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Knots' guide to a beautiful MorrowindEdit

This has been a long time in coming, but I've finally decided to get off my ass and set this up for the people who have been asking me about this shit. This is a step-by-step guide on how to get your copy of Morrowind looking and running the best that it can. Several such guides already exist and while I have found all of them to be useful, none of them really stay as "cutting edge" as I would prefer. This is an evolving guide: I will make changes as better options become available.

Step 1: Game InstallationEdit

This is probably the most important step, so you're going to want to follow my instructions closely. Any deviation will likely result in a less stable game.

A.Start by installing Morrowind to a directory that is NOT in Program Files. I use c:/games/Morrowind/. Programs Files is a bad directory for most older games, particularly on newer versions of Windows.
B. Install the official expansions and their patches in this order: 1. Tribunal, 2. Tribunal Patch, 3. Bloodmoon, 4. Bloodmoon Patch Start the game and make sure that it runs. You don't need to complete the tutorial, just give Jiub your name and quit out.{C
C. Install the Morrowind Code Patch by Hrnchamd. Look through allof the options and pick the ones that sound good to you. Make sure to get the extended map if you plan to play with any of the new lands. Also important to install is the fixed gloss and reflection mapping modules which should be checked by default. {C

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

{C D. Use Timeslip's .exe Optimizeron Morrowind.exe in your install directory [c:/.../morrowind/]
E. Use the 4gb Patchon Morrowind.exe
If you are using a 32bit Operating System, follow these instructions; thanks to FordGT90Concept on the Tech Power Up forums who wrote these:

Windows 2000:
1. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the system partition. This is the partition that holds hardware specific Windows files such as Boot.ini and NTLDR.
2. If you cannot see the Boot.ini file, it could be because the folder options are set to hide protected operating system files. If this is the case, in the Explorer window, click Tools, Folder Options, and then click View. Clear the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) check box. When prompted, click Yes.
3. After the Boot.ini file is visible in Explorer, right-click the file, click Open With, and then click Notepad to open the file.
4. Add the /3GB switch to the end of the line starting with "multi" under the [Operating Systems] section.
5. Save the changes and close Notepad.
6. Restart the computer for the change to take effect.

Windows XP:
1. Right-click My Computer and select Properties. The System Properties dialog box will appear.
2. Click the Advanced tab.
3. In the Startup and Recovery area, click Settings. The Startup and Recovery dialog box will appear.
4. In the System startup area, click Edit. This will open the Windows boot.ini file in Notepad.
5. In the [Operating Systems] section, add the following switches to the end of the startup line that includes the /fastdetect switch: /3GB
6. Save the changes and close Notepad.
7. Click OK two times to close the open dialog boxes, and then restart the computer for the change to take effect.

Windows Vista & 7:
1. Open command prompt with Adminitrator rights. To do this, go to Programs, Accessories, right-click on Command Prompt and select "Run as Administrator."
2. Enter the following at the prompt and press enter: bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVA 3072
3. Close the prompt and restart the computer.

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 2. Tweaking the .iniEdit

Morrowind comes with a configurations file that is stored in plaintext and can be opened in notepad. This file is located at c:/.../morrowind/morrowind.ini and the values presented within it can have drastic effects on the game's performance.

I would be wasting space on this page by going through all of the options presented in the .ini because a perfect guide has already been created here. Just scroll down to the "black on tan/white" version of the guide and read onward before continuing with my guide.

One thing to note, however, is the lighting values. Ignore whatever that guide tells you about the [LightAttenuation] section and use these values instead, the effect is much nicer:



Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 3: Unofficial Patches & PluginsEdit

Since Morrowind has come out, there has been a lot of high quality work coming out for it by the community. I encourage you to search Planet Elder Scrolls, TESNexus, and to lurk the Official Bethsoft Forums to find mods that suite your tastes to play with. I cannot cover all of them, so instead this guide will focus only on the bare necessities. These are not the graphics enhancers: they come next.

