Horn of the Abyss FAQ

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FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

1. What is Horn of the Abyss (HotA)?

Horn of the Abyss (HotA) is a global expansion for the Heroes of Might & Magic III game, expanding upon the classic gameplay elements and adding brand new ones.

2. What is HotA on a conceptual level? What is its goal?

Conceptually, HotA exists to support the traditions of the HoMM game series, taking over from the original set of expansions made by New World Computing. In general, it strives to be the ultimate rendition of the game:
Restoration of Erathia > Armageddon’s Blade > Shadow of Death > Horn of the Abyss.
In a way, HotA is meant to be the addon the original developers could have made after Shadow of Death. We try to stick to the classics in everything: gameplay, graphics, campaign story, music, sounds – down to the seemingly irrelevant things.

3. Is HotA a fanmade expansion, or an official one? Are you keeping in touch with the original developers of HoMM?

New World Computing, the original developers of HoMM, and 3DO, the game’s publisher, both went defunct many years ago, hence the lack of any official development for the game since 2000. Ubisoft acquired the rights to the Might & Magic brand in 2003. We are unaware of the stance of the current copyright holder towards our project, but the crew maintains communication with some of the former developers at New World Computing.

4. Is HotA anything like WoG? Are you in any way connected to the WoG developers or the mod’s technical capacity? Is HotA compatible with WoG?

HotA is in no way connected to WoG. HotA is its own expansion, based on the original Shadow of Death, without leveraging any material or know-hows from WoG. There is zero overlap between the developing teams of the two mods. HotA and WoG are in no way compatible: no WoG features are available when playing HotA, and vice versa.

5. Is HotA a commercial project? Does the crew earn money from it?

No; HotA is a fundamentally non-commercial project, and it has not earned them a single cent over the entire course of development. We do not accept donations or any other kind of financial assistance. The crew keeps working on it out of sheer enthusiasm.

6. What version of HoMM III is required to install HotA?

We strongly recommend installing the official version of the expansion over Russian or English Shadow of Death. HotA also works correctly when installed over the Complete edition. We cannot guarantee the correct performance of HotA when installed over any kind of repack, where some of the original files, deemed unnecessary by the compiler, might be missing. HotA will not install over Restoration of Erathia, Armageddon’s Blade or any fan-made mods, including WoG.

7. Does HotA support the random map generator?

The random map generator is fully supported. It has been considerably improved as compared to the original edition, and many bugs have been ironed out. HotA has also introduced a brand new tool, the RMG Template Editor, where templates can be created and added to the playable list (by pasting them into the HotA_RMGTemplates folder), just like fixed scenarios.

8. The original SoD game is peppered with issues, inconsistencies and bugs, both aesthetic and game-breaking. What steps does HotA take to fix that?

A considerable part of our work is to apply fixes where the original is broken by ironing out technical bugs and introducing visual improvements.

9. Among the existing unofficial modding projects for HoMM III, many are visually and technically flawed. What is your approach to the content quality?

The content quality is most crucial for HotA developers, along with staying within the existing tradition. Every 3D model, code element or sprite is being polished until it reaches perfection, as far as we are concerned. Top notch quality sometimes comes at the cost of not releasing new versions as quickly as many would like, but we are still fully dedicated to delivering flawless content.

10. What is the crew’s stance towards online tournaments, effective multi/single-player gameplay and HoMM III as a cybersport? What does in-game balance mean to you?

We pay much attention to in-game balance. All new elements coexist in harmony with the original game, never attempting to alter status quo. Moreover, HotA fixes the widely acknowledged balance issues with the original game. We keep in touch with members of the online gaming community, so HotA could be the most convenient option for tournaments.

11. Is HotA compatible with the High Definition modification for HoMM III (HD-mod)?

HotA is fully compatible with HD-mod and is proven to work correctly under any settings. The developer of HD-mod is a member of HotA crew.

12. Is the current HotA version stable, or is it still under construction? Is it prone to errors or crashes?

The current HotA version is completely stable; with all improvements over the original game, it is quite a bit more stable than Shadow of Death or the Complete edition. This is not to say that crashes are absolutely impossible, but all new issues generally get ironed out very quickly, thanks to community-provided bug reports.

