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Heroes Community > Heroes 3.5 - WoG and Beyond > Thread: [Official Thread] HoMM 3: Horn of the Abyss - Announcements, Questions, Features
Thread: [Official Thread] HoMM 3: Horn of the Abyss - Announcements, Questions, Features This Super Thread is 551 pages long: 1 2 3 4 5 ... 110 220 330 440 ... 547 548 549 550 551 · «PREV / NEXT»

Undefeatable Hero
Therefore I am
posted April 07, 2024 08:29 PM

1.7.0 has found a virus, but not 1.7.1.. Ok the next map is Lych XVII is coming, third continuation scenario.. First scenario is The Dead Ornament, second The Puzzler, and final Lych XVII..
Fight MWMs - stand teach

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Tavern Dweller
posted April 07, 2024 11:29 PM

Greetings, I am new to the community.

In HOTA, external dwellings start to accumulate once flagged, unlike the original reset the number every week.

I was wondering if it's possible to achieve this in original. I posted the question in reddit and Cezaros was kind enough to provide a hex 0x0b87a1 -> 01 and it works somehow. All dwellings start to accumulate even before flagged.So if I take a gaurdhouse after 1 month, then I get 56 immediately.

Since HOTA has this emplemented, I am just wondering if it can be done thru hexing the exe file.

If this is possible, please kindly reply to this message. It would be a great additional feature to original game.

Thank you so much in advance.

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Legendary Hero
posted April 08, 2024 01:20 AM

kairo said:
I am just wondering if it can be done thru hexing the exe file.
There is a giant thread about "how to edit HotA". The guys are experts, ask them.

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Tavern Dweller
posted April 08, 2024 02:59 AM

bloodsucker said:
kairo said:
I am just wondering if it can be done thru hexing the exe file.
There is a giant thread about "how to edit HotA". The guys are experts, ask them.


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Tavern Dweller
posted April 10, 2024 11:50 AM

Zagor said:
Love the factory faction. It's probably my second favorite faction after Tower. Regarding bounty hunters, why can't they preemptive shot against power liches?

Maybe because they don't shoot but cast? I haven't checked that fight.

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Adventuring Hero
posted April 13, 2024 02:50 PM

Thanks for the 1.7.1 update!

By the way, both the OP at page 1 of this thread and also the official documentation on https://h3hota.com/en/documentation are not up-to-date.
On the official page, all 1.7 information except Factory seem to be missing, page 1 misses 1.7 altogether. Would be nice to see that updated.

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Hired Hero
posted April 14, 2024 11:40 PM

Learning spells from scrolls


I always wondered why even Scholars (heroes with the secondary skill) can not learn the spells from spell scrolls.

Is it possible to make the Scholar skill allow learning spells from scrolls in HotA ?

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Legendary Hero
posted April 17, 2024 08:49 PM

I have a question.
What happens if I make all AI available heroes "strong heroes"? Will the tavern be empty or do they get strong heroes?

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 12:03 PM
Edited by Tevye at 12:13, 25 Apr 2024.


Today we want to share some intriguing news related to the HotA project. The Factory's release was a big event among Might & Magic fans of the world. Over recent months, we have read and seen a great number of reviews, been asked many questions, and been repeatedly invited to participate in various collaborations. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity or time to accept each and every offer or answer every question in depth, but we would be remiss to not give back to the community, especially in light of the warm welcome the New Year's release saw.

So, first of all, we would like to announce the release of a big feature dedicated to HotA by our friends from the Tavern of Might & Magic community. Our team answered over three dozen questions from the Tavern authors, and in considerable detail. Most of them coincide with what the players are trying to find out in the comments, on forums and social media, so you will most probably enjoy reading this article. It highlights some of the details of the Factory's development, HotA Crew's plans for the future, the ins and outs of our workflow, our sources of inspiration and much more.

Here are some quotes from our answers:

"We've done more than ever before, in many ways better than before, and covered many aspects of the game that we hadn't dared to tackle before."

"Our team's current lineup can be safely considered one of the strongest in its history."

"We already have plans for new content, including map objects."

"There will be new maps and campaigns from us. The latter may also contain special unique content."

"The most complex and difficult challenge we face now is to rebalance the magic system. First of all, we want to make all magic schools playable."

"Release 1.7.0 and specifically the Factory have elevated the project to a new level of quality, even by HotA standards. In many ways, the groundwork for this success was laid by Docent's ideas. This is what he always aspired to, and we can safely say that everything we did meets the high benchmark set during his lifetime."

You can read the full feature in the next post, or the Russian version here: http://vk.com/@tavern_homam-hota-interview-hota-crew

Official artwork for the Cove expansion, Heroes III board game, by Viviane Tybusch Souza (Vityso)

The second bit of news is also very fresh. Some time ago, we were contacted by representatives of Ubisoft and Archon Studio, the copyright holders and developers of the official Heroes III board game. After a few years in development, this game finally began shipping at the end of last year. We were informed about their plans to release an expansion for the board game, wherein the factions known from the original video game would be joined by a new one, based on the pirate empire of Regna. The developers asked for our permission to base this faction on the graphic images, characters and plot created by us for Horn of the Abyss.

We made the decision to grant such permission, and now the official expansion currently under development will be branded with the HotA logo; game materials and miniatures will be based on the visual images of the town screen, units and heroes of the Cove, long-known and well-loved by countless players.

On our part, this cooperation is mainly advisory in form, and we would like to stress that this project is completely non—profit for the HotA team. We have never sought to benefit from anything related to Horn of the Abyss, and we do not plan to alter this approach. At the same time, collaboration with an official project directly related to Heroes III will help draw the attention of new players to HotA. They will find out that the world of Heroes has been alive, developing and blooming for all of 25 years since the release of our favorite game. Now they too will have the chance to explore the Cove.

