Arktwend is a German ‘total conversion’ for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Game of the Year Edition. That means it’s far more than just a mod; it’s a whole new game, running on the Morrowind game-engine. The team started it in 2002 and finished it in January 2006. An English-translation mod for it was released in January 2009. The same team is making a sequel, for Oblivion, called Nehrim (released: June 2010).
In style, Arktwend is a heavily Germanic/Northern European ‘Gothic’ variety of sword & sorcery. The land is as big as vanilla Morrowind (12 square miles), and the game seems to have taken intelligent advantage of just about every fan mod and modder resource-pack produced up to 2006. It’s great fun, but is not always an easy game and is meant for hardcore PC gamers. It has been highly acclaimed by players, but until now was hardly known in the English-speaking world.
“The player traverses a land of settlements and idyllic forests, populated by animals and fish. Leaves fall from trees, grass and corn sways in the wind. A large part of the game takes place in Stormwend, the intellectual and cultural urban center of Arktwend. Features: Main quest / six guilds and associated quests / 1000 NPC’s / approx. 12-mile-square land mass / almost a thousand detailed interiors / pickable plants, tree cutting, grain harvesting, cooking, wood processing, wool processing, ore mining, smithing and forging / exterior views through interior windows / dimension doors throughout the world, which one can use to enter other dimensions and explore / new weapons, armor and items / new, independent action / Oblivion-style trees and grass / new soundtrack / NPC speech as audio.”
This 10-step tutorial should get you safely up and running, and playing Arktwend in English. You will need to be able to open .7z zip files.
|What it does well:||What it does poorly:|
|Solid storyline and neat plot-twists||Somewhat cliched scenario, but interestingly Germanic|
|Excellent sense of immersion, a believable world||Some animation glitches & twitches|
|Superb, varied, and carefully thought-out scenery||Some unimaginative monsters in the early stages|
|Many fine marksman (bow & arrow) opportunities||Some overpowered swords can be found early on|
|You can carry a lot of stuff in inventory||Some overvalued items. Some understocked/overstocked merchants|
|A huge and varied amount of fun! fun! shock! fun! vertigo! etc||Far more linear than Morrowind, until about six hours into the game|
|Builds on Morrowind, adds and explores things Morrowind never did||Monsters and villains don’t navigate their walk-paths well|
|Looks lovely. Trees and grass, Oblivion-style||Trees and grass are only as good as the Morrowind engine can make them|
|No “lore overload”, as there is in Morrowind||Some of the early quests are underdeveloped/short|
|Superb retail-standard music/soundtrack||Bits of the Morrowind music are left in (but there’s a fix)|
|Lots of lovely little touches, lightly applied||Forks. Funny the first time, but…|
|You start off as a young scholarly monk||…so roleplaying as Conan The Old Foulbreath may be tricky|
|Character-chosing / intro / tutorial perfectly integrated into the story||You leave a very interesting place almost right away|
|A chain of consistently interesting and carefully-crafted places, each clearly differentiated||You keep leaving very interesting places to go to the next. It can feel like you’re playing Mass Effect|
|“En masse” / group / combo-creatures attacks add excitement||Combat mechanics are not improved over Morrowind|
|Works with the main Morrowind texture / mesh replacer mods||No mods seem to have been made for Arktwend|
|Gameplay mechanics the same as Morrowind, no learning-curve||Some things were not changed enough from Morrowind|
|Fast-travel by steam-train !||World-map rather sketchy. No hand-drawn map like Morrowind|
|The game itself consistently looks superb||The opening “splash” / loading screens look terrible|
|It’s free, it’s a really fun game||The guys who made this retail-quality game worked for three years with no pay|
1. By simply copying and pasting your main Morrowind folder (instructions), make a second ‘side by side’ installation of your existing installation of Morrowind.
Name the new folder something like C:/Morrowind-Ark
It will probably take about 15 minutes to copy over the 4Gb of files. I’m assuming you’re using the results of my main 12-step tutorial.
Once the copy is complete, just to be safe I suggest you temporarily re-name your main Morrowind folder to C:/Morrowind-Hidden. You can now install Arktwend into C:/Morrowind-Ark without worrying about this 410mb monster playing havok with your existing textures and meshes, or accidentally dumping its files into your main Morrowind folder.
If you copy your Morrowind installation from one hard drive to another, then all the new files will probably by tagged by Vista as “read only”. This may cause problems with Step 6 of this tutorial.
2. Get the main “Arktwend 2.0″ here. Install the resulting file, called ArktwendSetup.exe
Whoops. If you accept the above folder path then you’ll unload Arktwend into the wrong directory, and it’ll end up here. It’s a fairly common mod installation problem. If it happens, don’t worry, you’ll just have to copy things back to where they should be afterwards. Just treat it like any other stray mod. Textures to textures, meshes to meshes, etc.
3. If there is a patch for 2.0 (there isn’t yet), as there was for 1.0, then you’ll need to install that too. Same German words as before…
4. Now get the Golden Thief’s excellent English translation. Get Arktwend EMaster Translated Master (English). Manually install the files inside the resulting .7z file
5. Ok. Now that there’s no further risk of confusion, rename your main Morrowind folder back to normal.
6. Use Golden Thief’s morrowind.ini file, included with his English translation. Version “Arktwend Emaster V2.006″ now requires that you use Golden Thief’s morrowind.ini. There’s no longer any chance of using the original Arktwend ini file. So you need to copy Golden Thief’s .ini and paste it so that it overwrites the morrowind.ini in your C:/Morrowind-Ark folder
You may want to disable the in-game FPS counter that his .ini file enables, by changing….