13. What happens to Shadow of Death files after installing HotA?

When installing the official version of HotA, all new files will be added without replacing any original ones (except for smackw32.dll, a file that does not affect the performance in any way). This means both HotA and SoD will still be fully playable.

14. HotA has introduced the Cove, a new town. I read somewhere on the Web that other new towns are in development, like Cathedral, Forge, Kronwerk etc. Should I expect these to emerge in future versions?

New towns are not canceled, and they are still seen as planned for some point in the future. Several concepts are being developed at the lowest priority. Any news and information about potential new towns must only be considered serious when released as official announcements by the crew.

15. What is the crew’s stance towards the use of HotA-specific content in other mods? Are there any plans to port the expansion to other platforms than SoD or the Complete edition?

HotA is delivered as an integral entity, and all elements of it are closely intertwined. We do not condone the use of HotA resources in any other projects. We do not have plans to release any features introduced in HotA as standalone patches or mods. Porting HotA to any other platforms (WoG, ERA, VCMI) does not strike us as a sensible idea, and it will not be supported by us if carried out by any other parties.

16. Where should I refer to if I want to read the project’s latest news or get feedback from the developers?

You will want to use our official channels for that. Of those, the main ones are:
A VK group — http://vk.com/h3hota
Dedicated section at the DF2 forum — http://forum.df2.ru/index.php?showforum=90
Our reference section that contains documentation and other info — http://h3hota.com
A topic on the English-speaking HeroesCommunity forum — http://heroescommunity.com/viewthread.php3?TID=39830

A number of other sections and communities devoted to HotA exist elsewhere, albeit less active or with lower control and participation level from the actual developers. An example of those is the Discord channel, created by the administrators of the online lobby. HotA crew maintains a minimal investment level into its day-to-day proceedings, but users are welcome to use it if they want to get in touch with lobby moderators or chat with other players.

17. Are you in search of help with developing the expansion?

Yes. The crew can always use new hands; namely, 3D and 2D artists, programmers, Web developers. We also welcome assistance with other things like editing text resources, translating and maintaining public relations. Those interested in joining the crew should contact us at hotacrew@gmail.com.

18. In 2015, Ubisoft, the current copyright owner to Might and Magic, released the so-called HD reissue of HoMM III. Is HotA going to support this reissue at some point? Are there plans to take advantage of its visual resources or move the expansion over to that platform?

HotA cannot be installed over any version of Restoration of Erathia. There are no plans to support the reissue by Ubisoft or improve upon it. Using the updated visuals from it is absolutely out of question, as they are below the quality standards maintained by HotA. Anyone who wishes to play HotA in high definition is advised to use the HD-mod instead.

19. When will the next version be out?

Exact release dates for HotA updates are never announced. HotA development is a closed process. The crew does not consider it necessary to advertise their plans, except for the rare publications going over certain upcoming features. The lack of news in the form of announcements or other activity from the crew members does not mean that the development has been halted or the project canceled. Generally, the crew sees public stunts as a thing of lower priority as compared to actual work on the content.

20. Does a campaign editor for HotA exist? Can the original campaigns (Restoration of Erathia, Blade of Armageddon, Shadow of Death, the Chronicles series) be played in HotA?

The campaign editor is currently unreleased, still being in development. The original campaigns are not available at the time either, but plans exist to introduce them in the future, after reworking them to leverage the new features introduced in HotA. Until the editor is released, any user-made campaigns created in the original editor are also not guaranteed to work properly.

21. I cannot enter the online lobby; the server is unavailable. Should I complain about it in the official HotA channels?

No, you should not. HotA crew does not provide technical support for the lobby server. It is up to the developer of HD-mod of which the online lobby is a part. Trying to report issues with the lobby to HotA developers is not only futile but also detrimental to the cause, as it may disrupt the flow of actually important discussions. Keep in mind that the online lobby is still a developing project. Its 24/7 stability is not guaranteed, and you should be understanding about the server shortcomings; they are likely to be weeded out in due time.

22. The interface elements are too small; the town and combat screens look like windows. Is it how things are supposed to be? What is the recommended resolution for playing HotA on the current generation of computer displays?

