Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

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MrFlibble
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Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Recently Litude has made a post at RGB Classic Games Forum about an early non-interactive demo of Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest he had found on a cover disk from an issue of a French gaming magazine called Joystick:
Litude wrote:Found an interesting self-playing demo of Heroes I, download it from here (162 MB). It's quite early, being from January 1995 so a few differences are noticeable like the intro being quite different and music pieces are used in different places in the preview. Sadly it isn't playable. Judging by the file names and the time frame, this preview might have been also used at CES 1995.

EDIT: Actually, seems like you can play it simply by deleting the file DEMOFILE.BIN from the game directory. It is quite unstable though (visiting artifacts or locations like mills will crash the game), but a nice early look at the game nonetheless.
Except said crashes when you try to pick up artifacts and enter special locations, the demo is quite playable. There is no movement limit, or building limit per turn (ending the turn will also crash the demo), and there is also no AI action at all (two enemy heroes are present on the demo map, and can be fought though). Picking up resource piles (but not the "enemy campfire" event) do not lead to crashes, and you can also capture mines, enter castles and cities, build structures in castles and hire troops as normal. Spells also work most of the time.

There are quite a few interesting things in the demo, for example, the hero list shows generic hero class icons instead of individual portraits:
Image

Another interesting difference is that on battle screens, the hero is visible, much like in Heroes of Might and Magic II ad subsequent games in the series, while only the hero's tent is visible in the final version of the game:
Image
Also notice there's a button to fire the catapult, which is done manually during castle sieges, and there's a corresponding "siege skill" in the hero's characteristics.

If you give it a try, note that you can actually save the game and then replace your save with the original one (for some reason or other newly saved games end up in the demo's root directory, not in the GAMES folder). This way you can experiment with the demo and be able to return to your saved position in case of crashes, rather than start everything from the beginning each time.

Hallfiry
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

From what I can see when I pipe the stdout into a file, it throws a "point to file failure", when I try to get a mill.
I also noticed that the EXE uses wrong paths. It tries to find files in the sound folder that are actually in the pickups folder.

I checked the exe and the agg file. There are strings for Mines, but not for mills, etc.

I should probably write an extractor for the agg file (if there isn't already one).

Extractor is finished. The file formats look very easy, but there seems to be no masterlist of filenames. So I can only let my program guess the extensions now.
-The extractor can now guess "img" extension (=image file with 6 byte header consisting of 2 byte rubbish(=palette index?) 2 byte width and 2 byte height)
-Can now guess pal extension (=300h (768) bytes large palette file)
-Can now guess frm extension (=File with multiple image)

I think I see the problem about the next turn button. It would normally work, but the CES demo save has no starting postion for the other 3 players, so they start in the water and the game is buggy.

Does the name KB refer to King's Bounty?
Answer: Yes, it refers to it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjZIKL4NDdA
Originally it was a sequel to King's Bounty.

Also it seems like exactly the items that we see in the demo, appear in the inventory of a hero on one of the screenshots. So if we play around with the demo, we might be able to reactivate some features (not the mills, though).

EDIT:
http://cd.textfiles.com/ie/ie04/ARTICLES/NWC/ implies that the map from our demo isn't from Winter CES 1995, but Summer CES 1994!

EDIT2:
I started analyzing the savefile format in order to make the game playable for 4 players:

Code: Select all

-Header
 2bytes
 2x1byte
 17bytes name, null terminated
 3x1byte
 3x2byte

-Player Table (4 Entries)
 Entry Structure:
  17byte name
  5x1byte
  8byte
  3x1byte
  36byte
  28byte
  1byte
  1byte
  6byte

-Tile Info (width and height from 2-3,4-5 in mapfile)
 width x height x 10 byte

-Hero Info
 1byte
 131x36byte

-Whatever
 1byte

 36byte
 2484 byte

 36byte
 252byte

 36byte
 37byte

 56byte
 8byte
 48byte
 1byte
 1byte

Map Stuff
 width x height bytes
 width x height bytes 
Last edited by Hallfiry on Sat May 31, 2014 10:30 am, edited 3 times in total.

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Some time ago I've been on a lookout for tools to work with HOMM AGG files, and found this interesting place:
http://www.terrybutler.co.uk/misc/heroe ... -magic-ii/
http://www.terrybutler.co.uk/misc/heroe ... magic-iii/

Not sure if this would be helpful, I've only used the one for HOMM2 once to get the XMI MIDIs :) (Oh wait, maybe it was some other, multipurpose tool that supports AGG archives.)

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

I checked the website and the tools.

The extractor doesn't work correctly with the prerelease demo files, it freezes after file 12.

The other file formats aren't very interesting for us.
From what I saw, the prerelease demo agg only contains images with headers (which are easy to decode), files with multiple images (also easy), index files of some sort, 3 palette files, some map files or so, some files that are similar to ".82M" files.