7. You can now make a new shortcut for your desktop and name it something like Morrowind-Ark. Use it to load the copy of Morrowind you’ll be using to play Arktwend. Load the game, and in the main loader delete/uncheck all your other mods that got copied over into C:/Morrowind-Ark — since they are not needed / won’t work with your new Arktwend game.
Load your new Arktwend/Morrowind, by going to C:/Morrowind-Ark and double-clicking on Morrowind-Launcher.exe. Activate just the following mod, and nothing else…
Arktwend_EMaster_v?.esm (Where “?” is the version number your have).
DO NOT activate Arktwend’s own .esm or .esp files, since Golden Thief’s English translation has already rolled these into his Arktwend_EMaster_v?.esm. Beta patches are no longer needed, since Golden Thief has rolled earlier patches up into his latest release.
DO NOT activate the “old” master files Morrowind.esm, Tribunal, Bloodmoon.
BE AWARE that the text in the introductory movie isn’t translated, since that is hard-coded in the video. Start talking to people, and the game should be in English.
Ok, it’s done.
Once again, load up your Morrowind/Arktwend hybrid (if you didn’t make a desktop shortcut, navigate to C:/Morrowind-Ark and double-click on Morrowind-Launcher.exe). Start a new game. You should see the intro movie, which translated goes something like…
For a thousand years pestilence lay sleeping in the waste places of the land.
Fifty fathers and sons have passed. There has been prosperity, and peace among the folk.
But this cannot be preserved forever….
… and then the main in-game loading screen like this…
You’ll be asked to choose a name for your role-playing character…
And then you’ll be pushed out into the early stage-setting parts of the game world…
Some of the opening scenes heavily restrict your movement. Don’t worry, this is intended. In the inn, just stand still and talk to people until the next scene kicks in. In the bedroom in the Inn, just sleep until you dream, then you get a key to go outside. The short dream cut-scene, translated, goes something like…
Wake up. Gone, long gone,
the days when you walked
under the rooftrees of our deep forest.
Do you hear it?
Is it time that you return, child?
If you need more guidance in the early stages, download my walkthrough (below).
8. Add texture/mesh mods known to work with Arktwend:
It seems that my old FPS Optimizer and Morrowind Graphics Extender (which should have been copied over from your main Morrowind folder with their setting intact) work perfectly fine with Arktwend. For me, the field-of-view is expanded via FPS Optimizer, and MGE’s anti-aliasing and anisotropic texture-filtering works fine (see the above screenshots).
As for textures, I am using Arktwend with my existing ‘heavily retextured’ copy of the Morrowind directory (see the main tutorial). All I did was allow Arktwend’s installer to copy its files over my existing textures and meshes and sounds. So far, everything seems to run fine. I would therefore assume that mods that simply contain textures/better-meshes don’t seem to conflict with Arktwend.
The following fan-made “texture pack” mods appear to be compatable with Arktwend (thanks to John Moonsugar for researching some of these):
Morrowind Visual Pack 3.0
Rich wood textures
Visage of Vvardenfell Volume I
I don’t know of any dedicated mods made specifically for Arktwend, but you might ask in the developers’ English forum.
a) You may well find that you have now have C:/Morrowind-Ark/Musik/Explore and C:/Morrowind-Ark/Musik/Battle (note the “k” in “musik”), each with two Arktwend/Nehrim themes that need to be copied into the primary C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/Explore and C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/battle folders. These stray music files are possibly a bug with the German installer, and its German spelling of “Music”?
b) You’ll find that in C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/Explore and C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/battle folders you still have the music from Morrowind, and this is heard in Arktwend alongside the Arktwend music.
Optional:— If you prefer not to hear the Morrowind music in Arktwend, then there’s a potential fix. The same composer did the music for Nehrim (the Oblivion-successor to Arktwend). Since this Nehrim music is available online, download the ones you’d like to have in Arktwend, and use them to replace the mx_explore_1.mp3 through mx_explore_7.mp3 files that you’ll find in the C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/Explore folder, first renaming each new file as mx_explore_x.mp3 (where x is the file number). Do the same for the MW battle1.mp3 to MW battle8.mp3 files in the C:/Morrowind-Ark/Music/Battle folder. (Thanks to John Moonsugar for the tip on this). It’s all a bit complicated — so to save you time, here’s a “fill in the blanks” table that should aid you in choosing the Nehrim music you want in Arktwend…
Nehrim Main Theme (n01-01.mp3) — becomes —
Nehrim Anthem (HymneNehrim.mp3) — becomes —
Middlerealm Theme (MittelreichTheme.mp3) — becomes —
Arcane Energy (ArcaneEnergyTheme.mp3) — becomes —
Resurrection Theme (ResurrectionTheme.mp3) — becomes —
Market Theme (MarktTheme.mp3) — becomes —
Northrealm Theme (NordreichTheme.mp3) — becomes — (is already in Arktwend as: Nehrim02.mp3)
Dungeon Theme (DungeonTheme.mp3) — becomes —
Southrealm Theme (suedreich-thema.mp3) — becomes —
Battle Theme (BattleTheme01.mp3) — becomes —
Darkba (Darkba.mp3) — becomes —
Diru (Diru.mp3) — becomes —
Evening (Evening.mp3) — becomes —
The Rise of Nehrims (RiseofNehrim.mp3) — becomes —
10. Play the game:
My English walkthrough (PDF, in correct English, but only for Act One and Two and Three).
English walkthrough (auto-translated by Google).
Buy my new sequel to The Time Machine, for the Amazon Kindle!