Challenges that the VCMI project faces. What could go wrong

I really want VCMI to succeed and that’s also why I also have fears about its development process and goal.

Now, VCMI holds a very bright future in possibilities, but because of these many possibilities perhaps there’s also many things that could go wrong. What kind of decisions could swag you away from the VCMI project?

Here’s my thoughts on this subject.

If VCMI is to succeed it needs a strong pillar at its base. For me, this is HMM3 recreated by strict standards adhering to the original game. That is, you should be able to play VCMI without noticing any obvious changes that are not part of original. Exception to this are technical improvements of specific natures. Like, bug fixes, higher resolutions, better sound, better networking, etc. Also, non obligatory additions/features like creature queues, enemy creature movement range, SIM turns, etc.

Of course VCMI’s base can never be absolutely the same as the original without the original source code, nor should be; so there’ll be subtle differences, but the goal should be to emulate the original as close as possible for its base. From this strong base, new content in form of mods, expansion, etc, can grow in any direction feasible.

So what could go/is wrong in my book?

What is wrong. Section 1.

VCMI’s slogan is ‘Heroes 3: WoG recreated’. That’s a bit scary to me because it implies that the original HMM3 is not the base; that WoG is the point of origin. But now VCMI can be played completely without WoG, thankfully. Still, the slogan bothers me. It’s fine that WoG is an official, recreated VCMI expansion, but they should consider changing the slogan to reflect the original HMM 3, not WoG. Suggestion: VCMI Project - Heroes 3 recreated. It would be a simple fact that WoG is also to be recreated. Also, this is a less confusing slogan for new people finding the site that that haven’t ever played WoG, but has played HMM3.

What could go wrong. Section 1.

Imagine original icons, sound, music, etc, replaced just because. This would not be a good base. That’s what integrated modding support is for. Let’s say we emulate the random map generator as base, but that we only make obvious changes through interchangeable modules. Like, Joe’s improved map generator. Bob’s tweaked battle AI. Whatever. But emulation of the original material and gameplay should always be the base, and it’s the key to success!

What could go wrong. Section 2.

Things that the original HMM3 didn’t have which you cannot turn off. This should be a limited concurrence or people might rather just play SoD despite other good things about VCMI that they like. Like, bug fixes, etc.

What is done right. Many things! Section 1.

Now I like to point out how impressed I am thus far with what I am seeing from VCMI. That’s despite the chaos that you could imagine affecting an open-developed, team project. But VCMI has done a great job of keeping the red line which is their development plan for VCMI.

I like to hear your option(s) on this subject. :slight_smile:

Edit: please delete the double post. Thanks

For me it don’t really matter if VCMI is close to SOD. I’ll rather wait for new extensions and modding system upgrades.
But you have some point - I think, that new (WOG-like or other-like) features are good, when they can be turned off by configs.
Also I wait for possibility to turn off standard towns (it’s opposite direction for SOD compatibility). But it will allow to play some new factions only between them. And it will allow at some time to free game engine from copyrighted 3DO graphics.
Open-source graphics is usually is ugly, but replacing terrains, icons etc with some pure open-source material will allow to use VCMI on different platforms right in distributive of OS.
This is aim for mod system (I think) - to externationalize all content to mods.

Totally agree. WOG is a symbol of unbalanced gameplay, there are many who doesn’t like it. “Heroes 3 recreated” is good slogan. Of maybe “Heroes Of Might and Magic Unlimited”

Mod system is for those who don’t want base. So new functionality in mods is the only way.

What else could go wrong: main trouble will be, if some experienced VCMI programmers will leave or loose interest. That’s the main menace for VCMI. If VCMI was not open-source, it could bury it.

Indeed. also one thing that’s interesting to this is how little (relative) traffics VCMI has, but I’ve seen HMM3 content on Reddit generate huge hits on r/gaming. People prise it to the skies with fond memories. There’s enormous possibilities for VCMI to tap that enthusiasm. It’ll take some afford and proper advertisement/hype, of course. ‘When’ could also be an important factor.

