Morrowind Expanded

A 12 step-guide to reinstalling a better Morrowind

Step 6: install and configure the MGE, test and troubleshoot 20 December 2008

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


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.

* Troubleshooting tip 3: MGE has other Microsoft dependencies, and apparently needs to be run from a desktop shortcut.

* Troubleshooting tip 4: Make sure your Morrowind.ini file is not set to ‘read only’. If it is, MGE will not be able to write the new screen resolution settings to it.

* Troubleshooting tip 5: On Windows 8, setting no Compatibility Mode worked. But setting Compatibility Mode to older versions of Windows caused MGE to crash.

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.


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.