Read the announcement on the Heroes III board game's official website here: https://archon-studio.com/blog/cove-expansion-announcement-ubisoft-archon-studio-hota-cooperation

And finally, some news, which is probably not exactly news anymore, yet we would still like you to check it out. As part of Heroes III's 25th anniversary celebration, a series of concerts dedicated to this occasion took place in Poland in early March. At these recitals, the famous Heroes Orchestra, featuring the legendary composer Paul Anthony Romero, played pieces everyone knows and loves—but there was also one completely new number on the bill.

We invite you to watch a recording from one of these concerts, with Paul Romero and the Heroes Orchestra performing the Factory town theme on big stage for the first time. This piece is based on a leitmotif by Docent Picolan, the HotA project founder, and it was composed by our friend Maigret. Paul Romero himself also provided a track for our New Year's release, which everyone can listen to on the Forged in Fire campaign screen.

A video recording of the Factory theme performed in concert can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpNzFUmIii4

Our work continues, and new HotA releases are ahead. Stay tuned!

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 12:06 PM
Edited by Tevye at 14:17, 03 May 2024.

1. Congratulations on the Factory’s release. Are you satisfied with the result?

We most definitely are. This release was the biggest in the history of HotA. In it, we implemented some very ambitious ideas: the Factory faction, with the creature lineup full of new intriguing mechanics; the airship, a new means of traveling across the map; a complex and detailed campaign with scenarios based on gameplay solutions not previously seen in the project; and a great number of cutscenes done at a whole new technical level. We also made many improvements compared to previous versions of HotA. We added a campaign editor with regional maps; implemented an animated main menu; solved the issue with objects hidden from the map editor; and replaced the sounds of Cove creatures with original ones created purposely for this town. We also fixed a huge number of bugs, including those that, for one reason or another, were not addressed in previous releases. Finally, before releasing the update, we conducted a very productive closed testing session of the new version, with online community representatives involved. This allowed for a release with an unprecedented level of quality. We've done more than ever before, in many ways better than before, and covered many aspects of the game that we hadn't dared to tackle before.

HotA 1.7 main menu artwork by Balkron

2. The update must be receiving lots of feedback. Is there a single channel for it? How does the team process the incoming array of information from players?

There are a lot of participants in our team, and our development process is closed, so feedback is mainly generated within the team. We follow bug reports fairly closely, collect them, and verify them, but we don't regularly process user feedback for other issues. This does not mean, of course, that we ignore it. Each participant can independently browse certain sources such as forums, comments, and social media, and present the ideas that appear worthy of the team’s attention, and let us stress that this happens often. In some cases, we purposefully consult with representatives of certain "professional communities", such as the organizers and players of online tournaments.

3. How are your team processes set up? Are task boards or any other collaborative development approaches used? How and by whom are decisions made?

HotA implements a unified and holistic vision of the game, but participation in the project is voluntary and strictly non-commercial. Therefore, we strive for a balance between centralized decision-making and each participant’s ability to influence the development to a degree.
The organization of teamwork processes has changed over time, and it has become much more efficient in technical sense during the work on the 1.7.0 release. We use different solutions, both "external" (Discord, Gitea, cloud services), and internally developed custom tools.

4. It has been several years since the passing of Docent Picolan. How did it affect the team? How did you deal with the loss?

Even if we omit the psychological aspect, you must understand that Docent pulled a huge weight of work on graphics, composed music, and coordinated the entire Factory development process—so, of course, his passing was a great blow, impossible to recover from overnight. Moreover, by that time, long hard work had caused considerable fatigue, and some team members were entertaining thoughts of taking a break or at least reducing their activity in the project. Because of this, after the loss of Docent, some development areas (code, in-game graphics) nearly froze for a while, although work continued on cutscenes and the campaign.
At the same time, during the development of the release (both under Docent and after him), the team added new members, and some of our old colleagues were able to rejoin after taking a breather. Once the cutscenes were completed, there was finally manpower to tackle other tasks on hand. In terms of code, since the passing of Docent, a number of new people joined the team who are capable of the HotA-specific development process (previously, such cases were few and far between). Among other things, they managed to significantly improve the technical organization of team processes, which affected further development in a most beneficial manner.

Factory town screen by Don_ko and Agar

5. We haven't heard much about the team in recent years, but we've noticed new names in the credits. Can you tell us about these people and their impact?

Indeed, the team has added a number of new members involved in various aspects of the game, including artists and programmers. In addition, several old team members who had gone on hiatus for one reason or another have returned to development. Our team's current lineup can be safely considered one of the strongest in its history.
If "recent years" means the period since the Factory announcement, then we can definitely say that the contribution of people who joined the team over this time has been very significant.

For example, the overwhelming amount of work on 3d graphics outside of the town and siege screens was done by top-notch artists: Yoggi, Dmitriy Gravchenko and Balkron. Yoggi, a professional animation artist, was responsible for the final look of most of the campaign cutscenes; he modeled and animated several of them from start to finish. Dmitriy Gravchenko was the author of models and animations for 14 of the Factory's 16 creatures. Balkron, in addition to his most extensive work on 3d assets, created a new animated background for the main menu, worked on most of the new and modified sprites for the adventure map, and had a hand in a huge number of other graphic elements, from buttons to portraits. Some important work on conceptualizing cutscene graphics was done by lebeshevna.

