With the announcement of OpenMW version 0.39 around 5-6 months ago, some users booted their game up to find an unpleasant surprise – shiny rocks. But they were told that this wasn’t a bug at all. Everything was working as intended.
So what led to this? Morrowind was initially released in 2002, a time when texturing techniques were not as advanced, and there were no normal maps. As years went by, the community created more and more complex mods on an engine that was frozen solid to the state that it started with a decade ago. At a certain point, the methods began to exceed engine limitations and newer technologies simply couldn’t be applied anymore.
Since the Morrowind engine isn’t open source, it’s not like someone could just edit the code and update it to modern standards. But what they could do is essentially “hack” the engine by datamining for information and make code injectors. This spawned the loved MGE XE distant lands, Morrowind Script Extender, and, last but not least, Morrowind Code Patch. While they have served the community well, they’ve also produced some unwanted side effects such as crashes, instability, memory leaks, and strange methods of texturing.
The latter in particular is caused by Morrowind Code Patch, and is also the reason for our shiny rocks. MCP enables a sort of “fake” bump mapping by using an environmental map to give textures the appearance of being bump-mapped. But no other engine does it this way – and if you were to port a “fake” bump-mapped mesh into Unity engine, Skyrim, or OpenMW, a shiny weird-looking object is what you would get.
So what do we do with these shiny rocks? Do we throw them out? No! Fortunately, they can be redeemed, and we now have Lysol’s detailed and comprehensive guide to lead you through the process. Most bump maps can be fixed with a few easy steps that even the average player with no modding experience can handle.
But only the author of a mod reserves the right to upload their content, so any user who wanted to play your mod would have to repeat the same process. If you are an author, I encourage you to take a little time to update your mod to OpenMW. Or if you’re short on time, post on our forums and give permission for users to update it and see if someone picks it up. Let’s rid Vvardenfell of those shiny rocks!
For a long time scrawl has been the main driving force behind OpenMW. So when the news came that he’d be going on a hiatus to improve his health, many of us thought that the progress would halt, and that the next releases of OpenMW would only include bug-fixes, if anything…
But we were so utterly wrong! Out of the woodworks appeared Allofich and MiroslavR. The duo has not only solved many bugs but also implemented several new features. In addition, scrawl is still active in the community – accepting pull requests, reading the forums and occasionally closing an issue when his health allows it. While the pace is a bit slower now, our project still makes progress, and OpenMW steadily continues its journey towards version 1.0.
On the OpenMW-CS side of things there have also been several improvements. Previously, the scene window was a static view of the world where you couldn’t really do anything besides looking around with the camera. Aeslywinn came in, reworked the camera system, implemented pathgrids, water rendering and object movement, rotation and scaling sub modes. While he has now left the OpenMW project to do other great things, he has also left our editor with the capability to create new worlds.
It should be noted that, although what you see in the above screenshot was made using OpenMW-CS, there are still some features that need to implemented for the editor. Remember – If you have skills in C++ or QT and are interested in contributing to the OpenMW project, then you too can be an OpenMW hero.
Recently a feature regarding non-portable lights in player inventory was closed.
If you’ve never heard of this before, that might be due to the curious fact that this is used only once in the entire game of Morrowind – with Trueflame, the legendary sword of Nerevar Indoril.
As you can see, having the sword equipped lights up a small area around the player. The blade itself isn’t the actual source of light. It has a script attatched that adds an invisible light item into the player’s inventory, which then makes the player glow.
This got me thinking. In many games a radius of light surrounds the player. If one were to make a mod or an entirely new game, they could use the abovementioned mechanic for exactly that purpose. So I did. But what I saw was not what I expected…
I found a bug. Seemingly anything that uses a normal map gets lit up to full brightness, achieving an albino look. The bug report is filed here and will hopefully get a fix some time in the future.
3 hours later Scrawl has already fixed it! I retry my experiment and go for a small pink aura for my invisible character.
And here’s the last update we owe you. Below you’ll find two more videos. The first one will handle OpenMW, and the other will spend some time on OpenMW-CS.
Phew, now that that is out of the way, we can move on to 0.39.0. The next version is still cooking, but if you want to go check it out, you can always try the nightlies for Windows and Linux. They already include support for those fancy new shaders too!