago

The campaigns are fun, some of the custom maps are absolutely amazing, but there's nothing quite like a classic old compstomp.

stavros8 days ago

Try Songs of Conquest. It captures the original feel 100% for me, and is a game I really enjoy.

chrysoprace7 days ago

It's got some real potential, here's hoping they actually finish it as I've been burnt on Early Access before.

stavros7 days ago

Isn't it already extremely playable? I've been playing it on and off, though I don't know if half the campaign is missing.

IG_Semmelweiss8 days ago

is this a mod over HD ?

bombcar8 days ago

It's an early access HOMM-like game:

jakderrida8 days ago

> It’s been a strong procrastination feeder over the decades, but it also gave me a lot of fun!

I remember buying some random Sega Genesis game that had the same effect on everyone I loaned it to, even a couple years after Playstation came out. Nobody was immune and, even after I showed them the tricks to winning, it only got worse.

Then I saw my baby brother playing the Heroes Playstation 2 port and I realized it's the exact same game, but was called King's Bounty on Genesis.

idrios7 days ago

Btw there's a King's Bounty 2 out now that was released in 2021. My dad picked it up recently, he enjoyed it a lot. Combat is the same party-building/grid-based tactics, but rest of the game is much more of a linear/semi-open world RPG compared to Heroes

hydrok98 days ago

King's Bounty was its own game which preceeded Heroes 1

bombcar9 days ago

My personal ranking puts HD Mod above VCMI (currently) but VCMI has some features that HD Mod will likely never enable - because they’re fundamentally game changing.

HD Mod also works with Horn of the Abyss which is an (pretty successful) attempt to build an unofficial expansion to H3 that has the feel of H3. Anyone who played Wake of the Gods will know it felt quite “unH3” at points.

notpushkin9 days ago

There's an incomplete HotA implementation on VCMI, too!

It can be installed from the launcher, on the Mods tab.

thriftwy9 days ago

HD Mod also works (albeit in reduced form) with HoMM3: Succession Wars, which is a mod for Heroes III which make them look like Heroes II. It's WIP but it is charming.

thih99 days ago

Off topic, I wanted to compare it to the original, wanted to run that in[1] and realized that this software is now unmaintained.

That’s unfortunate, it was a nice product with good UX. Also, unapologetically skeuomorphic, like many apps of that era.


belthesar9 days ago

Other comments are talking about how it's not in scope, which is unfortunate for this case, but since you loved the app, I poked around and found a quite active fork! Unsure how functional it is, but it seems to have gotten quite a bit of love:

jokethrowaway9 days ago

Dos won't cut it for H3; it's wine territory

and wine is a pain to use on mac, as Apple killed it with the move to Catalina

5-9 days ago

crossover (the commercial wine release) still supports macos:

through a pretty cool technology:

biggieshellz9 days ago

Wine works fine on Mac -- see for the Gcenx packages that work.

notpushkin9 days ago

Personally, UTM with a Windows XP VM worked for me (I'm on Apple Silicon, so Wine was a no go from the start).

chrchang5239 days ago

I recently started running HOMM3 HD on my Mac with Porting Kit, which has been working great: .

stavros8 days ago

How about 86box?

vintermann9 days ago

Back in the day, since I used Linux exclusively, a demo of Might and Magic III (ported by Loki software) was one of the very few games I had.

I resorted to figuring out the save file format in order to play as the other towns on the demo map.

wiz21c9 days ago

Loki software did some serious good. Any idea what they've become ?

vintermann9 days ago

Well, I know that one of them, Sam Lantinga, went on to be a lead dev on World of Warcraft and is now with Valve. His SDL library was originally developed for Loki, I think.

jokethrowaway9 days ago

Bankrupt. Icculus is famous enough for Patreon. Everyone else got good jobs.

It's crazy that nobody bought them. I would have expected video game companies to be more forward-looking and try to create an alternative to Windows, especially after seeing the success console had, and Linux was the obvious choice.

pjmlp9 days ago

Why should they?

Game development has always been about IP and business opportunities coming out of that IP.

Historically, specially since 1983 crash, game industry has also been mostly about closed platforms with a minimal watermark for quality, where most copy-cats stop at the door.

bombcar8 days ago

It was too early; Valve could have bought them for the Steam deck but they'd have to have survived much longer.

gchamonlive9 days ago

It must feel great to devote yourself to a passion project and it turns out to actually work and people use it.

I assume this is a passion project because I can't imagine getting funds for a project like this, specially when it might conflict with upstream licenses.

In any case congratulations to the developers.

bombcar9 days ago

There’s a few games out there that have absolutely immense fandoms in places unexpected - Heroes III is absolutely HUGE in countries east of the old iron curtain, partially probably because it runs well on older computers but also because it’s one of the best games ever made.

chrchang5238 days ago

Yup. This 24-year-old game was so culturally significant in the Eastern Bloc that there was a piano concert in Warsaw dedicated to it last month:

Tade09 days ago

As someone from that region I know the reason: it's the hot seat feature[0].