EDIT:
I'll quickly throw a program together that can convert the image files. Expect it in 30 minutes.
Update: The multi-image files are compressed somehow.

I batch-converted the easy files. Most of them are menu things and backgrounds:
http://www4.zippyshare.com/v/46523137/file.html

EDIT2:
Finally figured out how the compressed format works.
http://www8.zippyshare.com/v/56766824/file.html
These are all sprites from the prerelease demo.

EDIT3:
Found one broken file that needed some tweeks:
Image

Also found another texture type: tiles. (used by 1 file...)
http://www38.zippyshare.com/v/56177865/file.html

EDIT4:
Some additional images:
Heroes ad in August 1994:
Image
Heroes ad in November 1994:
Image
Chips'n'Bits April 1995:
Image
Prerelease screenshots:
July 1994 or earlier:
Image
Image
Image
Early 1995 (by source, not by content):
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Some of the sprites you've extracted have some colour (I suppose it's black) replaced by the transparent colour. It's very noticeable with the Dwarf and Elf sprites.

BTW, does your utility actually support editing the AGG files? ;)

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

MrFlibble wrote:Some of the sprites you've extracted have some colour (I suppose it's black) replaced by the transparent colour. It's very noticeable with the Dwarf and Elf sprites.
I saw that, too, but I think that's a bug of the game, my program should work correctly (hopefully).
MrFlibble wrote: BTW, does your utility actually support editing the AGG files? ;)
I guess you want to edit sprites and insert them, right?
I can try to create such a utility this evening, but there are some bytes in the files that I do not understand, yet (x/y offsets?) Maybe tomorrow. I really need sleep.
Last edited by Hallfiry on Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Hallfiry wrote:I guess you want to edit sprites and insert them, right?

I can try to create such a utility this evening, but there are some bytes in the files that I do not understand, yet (x/y offsets?)
Well, it's more of pure theoretical curiosity at this point, but modding options are always welcome :mrgreen:

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

MrFlibble wrote:
Hallfiry wrote:I guess you want to edit sprites and insert them, right?

I can try to create such a utility this evening, but there are some bytes in the files that I do not understand, yet (x/y offsets?)
Well, it's more of pure theoretical curiosity at this point, but modding options are always welcome :mrgreen:
ofc it's moddable! but I'm still wondering why the game crashes when you try to capture a mill. it trys to find a sound file. when it finds it (or not, if you remove it) the game has an overflow and closes all filestreams and crashes.

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Hallfiry wrote:ofc it's moddable! but I'm still wondering why the game crashes when you try to capture a mill. it trys to find a sound file. when it finds it (or not, if you remove it) the game has an overflow and closes all filestreams and crashes.
Hmm, when I played it my guess about the reason for crashes was that perhaps some relevant text messages are missing. But that's just some random guesswork not based on any empirical evidence at all :)

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

BTW, apparently, the music in the demo is of the high-quality variety, while music tracks from later re-releases of the game (I've got the Windows version from the Platinum Edition) are of lower quality for some reason.

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by z180 »

Any progress at fixing the crashes?
Stephen Elop….I curse you, that after your death your soul will be forever trapped in the sourcecode of Windows and one day Microsoft will fall because of that virus code!

Hallfiry
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

z180 wrote:Any progress at fixing the crashes?
Not really.
Does anybody know a program that can log the RAM of a process? That would be nice for finding the source of the overflow. Or maybe a good debugging tool for Windows?
If it was a 32bit executable, I could simply look into it with PE Explorer and then fix the bugs in my hexeditor, but since it's 16 bit, I have to use IDA and the code IDA produces is crappy.

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

I wonder if the DOSBox build with a debugger could be of any use?

Hallfiry
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

While I've seen previews from Fall ECTS 1994, showing HOMM1, I've now found a picture from Winter CES 1994 (January '94!!!):
Image
It looks like a shot from a trailer (obviously shown on a CRT).

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Hey, the images seem much bigger and more detailed on that shot - kind of like King's Bounty with much improved graphics. Cool.

Would be nice to find more pics from that build, obviously ^_^

Vovik
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Vovik »

Thanks a lot for your CD collection, Hallfiry! (and MrFlibble too for PR ;) ) I'm looking for any information about HOMM1, especially the history of development of this game. Please tell me where I can find descriptions, screenshots, previews from Shows (CES 94-95, ECTS etc.)?

P.S. I've already uploaded some previews from Interactive Entertainment CD magazine:



and also recording of self-running demo from Joystick magazine:
Last edited by Vovik on Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Evan
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Evan »

Awesome screenshots here.
Evan supports minimal Sigs! :P.

