Fork Proejct - An idea for replacing HoMM3 assets

I had this idea after writing this post on the advancement of VCMI art resources and the current dependence on HoMM3 assets.

Right now VCMI has become a fairly visible project within the HoMM community, and I’ve been wondering if this could be the chance to boost the advancement of HoMM in other ways. Since VCMI ideally will no longer be constrained by HoMM3 engine limitations in terms of graphic resolutions and colours, perhaps it would be an interesting idea to seek for a way to replace the original HoMM3 graphics by something fresh and new and, most importantly, free from copyrights, so that any modder or fan could edit freely without owning the original games.

However I am well aware doing a graphical revamp is in no way part of VCMI’s plans, which is why I would like to propose the creation of a very different fork project instead based on gathering graphical assets that could eventually be used along with VCMI.

These new assets could be obtained in many ways, from actually re-using bits of freely available artwork from sites like Opengameart, to rouding up freelance/amateur artists from the HoMM community interested in contributing. Another interesting way to obtain new artwork would be by starting a series of crowdfunded projects in Kickstarter /IndieGoGo /Pledgie in order to actually gather enough funds to hire professional artists to create assets for this effort. Projects such as this have proven successful in the past, and with the amount of people in the HoMM community, I trust we should be occasionally able to gather a decent amount of money to fund stuff like the production of hi-res sprites, hero portraits or menu artwork.

A fork project such as this would not only ensure a better future for a truly fan-managed HoMM, as it would also ensure the future of it for the posteriority.

Any thoughts/opinions on this?

Similair thread already exists
it would be fair a much graphics
and the current graphics is part of homm climate
also VCMI is late alpha/early beta so such fork isn’t desirable yet

Really? Idea is definitely not new but I don’t remember anyone starting such thread here.

The main problem is that you won’t find a lot of good artists\modellers in HoMM community (and definitely not here on - most of them just rip assets from other games. Getting enough funds for professional artists isn’t an easy task either. And h3 have A LOT of art.

Re-using existing artwork may be problematic - Ancient Beast may be promising but most of OpenGameArt assets are quite low-quality and definitely worse than original graphics from NWC. And all new art must be in the same style as original game.
New towns from HoTA and WoG 3.59 may have some free assets as well but I doubt that they are 100% free from copyrights.

So, no-one is stopping you from creation of such project. When modding system will be ready it should be possible to do this without actual “forking”. But chances of success are quite small unfortunately.

I would be the first one to support such new graphics. Unfortunately experience shows that the community is very divided on what means “Heroes original concept” and more than half dislike any graphical additions. First they saluted HoTA graphics with enthusiasm, then critics started to fuzz, this is too big, this is too small. A fully functional platform as VCMI will hardly encounter any critics, but if you replace graphics, then prepare to war. Tastes are like anus, everyone has one and proud of.

You mean this one? I posted in it, which is what lead me to create this one

Which is why this would be a gradual long term project. The point is to get things done, not to do 'em fast.

That is a conservative notion at best. There is no general “HoMM feel”, as the graphic style changes with every new game. Besides the point of the project would not be to fully replace the HoMM3 assets, but rather to provide a free alternative. Anyone who wishes could obviously still use the original HoMM3 graphics. And it’s not a matter of VCMI being in alpha either. This would certainly be a project to go along with VCMI, but the graphic resources could be used by anyone else.

I believe crowdsourcing might be the answer for that. I know a few decent artists that might be persudaded to help this cause for a fairly accessible price or even maybe for free. At this point, the initial goals for this project would simply be to simply set up a discussion forum or arrange a few joint chat sessions in order decide the general artstyle to use and which specific characteristics to employ. After making a decision we would contact a concept artist to produce several black and white sketches for creatures, menu art and battlescapes. Finally we would hire animators and 2d artists to produce the final assets.

So at this point, all I would like to ask from you is your cooperation and your opinion on how these future art assets should look like. I mean, even if this eventually fails, we won’t lose anything just by talking to each other right?

ooops… perhaps yes.
so the thread is valid, sorry :unamused:

I’ve elaborated a simple plan to get this idea running. It would be split in five phases that would require different amounts of input and support. What I would like to ask of you, if you think it would be possible, would be the creation of a modding section here on VCMI forums as soon as possible, so we could have an actual place to debate on artwork before making commissions to artists. So far I’ve tracked a few artists that might be able to help us for free, or at least a fairly cheap price at a conceptual stage. Here’s my idea of the 4-stage plan:

**1st stage **

Discuss which style to adopt. Town, creatures, and battlescapes. This would be a feedback-only phase which would focus in getting as much community feedback as possible. Eventually a satelite thread could be created at heroes community forums to link more people here. At this stage we would decide:

  • The graphic style - cartoony vs realistic. Linework vs Colour. High fantasy vs Low Fantasy. Soft colouring vs strong colouring.

