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Morrowind General Tweak Guide


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#1
Daerk

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Morrowind General Tweak Guide
-----------------------------
Compiled by Daerk Ildatch
27.09.2002



Here's some tips for those of you without ninja-male without a father-super-game-space-station-boxes needing a few ideas on how to get better framerates and effects in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Props go out to everyone over all the forums i've gathered this information from, as many of them toyed around forever to gather the information themselves. Thanks everybody, you've done wonders for the community! :) A few people also provided forum posts and personal emails (those were very few), and I'll try to give credit where it's due.

Firstly, I'm going to make a few statements in regards to your own PC-safety. Always make backups of any file you edit or replace. You'll often find yourself in a bad position if you don't do this, and screwing with files could hinder your chances of successfully installing an official patch or new mod when one comes out. Just backup your stuff - you'll be glad you did (especially if you make a mistake). Secondly, remember that any changes you make will be of your own doing, and if you screw something up nobody's going to come running to the rescue. These are guidelines and suggestions taken and submitted from various sources, and no one put a gun to your head to force you to make these changes. So please don't send me any hatemail if evil leprechauns jump out of your drive bays and tie you up, gremlins eat your hard disk platters, or guar's stampeed across your keyboard... because it isn't my fault (honest). Thirdly, turn on your FPS (frames per second) counter so that you can effectively gauge how these changes will affect your framerate. Change this line in your Morrowind.ini file (located in your base Morrowind directory):

- original line:
Show FPS=0
- change to:
Show FPS=1

You'll then see a readout in the very bottom right corner of your screen indicating your current framerate, so you'll know just how much you're getting (if anything) out of each tweak listed hereafter. Now, with all that out of the way, lets get on to the tweakin'.

I - Download a safedisc workaround, or download the newest official patch. Note: I don't support the warez community in any way. Pirating software is illegal. The safedisc cracks existing at the time of this writing simply remove the system-hogging safedisc wrapper so many games seem to be using these days. You'll still need your CD to play, but loading the game will be supremely faster and safedisc should no longer interfere with your gameplay if it was doing so before. Bethesda went so far as to include a note in the Morrowind box talking of safedisc's oft-intrusive software, so many see this as a necessary step in performance improvements (Bethesda also went so far as to eliminate safedisc2 with their latest patch... so you figure it out). Some people have noticed increased frames by doing removing the safedisc wrapper, but your mileage may vary. I won't be providing any links to this file (considering its very unofficial nature), but it shouldn't be too hard to find using Google or a similar search engine. Several forums have had several links posted, as well, and many gaming/cheat-sources sites are known to have them.

Download the file, backup your original Morrowind.exe file (always backup your .EXE's!), and replace it with the new one. Keep in mind you aren't replacing the Morrowind Launcher.exe file, but simply Morrowind.exe. Run the new executable and you should notice a significantly improved boot time for the game, and hopefully a performance increase as well. Please note that by doing this you're likely to void any and all support or upgrade bonuses that may have been included with your purchase unless you're upgrading to the newest official patch. Also note that you WILL have to continue using the official CD, as the safedisc crack (once again) is NOT a no_cd crack but is rather a workaround to disable a very stupid and resource-hogging thread that runs continueously in the background.

II - Copy the Video directory from your official game CD to the Morrowind base directory. This has been noted on many different systems to increase speed of loading as well as decrease the pauses between loading. I attribute it to simply having faster IDE access (or for the ninja male without a father boxes, SCSI access) to retrieve the data at a higher DTR (data transfer rate) than one would normally have when comparing CD-Rom drives and Hard Disks. In other words, when the game is looking for the video files to load them and then play them, having them on your hard drive provides a 10 lane highway for the data traffic to pass on, compared to the 2 lane highway that your CD-Rom drive provides. Example:

Base Morrowind Directory:
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\

CD Video Directory:
D:\Video\

Copy the Video Directory ( D:\Video\ ) to the base Morrowind Directory (C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\ ) so that you have the following result:

C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Video\

III - Change your lighting method from Linear to Quadratic. Some people have reported that by editing their Morrowind.ini file and changing the game's lighting method, their frame rates have increased as much as 10 FPS (I personally noticed a difference of about 3 - 8 FPS), as well as making the game look and 'feel' better ('Feel' in this reference is being used to describe the atmosphere of the game being enhanced). Glassboy has a nice guide on this issue here. Change:

- original line:
UseLinear=1
- change to:
UseLinear=0

... also ...