Hallfiry
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

Vovik wrote:Thanks a lot for your CD collection, Hallfiry! (and MrFlibble too for PR ;) ) I'm looking for any information about HOMM1, especially the history of development of this game. Please tell me where I can find descriptions, screenshots, previews from Shows (CES 94-95, ECTS etc.)?
EDIT: I forgot one page in the archive. So here is a new one:
http://www32.zippyshare.com/v/30996239/file.html

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Vovik »

EDIT: I forgot one page in the archive. So here is a new one:
http://www32.zippyshare.com/v/30996239/file.html
Thanks for cuttings! (Ich verstehe etwas Deutsch) ;)
So, according to abandonware-france.org and Coming Soon Magazine the game was demonstrated (at least) at four exhibitions:
CES - Winter 1994 (Las Vegas)
CES - Summer 1994 (Chicago)
ECTS - Fall 1994 (London)
CES - Winter 1995 (Las Vegas)

Hallfiry
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

Vovik roughly wrote:

Code: Select all

CES  - Winter 1994 (Las Vegas) (1'94)
CES  - Summer 1994 (Chicago)   (6'94)
ECTS - Fall   1994 (London)    (9'94)
CES  - Winter 1995 (Las Vegas) (1'95)
Exactalmente. I could have told you that, too :D

Expos that we should check, too:

Code: Select all

ECTS   - Spring 1994 (London)           ( 4'94)
Comdex - Fall   1994 (Las Vegas, Baby!) (11'94)
ECTS   - Spring 1995 (London)           ( 4'95)
E3     -        1995 (Los Angeles)      ( 5'95)
Maybe also: Computer '94 and Computer '95 in Cologne.

About the Heroes prerelease demo: It can be found on various magazine CDs. I think I already have 5 of these on my website :D

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Hallfiry wrote:About the Heroes prerelease demo: It can be found on various magazine CDs. I think I already have 5 of these on my website :D
All have the same version, I presume?

What about the playable CGW demo? Was it featured on any other CDs?

BTW, a little bit off-topic: what was the policy of US developers regarding the European market? Did they supply the latest in terms of demo versions, comparable to what was release on the domestic side, or did they release some different stuff? E.g. I remember that there's a demo of UFO: Enemy Unknown that is rather different from the X-COM: UFO Defense demo that was available from MicroProse's FTP.

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

MrFlibble wrote:
Hallfiry wrote:About the Heroes prerelease demo: It can be found on various magazine CDs. I think I already have 5 of these on my website :D
All have the same version, I presume?
All the same version.
MrFlibble wrote: What about the playable CGW demo? Was it featured on any other CDs?
I haven't seen it anywhere...
MrFlibble wrote: BTW, a little bit off-topic: what was the policy of US developers regarding the European market? Did they supply the latest in terms of demo versions, comparable to what was release on the domestic side, or did they release some different stuff? E.g. I remember that there's a demo of UFO: Enemy Unknown that is rather different from the X-COM: UFO Defense demo that was available from MicroProse's FTP.
Well, since demos were normally released through BBS's or on Demo CDs (or floppies) at Expos, most demos in Europe are the same as the US versions. Some exceptions that I've noticed during my Blizzard research, are a European Warcraft I demo (Interplay as order info) and a Euopean Blackthorne (=> Blackhawk) demo. Another example is the PC Games exclusive MDK demo (Even though Power Play did the developer diary). I've seen two german demos of KKND 1 (Australian developer) and also a German demo of UFO.
(There are some more examples, like the older Diablo prerelease demo that went to France in mid August 1996).

I hope that helps a little bit (but I actually think you already know all this...).

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

A little update for those who are interested: I've started working on decoding the Map format with more detail than before.
This is my first result:

Image

Currently, my program simply reads the ground tile info and the flipping info (some tiles need to be mirrored) for each tile and builds a map out of it.

UPDATE:
More layers!
Image

UPDATE 2:
Even more stuff on the map!
Image
UPDATE 3: There are still some issues with the "nautic" stuff, like whirlpools. I'll fix them next week, becauseI'm away for a few days.

UPDATE 4:
I managed to fix the waterstuff, the map should be complete now:

Image

UPDATE 5: mep >.< the ship is now broken. Fix coming next week.

MrFlibble
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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by MrFlibble »

Awesome! :D Is the map format much different from the final version of the game? (I never really modded HoMM games or made any maps for 'em, so I have no idea; there Windows release comes with the official map editor for all I know, but perhaps some fan-made editor was made in the DOS era?)

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Re: Heroes of Might and Magic 1 Pre-release Demo

Post by Hallfiry »

MrFlibble wrote:Awesome! :D Is the map format much different from the final version of the game? (I never really modded HoMM games or made any maps for 'em, so I have no idea; there Windows release comes with the official map editor for all I know, but perhaps some fan-made editor was made in the DOS era?)
I have no idea actually. :D
I think I have never played HoMM 1 at all...

I don't own HoMM 1 afaik, so I can't check it now. (*cough*)

---

About the map stuff: expect a full, bugfree map in a few hours (EDITED) .

I will start working on an editor this evening and try to find ways to make the game playable for 2-4 players.

I'll also post, how the format exactly works.

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