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In our first, of what will become a continuous stream of comprehensive gaming based tweaking guides, our newest writer, Koroush "PersianImmortal" Ghazi, has completed a very in-depth guide on obtaining the best performance from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Since Morrowind is such a demanding game on most systems, this guide goes into detail about improving not only game settings but general system settings so everyone is able to play this game at a decent framerate and in a stable environment on computers with varying specifications. Grab a coffee, sit back and learn with Koroush!

By: | Guides | Posted: Jul 17, 2002 4:00 am



1. Morrowind.ini Tweaking


Many of Morrowind's "hidden" settings are in the Morrowind.ini file found in the \Morrowind directory. This file can be opened and edited with the simple windows text editing utility Notepad. However, before doing any editing of this file, make a copy and call it something like Morrowind.RealINI.


Here are some Morrowind.ini settings I have experimented with. I would recommend making the changes one at a time, saving, and checking the results in Morrowind. I personally only ended up keeping the altered Cellbuffer and MaxFPS settings and haven't implemented the rest of these changes permanently:


Max FPS=100 this setting determines the maximum frames per second you can see in Morrowind. On first impression you'd think this setting would be best at its default 240 or even higher, so that there's no cap on your framerate. However ideally you should set max fps lower (e.g. at your monitor's maximum refresh rate, or a moderate figure like 60) to maintain smoother graphics. The higher the max fps, the more "jerkiness" and "stuttering" you may experience as your framerate fluctuates a lot more.


ShowFPS=1 will show your frames per second in the lower right hand corner during the game


Screen Shot Enable=1 will allow you to take in-game screenshots by pressing the Print Screen key. The screenshot will be placed in the Morrowind directory.


Screen Shot Base Name=ScreenShot changing this name will change the name of the screenshot file


Screen Shot Index=0 this is the number of screenshots you've already taken, and the number that'll be added to the name of the next screenshot.


DontThreadLoad=1 will get rid of some of the smaller loading delays in the game. You'll get longer loading delays, but they'll happen less often.


Interior Cell Buffer=64


Exterior Cell Buffer=128


With 512MB of RAM I raised these buffer values from their original settings of 10 and 32 respectively. I've also tried higher values, but it seems with my memory these settings work best in smoothing out fps. If you have less memory, try lower values of around 32 and 64 respectively.


UseLinear=0 will switch off Linear, and in place of it you can:


UseQuadratic=1 to switch the light method. This may improve fps, however the change in lighting may not be to your taste.


Number of Shadows=6 change this number (only works if you have Real Time Shadows on)


Maximum Shadows Per Object=1 can also be altered to taste


SurfaceFPS=25 this value (if Pixel Shaders are ON) can be altered to get a balance between visual quality/performance


There are many other settings which can be played around with, and you can experiment if you like, however there are no "magic" settings which will suddenly increase your fps or smooth the game out dramatically. Read 3 below to understand why Morrowind runs slowly on most machines.


2. Morrowind Console Commands


You can bring up the Morrowind Console - and close it again - by pressing the ~ key (top left corner below ESC). I don't know much about the Morrowind console commands, but apparently a full list of them is available in the TES Construction Set Help file.



The main commands though of most use in fixing common problems in the game are:


Fixme - Use this command when your character gets stuck in scenery. It should put you somewhere safe nearby where you'll be free to move again.


TCL - This toggles clipping off/on. With clipping off you can walk through walls etc. using this. It can be dangerous to use, as NPCs may fall through floors etc. However if you have tried everything and there's something blocking a closed door and it won't open or something similar, give it a shot. Just make a save before you do it though in case weird things happen afterwards. And of course make sure you type in TCL again to turn it back on straight away once you're done.


RA - Resets Actors (NPCs) to their original positions. This can help with NPCs who end up standing in doorways or who've fallen off/through buildings etc.


As a side-note, if you do have a non-vital character or animal (such as a rat) behind a door and it won't open, and you've tried the RA command above without success, then try shooting arrows or using spells to kill it, as these sometimes go "through" the door.


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