You only needed one copy of the game and one PC for you and your friends to play together. Every class in school had at least one guy who had his own PC, who often invited friends over to play after class and since commie blocks are particularly walkable, we could all return home on our own.

I spent a good chunk of my preteen years like that.

[0] really badly translated to what directly translates back to "flaming buttcheeks".

isolli9 days ago

Thanks for sharing. What time was that, if I may ask?

Tade09 days ago
jerjerjer9 days ago

Well into the aughts.

IG_Semmelweiss8 days ago

Heroes is significant in the eastern block because, in my opinion, Heroes 1 and 2, effectively came close to becoming 3D chess with level-ups. Then, you add a charming crayola palette (no black and white) , almost perfect balancing, and an award-winning opera/orchestra soundtrack - you have yourself a timeless jewel.

SXX9 days ago

VCMI dont conflict with licenses because it's not reverse engineering effort, but engine created from scratch and licensed under GPL. Pretty much like OpenMW, OpenRA and other purely open source projects.

Of course to play it you need to buy proprietary assets.

laurentlb8 days ago

Are there plans to create new free assets?

SXX8 days ago

There is a big problem with creating actually free assets:

* If everything will look completely different from original game majority of fans not gonna like it even if quality gonna be really high. As you can guess fans of old games are really opinionated and hard to pleasure.

* If they looks too similar to original game then Ubisoft can righfully claim copyright infrigement so it will be impossible to distribute assets in Debian, Google Play and other stores.

Actually same problem is valid for any open source game reimplementations except simulators where you can claim that you copying some original and not someone else commercial game.

It's very much possible to just take VCMI and HoMM3 mechanics and create completely different game on top of it. Engine was intentionally designed for modding after all, but again it's unlikely that many fans will play it.

thriftwy9 days ago

Pro players use HoMM3 HD Mod + HotA addon, which are closed source improvements of the original binaries with solid support for multiplayer action. It has lobby with ladder ratings, simultaneous turns, etc.

baal80spam9 days ago

Ditto. Just don't confuse it with official Heroes® of Might & Magic® III - HD Edition which is a blatant hackjob/cashgrab from Ubisoft with blurry textures.

NiteOwl0669 days ago

I think you are a little bit biased here. Heroes® of Might & Magic® III - HD Edition from ubisoft has one major issue, it's lacking expansions. But the graphics itself is imo better than in hd mod. The second one is a pic from hd mod. The first one is hd edition.

j1elo9 days ago

The HD Edition from Ubisoft looks definitely better, I think it's not even subjective. Just look at that clock tower on the upper-left quarter, the hd mod is not even in the same league. Same with details like the main character, trees, and mummies.

bombcar9 days ago

The texture complaint is specifically around the character portraits if I recall correctly.

The lack of expansions is the real killer imo, so many “basic” things were actually added in expansions.

Kiro8 days ago
bombcar9 days ago

Beware that the lobby plays modern H3 multiplayer with very specific rules - watch some YouTube about it before you venture into it. Twenty years has perfected H3 multiplayer to a science of when you do the break on Jebus Cross. And if you don’t know what those mean, you will be in for a sad time.

thriftwy9 days ago

You may always start humbly with some M maps on 200% difficulty. Then the only actual rule is "don't run away without admitting defeat in a ranked game".

For people who only played HoMM3 20 years ago, Duel type maps may be a pleasant surprise with their lack of micromanagement.

IG_Semmelweiss8 days ago

>>> Twenty years has perfected H3 multiplayer to a science of when you do the break on Jebus Cross

If that sounds a lot like chess, its because it kind of is :)

freediver9 days ago

Is there an installer that gets you all that?

nvm. found it:

theoperagoer9 days ago

Heroes II was my personal favorite

thriftwy9 days ago

There's fheroes2 for that, an open-source port which mirrors most of the features of HoMM3's HD Mod.

bombcar9 days ago

It also brings “backwards” some of the QoL features of H3 which helps me, because starting on H3 means H2/1 always feel too Down Grady.

marvin9 days ago

fheroes2 was great for getting me unstuck on a self-imposed exercise of reverse-engineering the Heroes2 binary data format some years ago :)

nihilist_t219 days ago

This is fantastic! I had no idea this project was a thing. While I love HoMM3 and the HD Mod/HoA, HoMM2 was the one I played first and will always be my favorite.

mrits9 days ago

Broken Alliance map on Heroes II (was map from demo) is something I still pull out every year or so to sink a whole weekend on.

Narann8 days ago

When H3 released, I expected H2 colored art with more pixels, but have been disappointed by the CG-like approach with undersaturated colors.