  • Concept reconsideration - there have been other game after HOMM3, and some have taken better approaches to some creatures. For instance I prefer the HOMM5 gremlin to HOMM3’s gremlin. Whether we should remain faithful to the original HOMM3 concepts or change them would be something to discuss as well.

2nd stage

After we have settled on all issues regarding the 1st stage we can finally being commissioning work to artists. Each new sketch would be posted on the forums to be analyzed and discussed by the community. Additionally the following would also begin by this stage:

  • Production of some bits of static artwork such as the paintings for the battlescapes.

  • Concept sketches for new menu artwork

3rd stage

At this stage the production of definitive creature model sheets would begin. These would include black and white front/side view of the characters along with a few “action stances” and a fully coloured sketch. Some battlescape paintings should be concluded by now along with the basic plans for a revamped menu artwork.

4th stage

With the completion of the majority of creature concepts and having finished most battlescape paintings, this would be the phase which we would finally hire animators. From this point we could choose two possible routes:

a) hiring 3d modelers and animators to create creature models that would be subsequentially animated and captured in form of high-res, pre-rendered sprites


b) hiring actual cartoonists to create pure 2d animations, also hi-res

The new menu artwork should enter it’s final stage here.

5th stage

Having completed most creature sprites, the final production stage would begin: making the map art. I prefer to leave this one for last, since HOMM3’s map art is the one that has the best looks after all these years. Replacing it wouldn’t be as essential as replacing creature artwork, for instance.


This is the topic that is already there and some were probably thinking about it… :slight_smile: I know it’s old but since I was the topic creator I remember it :slight_smile:

Personally I don’t think re-doing Heres 3 is a good idea… What for ? Just for higher res graphics ? Re doing the same game is not very creative.

Doing a standalone heroeslike game based on VCMI with it’s own concept, story, graphics is a good idea, because it will be something new.


Your plan is not really simple unless you have lots of money to spent on hiring artists. The amount of work to do is quite large. I am curious though are the artists you contacted serious about doing work for such project for free ? Are they personally interested in being part of such project ? Are they heroes fans ? What’s their experience in art ?

Finally do you have art experience yourself ? Or any other task you can do in such project ? Are you sure you know how much work is needed here and that such project will take years to finish ?

Anyway IMHO really simple plan is :

  • to look for already made art relaesed on creative commons licenses and base your game concept around that.
  • work on the graphics you have found so that it can be used in game fe. doing town screens out of 3d models changing 3d creature animations into 2d graphics etc, preparing interface graphics etc.
  • when you have some serious art stuff done go public with your work and ask VCMI team for cooperation support in the engine for your work. New work should probably be centered around widescreen resolutions so VCMI team support/help would be needed. Right now 800x600 is a base res in the engine but for new modern game it should be fe. 1366x768 .

Base 1366x768?
Please not! Do either 1280x720 or allow base resolution not-widescreen (it can have two base resolution)
I have 1280x1024 resolution, and it’s pretty big and I don’t want to buy new monitor just for VCMI.

you have it now, however in 3-4 years you will probably not have it anymore. As I said such project take years to finish

Interesting data form Microsoft about resolutions used in Windows 7 installations : … DA71FE.png

Doing two base resolution is a lot of work which IMHO isn’t justified because in comming years 4:3 and 16:10 userbase will only get even smaller then it is now.

There is a resolution of 1280x768 which is non standard but would support almost all 4:3 16:9 and 16:10 panels out there. However watching widescreen town/battle windows on 1280:1024 will probably look strange .


I think that graphic style should be close to original H3. Othervice fans won’t understand this :slight_smile:

This should be one of the first things to do, either in separate thread or in existing VCMI thread.

We have a bit of these. Main menu graphics made IIRC by Dru
It’s big enough to fit 1920x1200 without upscaling.

1)There will be plenty of work for 2d artists anyway - concepts, interface, etc
2)This is how H3 models were done + it will be easier to create hi-res sprites at some point

3-year old topic? No wonder I haven’t found it.

But you have a point. Creating new game is much more better idea. Thanks to Reckoning in the end of H3 we can do almost anything with H3 lore - old factions were destroyed, Enroth is no more, and half of old heroes are in Axeoth.