- original line:
UseQuadratic=0
- change to:
UseQuadratic=1

I then suggest using a multiplier of 1.5 for the QuadraticRadiusMult tag, as it seems to offer the best level of lighting with the least filter distortion, no green hue effects, and no spatial interweave hue reflections. To do this, change:

- original line:
QuadraticRadiusMult=1.0
- change to:
QuadraticRadiusMult=1.5

IV - Changing the .ini file to create less shadows. You can change the total number of projected shadows (and the number of shadows each object can cast). If you're having that many problems with shadows, the best bet is to simply turn them OFF, but you're welcome to fiddle around with it. Change these fields to a numerical value of your choice:

- original lines:
Number of Shadows=13
Maximum Shadows Per Object=3


- suggested for LOW-END video cards/systems:
Number of Shadows=6
Maximum Shadows Per Object=1


The line "Number of Shadows=6" could be even more reduced... ie: "3"

- suggested for AVERAGE video cards/systems:
Number of Shadows=12
Maximum Shadows Per Object=2


- suggested for HIGH-END video cards/systems:
Number of Shadows=24
Maximum Shadows Per Object=3


V - Turn down your 3D audio settings. Inside the game, go into your OPTIONS menu and click on the AUDIO tab. At the bottom is a 3D Audio button, which can be set to LOW or HIGH. Set it to LOW for a possible decrease of CPU abuse.

VI - Turn off music. It almost seems a crime to turn off such a nice, classically-inspired soundtrack. However, seeing as the music is all in MP3 format, turning it off altogether can free up a little CPU time.

(Side note: If you haven't done this already, replace the default Morrowind music with Glassboy's equalized Morrowind mp3's. They are the exact same mp3 music tracks, just editted in a professional digital sound studio suite to have better bass and treble with higher harmonics and more definable tempo. BPM is still the same, but can be heard better. You may download these music files here.)

VII - Make *ABSOLUTELY SURE* that you've got yourself a nice chunk of virtual memory. Go to Start->Settings->Control Panel->System->Performance->Virtual Memory and make sure you've got at LEAST 300 allocated to a speedy drive on your system (preferably not the one you're running Morrowind from, if you're using multiple hard drives).

Be aware that it's recommended that you have a standard 512 megabytes of virtual memory allocated for most windows operating systems... what i'm suggesting here would be an ADDITIONAL 300 megabytes. ALSO... allowing the operating system to resize the virtual memory swap file is BAD. Windows (all versions) sucks at properly maintaining the variable, and updating it properly. To bypass this process, choose the same setting for both minimum AND maximum space reserved for virtual memory. It disables the need for the system to constantly fluxuate back and forth resizing your swap file. Saves close to 30 - 80 megahertz of system hogging. Also allows for much faster defragmenting and program launches, overall. If you have the additional disk space, I recommend setting your megabytes reserved for virtual memory to 1024 for minimum and 1024 for maximum.

VIII - Edit your system.ini file (should be C:\Windows\SYSTEM.INI or something like it, if you installed windows to a different directory other than C:\Windows\) and add the line:

ConservativeSwapFileUsage=1

at the bottom of the section marked [386enh]. This should tell Windows to use your system RAM before trying to use virtual memory, thereby offering a performance increase (provided your computer isn't using your RAM to its full potential, and considering you're running windows, it's likely not. Even if you have "RAM Optimizers" installed... they don't tend to be as effective as adding this one simple line into your system.ini file).

IX - Run your game at the same resolution as your desktop. Some people have reported that they get the best frames when matching their desktop resolution. If it works for you, it'd be worth the effort. Note that gamers with good video cards (ie. GeForce4 Ti series) usually don't get performance boosts from lowering the resolutions they run their game in.

X - Make sure you've done the obvious! - scandisk and defrag the drive you're running Morrowind from, and the drive containing your Windows swap file (the virtual memory). This is obvious, but many people overlook the performance benefits of having your computer running in tip-top shape. Always keep your drives error free with scandisk (or a similar utility, allow me to recommend using SpinRite, available at http://www.grc.com/ ), and always keep your drives defragmented to ensure quick search times for your necessary files. You'll find Windows scandisk and defrag programs in Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools.