And of course VCMI could need something else as bat to generate interest/hype for VCMI. A proper expansion could be such a bat. Like, Forgotten Empires was for AOEII. Features like SIM could also be a huge thing of interests.

Interests from actual players (users) is also very important for success. Good projects has gone into the grave early because of the lack of testers that developers desperately need to test stuff for them.

I think that they’re maybe beginning to realize this. They did just focus on separating WoG from SoD. Huge step in the right directing. It’s no good only appealing to people that are already active the HMM3 community.

Perhaps. Ask Tow what he thinks about this (don’t know if he’s reading this thread).

Just because this will give us competely free, open-source game? Sounds good enough :slight_smile:

Anyway - this is not something that has some chances to happen in near future so don’t worry about this right now.

There always will be some percentage of players that dislikes vcmi. Right now we have improved pathfinder that can use boats or subterranean gates and I remember some opposition to this feature. There will be some minor changes to game mechanics that not everyone likes (example is arrow towers - buggy in H3 and no clear understanding on how they should act). Rewriting AI and RMG will almost surely result in AI/maps that completely different from their H3 version.

We do try to keep everything as in H3 but sometimes this is just not possible :frowning:

Actually wog optionality was requested quite a lot. This is not just about what (active) majority wants but what we can actually implement - for example before 0.93 making wog optional was almost impossible.

Ah, I didn’t realize this, but that does make much sense. I do love open-source, but also the original feel.

Well, as long as it is faithful to the original and not crazily different. Improved faithfully, I mean. I understand that it’ll not be completely the same, but it’s a slippery road to travel, deciding what to change and how far such changes should go. What I am basically trying to say is that I am afraid of changes that might ruin the experience for me. I haven’t actually seen any evidence to support this yet, though. VCMI is looking great. That said, I know that the original isn’t perfect at all. There’s a ton I like to see changed through mods. Like, balance and dubious gameplay elements like diplomacy. I am beginning now to see why it isn’t as easy as to just to emulate the original in all its shades of colors and then make all the improvements afterward. It’ll be unrealistic much added extra work and fundamentally different in many aspects, I suspect.

I see. :slight_smile:

=> First Step: SoD as Mod :D. Everything: Creatures, towns, adventure map objects, spells, interface, maps.

Ah, well, that’s how OpenRA did the approach. They made Red Alert re-imagined, and then the community had to make original Red Alert as a mod. I kinda feel like that’s the wrong approach, though. Like backwards to how I personally like it. But I guess it’s more fun for the developers to work with. I’m sure it makes sense in other ways, too.

I do not mean it like you understood it :). I just wanted to say that most of the original game should be moddable. The main goal should still remain to have the original H3 remade, but have it done in a more flexible way.

Hippox, thank you very much for sharing this insight.

For me WoG was always about optionality. It provided really huge set of options, however I was still able to turn them all off and play original H3 (modulo some mechanically irrelevant, overriden graphics). By saying “Heroes 3 : WoG recreated” I mean providing both:

  1. A possibility to play a game as faithful to the original H3 as possible
  2. A set of WoG extensions that can be turned on and of (like stack experience, commanders, and so on).

And, obviously, VCMI aims to go beyond that (otherwise we could just play H3) by providing:

  1. A number of technical improvements not affecting or faithful to H3 gamestyle — you named quite a few.
  2. Means to make game moddable and configurable.

I might have spelled it in slogan differently but I believe we both want the same results.
I’ll think about your suggestion on rewording the slogan.

VCMI is a game engine and might support non-H3 resources. As Ivan said, having a fully free H3-like game (VCMI engine + free game resources) is a worthy aim.

However, we will remember that H3 is our base and we won’t do anything to compromise support for H3.

Whenever possible, we want to make new features optional.

Given the current state of the engine (stability issues, mediocre AI) I don’t think we are ready for wide promotion. People would get disappointed. VCMI is still directed rather to testers than players.