H2 keeps a hand colored vib.

bluSCALE48 days ago

Same. It was more polished than 3. Love everything about 2.

inasio9 days ago

I still have an original Loki Heroes3 Linux CD, still scared of falling down the rabbit hole again

npsimons9 days ago

Same here, as well as the original Jagged Alliance 2 DVD case. Glad to add HoMM3 to my list of previously closed-source games that are now open. Now if only they'd open source NeverWinter Nights . . .

sdwvit9 days ago

No (original) AI, and thus most maps not really compatible on a gameplay level with original

5-9 days ago

vcmi has seen a lot of progress recently.

the goal has also changed from mostly wog-related functionality (which thankfully has fallen out of fashion) towards recreating the original game+expansions+hota (+better mod support).

MenhirMike8 days ago

Was more excited until I read the "Heroes of" part :D I know that HOMM 3 (and 5) are absolute classics, but I'd really love for a new interpretation of the original Corak/Sheltem Quintology. Might & Magic X's engine was pretty alright actually, if something like that exists as open source, that would be awesome.

cacois9 days ago

Never played any of the Heroes games - what's the draw to 3 specifically, above 4, 5 etc?

plorkyeran8 days ago

HoMM 1-3 were fairly straightforward iterations on the formula. Most of the changes in the second and third games was just adding more stuff and filling in some obvious holes in the previous game. HoMM 3 was the point where the game was sufficiently complete that doing this another time was no longer a viable strategy, and HoMM 4 had to figure out how to make itself stand out as a new game. They didn't really succeed at that, and while it's a good game it's not really a better game than 3. 360 running out of money while developing HoMM 4 was unsurprisingly a big problem for the game.

HoMM 5 was a much more successful rethinking of the formula, and while the game as originally shipped had some major problems, with the expansion packs it's arguably the best game in the series. It's a meaningfully different game from 3, though. Many of the changes made the game different moreso than better or worse, so some people prefer 3 and some prefer 5.

I never played 6, but what I heard was that it had a similar problem to some of the Civilization games where HoMM 5 plus expansion packs was just a much more complete game than 6 with no expansion packs, and then it didn't sell well enough to justify continuing development to "finish" it.

iammjm9 days ago

Fun and balanced castles, expansions and mods, playable and bug-free on modern systems. It's a great game, or actually several games in one: town-building, map exploration, RPG, chess-like strategy battles

dspillett9 days ago

I think 3 was the series' peak. IIRC 4+ didn't add much, if anything at all, apart from superficial improvements, and there were more good game options out there too.

Also: nostalgia. There are many who were gaming during those peak times who spent a lot of time on these games.

suoduandao29 days ago

never played 4 or 5, but from reviews at the time it sounded like 4 and 5 were just lower effort games coasting on the reputation of 2 and 3

hydrok99 days ago

Actually 4 was supposed to be a better game than 3, but there was a huge backlash against the introduction of a technologically based faction. They scrapped this idea and the game was rushed out. 3d0 went bankrupt right after.

bluefirebrand8 days ago

I had never known they were planning a technology faction for HOMM4, that's interesting to hear.

Might and Magic is a fun setting because it's secretly SciFi and you would never know it from the Heroes games as far as I've ever seen.

But a bunch of the Might and Magic RPG games start with sword and sorcery and end with laser guns.

hydrok98 days ago
bombcar8 days ago

The lore for HOMM 3 is absolutely insane if you find some of the developer documents; everything is robots and aliens and spaceships and such.

That got mostly cut during development and they never went further down that route. Horn of the Abyss is attempting to bring that faction back to life with Forge.

thriftwy9 days ago

HoMM5 is actually pretty good, but it aged worse than HoMM3 with its low end 3D graphics. 3D UI is also not as snappy as 2D sprites (also true for recent Master of Magic remaster). But the content is quite solid.

thdespou8 days ago

I played it. It works fine. It has some glitches with some of the campaign missions. Overall I give it 90% there compared to the original.

anonyfox9 days ago

Is there any good iOS port on HMM3 again? There was something many years ago that probably wasn’t maintained anymore for new iOS versions. Would gladly pay!

SXX9 days ago

There is iOS port of VCMI:

It's actually works, but you need to manually sign, install IPA and upload game assets on your phone.

qwertyman29 days ago

Well it’s open source. But is it free though?

SXX9 days ago

VCMI engine is free and open source software licensed under GPLv2.

Original game assets (music, sprites) are proprietary and you have to buy them in order to play. There actually Heroes 3 Mac demo that can be legally used as alternative source of Heroes 3 game data, but it missing some towns.

qwertyman28 days ago

Thanks for the clarification. Nifty thinking with the demo assets!

girafffe_i7 days ago

This is great news.

throwawayq34238 days ago


lbhaberlaw8 days ago