Automaton by Dmitriy Gravchenko

Sentinel Automaton by Dmitriy Gravchenko

The area that gained the most new manpower over this period is the code. The team added top-class professional programmers: weakref, tarren and crackedmind. They have implemented some innovations in the game, but their main contribution has been improving the development process and introducing more current or completely new tools to it. They have made work on code and on graphics more efficient and convenient.
IQUARE, a long-time DF2 forum patron, joined the team. He has many solved code-related tasks to his credit, including the campaign editor he fully implemented, as well as countless innovations in the game and scenario editor. He has now become one of the team’s foremost reverse engineering experts. He also works a lot in the field of mapmaking, which will be elaborated later.
Raistlin, known for a number of his own modding projects, joined the team, contributing to the development of the Factory creatures’ abilities; he also developed AI for a number of them. void_17, known for creating the most detailed public database on the Heroes exe file, is now a team member too; he also made some contributions to the release.
New team members are responsible for all maps of the Forged in Fire campaign. This primarily concerns Sirius, a prominent mapmaker who made 7 of the 8 campaign scenarios and half of the new single scenarios added in version 1.7.0. Maps done at the next conceptual level for our project are the result of his work.
IQUARE is also involved in working with maps; he oversees the organization of this activity and introduces various edits and texts. He is also responsible for the first scenario of the new campaign and remaking the third scenario from the Terror of the Seas campaign, whose original version was accidentally mirrored due to an incorrect assessment of the world map.
Thanks to their skill, the Factory campaign features all the latest innovations in Heroes mapmaking over the past years, including new scenario editor features directly developed by the team and by IQUARE himself.
Heetch, a professional sound engineer, also joined the team. His help, in particular, was instrumental in making voiceovers of the Factory campaign cutscenes and creating quality replacements for many sound effects that were previously borrowed from other games.

It is worth noting that there are many who have assisted the development without becoming full-time team members. Some people prefer a more flexible collaboration format for whatever reasons; still, we are very grateful to all of them for their help. In some cases, it is just as valuable as even the impact of project veterans.
Of course, listing all the new contributors' merits in development would make for a considerably longer answer; each of them has done much more than outlined in this brief overview. There are also many other things that can hardly be described in short, dry list items, since working in a team means not only performing certain functions, but also participating in discussions of various issues, providing feedback of various kinds, simply communicating and being friends.

Character concepts by Alina Besanidou

6. How are new team members currently being recruited, and is there someone you need? How and in what format can they contact you?

At the current stage, our team has all the experts required to solve the challenges we face, so we are not looking for anyone specific. However, we will welcome any enthusiast who has sufficient skills to work on HotA.
Up-to-date information on this matter can be found here: https://h3hota.com/en/faq#17

7. Do you think it is possible to use neural networks to speed up and improve the quality of your work, from writing and reviewing texts to making sketches for portraits, sprites, etc.?

For people who are scrupulous about the results of their work, the usefulness of neural networks is still very limited, since the results they produce are too easy to distinguish from manual work, even with the naked eye. When writing original Russian texts, we did not use any at all; however, to speed up the translation into English, we used machine translators to an extent, followed by significant manual editing of the results, and even more of it in 1.7.1.
One cannot deny the prospects of neural networks, but only as a tool to assist developers, and in no way a substitute for real people who draw, compose music, voice act, write texts and code.

8. We know that you and Docent were close friends. Is there any interesting life or development story that you can tell us about him? What was Docent like?

Docent was very consistent about separating his life and activities within HotA and beyond, so we would prefer not to delve into the side of his personality that lay outside the project. However, these two worlds of his life still intertwined; sometimes it seemed that he never stopped looking for inspiration in everything around him, to later introduce it into the game. I remember how he showed me a random photo of some tangled tree branches; at first I had no idea what his point was, and then he added just a few brush strokes, revealing the face of a grumpy old man in a top hat amidst this interplay of light and shadow. Today, you can see it in the game: this image was the origin of the hero Winzells’ portrait.
Some of Docent’s findings are yet to be implemented in HotA; it is likely that new elements inspired by his unfinished work will be added in the future. Fortunately, we managed to get a hold of a vast archive with his working materials, a wealth of references accumulated by him over the years, and other artifacts that he had meticulously amassed over a decade and a half. Docent's incredible, out-of-this-world work ethic in everything he did, his pedantic approach and unwavering commitment to the project continue to help us even now, years after he passed away. (Tevye)

I had a life story that involved Docent, which could serve as a good illustration of his attitude to development and the project.
Once upon a time, as Docent was seeking to update the hard drive on his laptop, he consulted with me about SSD drives. I suggested a model with good speed/price/reliability, but he was upset to see it having a significantly smaller capacity than the one he himself had an eye on; he said he would then not be able to keep some things at hand. Among the files he meant by this were all HotA installation packages from the very first release. I then asked why he needed them so closely "at hand" as to keep them on his work SSD. He replied that for him, it was not just about keeping them "at hand"; it was something for the soul, some kind of good luck charms.
When Docent passed, these files were not found on his laptop. Obviously, he had migrated them after all; apparently, they really were his charms. (Mantiss)

A good illustration of Docent’s work in HotA is the creation of Factory creature models. Dima Gravchenko did the actual modeling, but Docent supervised this process, continuously and intensely, creating various initial and intermediate references, tracking literally every pixel in a bid to make the creatures’ appearance harmonious and well-fitting the familiar Heroes look. This required countless iterations and edits; great effort was put into this by both Docent and the artist, but the result was off-the-charts good. It is also worth noting that the project quality level rose over time; Docent himself would often recognize the imperfection of old assets, even made by himself, and work to improve them. This trend continues ever since. (Sav)

