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Some General Considerations

on Installing Mods for Morrowind

 

 

I can certainly understand how someone new to Morrowind could easily feel confused and overwhelmed by the whole issue of adding and using mods: error messages, conflicts, leveled lists, etc. all come into it and can make for a lot confusion. However, you’ve come to the right place for help and guidance.


First of all, let me give you some personal advice regarding adding mods to your game (the terms “mod” and “plug-in” are, by the way interchangeable):


First and foremost, if you haven’t already, get the Official Patch for the version of Morrowind you are running. The Patches are available on the official Elder Scrolls web site at
www.elderscrolls.com.


Mod conflicts are something that happens, and when they do, it can manifest in any number or ways. Buildings may overlap, NPC’s may disappear or their dialog topic's may change.  All sorts of weird things can happen, and it’s impossible to catalog everything that could happen as a result of a mod conflict. Basically however, you know them when you see them. If one occurs, my best advice is: Don’t Panic. 99.99% of mod conflicts are, I would say, readily fixable. The process of doing so however, CAN be time-consuming and rather annoying, so they are best avoided if possible. So, all that being said, my advice regarding adding mods to your game is as follows:

Be selective: It’s easy to get carried away, in my opinion, with installing mods. Ask yourself, is this a mod I simply can NOT live without? If you can’t answer that question with a definite "yes"; wait... see how you feel about installing it tomorrow. Also, determine if this is a “new” mod, or is it one that has it been out for a while? What do other people have to say about it? I don’t like “beta-testing” mods at the risk of my primary game-save: I’ll let other people do that FOR me, let THEM find the errors and problems, while I sit back wait for the update. Well established mods are a different matter. Stick to mods you can find out about. If there’s no feedback anywhere on a mod, I view it with extreme suspicion.


Learn How to Install Mods: If you don’t like my tutorial, there are several others on the Elder Scrolls web site and elsewhere, that will walk you through the mod install process. READ THEM. And more importantly, understand what they are telling you. I would hazard to guess about 98% of “mod-related problems” stem from an incorrect installation on the part of the user. A thorough understanding of how to install mods will not only help prevent problems, but will also help you spot and correct problems.


Download the following two applications:


TESTool:
http://www34.brinkster.com/ghostwheel

Read and understand the documentation that goes along with it. This tool will help you keep your modded game running smoothly.


Zip Genius:
http://www.zipgenius.it/index_eng.htm

Zip Genius will help you install your mods. It’s the best archive utility out there, in my opinion. It handles EVERY compression format you’re likely to run across when installing mods for Morrowind, so you don’t have to worry about finding a specific utility for every compression format, much less learn how to use it: One compression utility to do it all. Getting Zip Genius just makes life that much simpler when it comes to installing mods.

Relax: Installing mods is not difficult and rarely are the results of a mod-conflict devastating. 99% of the time, in my experience, mod conflicts are annoyances that are readily resolved. Irritating? Yes… Game destroying? No. So just relax… find a few mods that strike your fancy and give it a go. Some people will tell you to “enjoy Morrowind without mods first…” but I don’t go for that. One of the best things ABOUT Morrowind is that you can mod it to make it “your” game.

 

Now… on to installing mods!!




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Baphomet’s Morrowind-Mod Install Guide

 

aka:

How to Install Morrowind Plug-ins Using Zip Genius

 

 

 

Understand first that the exact install procedure will depend on the particular mod you have, and how it was originally archived by the modder.  There is no single installation procedure that is correct for every mod.  If you have trouble following these directions, you might want to find someone who is a little more computer “savvy” to help you out.

 

First and foremost you are going to need a good archive utility.  Many people will suggest WinZip, WinAce, WinRar or PowerArchiver for this.  I suggest you download Zip Genius instead.  Why?  Because ZG is the only archive utility I’ve found that is 100% reliable.  It also handles twenty-two different compression formats (including .z7), integrates seamlessly with my virus scanner, is skinnable, easy to use, free to download, offers far more control over archived files, comes with loads of extra options, and is totally free of ad-ware and spy-ware.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, Zip Genius is all you need. 

 

You can download Zip Genius here:

 

 

*      http://www.zipgenius.it/index_eng.htm

 

 

Remember to make a backup copy of your “Saves” folder.  Very important. 

 

I also strongly recommend you get into the habit of saving your downloaded mods somewhere.  Dedicate a folder on your hard drive for them, copy them to a CD-R or CD-RW, Zip Disk or whatever, but SAVE them.  Having the original archive files for all your mods will, one day I promise you, pay off and you’ll be glad you kept them around.