A. Download and install the Morrowind Patch Project. If you don't know how to install mods, this video by vtastek should give you a good idea! Remember: when in doubt, read the readme. {C
B. Download and install Tamriel Rebuilt, a fantastic effort to reconstruct the Morrowind mainland! So far, their mod increases the playable map twofold. Quiet impressive, and they are still working on it with a new release on the way soon. {C
C. Download and install Immersive Chargen. This mod makes the beginning of the game far more memorable. You will really feel like you just got pushed off a prison ship. {C
D. Download and install Darknut's Greater Dwemer Ruins volume 1, a fantastic effort at making the end of the main quest a lot more epic. Darknut has done a really fantastic job, nothing seems out of place, it just takes the lore itself and builds it up, makes it more grand.
E. Download and install pluginless noglow. One little thing does a whole lot.
F. Download, install and configure Atmospheric Sounds. Read the readme carefully and do exactly what it says.
G.Download and install Where Are All Birds Going?to add life to the skies
H. Use these animationsto replace Morrowind's default and rigid character animations. {C
I. The Lighting Mod. Use all of the ESPs provided EXCEPT for the sneaking modifier plugin unless you really really want to. I do not recommend it. {C
J. Less Generic NPCshopes to add more unique dialog to the game and does a fantastic job. Download and enable these mods, but be sure to read the documentation to make sure you don't enable two of the "same" mod.
K. Sir Bob's Dark UI Reduxtakes a page out of Oblivion's mod books to update Morrowind's user interface to be cleaner. {C

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 4: Landscape/Architecture TexturesEdit

Install these graphics replacers in this order. Most of these won't have .esps, but if they do make sure to check them in the Morrowind Launcher.

A. Download and install the Texture Fix. This mod removes most of the unsightly seams that occur when more than two kinds of textures meet on landscape.
B. Visual Pack XT, the base texture pack. You will be overwriting a lot of the textures this comes with, but you need it as a base because it replaces most things other packs don't. {C
C. AnOldFriend3's Hlaalu retexture, Imperial retexture, & Road Markers
D. This is a little involved but worth it for the effect: download and install these Velothi texture replacers in this order: 1, 2, 3.
E. Plangkye's Telvanni retexture{C
F. Kieve's emperor parasol trees
G. Darknut's Dwemer Ruins{C
H. Korona's Magical Mournhold. It is not terrible like it might sound, these textures are really quite detailed and look great despite what you might think based on the rest of Korona's work. Find them on the downloads page, just ctrl-f or scroll down the list, it's a bit of a chore but once again, well worth it.
I. Aeven's Mournhold Ruins, Aeven'sClockwork City, & Dwemeri Dominion.
J. The Bloodmoon Landscape Overhaul
K. Lazyghost's Skaal & Raven Rock{C
L. Connary's Velothi Sewers

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 5: StaticsEdit

This is a list of mods that add or change statics to improve the game's looks. Again, make sure to install these in order: they are listed this way for a reason.

A. Vivec Open Air Plazasopens up the tops of the cantons in Vivec - you'll never get lost in same-ness again.
B. Vality7's Ascadian Isles tree overhauladds a lot more vegetation to the Ascadian Isles region. The difference is amazing and spectacular. {C
C. Vality7's Bitter Coast and Balmora Add-on. This makes the Bitter Coast region's trees more varied in size and adds more of them to make the area really feel like a dense swamp. The second mod makes Balmora look like it is in the Bitter-Coast which may not be entirely true to the original game, but damn it is pretty. Note: do not install Vality's optional Hlaalu textures, you do not want them to override AnOldFriend3's {C
D. Atmospheric Balmoraadds more clutter and statics to that town in a way that is true to the game's concept art.
E. Nich's West Gash billboard style treeswill make the trees in the west gash look similar to Vality's Ascadian trees.
F. Correct UV Ore Veins & Rocks
G. AnOldFriend3's Waterfalls{C
H. matilija's Vivec Temple waterways. If for some reason you have trouble with this, you can read the thread here.

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 6. Misc ReplacersEdit

These are replacers for things not covered above. Make sure to install them in the order provided, once again.