Portrait of Docent Picolan by Roman Kupriianov

9. Were there any decisions that you would like to revise now?

If we are talking about the decisions that shaped the New Year's release, then no. Decisions were made deliberately and agreed upon in the team. What had once been controversial was already repeatedly revised and approved by the time of release. Of course, not everything can be done perfectly, and perhaps some elements will yet be refined over time, but all this is within the expected limits. The only thing that we consider a serious omission is the lack of ultra-easy campaign modes on Pawn and Knight difficulty levels; we had overestimated the prowess of a considerable number of players. However, this has already been addressed in the 1.7.1 release.
If we talk about earlier solutions in the project, then we have already revised some of them in HotA 1.7.0. For example, we replaced the old bridge model due to a technical issue that is yet to be solved; all the bridge squares are completely passable in all directions, and when a hero enters the raised middle of a bridge from the side, it produces some very poor visuals. With the new version, this looks not as funny, although we are now considering introducing separate, functional bridges in the future.
As for other similar cases—for example, the team decided that there should be no ruined versions of other objects existing in the game. This decision was made a long time ago, and Docent himself was its driver. This is a purely ideological point related to our approach to adventure map interactivity. Now we finally got around to replacing them with objects that look similar but are independent. Such assets are a legacy of very early times in the project, when content of wildly differing quality levels would make it into the build, sometimes copied with only minimal refinement from other Heroes games or even from other titles, just for the sake of ramping up the volume of innovations. Today, our approach has changed in many ways, and we are systemically replacing such content with original versions, mindful of our current approach to quality control.

In-game screenshot of the new Wasteland terrain. It underwent many changes during the development process.

10. The concept of the Factory went through several iterations, from an idea by the HotA team member Vade Parvis to its current version. The last thing we discussed with Docent was the Art Deco and Wild West visual bias. Tell us how you got from that stage to the current one. What inspired you? Why was it decided to abandon the Art Deco style in the design of the Factory's castle?

In the early stages of development, the Factory was an evolution of the canceled Forge town by NWC. As some of the original game developers mentioned in interviews and conversations with HotA team members, NWC had considered two possible Forge town concepts: one was stylistically closer to cyberpunk and, the result was shown to the public in screenshots and model renderings; the other was had more of a steampunk aesthetic and fleur of Jules Verne's works.
When developing the Factory, we were partly inspired by the latter version of the Forge, but well into the process and following many internal discussions, the idea developed and became a fully standalone concept.

Intersections with other town ideas by team members (including the project of the same name, initially proposed by Vade Parvis) were not an intentional decision, but rather the result of a natural development. You can call this a kind of convergent evolution.
The main features of the town, with its emphasis on technology and magic (and in the Might & Magic universe, magic is essentially very advanced technology) and the Wasteland as a native terrain, were approved outright and have not changed since. Over time, the degree of "Wild Westernness" in the town decreased, but this change was largely only aesthetic; it hardly affected the gameplay or the composition of the town’s units.
You may expect a more detailed answer to this question in the future, as an article about the graphical and architectural side of the Factory town screen is in the works.

Some of the inspirations behind the Factory town screen design

11. The final lineup has a distinct vibe of the Wizard faction from Heroes II. Halflings at Tier 1, Armadillos with a Boar-like color scheme and outline, and Gunslingers instead of Wizards. Also, a metal construct at the top tier. There is even an overall vibe of Heroes II, with more units available than a hero has slots. Did you come to this consciously, or did it happen by accident?

It was a conscious decision. The Factory indeed inherits some traditions of the Wizard town from the series’ second installment. However, the reason for having eight units in the Factory’s lineup is a bit different.
The Factory has two development branches. The first branch represents perfected nature: these are Halflings, Armadillos, Sandworms and Couatls. The second branch is based on engineering; it contains, quite naturally, Engineers, mechanisms and adventurers armed with advanced weapons. The idea of having two branches is to reflect different aspects of the inventive scientific spirit. The men who formed the new faction’s backbone can not only create new things, but also alter the familiar ones; there are masters in handling both the inanimate and the living among them. At the same time, we wanted to make both development options full-fledged. Were they not equal in the number of creatures included, there would be a sense of one option being subordinate to another, and making some buildings mutually exclusive in a single town would not be a decision in the spirit of Heroes III.

12. What creatures were considered, but did not make it to the Factory's roster? Do they still have a chance to get in the game?

As with any other project of a new faction, the final roster of Factory units was not set in stone on a whim; it was the result of lengthy discussions. Mechanics, Gunslingers, Sandworms, and Dreadnoughts were approved at a fairly early stage of development. Some ideas appeared early, but evolved over time. For example, Automatons were originally conceived as flying creatures. The path to Armadillos being established as roster members was also not without thorns; the competition for the spot of a low-level beastlike creature was pretty hard. We considered many other candidates for the town’s forces, but for now, we would prefer to refrain from naming them, since some still run a chance to get into the game in a different form, just not as part of the Factory's standard roster.

Early concept of the Automaton by nosferatu

13. The Factory has a great number of units with special abilities. Before its release, the title of the most special ability-filled town was held by the Fortress. Was this originally planned, or did it happen in the development process, as you came up with a cool mechanic for some unit and just couldn’t bring yourselves to not using it?

This was intended. Docent cherished plans to switch to a new, independent game project after releasing the Factory; after that, HotA development should have gone on that back burner. Because of that, the Factory was supposed to really impress the players and become something truly special, a showcase of everything our team was capable of. We did exactly what was planned in this regard, although we have no plans to switch from HotA to a new project today.
The town's graphic design and creature concepts were approved earlier than its gameplay and, accordingly, the code. This dictated the presence of many complex abilities and two types of Tier 7 creatures. At the same time, we worked to design the gameplay of the two branches and the creatures’ abilities in such a way as to provide the most interesting options for town development while maintaining a unified atmosphere. There were next to no cases when it felt like a pity not to use some ability. On the contrary, it was often hard to come up with something suitable, fitting organically into the game, and at the same time truly unique.

