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(Re)installing Morrowind, Pt. 5

Continued from Part 4, or start at the beginning.

Now that we’ve established some good habits for organizing your Morrowind directory, it’s time to install your very first Morrowind addon— or at least the first that’s actually a regular addon and not a whole separate program. This will be the Morrowind Patch Project. Don’t get it mixed up with the Morrowind Code Patch that we installed in a previous entry; that was a program to fix things that addons couldn’t, whereas now we are working with a traditional addon.

Installing the Morrowind Patch Project

The Morrowind Patch Project (or the MPP) is pretty huge (it needs to be, as Morrowind is incredibly buggy), and if you check out the link to the wiki page above, you’ll see it has quite a few revisions. Currently, to get the most out of it, you will have to download and install the third newest version and then add the newest file on top of it. First, you need BTB’s edit of 1.6.5b which you can download from his interestingly-named webpage Abuse My Nipples Dot Biz (make sure you get the edited version— direct download from here if you’re not sure).

Unless something has changed since I wrote this, you’ll end up with an archive called morrowind_patch.zip. It contains a Data Files folder and some documentation. Either extract it into your Morrowind folder or drag and drop things where they belong. Remember, Data Files from the patch archive must merge with Data Files in the Morrowind folder. Also be sure to keep the readmes in your chosen manner, as with an addon this size you WILL want to have them for later.

Now, you’re still not done. Download the 1.6.6 beta and unzip it into Data Files (keep the readme as well; I will eventually stop reminding you to do this). This version is simply an .esm file, because it uses all the folders that came with the first one you downloaded. Look in your Data Files folder and you’ll see (amongst all the other folders) three files, respectively called “Morrowind Patch v1.6.5-BETA.esm,” “Morrowind Patch 1.6.5 Beta (BTB Edit).esm,” and “Morrowind Patch v1.6.6_beta.esm.” You only need Morrowind Patch v1.6.6_beta.esm and it’s safe to delete the other two. The patch needs the folders from the previous download, not the other .esm files, and getting rid of them means you’ll never forget which one to check later as you choose what addons to load.

Installing GOTY Script Tidy

GOTY Script Tidy by Huskobar cleans up a majority of Morrowind’s scripts in the name of stability. When you download it (from here), you’ll end up with an archive full of folders. You may want to hang onto them, but for now we only need one file: GOTYFullTidySomeMPPv2.01.esm from the folder called “Install1.” Put this in your Data Files folder. It will need to load before the Morrowind Patch Project— instructions to make this happen are below.

Installing Script Improvements

This is another mod that works to improve scripting for some things that weren’t covered by the MPP, and you can download it here. You’ll need the file gr_ScriptImprovements.esm from the “Optional ‘master’ version” folder. Make sure you have the right one, and not the .esp version. The gr_ScriptImprovements.esm file will need to load after the Morrowind Patch Project.

Re-Dating Files So They Load in the Proper Order

Load order is one of the most important things you can learn about when it comes to modding Morrowind, and now is the time. In Morrowind, addon files load from oldest to newest, and if any two addons modify the same in-game asset, only the later addon’s changes will apply and the earlier addon will be overwritten. It will become very important to sort your loading list properly (and to learn how to merge mods so changes from more than one will take effect), and there are many fine tools available to accomplish both of these things. However, we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible for the time being, so right now we’re only going to address one particular problem. We need these addons we just installed to load in the following order:

  • GOTYFullTidySomeMPPv2.01.esm
  • Morrowind Patch v1.6.6_beta.esm
  • gr_ScriptImprovements.esm

The only way to get them to load in the proper order is to make sure the actual file dates put them in that order. GOTYFullTidySomeMPPv2.01.esm seems to come dated 7/8/2003, and gr_ScriptImprovements.esm is dated 7/11/2003. These are both fine, but Morrowind Patch v1.6.6_beta.esm is dated all the way in 2015. You’ll need to change the date on it so it’s between the other two— 7/9 or 7/10/2003 will be fine (note that this is going by the American format for dates, month/day/year; it might look different depending on your computer’s settings).

There are a few ways you can redate your files. Later on we will get into more detail with Wrye Mash, the best program for redating and organizing your Morrowind addons, but for the sake of keeping this as simple as possible for as long as possible, you can also manually change file dates with some basic, free utilities. Personally, I used Attribute Changer, but be careful when downloading and installing because it’s packed with optional “offers.” If you dislike the risk or just want a smaller, more specialized program, try SetFileDate 2.0.

File dates are a frequent source of trouble for beginning modders working with a Steam installation, namely because the dating of Steam’s Morrowind files makes it impossible for mods to affect them. Why is this? Well, Morrowind’s original graphics data is contained in three files: Morrowind.bsa, Tribunal.bsa, and Bloodmoon.bsa. And in the Steam version, these files have dates that are too new. In fact, they are newer than most of the mods we’ll be using, so they’d load last, and not be properly overwritten!

As of April 2017, thanks to version 2.3 of the Morrowind Code Patch, you no longer need to redate the .bsa files on your own because the MCP will now automatically redate them to sometime in 2002, which will allow all mods to overwrite them as normal.

Loading Addons

Most addons need to be activated in the launcher in order to affect your game. Believe it or not, there are also several programs just to manage this (and very much worth your time to learn to use), including the aforementioned Wrye Mash, but we’ll get to that later. For now, it’s the basics only. To make sure an addon is loaded into your game, insert your Morrowind disc or open the launcher. You’ll see this:

AAAAH IT'S A BEAR and a... uh.... ah... a dinosaur that is compensating for something?

AAAAH IT’S A BEAR and a… uh…. ah… a dinosaur that is compensating for something?

Click “Data Files.” Then you’ll see something similar to the below image, except you won’t have most of those files listed on the left beneath “Morrowind.esm.” Those are things we’ll be installing later. Right now, you should only have “Morrowind.esm,” “Tribunal.esm,” “Bloodmoon,esm” (the three master files for the game and expansions), “GOTYFullTidySomeMPPv2.01.esm,” “Morrowind Patch v1.6.6_beta.esm,” and “gr_ScriptImprovements.esm” (the three patches we just installed). If any of them are not checked (with an X, as in the picture), double-click the box to make sure they’re selected.

The default Data Files windowNow, later on, we’ll be managing addons differently and also launching the game differently, but the default tools are enough at this point. Once everything is activated with an X, click OK. You might want to play for a bit (but not too far— trust me, once we’re all modded up you’ll quite probably want to start over). See if anything is obviously broken, and just take a break from this technical stuff.

When you start the game, you may (read: you probably will) see an error that reads “One or more plugins could not find the correct versions of the master files they depend on. Errors may occur during load or game play. Check the “Warnings.txt” file for more information. Continue running executable?” This is a harmless error that in 99% of cases affects nothing, so just click “Yes.” We can get rid of this error later, too.

But before you do much playing, you should continue to Part 6 and install a couple of very important quality-of-life mods!

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