A. Better Bodies, Better Heads, Better Clothes [w/ textures by Darknut]
B. Vivec, Almalexia, Azura
C. Darknut's Armor [w/ reflect maps by AOF], Weapons, & Creatures for MW, Trib, BM{C
D. Mesh Improvements{C
E. Bottle Replacer{C
F. Souly Soulgems{C
G. Shiny Septims{C
H. Journal & Scrolls{C
I. Silverware Enhancer{C
J. Better Skulls{C
K. Better Book Jackets, Better Book Jackets, Bloodmoon, Better Book Jackets, Tribunal{C
L. Better Keys{C
M. Boat Sail Re-texture{C
N. Finery Replacer{C
O. Better Tools{C
P. Better Saint Shrines{C
Q. Better Statues{C
R. Better Signposts{C
S. Finally, download file and drag the "textures" folder to c:/.../morrowind/data files/ and replace when prompted. {C

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

Step 7. The Morrowind Graphics ExtenderEdit

It all comes down to this brilliant application, the Morrowind Graphics Extender. This application is responsible for a large chunk of what will end up making Morrowind so beautiful for it provides the game with advanced water rendering, distant land, HDR, bloom, ambient occlusion, and depth of field among others. This section explains how to get all of these effects, but you may not be able to get playable FPS with all of these features enabled. If you need better framerates after you are done with this guide, simply experiment with the settings until you get it right.

A. Make sure you have the latest DirectX 9 packages, Visual C++ packages, and {C
B.Make sure your graphics card drivers are up-to-date {C
C. Download the latest subversion of MGE, rev0178 here. Copy the files into your c:/.../morrowind/ directory. {C
D.Start MGE, make sure it opens. Then close it. {C

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

{C E.Download and install Phal's [. Like MGE, just drag-and-drop into /morrowind/ and replace when prompted to.
F. Download my Shader Pack. Apologies to those concerned: I did not ask to re-upload these. Included is a tweaked version of DoF by Peachykeen, Tomerk's ingame.fx, and a version of knx's ssao with fixes by phal. Drag and drop the "shaders" folder to c:/.../morrowind/data files/, and like always, replace when prompted.
G. Open up MGE again and navigate to the "tools" tab. Click on "shader editor". Click on "edit active chain". Add the following shaders and make sure they are listed in this exact order: 1 Phals HDRbloom, 2 knx ssao wfixes by phal, 3 knx DoF wpk and weaker, 4 Phals sunshaft v3, 5 Underwater Blur, 6 Water Wobble. Once they are in that order, hit "save". Leave the shader editor.

-Note: the shaders in the pack you downloaded are tweaked for widescreen displays. If you are using a standard display, change the "fov" variable in each shader to 75 in the shader editor.

H.Navigate to the "misc" tab. Check the boxes next to "hook texture loads", "update shader variables", "supply shaders with depth info", and "supply HDR info to shaders". Navigate to the "render state" tab and check the box next to "hardware shader". If you are using a widescreen monitor, navigate to the "render state" tab and change the "Horz. FOV" value to "90.00". If not, see the note above.

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

I. Download and install Vurt's Groundcover. Do not enable the plugins in the launcher, always leave them disabled. {C
J. Open up MGE again. Navigate to the "tools" tab. Click "Distant land file creation". If you have been enabling all of the plugins as you go, you can click "use morrowind.ini". Otherwise, go through and click all of the boxes. Make sure to also check off the Vurt Groundcover plugins in this list. {C
K.Click continue and follow along with the creation wizard. Do not overdo yourself, keep your hardware in mind when you make selections because if you overkill it, you're just going to have to re-generate everything again to get your framerates up.
L. Finally, navigate to the distant land tab and check off "use distant land", then set your draw distance. If you have nice hardware, try a draw distance of 25 cells with exp. fog enabled; this value will let you see Red Mountain from anywhere in Vvardenfell. Things like dynamic ripples and exponential fog are nice, but remember that everything in this tab comes with a framerate hit.

Start the game and make sure that it runs.

...and that concludes this guide.