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.
> 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.
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
HD Mod also works with Horn of the Abyss https://heroes3wog.net/horn-of-the-abyss-download/ 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.
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: https://github.com/MaddTheSane/Boxer
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.
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.
As someone from that region I know the reason: it's the hot seat feature.
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.
 really badly translated to what directly translates back to "flaming buttcheeks".
Late 90s largely - we started with H2 and when H3 came out, enthusiastically switched to it as soon as the two guys who would always have friends over got their copies. They always had the latest stuff because they were upper-middle class and back then even such people would live in commie blocks, since it was free real estate, and send their kids to public schools.
H4 didn't make such a splash because even though it was better balanced, it felt like a downgrade in many respects.
I went to a different middle school so when I regained contact with my grade school friends they were already either exploring alcohol and sex or got sucked into WoW - in one case even both.
Anyway H3 left a mark on my generation thanks to its great replayability and social aspect that fit well into post-communist reality, with walkable, but hideous architecture and absent parents, majority of whom were working overtime(by western standards at least).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.