The town and combat screens are actually supposed to look like that; this is how the HD-mod handles them. Seeing as the original game was developed for the 800×600 resolution, placing certain game menus in windows rather than blowing them up to fullscreen is the only way to maintain the correct scale. For the current standard of screen proportions, the one resolution closest to true fullscreen mode would be 1066×600; in this case, only vertical bars on the sides of the screen will appear.

For generic widescreen displays (16:9), it is generally recommended to set the 1180×664 resolution in the HD launcher, regardless of your screen’s native resolution. 1280×720 and 1285×723 option also keep the scale acceptable. We strongly recommend not to use resolutions higher than that, let alone the display’s native options like 1920×1080, as this will make the interface elements uncomfortably diminutive. You should also keep an eye on the Stretch filter settings when selecting 32-bit (stretchable) or 32-bit True (stretchable) GDI options in the HD launcher. These filters will allow the game to look most aesthetically correct when launched in stretched mode.

23. In the HD launcher, there is a number of options in the Mode section. Which one should I use?

We recommend selecting between the 32 bit True and 32 bit True (stretchable) GDI modes. The 32 bit True (stretchable) GDI mode allows setting any resolution, including the 1180×664 resolution we deem optimal for widescreen displays, and guarantees the most aesthetically correct look when using Stretch filters. The users are free to select filters to their liking, evaluating their performance and quality with their own eyes.

If the game appears to work slowly in the 32 bit True (stretchable) GDI mode, then you should select the 32 bit True mode. In this mode, the 1180×664 resolution will be likely unavailable, so 1280×720 will be optimal for 16:9 screens. It is also worth mentioning that on some machines where the DirectDraw component is disabled, only the 32 bit True (stretchable) GDI mode can be used to launch the game.

24. Why do I seem to get lower scores in the table of records than I used to?

In HotA, a new formula for calculating these scores has been introduced. The updated formula is more fair, as it is now harder to attain the highest ranks; the time penalty has been increased considerably, the difficulty and map size coefficients introduced, and the Grail bonus reduced. The exact formula has not been made public, but still, to get a higher score, you must complete the map quickly and conquer as many towns as you can. As in the original game, the maximum is 500 pts, but in certain scenarios, it cannot be reached.

25. What does the Arena checkbox in the map editor stand for?

The Arena checkbox enables a special game mode for maps where the players use dedicated areas to prepare for a single battle that will decide the game’s outcome. This mode is still in development. Official arena maps and a thorough description of this game mode’s features are coming in the future versions.

26. Why do AI-controlled players take so long to make their moves?

The AI may take longer to complete its turns due to its evaluating of spell usage in combat when many spells and targets are available to it. In HotA, this process has been optimized; the AI now gets slow only when it does not have a powerful enough army and is forced to use magic. In the original game, it would use magic whenever possible, even if the hero had a sizable army at his/her disposal.

To help us further optimize the AI, feel free to upload your savegames where the AI takes minutes to make its moves to our bug report channels.

27. Why cannot I create a random map or complete saving a game? Why do I encounter issues with updating the game or other file system-based errors?

The game can sometimes work incorrectly when installed in a system folder. Avoid installing it in the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folders.

28. Why cannot I launch the map editor?

On modern machines, it is recommended to launch the map editor with the ‘Run as administrator’ option.

29. My antivirus software warns me of potential issues with the installer file, or during updating HotA/HD-mod. Should I be concerned?

No, you should not. Most of the advanced market-leading antivirus suites usually have no issue with these files. Some of the lesser solutions, especially free ones and those developed in China, use the most basic heuristic analysis mechanisms, potentially causing false alarms with applications that in fact do not contain any harmful code. You may refer to virustotal.com and get confirmation that the bulk of existing antivirus programs find our files safe for use.

30. Can I install HotA on Mac, Linux, Android or other platforms?

HotA and HD-mod are still essentially the same HoMM III game, if considerably improved, that was developed solely for Windows. The crew does not possess the original source code, and we cannot modify the game to run on other platforms. That said, a wealth of emulators and other software exists to create a Windows environment on other OS’s, such as Wine for UNIX-based systems, or ExaGear Strategies for Android. You should also keep in mind that emulators sometimes cannot guarantee applications to be completely stable, thus some of the HotA/HD-mod features can be unavailable. However, using the fine-tuning options of your preferred emulator or switching to another one can usually help with that.

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