I’ve been revisiting some of the earlier The Elder Scrolls (TES) games lately. I keep an occasional eye on one of the oldest and largest projects, Tamriel Rebuilt. This project started in 2001 before Morrowind was released. For the amount of work that has gone into Tamriel Rebuilt, they have been very slow to release content. This is largely due to TR’s commitment to quality. Their rule is to release only material as good as Bethsoft would have, had Bethsoft created it.
The scope of the project is to release material that is about twice the size of Morrowind when it came out. In essence adding TR triples the world space of Morrowind. The team is also working with other modders doing projects around Morrowind with the thought that these things will eventually mesh. The team has also joined with Project Tamriel to establish a unified asset creation depot. Assets from other TES mods are available to the TR team and vice versa. Assets can be used in other TES mods. This is done with only one file to download. This is sort of a modding Holy Grail.
An Open-source Replacement for the Morrowind Executable
In related news, OpenMW is coming along nicely. OpenMW is a Morrowind replacement engine. At this point, Morrowind is totally playable with OpenMW. The other day I cracked open my copy of MW and installed it. Afterwards, I installed OpenMW and found that there was virtually no discernible difference in play experience between vanilla and OpenMW. This was until I started playing with the CFG file; turning on the landscape options. BANG! My view distance became HUGE.
In Morrowind, view distance is very restricted. With Vanilla MW, you walk around in a fog. As you look at parts of the sky, those parts disappear; covered when a building spawns. I find this tends to break my suspension of disbelief. With OpenMW loading lots of cells no longer bogs down game speed to unplayable levels. The executable uses a modern, multithreaded, engine. As a result, OpenMW can handle the added load. Looking across the map is amazing. Have you ever wanted to look at the whole of Vivec? Now you can. Of course, the side effect of this is it shrinks the perceived size of the world space.
TES Episode Two: Daggerfall
This brings me to the topic of Daggerfall. While messing with all this MW stuff I got to wondering ‘Is anyone doing anything similar with Daggerfall?’. Well, they are. Daggerfall Workshop has ported DF to the Unity engine. Unity is a well-supported engine with 3D, etc. Terrain in Daggerfall can now be better rendered. View distance is dramatically increased. Currently, Tamriel is still populated by sprites, but textures can now be bump mapped, caused to glow, given shine, etc. Dungeon mapping has improved significantly. The sky looks amazing.
In terms of playable world space, Daggerfall is the largest RPG ever produced; 62,394 square miles, over 15,000 towns, cities, villages, and dungeons for the player’s character to explore. Daggerfall was essentially the “No Man’s Sky” of 1996. The problem was then in ’96 procedurally generated content was still very primitive. One of my dreams is that the assets of Daggerfall could be upgraded with more sophisticated content generation and some more handcrafting. I still want TES games to be huge. The games should have human-directed, procedurally generated, content included. I feel certain, this will be the future of content creation.
Daggerfall was like a human-defined canvas. Specific things were placed by hand. Then a machine sort of randomly splattered bits of paint on that canvas. Conversely, Morrowind had the creators hand stitch the canvas and then each one dipped hatpins in paint and placed every dot of color. I would have greatly preferred that the canvas of Morrowind been like that of Daggerfall with the handcrafting saved for dungeon locations, cities, etc.
About the featured image: Screenshot from the OpenMW replacement engine The view distance has been greatly increased. The downside is this reveals some real flaws in the game.
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