(about the naming of things)
Well, sometimes I think I have great ideas only to find myself changing my views later on. I could be totally wrong about it. Maybe it doesn’t even matter much at this stage anyhow. :slight_smile:

I also like the concept behind WoG a lot. I love options to play with. What is the best kind of mod? A mod that you can shape yourself, to me. There’s downsides to WoG like dubious stability during netplay. Not fully compatible with HDmod. Not complete non-obligatory in fact - and so on. But it’s great for those that’s into singleplayer/hotseat. VCMI changes all that, of course.

Yeah, I can see how it makes a lot of sense in such perspectives. It is worthy aim.

Yes, I think your absolutely right in this. As long as there’s enough testers to support the devs then it’s good at this stage in the project process. Firsthand presentation is very important, indeed.

I see. Also, I’m looking forward to this flexibility very much. :slight_smile:

I like to add that I’m starting to now see AI improvements as a technical improvements onto the original. It’d be pretty silly recreate the AI with all its obvious flaws and not improve it, right? This includes the battle AI.

Like, for example, the battle AI needs to aim at being mostly non-exploitable and consistent, I think. ‘Non-exploitable’ as in you not being able to kill 200 grimlings with firewalls and 1 pixie because the AI is too dumb to walk around it. Besides, such exploits tend to take a lot of time, so it’s just really griding until you win. But some like such exploits/strategies, but such ‘run a round’ tactics can slow down multiplayer and be unfair.

Edit: I don’t agree with this statement, anymore. Consistent, and thus exploitable, battle AI is part of being able to learn and gain an advantage in the game.

10 years passed and still saying such enormities?. WoG is Erm, and Erm is a technology that makes possible dynamically changing of many properties into the game. Up to users how far they use it, it can be used both to balance or unbalance the game. WoG is symbol of progress over all. This is like saying VCMI is symbol of unbalance because one town you added in is owning all, how it sounds?

Hypo, about exploitable AI, I think it is very risky to change the original codes. Take for example fire wall, you say creatures should not walk over it. Ok, code is changed, now you have a fire wall which is used as force field, to make monsters walk back and forth while you shoot at them.

I know those videos around show Luna killing 500 gremlins day 1 with one pixie, but in real game, this will be 99% impossible. The guy who did the videos had artefact suppressing morale, it’s just an advertising.

WOG is a Wake of gods 3.58F.
There is no sign of balance at all.
And yes, ERM functons give changes, but I didn’t see any balanced ERM mod. ERM is cool to create previously non-seen features. But it don’t mean balance.
It’s like you are mixing up C++ and program written on it, althrough,

Hmm, yes, good point. If the monsters had had positive moral (+1) such strategies could get ruined because of the chance of a monster getting an extra turn. And, yes, smart AI would effectively turn firewalls into force fields in most situations. That’d take some dynamic out of the game which is not good.

Monster should always have +1 morale in my book. It’s an important dynamic to lessen otherwise, potential hard exploits (aka slow battles against a superior force).

I really don’t know the correct approach to the battle AI. I mean, if the AI is totally consistent; then it’s exploitable. Which is fine enough depending of the nature of the exploits (tactics). Soft exploits I’m totally down with. Hard exploits, not so much.

Edit: The battle AI just needs to be consistent which it is pretty much already in vanilla HMM3. Exploitable AI is part of learning the game and gaining an advantage.

Trademark issue: it’s probably a bad idea to put the full title “Heroes of Might and Magic” in the slogan.

So “Heroes 3 recreated” feels like the best option.

Many people are confused by the name “WOG”. it’s true

'Heroes 3" is still violateng trademark:-)
And VCMI is not recreating heroes, it’s expanding them, adding countless towns, artefacts and mods.
So “Heroes Unlimited” will be more fitting.

What about VCMI Project - Heroes 3 and more OR VCMI Project - Heroes Universe ?

VCMI Project - Heroes 3
again violates trademark:-)
VCMI Project - Heroes Universe
sounds normal.

You know - this reminds me of WoG slogan: “New life of Heroes”. Quite descriptive and no explicit connection to HoMM. I’m not suggesting stealing it but it may work as starting point towards new slogan.

And I really don’t like word “unlimited” as part of it.