 

Now then… let’s get started.  From this point on, I am going to assume you are using Zip Genius – this is my tutorial, so I can do that.

 

First off, let’s make sure Zip Genius has been associated with archive file types.  Open Zip Genius and click on Options/Main Settings.  In the top window (File Associations) click on “Select All” and then “Associate Files”.  Zip Genius is now the default program that will open any time you click on an archive file.  Go ahead and close Zip Genius at this point.

 

Now let’s install your mod, or mods.  To start, double-click the icon for your newly downloaded archive file (your plug-in). Zip Genius will open a window and you will see the file names that make up your plug-in. Look to the right and you will see several columns of data.  Most of them you can ignore, but the one key-column, is the one labeled “Path”.  Look at this column CLOSELY because it is very, very important.

 

Looking at this column, you will encounter one of four possibilities:

 

1.  The Data Paths for the mod do NOT have “Data Files” specified in it (meaning it looks something like this: Meshes/a).  This indicates you need to extract the files to your Data Files folder using sub-folder information (more on this in a second).

 

2.  The Data Path already contains “Data Files” (meaning it looks something like this: Data Files/Meshes/a).  This indicates you need to extract your files to your “Morrowind” directory using sub-folder information (more on this in a second).  In this particular instance, I don’t care WHAT the “Read Me” says to the contrary about where to extract the files… I have seen a lot of “Read Me” files that tell me to extract to the wrong location. 

 

3.  Data Paths have been specified, BUT, there is a folder name in front of Data Files (meaning the Path column you see looks something like this: Mod_Name/Data Files/Meshes/a or something similar).

 

4.  There is no Data Path specified at all.  The “Paths” column is totally empty.

 

If your mod falls into category-one, or category-two, the extraction process will be a cakewalk.  If it falls into category-three or category-four, you are going to have to put forth a little extra effort.  For now I will assume that your mod falls into either category-one, or into category-two.  I will cover mod-categories three and four in a minute.

 

Click on “Extract Files” in the Zip Genius left pane, and a new window will open. First, you need to specify where you want your files to be sent when extracted by navigating through the directory tree in the center window. 

 

For category one mods this means you want to navigate to your Morrowind “Data Files” folder, located at C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind/Data Files. This is your target folder for extraction for category-one mods.

 

For category-two mods, you are going to navigate to C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind and click on that folder to select it.  This is your target folder for extraction for category-two mods.

 

In either case, the target folder path will show in the little window under the directory tree – but don’t “Extract” your files just yet!

 

Look up at the top of this window and you’ll see some tabs.  Click on the “Options” tab and under this tab, select the button for “Use Subfolders Information” - this is important and will ensure that your files go into the proper folders when extracted.  It may be selected already by default, which is fine, but you are just going to check because it is THAT IMPORTANT.

 

Now… Click on “Extract”, your mod will extract, and you are ALMOST done.

 

To finish things up, start up Morrowind and select “Data Files” from the splash-screen.  Scroll down the window and double-click the little white box next to the mod you just extracted and you should see the box now has an “X” in it, indicating the mod is “active”. 

 

Exit “Data Files” load your game and your new mod should load up and be active in your game at this point. Congratulations… You are done!!

 

 

*** For Category Three Mods Only ***

 

The sticky wicket we have with category-three mods is that pesky folder sitting in front of the “Data Files” folder in the Path (I see this commonly in .rar files).  To work around this, sort the files by pathname by clicking on the column header for “Path”.  Doing so will group all the files that go to the same folder/subfolder together. 

 

Select a group of files that have the same destination folder/subfolder (you may need to expand the “File” column in order to be able to “click-and-drag to select a group of files) then UNSELECT “Use Subfolders Information” by clicking on the “Options” tab at the top. 

 

Now navigate to the proper folder and subfolder as shown in the “Path” column.  For example, if the destination folder shown in the “Path” column is “Mod_Name_XYZ/Data Files/Meshes/a”, then you need to navigate to: “C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind/Data Files/Meshes/a” and extract ONLY THAT GROUP of files. 

 

Repeat this process for the remaining “groups” of files; navigating to the appropriate folder as shown in the “Path” column (i.e. “Mod_Name_XYZ/Meshes/c” goes into your “Morrowind/Data Files/Meshes/c” folder.