14. What concept/mechanic caused the most controversy within the team, and how did you resolve this issue?

Perhaps the Airship. Docent’s original idea was to implement the Airship Yard as a town building of the Factory. Some team members objected to this approach, both in terms of having airships built in the town, and in terms of their very image, so tightly tied to advanced technology. After much discussion in the later stages of development, we removed airships from the Factory, but kept them as separate mechanics (the Airship and the Airship Yard as map objects).
Moreover, the Airship was shaping up to become the most technically complex mechanic in the entire history of project implementation. This also caused concerns in the team, so there were voices in favor of canceling them altogether. In the end, however, we implemented both the Airships themselves together with the Airship Yards, and even the option to add them to random map templates. The new single-player scenario suggested by default when launching HotA features gameplay based on the use of Airships.

15. Are there any adventure map objects, buildings, or other content that was omitted from the final 1.7 patch? Should we expect any of this to appear in the future, or are they destined to become part of the Heroes museum?

When working on 1.7, we implemented almost all the content that had been planned, as well as some things that had been postponed from the earlier stages of development. The amount of material on standby is currently minimal, and this mainly concerns technical issues.
However, we already have plans for new content, including map objects. We understand that the game already has a surplus of gameplay elements in certain areas, and that this kind of content cannot be added indefinitely. Therefore, we will approach its implementation carefully and selectively, mainly where there is still some previously undeveloped niche to occupy.

16. When developing the Factory, the team produced a number of interesting articles describing the process of creating units. Will this be continued in the future, or has this approach proved to be unviable/uncomfortable for the team?

We do not rule out that such articles may appear in the future, but this will depend on the implementation of plans for new content, as well as on the capabilities of the team at that particular moment.
Initially, there were plans to post more articles before the release of the Factory, but, as practice has shown, their compilation and preparation of the content required for them (assembling animations, large renderings, selecting illustrations and screenshots) demands quite a bit of time and resources from team members directly involved in development (in particular, artists).

Cutscene development process by Balkron

Cutscene development process by Yoggi

17. We have heard that one of the possible coming changes is the Factory’ alignment. Please tell us how and why you came to this decision.

We indeed considered the possibility of changing the Factory’s alignment to Good. This was due to some of the main campaign characters’ apparent goodness, the brightly lit screen, the music and the town’s general atmosphere. However, the town was originally intended to be Neutral, and it has a number of elements that would hardly work for a Good faction: Mercenaries as a hero class, evil warlocks Agar and Wrathmont among the Artificers, Sandworms and Bounty Hunters among the creature lineup. The arguments for both options were strong, but after long discussion in the team, the reasoning for the town to stay Neutral outweighed the competition, so it remains Neutral.

18. Who is your favorite character (or characters) from the Factory campaign, and why? Who was the most fun to write about?

The universe of Heroes of Might & Magic is one of archetypes. They may be richly written, drawn and compiled, yet still they are archetypes, familiar to everyone from stories read and heard since childhood, from fairy tales, songs, and films. For this reason, we did our best to keep the main characters of the campaign within certain character-related limits and decided against turning the originality dial to eleven. An inquisitive and authoritative sage who hides a certain secret; his curious and proactive helper who gains independence as the plot develops; you have undoubtedly seen and read many stories along these lines, and we can only hope that our versions of these archetypal characters won the players’ affinity. We had, however, the option to play around with the supporting characters a little more; we think that some of them, like the feisty Sam, the mysterious Tlamac, or the unwavering Tavin, turned out to be remarkable figures. The reviews by those who have already completed the campaign feature names the players remembered, which means that we did our work well: the characters we created have definitely earned some love. Perhaps in the future, some familiar names from Forged in Fire will return for new developments.
I personally would like to add that my favorite character of the campaign is ole Kosta. With him and his flask by my side, I would’ve dared for anything. (Tevye)

When testing the Factory campaign, specifically the 3rd scenario, I felt a great deal of sympathy for Boyd. Everything about him looked cool, from the image of a skeletal warrior prowling the wastelands (even if he did not become one by choice), to his specialization in skeletons. Even the hero’s backstory, while somewhat run-of-the-mill, makes one feel compassionate. Also, a positive Necromancer character is not a common trope at all. All in all, the hero turned out to be recognizable to such an extent that he might well pop up again in later campaigns. (FCst1)

Myself, I feel that Frederick hits closest to home. The figure of a scientist at a time when science itself was still going through its formative years is something I understand and feel affectionate about. Naturally, compared to a modern professional researcher, Frederick lacks discipline of mind and consistency, but there is something attractive and romantic in this naivety, combined with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to comprehend the laws of the world around. I can't help but mention Todd and Bertram as well; their conflict is somewhat similar to the internal conflict between two parts of my own conscience; a financier on one side, a researcher and creative person on the other. The story of their rivalry really struck a chord in my soul. (Starseeker)

Portrait of the hero Tavin by Balkron

19. What is Henrietta's fate? Is her journey over? It seems that her and Frederick’s story is not yet complete.

The Factory’s story may well continue, with or without Henrietta. There may even be hints in the campaign about which turn this story might take. Or maybe not.

20. The campaign was quite difficult to beat. Do you plan to tune the challenge down to help more players access it? It would seem that the game is played by very different people today, from sophisticated esports players to those who only ever launch the game after a new HotA update.

We planned to attract experienced players to our campaign, hence its complexity and meticulously designed gameplay. We employed cutting-edge approaches from the field of advanced mapmaking, primarily a diverse array of opponents to handle, AI triggers, and many ways to encourage players to a certain pace and wise use of their resources at hand. At the same time, it provides varied bonuses for different difficulty levels. However, it seems that we overestimated the prowess of many players; therefore, in update 1.7.1 that is already available, we took effort to make the campaign noticeably easier at low difficulty levels (Pawn and Knight). At the same time, at higher levels, it became somewhat harder due to the correction of some bugs and shortcomings that were hindering some of our ideas designed to offer interesting challenges to seasoned players.

