Morrowind Expanded

A 12 step-guide to reinstalling a better Morrowind

10th Anniversary, all links checked – May 2012 5 May 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 9:32 pm

It’s the 10th Anniversary of the release of Morrowind! To celebrate I’ve checked all the Web links, in the main guide on this page. They’ve been checked by hand, and re-found and updated if needed. All links are now working. (Update August 2012: all links checked-and-fixed again):


I also tracked back through all 263 Morrowind mod files that were uploaded at MorrowindNexus between the last check on 1st Jan 2011 and today 5th May 2012. Notable new additions appear to be…

A new Better Landscapes: Stonewood Pass.

The Bitter Coast Landscape Texture upgrade.

The great Vurt has been busy with: Vurt’s Bitter Coast Trees II; Vurt’s Grazeland Trees II; Vurt’s Leafy West Gash II and Vurt’s Solstheim Tree Replacer II.

A new HD Cinematic Intro which is faithful to the original. You MUST be using Morrowind Code Patch 1.9 or higher, and have “High-def cutscene support” enabled!

A Better Meshes Plus Optimisation pack (it fixes meshes not fixed before).

And Better Skulls.

These will be added to the main body of the tutorial once they’ve been tested by me.

 

Step 1: a Morrowind for today 20 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:48 pm

This web page is a 12-step tutorial guide to re-installing a better Morrowind. This guide contains no plot-spoilers.

Tutorial installation last tested at January 2011 on: Windows 7 32-bit fully patched, 2Gb memory, Nvidia GT9600 512Mb card, quad-core AMD CPU, new 2010 motherboard.

 

Warning: the guide is NOT meant for those intending to run the game on underpowered PCs or laptops!

 

Who is this guide for? Those seeking a better game experience. But one that stays close to Bethesda’s original vision. This website is meant as a guide for those who are installing and playing the videogame The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Bethesda, 2002-2003), nearly a decade after the game’s release. Morrowind has had so much fan work done on it that it can be made to look and feel like a new game, one that can in many ways rival its successor Oblivion.

The 12-step guide that follows is for those who want the best possible experience in the game, and are willing to spend more than a few hours fixing up the ‘raw’ retail game in order to get it. I’m assuming you want to play the game anew (or even for the first time, you lucky people!) on a big widescreen LCD monitor, powered by a fast new Nvidia graphics card and 2Gb of RAM.

Below, I step you through the basic outline of installing and modifying (“modding”) the game, to greatly enhance the graphics and sense of immersion in the game’s world. I have been careful to find the latest versions and any patches they might need. I try to stay as faithful as reasonably possible to the game’s original vision.

 

Step 2: get the CDs and strategy guide

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:44 pm

2.

Before we begin, you will need:-

A PC copy of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Ideally the final ‘Game of the Year’ (GoTY) edition. Not the Steam version!

A PC copy of the Bloodmoon Expansion Pack for Morrowind. (the GoTY Edition already contains this).

A PC copy of the Tribunal Expansion Pack for Morrowind. (the GoTY Edition already contains this).

mo-goty

You can currently get the GoTY edition second-hand for the silly price of about $8 inc postage.

I also suggest you order a copy of the paper book The Morrowind Prophecies (GoTY Edition), which is the 418-page strategy guide and quest guide to Morrowind (plus the Bloodmoon and Tribunal expansions). Obviously, buying this assumes you have the willpower to avoid peeking at the ending(s), or reading too far ahead on quest walkthroughs! Also, beware that it gives away the plot/game-ending in the introduction! Bastards. And it’s only in black and white, as was the way before the advent of cheap slave-labour printing in China.

Maps:— The strategy guide book has maps in black & white, so if you want the nice colour wall-maps on glossy paper (they are, in effect, mild spoilers) then you’ll need to buy copies of the original CDs (Morrowind, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon, individual editions) to get them. The original premium retail GoTY edition had a printed wall-map that combined all three maps, but most budget GoTY copies (now the most common type) don’t seem to have wall-maps in them.

gotybook

 

Step 3: install to C:/Morrowind

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:43 pm

3. Install Morrowind GOTY. If you don’t have the GOTY edition – install Morrowind first, then the two official Expansion packs (in this order: Tribunal / official Tribunal patch / Bloodmoon / official Bloodmoon patch). The expansion packs are excellent and well worth having.

For potential speed gains, you may want to install to C:/Morrowind rather than C:/Program Files/Bethesda/etc. Older games generally do better outside of C:/Program Files/. You may also wish to install to a recently defragmented hard drive. You will need up to 4Gb of free space on your hard-drive.

 

Step 4: install order and patch order, test

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:42 pm

4.

If you installed in the proper order, which for me was: Morrowind / Tribunal / Tribunal patch / Bloodmoon / Bloodmoon patch, then all should go well. Test that the game still loads up after each install and patch. If you have the combined GOTY edition, you may not even need to apply the official patches.

You can tell what version you have by looking in the lower-left corner of the game’s main logo/options screen. “v.1.6.1820″ is what you need to see…

morrowind-main-menu

morrowind-corner

 

Step 5: launch and get the latest graphics card drivers

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:41 pm

5.

