How to build VCMI (Windows/Visual Studio 2015)

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Warning! VCMI project only officially support building with CMake: How to build VCMI (Windows/Vcpkg).

Guide below and VS solution found in source tree might be broken and not automatically tested. Use at your own risk only if you know what you're doing.


  • Installed Heroes3 (can be bought for $10 at
  • Optionally, you can have also WoG or ERA installed.
  • IDE:
    • Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 (Community Edition recommended - it is free for non-commercial use). Earlier version support is deprecated and project may not compile anymore with them.
  • Git client:
    • Visual Studio 2015 has built-in Git support. It isn't complete, but having most important Git commands integrated in IDE is very convienent. Additional GitHub extension for Visual Studio [1] gives few more features that may be useful.
    • Alternatively, you can use another Git client with better Git support, for example Sourcetree [2]
  • Libraries used by VCMI - where to get them will be explained later in this tutorial
    • Boost
    • SDL2
    • SDL2_image
    • SDL2_mixer
    • SDL2_TTF
    • FFmpeg
    • zlib
    • QT 5 (only used to compile VCMI launcher, which does not have to be rebuilt to test another VCMI parts)

Preparing place

Initial directory structure

Create a directory for VCMI development, eg. C:\VCMI. It will be base directory for VCMI source code.

It is recommended to avoid non-ascii characters in the path to your VCMI development folder. The folder should not be write-protected by system. Good location:

  • C:\VCMI

Bad locations:

  • C:\Users\Michał\VCMI (non-ascii character)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\VCMI (write protection)

Obtaining VCMI sources

Using Sourcetree (version

  • Click "Clone / New" button in upper left part of the program
  • Make sure you are in first tab (Clone Repository). In "Source Path / URL:" type following link:
  • Set "Destination Path" field to directory desired for VCMI development and press "Clone" button.

Now you have the local copy of the repository on the disk. It should appear in the Team Explorer under the "Local Git Repositories" section. Double click it and then select a solution to open.

Getting Libraries

This section will show ways to get up-to-date versions of libraries required to build VCMI. When you have a choice if you want 32 or 64 bit version of library - choosing 32 bit will make things easier as you will not have to do additional configuration in Visual Studio to switch to 64 bit etc.


  • Header files with extra things can be obtained from boost website download: [3]
  • To avoid rebuilding boost from sources, you can download prebuilt windows binaries (lib files) from there as well. MSVC 14 binaries are for Visual Studio 2015.

UPDATE: Somebody reported problem with boost newer than 1.62 when trying to build VCMI. To get all boost 1.62 required files use these links: [4] [5]

SDL2 and sublibraries

  • You can get SDL2 from [6] - download development libraries to get lib and header files
  • Similar to SDL2 package you can get SDL2_image from [7], SDL2_mixer from [8], SDL2_ttf from [9].


  • You can get this library from [10]. Both header and lib files are available if you choose "dev" download version.


  • most tricky to get - use NuGet package manager that is part of Visual Studio 2015 to get it. Link in NuGet gallery: [11]

QT 5


Compiling VCMI

To compile VCMI you need to be able to compile some of projects that VCMI solution provides, more information about them is in next part of this tutorial. Default build configuration for VCMI solution is RD, what means "release with debug information".

You need to resolve header and library directories to point to all required libraries in project settings to properly build VCMI. This is out of scope of this tutorial.

VCMI solution details

VCMI solution consists of few separate projects that get compiled to separate output. Many of them rely on VCMI_lib, so making changes to VCMI_lib requires recompiling another projects. Some of the projects are dead or not updated for very long time, for example Editor or ERM. FuzzyLite and minizip are utility projects and are not meant to be currently changed. Projects in development and their purpose are:

  • BattleAI - as name says this project is for artificial intelligence during battles. Gets compiled to DLL module.
  • VCAI - adventure map artificial intelligence. Gets compiled to DLL module.
  • VCMI_client - game client, "game display" and user interface related code is here. One of two main game game executables
  • VCMI_launcher - game launcher with ability to change some available game options, disable / enable VCMI mods etc.
  • VCMI_lib - contains shared code for client and server. Large part of game mechanics can be found here. Compilable to DLL module.
  • VCMI_server - game server. Server starts everytime a scenario is launched, and performs network-based communication with game client. Some parts of game mechanics can be found here. One of two main game executables.

Projects mentioned above need to be compiled "together" to work because of VCMI_lib dependency - for example compiling VCMI_lib and VCMI_client requires recompiling server, AI projects etc. because their equivalents from other sources such as VCMI windows package will not work with new VCMI_lib and raise "cannot find entry point..." error (TODO: Maybe this can be worked around using another project code generation settings). Working launcher is not needed to run the game though, as mentioned in first part of this tutorial (prerequisites). Additional workaround to skip compiling launcher and have access to launcher settings is to use VCMI windows package as separate vcmi copy - changes made in launcher there affect all vcmi copies.

There is also Test project for development purposes that can be used for unit tests and similar things that developers may want to do.