21. In the Factory campaign, a new approach to missions is introduced, with cutscenes before and after each one, like in some original Heroes III campaigns. Should we expect this approach in the campaigns to be released in the future? Do you plan to bring the old Cove campaigns to the new standard?

The decision to fill all the cutscene slots stemmed from the same source as the numerous abilities of Factory creatures: as per Docent’s original idea, all the content associated with the Factory should be something more than what players would expect.
However, campaign cutscenes are important not so much in and of themselves, but rather as parts of a continuous narrative. We will make as many of them as necessary to flesh out our characters and their stories, where reasonable effort allows.
Some fixes and improvements are planned for the cutscenes of old Cove campaigns. At the moment, there are no immediate plans to add new ones, but we do not rule this out outright.

22. Voiceovers have been added to the new campaign. Can you tell us a little bit about those who lent their voices to the characters? How does the voiceover process work? Do you plan to voice your campaigns in English?

We were able to enlist professional actors for our voiceovers. All of them are listed in the credits. Some of them are long-time fans of the game and our project, and the opportunity to contribute to it gave them great joy. This, of course, was especially valuable for us in the context of the HotA project’s volunteer nature, since the work of professionals of this class usually costs a fortune.
The voiceover process is quite lengthy and painstaking: first, you need to write the text for the cutscene and adapt it so that it is convenient and natural for speech, then locate the right actor who would also agree to a non-commercial collaboration, and finally find the opportunity and time to record hardware-wise. The recording itself takes a while too; it involves a lot of do-overs, lengthy processing of results and testing. We learned a lot in the course of this work, a completely new endeavor for us.
As for the English voiceover, it is not easy to get done these days, especially since it would have to be as well made as the Russian-language one. Therefore, if we ever get down to it, we would also like to enlist professionals, which is not going to be an easy order. We do not rule anything out, but we cannot be sure when something may come to fruition.

Recording voiceovers for the Forged in Fire campaign: Natalya Merz

Recording voiceovers for the Forged in Fire campaign: Viktor Potapeshkin

Recording voiceovers for the Forged in Fire campaign: studio work with Heetch

23. Paul Romero wrote the theme for the Factory's campaign. Tell us what it was like to work with him. Do you plan to continue working with him?

Allow us to make a small correction here: this theme was started by Docent. Upon his passing, Romero completed it.
Of course, we are grateful to Paul for his contribution, and the opportunity to collaborate with him was significant in itself. We do not yet have any specific plans for further work together, but if any arise, we will announce them. It is worth noting, however, that at the initiative of the Heroes Orchestra, Paul Romero took part in the performance of the Factory town theme, composed on the basis of Docent's unfinished work by our friend Maigret. This theme was played at the series of concerts dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Heroes III, and a video recording of the performance is available on the orchestra's YouTube channel.

Heroes Orchestra - Factory (ft. Paul Anthony Romero) | LIVE 2024

24. What are your plans for the development? What can we expect in the near future?

After the 1.7.0 release, we worked hard for a stint to fix bugs and shortcomings in this release (including campaign-related bugs), and also on making the campaign less challenging at the easiest difficulty levels. The results of this work were released in April 2024 as version 1.7.1. We are not planning any other urgent releases in the near future. However, this does not mean that the work on 1.7 is finished; after the new releases 1.7.0 and 1.7.1, the documentation (descriptions on the website) has yet to be updated.
The team also has long-term plans. Here are some of them:
- rebalancing skills and spells. In HotA, the balance of towns has already been adjusted; the random map generator has been made much more balanced; and the need for most unofficially enforced online game rules has been eliminated. At the same time, skills and magic remain as two relatively weak points in the game balance. We have already made a number of changes to them, but there is undoubtedly still quite a lot of work to be done regarding this issue;
- adding campaigns from the original game to HotA, which players are asking us to do more and more often;
- further expansion of the scenario editor functionality and improvements to the random map generator.
There will be new maps and campaigns from us. The latter may also contain special unique content.
We will cover our more specific plans in official announcements, as they approach the implementation stage.

25. Previously, it was reported that you were planning to increase the value of skills like Scholar, Eagle Eye, and others. Are there any other plans for a rework? If yes, how extensive will it be?

Scholar, in our opinion, has a good enough niche in the game. It is in demand for supporting characters, and we do not plan to change this in any way, since not all skills are designed for use by the main hero. We plan to improve some other skills, including Eagle Eye, in a bid to make them useful, at least in niche situations. Given the changes already made in HotA, these alterations probably won't be groundbreaking, although some skills may require new mechanics.

26. Are there any plans to add new neutral creatures to the game? Could we witness the return of original concepts cut by NWC during the game development stage: the monsters Banshee and Lobstrosity, the Fear spell, the mill at the Fortress, etc.?

We will only add new neutral creatures if there is a striking image and a good role for them. Introducing some creatures that cannot be hired in towns for the only reason that we can does not seem like a good idea to us. Without some useful trait, such creatures will hardly ever be used either in a casual game or in esports, and without an impressive image, they will be of little use for mapmakers. It is especially important for neutral creatures to have some noticeable utility factor. They rarely appear in games on random maps and the player almost never has the opportunity to replenish their stacks, so, in order to motivate them to use a neutral unit, it would be nice for this unit to have something unique about it and deserve a place in the hero’s army, even with only a handful of creatures in the stack.
We adhere to the same policy regarding the addition of cut concepts by NWC. We do not intend to bring back the cut content just because it had once been created by NWC, but we do not rule out the possibility of using it if a good purpose is found.