XI - Make sure you've done the obvious! x2 - don't run the game at its maximum settings if you don't have the system to do so! Set down the AI draw distance, set down the view distance, set down the number of dynamic shadows the game draws at once! You can always turn off the pixel shading, as well. This can all be done from the game's menus. Also keep in mind that your performance will most likely drop significantly if you have antialiasing turned on!

XII - Download the newest release of the Morrowind FPS Optimizer, and use it to launch Morrowind. :)

Basically this is a stand-alone application that manages the frames-per-second that Morrowind's graphical engine renders, as well as various graphical nuances that are unalterable from the default Morrowind configuration menus. It DRASTICALLY speeds up games on slower systems if you set the fps low and the view distance low, or set it to automatically adjust view distance. There are a lot of recent additions to this application which fix bugs, add new features, and better organize things in general within the program menu structure. Rumours have been heard that the author (Alex from http://www.morrowind.nm.ru ) is going to implement a sound/music management system into the Morrowind FPS Optimizer, renaming it Morrowind General Optimizer. The rumours state that you'll have control over what music track is playing, by being able to scroll through the tracks with a configurable hotkey. Also you'll be able to disable certain types of music, like the explore music, while continuing to hear all the other music. Very cool stuff. :)

XIII - My final two pieces of advice are more preferance than performance. Change (in your Morrowind.ini file):

- original line:
DontThreadLoad=0
- change to:
DontThreadLoad=1

This should get rid of the little stalls you experience every so often when just running around in a cell. Instead, you'll get a few-seconds-longer loadtime with longer intervals in between loads. You can also change:

- original line:
Font 1= century_gothic_font_regular
- change to:
Font 1=century_gothic_big

This may improve the font size for those of you playing with high resolutions on smaller monitors.

I hope that these tweaks have helped at least SOME of you! This is the best, most useful Morrowind tweaking information that I could find. If you've anything to contribute, private message me on the forums and I'll add any useful information you might have.

-- Daerk Ildatch

#2
SothThe69th

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AllowYesToAll = 1

It won't speed up the game itself, but if you just unloaded a big mod, it'll speed up getting back into Morrowind. :P

Secondly- it cannot be stressed enough to update your drivers. Keeping your drivers up to date can and will make everything run better, including Morrowind.

#3
Rune

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Yes, update all your drivers. I can't stress this enough.

Here are some things I did to the MORROWIND.INI file:

Max FPS=100
Interior Cell Buffer=32
Exterior Cell Buffer=64

And just for fun....
Screen Shot Enable=1

And turn off Real Time Shadows in the game, don't worry about messing around with them in the .INI file. Just get rid of them to GREATLY increase performance.

#4
okwaho

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[FONT=Times][SIZE=1][B]Another observation...

On a XP system... I found out that some animation movies were missing or out of sight. I looked carefully on the CDs, then in the movies menu and never found two of the missing animations. Excuse my lack of memory but I remember only one: MW_MENU.BIK.

That would explain those suddent crashes after the intro movie (when screen goes dark then it comes back to desktop); if such an important file is not present or unrecognised by the game because of that NTFS system, no wonder why it creates such havok... I do not know if I am the only one with that problem but it would not hurt if you all check that little point and if necessary find a remedy to this.

With 2 Gigs of RAM, Morrowind should be able to handle itself quite well even with all the mods (matched one!) selected. With my 1 Giga oldy, I could do it under Windows Me without major crashes (most of the time my fault because I did not think of saving games often enough). I think some genius here could find a remedy to all that jazz or Bethesda should give us those missing files they made cloaked (???).

#5
Kissimurra

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Ops... Is this thread necromancy? whatever...

I love the Quadratic lightning! it makes the game a bit more atmospheric, atleast in Interiors.

You can also play around with this one :

QuadraticRadiusMult=1.5

I have set it to 3.0, this will make a big difference to the games lightning...but I really like it, more atmosphere.

#6
Dobsv2

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this didnt work at all. it wouldnt let me save the files for some reason

#7
Spirithawke

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(Side note: If you haven't done this already, replace the default Morrowind music with Glassboy's equalized Morrowind mp3's. They are the exact same mp3 music tracks, just editted in a professional digital sound studio suite to have better bass and treble with higher harmonics and more definable tempo. BPM is still the same, but can be heard better. You may download these music files here.)


So...what kind soul has this music and is willing to share it with the world once more?

#8
Ztival

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what do i fiddle with if i want to increase the view distance?






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