Posted: 2016-11-10, 18:19 Support for demo versions?
Hello everyone. I've found your project because I have a long-standing interest in source ports and engine recreations of various games.
As you all know, the demo version of Heroes of Might and Magic III contains one single-player scenario which is generally similar to its counterpart in the full game, except for a 28 turn limit. What seems to be a bit less well known is that there are also demo versions for Macintosh and Linux (the latter having been developed by LokiGames). The demo distributions' file names are heroes_3_complete_demo.sit and heroes3-demo.run for Mac and Linux respectively.
Recently I took interest in possible extras that can be obtained from non-IBM PC demo or shareware versions of games, and decided to check out the demos of HoMM3 too.
From the readme supplied with the Linux demo it appears that the turn limit was doubled to 56 turns, making the demo scenario more beatable. While I have not found any info on limits from the Mac demo, the scenario there definitely has differences compared to the Windows version. For example, it does not mention the four weeks limit in the opening message, unlike the regular Windows demo version. The starting castle also seems to have more buildings, and the player starts with a random female Knight, whereas a male Knight seems to always be the starting character in the Windows demo.
I tried to replace the Windows demo scenario with the Mac one (I used StuffIt Expander to unpack the Mac demo distribution), but the demo is hardcoded to only play its original scenario.
However, I managed to run the Mac demo files with the current stable release of VCMI (v0.99). The demo scenario seems to work quite well, except for the following:
when starting a new single-player game, a graphical artifact shows up which seems to be made of borders for the scenario selection menu. Pressing Enter loads the demo scenario.
the demo includes only a limited number of music tracks, with all castles playing the Stronghold theme for example. VCMI ignores this, so the music often does not play at all.
the console shows a lot of error messages related to missing game data, most of which seem to no affect game play.
I was able to play both the Windows and the Mac demo maps, but only with the Mac demo data files. Trying to launch VCMI with the Windows demo data results in a crash shortly after the start of the game.
I think it would be a neat feature if the demo data support were properly implemented in the project, in particular regarding the Mac demo which appears to include extras from the Complete edition such as new neutral monsters etc.
It's nice idea to have demo assets support. Though what actually need to be done with assets is they must be unpacked to check what's exactly there and what's not. It's possible that we can combine them too if one have something others don't have.
I don't have time to create limiting mod for demo myself at moment, but I end up using it in my hosted vcmi servers experiment. Looks like it's have everything server-side might need and it's make it possible to keep this thing legal.
We need code to be able disable some things anyway so it's can be done.
Would be nice if disabled towns and creatures were replaced on maps if placed there by a random town/ random same level creature.
This way all custom maps would be playable with demo version.
Also as far as vcmi mod map format goes this could also be nice to have . If someone disables forge in mods but vcmi made map would have it placed on map alternative to forcing the mod on would be to replace the town.
Does anybody know where the demo can be officially downloaded? Just putting the demo on some random server is unfortunately a copyright violation (the copyright holders distributing it for free doesn't mean that others are allowed to do so as well).
I don't know what is Apple policy about software, but demo is always free to use and I can't recall any restrictions in such cases (I've read windows demo warranty and there no restrictions about sharing demo) . BTW, who handles 20 years old software? Even original creators: NWC cease to exists long time ago.
Yes, free to use. That does not mean free to distribute.
Copyright doesn't work that way round. The default is not "do whatever you want" and then you add restrictions. The default is "You are not allowed to do anything with it". Unless the license says that you are allowed to redistribute the software it is a copyright violation to do so.
And about 20 years: copyright extends 70 years after the original author's death. NWC ceased to exist but that doesn't mean that everything they created is now free for everybody. Quite the opposite actually.
My interest in this topic is for the Debian vcmi package. It would be great if there was a legally okay source to download the demo from.
Right now it is just as illegal (because of copyright reasons) to distribute the demo (except if you are ubisoft or whomever else they gave permission) as it is to distribute the full game.
So I wonder how useful it is to add support for the demo in these circumstances.
If somebody is pirating homam3, then they can actually do that with the full version and not pirate the demo instead. Unless there is a license from ubisoft that says otherwise, downloading the demo from an unauthorized source is just as illegal as downloading the full game.
If there was a way to download the demo legally from somewhere, I'd of course all be for supporting it by vcmi.
I think you should really ask Ubi what they say about statut of this demo. I'm completely sure they are treating is as abandonware. So, take your turn.
Anybody is free to do so. I encourage you to try. It is already loads of work trying to find *somebody* responsible. The last time I tried, I did so by phone, email and letter. The latter never got any response, the former two were unable to get me in contact with anybody who could give me concrete answers.
My only experience where ubisoft was actually *doing* something was, when they sent my web hoster take-down notices because I hosted videos on my server that showed off videos of my own homam3 engine-reimplementation which used their assets. So no, this is far from abandonware (depending on your personal definiton). They might not distribute the original game anymore but they still have their lawyers going after people infringing on their copyright. That this happened to me is proof of that.
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