Factory in combat. 3D by Dmitriy Gravchenko, Alex_ander, DrSlash, Agar

27. It's no secret that original HoMM III mechanics are far from being perfectly balanced. In HotA, work has been done to correct the balance, particularly by restricting necromancy and logistics. Will you continue to introduce changes to poor original mechanics, or would that destroy the spirit of the game? After all, not all abilities must be useful, and the luck factor is also a feature that makes the game fun.

Our long-term plans indeed do feature a rebalance of magic and skills, as well as some other changes, but we still have no certainty on many issues, and an internal consensus has not been fully reached, so it is premature to talk about any timeframes now.
We have already mostly solved a very important issue: previously, there was a need to use certain oral rules and agreements in an online game, but now, in most cases this is no longer necessary. The issue of the balance between towns has also been largely resolved. We also do our best to address current issues that may impair the online gaming experience. Most of the balance edits in 1.7.0 are related to the latter.
In terms of the balance of skills (except for magic schools), our task is still to make completely useless options into, at the very least, niche and situationally useful ones for the sake of giving the gameplay more variability. In some cases, we may need to change the mechanics themselves, where any change in the numbers would be insufficient. However, we do not aim to make all the skills equal to each other in value.
The most complex and difficult challenge we face now is to rebalance the magic system. First of all, we want to make all magic schools playable, which will require changes to the number and, possibly, quality of map control spells. Secondly, we will need to make spells that are now dead in the water more usable, also in order to diversify the gameplay. We believe that this problem is even more acute than that of skills, and significantly greater changes may be required.

28. Will there be any attempt to further buff the magic heroes at the game start?

At the moment, we do not see this as an urgent need.
In SoD, magic heroes were almost unusable as main characters due to the availability of the Orb of Inhibition and Recanter’s Cloak on random maps. Magic heroes were only relatively strong on small maps (M200 templates), where low-level spells like Magic Arrow and Lightning, cast with considerable spell power that mages can amass at early levels, gave a big advantage.
After the ban of the Orb of Inhibition and Recanter’s Cloak, mages became much more useful. They turned into ultimate supporting heroes. The reason for that is the fact that they can easily accumulate large amounts of spell points and level up in magic schools. This allows them to use the Town Portal and Dimension Door spells as effectively as possible, as well as do hit-n-runs (i.e., attack without an army, destroy part of the enemy’s army with a spell, and escape or die). Finally, magic heroes can simply give good final fights with their magic.
With all the obvious advantages considered, this made the gameplay a great deal more chaotic. In many cases, the army simply didn't matter anymore because of Armageddon or Implosion hit-n-runs, or elemental summons. A common situation was the hero with the most mana winning only by being able to summon more. The Titan’s Cuirass went on to be considered the ultimate armor-class artifact, and even the Dragon Scale Armor was no longer being considered worth anything in comparison. A Level 30 magic hero obtained from a prison offered a game-breaking advantage, while a Level 30 might hero was of almost no use, bar some ultra-rare exceptions.
To make matters worse, the only defense against hit-n-run attacks was the Resistance skill, and even that was often ineffective. With it, a game’s outcome depended on whether the roll to resist the opponent's spell succeeded in the first round or not.
We have taken measures against this, weakening the Armageddon spell and reducing the amount of spell points granted by the Intelligence skill. We have replaced Resistance with Interference, which helps not only against direct-damage spells, but also against summons, and is guaranteed to work. In 1.7.0, we have also nerfed the elemental summon spells.
With these measures taken, the gameplay returned to a fairly normal course. Sure, the mage heroes are somewhat weakened, but they're still useful.
We expect that mage heroes will benefit from strengthening secondary skills that are currently very weak or even completely useless; these include a number of magic-related ones. Strengthening weak spells and balancing magic schools should also make magic heroes more relevant. We will, of course, keep monitoring the effect of changes on the gameplay, but so far we have no reason to think that mage heroes will need any additional buffing.

29. In the Factory campaign, we found references to goblins, ogres, minotaurs, nagas, and other creatures from the canceled Forge town. In addition, if the Factory becomes Good by alignment, there will be a clear shortage of Evil towns. Does all this mean that we should expect the Forge to appear in future patches?

We will cover any plans for new towns case-by-case in our announcements when (and if) we are ready. We do not rule out the possibility of developing new towns in the future, but we consider it premature to say anything to that end yet. At the same time, we would once again like to point out the fact that there are no plans to change the Factory’s alignment right now.

New portraits by Docent Picolan, Lampik_LMra, Balkron, Roman Kupriianov, nosferatu, lebeshevna

30. At one point, Docent mentioned the town known as Kronverk being at an advanced development stage. Should we expect to see it in the foreseeable future? Are there any plans to resume work on other towns that had once been announced as part of HotA?

The answer to this question is the same as to the previous one. News about potential new towns can only be made public through official announcements by the team.

31. Is there a set-in-stone plan and vision for the project’s final result? Could it, in theory, reach the stage where the team would have nothing to work on without changing the very essence of the game?

We have many plans, and we have described some of them above. We don't expect to find ourselves in a situation where there is absolutely nothing to work on. However, there are certain limits for adding content in the game, so, somewhere in the distant future, it is indeed possible that changes to the standard gameplay will no longer be introduced. In this case, we will focus on working on the game’s technical aspects, functionality and content for the scenario editor, as well as new campaigns and content for them.

32. Does the team plan to attend any public events in the foreseeable future?

GIven that we reside in many different cities and even countries, it is unlikely that we will be able to get the entire team together. However, we do not rule out the possibility of some team members attending such events in the future. In fact, we keep receiving invitations to participate in conventions and the like.

33. The scenario selection menu has backgrounds themed after different factions. Do you plan to make one with Factory creatures? We didn't see one in the current patch.

The team has an idea to modify the concept behind these backgrounds and do away with faction-based collages. This is one thing that hindered the creation of a background for the Cove (which is also still missing). If this change does not take shape, we will eventually make ones for both the Factory and the Cove.