You will now need to put the original Morrowind CD back in your CD bay, or the game won’t launch. Start the game, to ensure that it all launches. You just need to get as far as the main logo/options screen (as seen above).

Now might be a good time to install the latest graphics drivers for your graphics card (but don’t then use the Nvidia Control Panel to tweak Morrowind’s graphics – only the Morrowind Graphics Extender can do that).

If you run on 64-bit Windows, you may also want to look at the 4Gb memory patch. However, note that Morrowind is more CPU-intensive than anything else.

 

Step 6: install and configure the MGE, test and troubleshoot

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Haden @ 8:37 pm

6.

Install and test the latest Morrowind Graphics Extender. MGE requires Morrowind/Tribunal/Bloodmoon to together be patched to v1.6.1820, or it won’t run. Set the settings from your screen resolution (can go up to widescreen 1920 x 1200px), anti-aliasing, anisotropic, etc. Don’t tinker with the other default settings, just check that you’re getting the screen resolution you want, and the anti-aliasing etc.

* Troubleshooting tip 1: If you’re having problems having MGE detect the screen resolution, it’s likely because you first need to run Morrowind without MGE a few times and adjust resolution using the normal method, which then creates some Windows registry settings that MGE requires.

* Troubleshooting tip 2: Note that MGE requires DirectX 9 – yet Windows 7 only ships with later versions of DirectX, and so on a fresh install of Windows 7 this means that MGE may not launch. Install DirectX version 9c, if in doubt — it will co-exist happily with later versions of DirectX. Most recent Windows games will install DirectX version 9c as part of their install procedure, so just installing one of your other games is probably the simplest way to get DirectX 9 on a fresh install of Windows 7. As soon as MGE can “see” DirectX 9c, it will launch.

MGE is in constant development, and so recommending exact settings for it here may cause problems some months down the line. However, note that MGE does gives you lots of cool options — like using the old Daggerfall combat system in Morrowind.


MGE ‘Distant Lands’ ON/OFF?

I personally prefer to play with “View Distant Lands” set to OFF; I find that viewing distant lands is more trouble than it’s worth. And in the past it’s also been quite a tricky MGE feature for newbies to set up correctly. It also, in my opinon, made the landscape look rather “bald” and un-mysterious. There was no foggy covering, no anticipation, no imagination in play about “what might be over the next hill”. You saw everything already from a distance, and thus there was no mystery about what was coming. Seeing distant lands was a visual “spoiler”, in my opinion.

And MGE used its own water, which just couldn’t begin to compete with Morrowind‘s own water.

However, these problems may now have been fixed in the latest versions of MGE – so I suggest giving “View Distant Lands” at least one chance. I’m now told…

“for some months now MGE has its own feature to adjust fog according to the weather”

and that…

“MGE’s water was changed extensively during the last development cycle, and maybe your strong rejection of it was based on a previous version. In that case I’d encourage you to try the latest MGE release. Harlanrm is also working on a tweaked [water] shader which was received very well lately.”

A full guide to the various MGE settings can be found here.


Problems?

Both the game and the Morrowind Graphics Extender must usually be run with “administrator” rights under Windows. I can confirm that both Morrowind and Oblivion work fine on Windows 7.

If speed seems to be an issue, try getting FRAPS and then run it with “administrator” rights under Windows. To do this, right-click the desktop icon for FRAPS, click “Properties” then “Compatiability”. Tick ‘Run this program as administrator’ and ‘Disable desktop composition’. Click Apply and then OK. You can now use FRAPS to test if the slick Windows Aero interface is slowing the game down – just run it, enable in-game FPS display, and then start Morrowind. The Windows Aero desktop looks great, but hogs a lot of resources — which can slow games down.

Still have problems?

* Did you install the game and its retail expansion packs in exactly the right order?

* Be sure to disable any legacy graphics enhancements for Morrowind you may have set via the Nvidia control panel. MGE is now controlling how Morrowind looks.

* Do you have some bloated anti-virus/firewall installed like Norton? Is there a “I’m playing games now, so don’t be such as assh*le” button you can click to make it less intrusive or less of a system-hog?

* Getting a “can’t find animation” crash when you open a door to an exterior and see a cliff-racer or seagull ahead of you? Try decreasing the MGE setting for ‘view distance’. “100” seems to be recommended in the forums.

* There is a NO-CD fix for Morrowind + Tribunal + Bloodmoon, but I don’t recommend it. For me, it screwed up the mouse cursor in the initial menu systems and thus made the game unstartable. Useless. It will also likely conflict with the unofficial code patches we’ll install in a moment.

* The dreaded “crash on opening the ship’s hatch” bug at the start of the game…

(1) It may be the ffdshow bug, which was common to Mass Effect and Fallout 3. Fix.

(2) It may be the video drivers need updating – which was what fixed it for me. If using Vista, update and fully patch Vista using Windows Update (Microsoft released a fix for the notorious Nvidia NVLDDMKM bug in Sept 08), then get the latest Nvidia graphics card drivers. That completely cured the problem for me.


 

 
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