Regarding resolution - 3d models allow some flexibility in size so we may try to make several “native” resolutions (~1024x600 for mobiles, 1280x720 for PC, 1980x1080 for large screens). This will require some work with interface but at least we’ll keep VCMI playable on both PC and mobiles.

Not necessarily heroes fans but definitely linked with the FOSS community. And yes I am well aware it is an ambitious plan, since I’ve already stated that myself. It’s meant to accomplish a certain set goals in the long term while helping other people to achieve their own in a shorter term. All in all, artwork anyone can use for any purpose which is why, for instance, I made it clear 2d creature sketches must include both action and front/side stances, so these could be both used by 2d animators and 3d modelers.

A little. I used to be fairly proficient at doing character models for shooters and stuff, although I usually left the rigging and texturing for someone else. I’m pretty good at handling mesh work nevertheless. I suck at 2D art though.

Well the plan I’ve elaborated is actually fully compatible with that idea.

I thought you had taken those from some artwork repository. Those are beautiful indeed. Do you believe you could convince him to draw the battlescapes as well? I aboslutely love hand-drawn art, and it’s very rare to see that kind of material used in video games. Having battlescapes drawn with such a creative use of colour and style would be a big plus.

To be fair I would prefer fully animated 2D sprites as I believe they would be cheaper and better looking, although less efficient in the long run. 3D models do have the advange to portability to other heroes games like 5 or maybe even 6.

I actually agree with this, but I was affraid Heroes purists might discard the idea. This would also allow us to streamline factions, balance the game a bit and reformulate some creatute concepts without the fear of getting accused of blasphemy and crimes against heroes 3.

Don’t know much about that so you’d better try contacting Dru yourself. All I know is that those images came from him.

So far 3d units are actually more fitting in H3 from what I see. And 3d is easy to scale which can be useful for playing VCMI with different screen resolutions - graphics for 800x480 mobile screen won’t look well on 1920x1080 fullHD screen.

Ivan is right.
moreover 3d units can be easily converted to classic h3 sprites (if 3d units has skeletons (ribs?) and animations for each action). he convertion in another direction (2d to 3d) is almost impossible. so beter to start in 3d and if used engine have only 2d sprites, just do some renders, but still keep 3d model and its animation because ability for reuse is common. note also that animation can be reused as-is if two models has exactly same skeletons.

also i suppose doing 3d models would be cheaper if we consider cost/gain factor not the price itself. you can also easily reuse many parts of 3d work - eg. weapon/armor models, textures, body parts models, fragments of animation. if you buy only 2d sprites you will aproximately pay a few to a few hundred times for almost exactly same parts of work. from this point of view i considered calling the idea of buying 2d sprites exageratedly expensive.

Well I guess you’re right. 3D models might be the better option after all. I’ll try pming Dru and try to find out if he would be whilling to create a few more paintings for the battlescapes.

Please also consider license. I suggest CC-BY-SA :

VCMI is licensed under GPL and creative commons CC-BY-SA has similiar terms (you can use the work, adopt it etc. but you must credit the author and share your work on the same terms/license ). CC-BY-SA is very popular among free graphic artists .

This is needed, I remember reading somewhere that Bastion town lost some units/graphics when one of their team quit and said they cannot use his models anymore. If those were licensed from begining as CC-BY-SA there would be no such problem.

Also there is plenty of work in the net that is licensed under CC-BY-SA and well this means we will be able to freely mix those and create new graphics from it.

Also I think it is very needed to track down any 3rd party resources that are used. We don’t want models from Warcraft being used and other stuff that may bring up legal problems in the future. Creating standalone game is different then doing Mods and people involed in creating art should understand that commercial art from games cannot be a base for their work. AFAIK Groove Town is very good example of something that should not be accepted as it is based on non free models.

I’m working for half year on my own project that I hope to base on vcmi engine. All my work is being based on CC-BY-SA art as this was the most common license used when I was browsing the net for free/open art.

There are many talented artist in Battle For Wesnoth project:

You may try to start a topic on their forum:

One of the artists I was planning to contact was actually Kitty, who did some wonderful portraits and concept art for Wesnoth. I’m still somewhat reluctant of posting directly on their forums. Let’s just hope it’s worthwhile.

As you see, i’ve posted link to “game development” subforum on their forum. I guess it would be good place to write about your initiative. Another places:

I’ve already been in contact with some people from Open Game Art. Freegamedev forums are pretty scarce in terms of actual help and resources, so I don’t think it would be much of a point posting there.

Still, I believe that first and foremost we need a dedicated Modding forum section to plan things more carefully before approaching artists with a proposal.