 

To finish the Plug-in installation process, start Morrowind, Select Data Files from the splash-screen and double-click the little box in front of your Plug-in to finish installing it. Start Morrowind and your new Plug-in should load up.

 

 

*** Category-Four Mods & The Absolute Worst-Case Scenario ***

 

Since your mod does NOT have the data-paths specified, you are going to have to move them yourself. If your Modder was kind, they specified where all the files in the Plug-in are supposed to be located in the “Read Me” file. You may need to create some or all of those specific sub-folders as well. Use Zip Genius to extract the files, by TYPE, to the folders as specified in the “Read Me” file.

 

The “Absolute Worst-Case Scenario” would be that there is no “Read Me” file in the mod to help you or that it does not explain how or where to move the files that comprise the mod, leaving you completely on your own to move the files. Generally speaking, you are going to run into four different file types for Morrowind Plug-ins. The four file types and where they go has been shown below. Once again, extract them by file type to the folders indicated:

 

   *.NIF

These files get moved to the “Data Files/Meshes” subfolder.

 

   *.DDS

These files get moved to the “Data Files/Textures” subfolder.

 

   *.TGA

These files get moved to the “Data Files/Icons” subfolder.

 

   *.ESP

These files get moved to your “Data Files” folder.

 

On a few occasions, I have run into plug-ins that have bit map files included (*.bmp). If the "Read Me" file does not explain what to do with them, move them to your "Textures" folder.

 

After moving your files, you will need to finish installing the Plug-in by selecting “Data Files” from the Morrowind splash-screen, and double-clicking the little box next to your Plug-in. Start your game and your Plug-in/s should load up.

 

 

*** That Annoying Plug-in “Error Message” ***

 

Now… about that annoying little error message that crops up - the one that tells you something about certain master files being changed and so forth?  This is not really an error at all, but let’s deal with it right now anyway, and be done with it.

 

To prevent that “error message” from occurring, fire up the Construction Set, click on “Open” and select your Plug-in file by checking the box in front of it. Click on “Set as Active File” and open it. This will take a few seconds. Once the files have loaded, click on “Save” and exit the Construction Set. Problem solved. You will need to repeat these steps for every mod that causes that “error message” to appear, or you can just live with it.  I promise you, it doesn’t hurt your game in any way.

 

 

*** Big, Yellow Geometric Shapes (with the “!”) ***

 

The “default error-marker.nif” is that big, yellow “shape” you see with the exclamation mark (!) running through it.  They’re a pain, but typically easy to fix.  You have a missing *.nif file and that is why this error is cropping up.  You will have gotten an error message saying Morrowind can not find a specific file that it needs, and that it is going to use the “default error-marker.nif” instead.  Write down the exact wording of the error message.  Morrowind is kind enough to tell you in this error message exactly what file it is looking for that cannot be found, and more importantly WHERE it is looking for it. To fix things, try re-extracting the files from the original archive file, or unzip the archived file into a temporary folder on your desktop.  Search for the specific file that you need in that folder, and then move that file manually. The error message will tell you where the file goes.

 

 

*** Some Other Cool Stuff That Comes With Zip Genius ***

 

Skins: Want to change the “look” of Zip Genius?  Click on Tools, Options, Layout.  You can change skins, fonts, and all sorts of stuff.  Nice.

 

Data integrity check (Do not miss this one!): Tools, Options, Advanced Options.  Click on “Enable ZIP Auto Check Integrity” and the button below it: “Try to repair archive automatically if damaged”.  With these options enabled, Zip Genius will automatically scan your compressed file checking it for data integrity - if errors are found, ZG will attempt to fix them for you.  This has been a real “life saver” for me.

 

You can also tell ZG how to integrate with your Antivirus Scanner if you want to check your downloads for any “hidden surprises” you’d rather not have running loose on your computer using the “Antivirus” tab located in Tools/Options/Safety.

 

 

 

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Get Started: Mod Lists, Links and Etc.

 

 

Morrowind Summit: http://www.rpgplanet.com/morrowind/modcontrols/mods.asp

 

Telesphoros List o’ Mods: http://www.mwmythicmods.com/telesphoros.htm

 

Portal Site of Elrich: http://www.elricm.com/nuke/html/index.php

 

Empirical Morrowind: http://www.mwmythicmods.com/realism.htm

 

Ronin 49’s Mods List and Links: http://www.mwmythicmods.com/ronin.htm

 

TES Source dot net: http://files.tessource.net/index.php?cmd=all

 

 

 

 

Contact:

 

Baphomet_93@cox.net