The news of more delays for Oblivion last December were enough to motivate me to get as close as possible to a new version of Morrowind.
Four years after its release, Morrowind has spawned so many mods that it has become possible to literally upgrade the game to a whole new experience.
Getting there not an easy task though, but with a bit of patience and discipline, it is definitely possible.
I spent a better part of last year collecting mods and fighting with errors, duplicate items and other collisions between mods to finally settle on about 200 enhancements, ranging from purely visual to deep gameplay changes.
First, if you have played Morrowind before looking into mods, make a backup of your original saved files. If anything goes wrong whie adding new mods, you will not regret being able to go back to the original files.
Next, a few sources of mods :
- Planet Elder Scrolls (previously Morrowind Summit)
- The Lys
... just to name a few.
Getting organized from the time of the first download helped a lot with future trials and errors. I organized my downloaded mods into categories :
- Visual enhancements
- Sound enhancements
- Lighting effects
- New characters and faces
- New weapons
- Game extensions
- Gameplay enhancements, patches
Keep the categories in that order, as it will keep the mods sorted by order of increasing risk of corruption to your original saved games.
I found a reliable method of upgrade is to work by layers, making backups of the game at various level of enhancements.
Make a backup of your entire installation folder (again, you will be happy to have it if things go awry).
Start with a fresh installation of the game and its official extensions, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. Apply the latest patch and create three new folders in your 'Morrowind / Data File' folder : unused, readme, install.
- 'unused' will contain optional .esp files that come with some mods, should you want to use them later
- 'readme' will contain all readme files (keeps things less cluttered)
- 'install' will be the staging area when installing new mods
Make a backup of this fresh installation as 'morrowind-base'. If you need to start over later, copying this base installation folder will save you time.
Categories of mods from Visual Enhancements to Weapons are safe to install in one shot, as they rarely impact the game itself. Unzip your mods in the 'install' folder, read the readme files to get an idea of limitations of the mod. Once you are ready to install, move the files from 'install' to your 'Morrowind / data files' folder and the readme files to the 'readme' folder.
Before trying your new mods, make sure to check if the mods require updates of the Morrowind.ini file, usually with utilities such as bsareg or mini.
Do this one mod at a time. Take your time - install, start the game, add the mod to your Data Files, load your last saved game, ignore errors and warnings, save your game as 'test save', close the game, start the game again and load your test game.
it is necessary to 'save - close - start' again to make sure your test game does not contain much references to old, discarded mods. If it does, you run the risk of seeing duplicate objects (doors, characters), or errors during the game. In that case, use utilities such as Wrye Mash to clean up the test game (a word of warning - using this kind of utiiity without a full understanding of what you are doing is a sure way to corrupt your saved game beyond repair).
Once you are satisfied with your list of mods, take your game for a test drive and travel across the map - some errors will not appear immediately and there is nothing worse than playing with your main character for a while only to find out one mods is messing things up. Adding a mod is relatively safe - removing a mod is messy and requires sometimes to revert back to a save game 'before' that mod was installed.
Here is the list of mods I settled with after months of testing. Look at the end of my Morrowind.ini file for the complete list.
Good luck with your mods - they turned Morrowind into a whole new game, well worth laying long after Oblivion is shipped.