Slartibartfast's Morrowind Mods

Landscaping for the discerning adventurer.

Welcome to my Little corner of the web where you can find out about the things i have made for Bethesda Softworks amazing RPG The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind.Until Morrowind i was never a big fan of RPG's, as ordinarily i would get stuck on a puzzle early on which prevented me from progressing to the next level and so i never really got much enjoyment from the genre, and so i was quite amazed that i would become so engrossed in Morrowind  but i did, and seven years later on i am still playing.

Every once in a while (and not very often at all) a games developer will come up with a superb game design and create a truly magnificent game, and is truly deserving of being called 'Great'. Whilst there are countless 'good' games 'great' games are rare and Morrowind is one of the few, and for me it was the fan made mods that made it a truly 'Great' game. Before long i wanted to make my Morrowind world as big and the best it could be with the help of expansions and mods my new hobby became creating my ideal fantasy world.

Texture replacers were amongst my first discoveries which soon proved to be a double edged sword, on the one hand they help make the game world look more authentic but the trade off is that high resolution landscape textures expose the failings of the Morrowind engine, blighting the landscape by exposing seams where the engine has failed to merge the textures correctly. Morrowind's original textures are  low resolution , with little to distinguish between them and so landscape seams rarely stand out, but when using high resolution textures the sharp edges of a landscape seam tend to be clear and distinct. If the gameworld doesn't look natural then a players attention is drawn to the imperfections thus breaking the immersion and spoiling the gaming experience for the player.




The problem of landscape seams occurs because the Morrowind engine is only capable of merging two types of texture simultaneously so if two adjoining land textures are in contact with a third texture type then one of them will not merge and will appear in game as a straight edge as per the screenshot above. Fixing landscape seams entails repainting the landscape in such a way that only two types of texture ever meet, except underneath large static items such as buildings or rocks where seams cannot be seen by the player. Shortly after i discovered texture replacers i began working on  a fix for  the landscape seams that  were  spoiling my immersion  in the game .

At the time  i did not realise the full extent of the problem  and how much work and play-testing would go into repairing the landscape and embarked on single handedly fixing a landscape that had been created by a team of Bethesda employees. I base my estimates to the scale of the problem on the assumption that i will find and fix between 3 and 5 landscape seams per 16 tile x 16 tile exterior cell, thus for the landmass of Vvardenfell created by the original  Morrowind without mods or expansions, which is approximately 1,000 exterior cells in size is that between 3 and 5 thousand landscape seams are repaired by my fix.

My first couple of attempts at creating a fix ended in failure resulting in my scrapping  hours of work in the process, but the version of the mod which made it to public release started around June 2005 and achieved its public debut in January 2006 which was probably a little premature but i wanted Morrowind players to get some benefit from my work before the anticipated mass exodus to Bethesda's new game 'Oblivion' in March 2006.

I called my mod 'Texture Fix' which was just a catchy name i used to identify the file in the early days of development though it doesn't properly describe what it does, which is to repair any problems with Vvardenfels landscape, not only the landscape seams and is in fact a land replacer for Morrowind.



Whilst working on repairing landscape seams i often came across minor but nonetheless annoying sharp and jagged bits of  landscaping where the land had not been smoothed properly leaving it looking too angular and unnatural in appearance, so i figured that while i was there it would be just as easy to quietly smooth these immersion shattering imperfections. In the screenshot below there are examples of unnatural looking jagged and triangular sand dunes immediately to the left and right of the character, Users of later versions of 'Texture Fix' won't see them but players of regular Morrowind still have them and others besides.




Whilst experimenting with different pond scum textures i noticed that there were seams in some of the ponds located in the bitter coast region, these were happening because the scum meshes had not been aligned correctly. These seams are barely noticeable with most scum textures that are currently in circulation, but in instances where the textures used are highly distinctive then the seams are very noticeable as in the screenshot below. I correctly aligned the scum meshes and included the data initially in 'Texture Fix' but later separated the scum fixes and integrated them into my 'Poorly Placed object Fix' mod so it shouldn't matter what scum textures the player uses.