34. How did you come up with the idea for the Factory campaign? What options were there and why did you choose this one that was implemented?

The plot’s backbone was approved quite a while ago, but over the years of development, some details have evolved. For instance, Boyd’s story from the third mission changed. At first, he was planned as a living character, but later we found the undead avenger type more intriguing. The gameplay of individual scenarios was also updated quite noticeably, but we have already discussed the reasons for the chosen difficulty levels earlier.
The basic idea behind the story was also largely a product of bringing the many plot concepts proposed by team members to a certain common denominator in the form of a classic story with familiar tropes. Journey, formation, loss, retribution. One of the main goals of the campaign was to flesh out the emergence and rise of a whole new faction in a world long divided by forces familiar to the player. Attempts to tell such a story through bold deconstruction or turning the known concepts inside out inevitably drove us into the need to make significant retcons; yet the good old gradual stringing of events onto the thread of story, winding between the eternal, unshakable pillars of the setting, proved its viability again.

Custom campaign background by SoVa and Balkron

35. Docent once planned to take on the development of a completely new original project in the turn-based strategy genre. Did you abandon this idea, or can we expect something like this from you in the future?

At the moment, the team is not committing itself to developing a new project.
The idea of developing a new game was conceived by Docent, DrSlash and nosferatu. Many other team members were not keen on developing a new project from the get go, and after Docent passing and DrSlash going on hiatus, this issue was finally put on ice, and we never carried out any serious work in this direction.
The team’s main concern after the loss of Docent was to finalize and release the Factory. At first, we thought precious little about longer-term plans. Then, there was an influx of new members interested in working on HotA rather than developing anything standalone.
Currently, a significant part of the team does not entertain taking on a new project. On the contrary, we have a great interest in developing HotA further.

36. Do you think Docent would be proud of the current results?

Release 1.7.0 and specifically the Factory have elevated the project to a new level of quality, even by HotA standards. In many ways, the groundwork for this success was laid by Docent's ideas. This is what he always aspired to, and we can safely say that everything we did meets the high benchmark set during his lifetime.
Of course, his opinion on some points differed from the final decisions taken by the team, but the development was quite lengthy, and many changes came in a natural evolutionary manner; this could have happened, and often did happen with him at the helm. Nevertheless, we believe that he would be proud of the final product we delivered.

37. What would you like to wish the Might & Magic community?

Further development and prosperity. We all share love for our favorite game. We dare to hope that it will stay alive for a very long time, and that new people will keep coming to make the community even better. There are plenty of examples of this happening today—even in our team, there are now people who are younger than the Heroes III game itself. It is already a timeless classic by the gaming world standards, and may it forever be like this.

HotA Crew: nosferatu, Sirius, Spartak, Agar, Balkron, Tevye, Sav

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Legendary Hero
DoR Modder
posted April 25, 2024 04:58 PM
Edited by FirePaladin at 17:00, 25 Apr 2024.

Really great update and insight into the team's workings and development, thank you, and good luck with future updates!
Also, finally, a full render of the Automatons! Lovely details on these, balanced between simple enough to be part of H3 and elegance.

P.S. The Factory campaign is great thus far, possibly one of my best H3 gaming experiences. I'm only at map 5 on Impossible difficulty. Picked Bertram because he has a cat, but I am playing constantly.
Enshackling time itself, heralds of the Ancients among their heat-depleted land.... Who could they be, who could rally the beings of the East and the North and control the mortals' fate?

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 05:27 PM

Wow that's an incredibly cool post !
I still don't have time to play, but i'll hop on as soon as i can.
I'm very proud of this community.

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Famous Hero
posted April 25, 2024 08:04 PM

Holy mackerel! Congratulations for Cove becoming formally "official". The interview speaks volumes regarding your dedication and enthusiasm. Thanks for the insights, your future plans sound like more dreams will come true.

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 08:43 PM

FirePaladin said:
Picked Bertram because he has a cat


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Known Hero
posted April 25, 2024 09:14 PM

After an awe-inspiring update to our favourite game you also provided us with a more than pleasant read for this Thursday night. Thank you very much for everything. HoMM III's future really is bright and it is glorious to be living this amazing moment for the community.

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Legendary Hero
DoR Modder
posted April 25, 2024 09:15 PM

Pretty cute, except for one thing: what has the cat seen to stare like that?

Also, nice, imgur and notepad.
Enshackling time itself, heralds of the Ancients among their heat-depleted land.... Who could they be, who could rally the beings of the East and the North and control the mortals' fate?

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 09:21 PM

nice interview, may HotA and heroes 3 in general never end

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Hired Hero
posted April 25, 2024 09:39 PM
Edited by Tevye at 22:45, 25 Apr 2024.

FirePaladin said:
Pretty cute, except for one thing: what has the cat seen to stare like that?

He has once wandered under Bertram's desk. Seen some things there. And whatever goes on below Bertram's desk stays below Bertram's desk.

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Famous Hero
posted April 25, 2024 10:45 PM

Who else could count themselves as lucky as players of Heroes 3? This post was a great read. Thanks for all your hard work!

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Tavern Dweller
posted April 26, 2024 12:54 AM
Edited by Shameless_Mult at 01:00, 26 Apr 2024.

Congratulations for being officialy recogniezed by Ubisoft!

Since this happened: Is there a chance to create an official mod-page for HotA in the GoG's store? I mean something like The Chronicles Of Myrtana for Gothic 2:


The mod would remain free, but you could conveniently download it from GoG and don't be worried about viruses. Don't be shy or too proud to ask Ubisoft for it (or contact them by Archon).

If possible, please answer my question and don't ignore it. Thank you!

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