Morrowind gets multiplayer with OpenMW’s TES3MP

Multiplayer has arrived in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind thanks to a project based on the fan-made replacement engine OpenMW [official site]. Earlier versions of the TES3MP side-project previously only supported PvP, as NPCs wouldn’t synchronise between players, but now you and your pals can roam the land, messing with NPCs and questing and murdering and whatever else you might fancy. This is a huge step. TES3MP also supports scripting so people can fiddle with the game and even make custom modes; one alpha tester already made a Battle Royale mode.

The goal of OpenMW is to be an open-source, multiplatform replacement engine for Morrowind. It might get fancier and prettier down the line, but the baseline goal is to simply replace the Morrowind executable. However, the open-source nature makes it a foundation for people building bigger things, which is what the TES3MP gang have done. The fork adds multiplayer to TES3, yeah? And now, a year after its first release, it finally makes that multiplayer work like you’d hope.

As David Cernat of TES3MP explains, they’ve overcome a hurdle that several fan projects adding multiplayer to Bethesda games have fallen at:

“There have been numerous attempts by fans at adding multiplayer to Bethesda games. All of them have fallen apart at the critical NPC sync stage, where computer-controlled characters and creatures in the world need to show up, move, animate and act correctly for all players at all times, with major complications added by the open world nature of the games that means NPCs can theoretically follow players to almost any location in the world and the fact that their artificial intelligence only ever accounts for the existence of one single player.

“Back in March this year, the complete lack of NPC sync in TES3MP for 15 months was making this project feel like another failure.”

But they’ve done it! Thanks to Cernat and TES3MP founder ‘Stanislav’, you can now play Morrowind properly-ish with your pals. Cernat does note that “there are still significant problems and missing or unfinished features” so certainly don’t expect perfection but you might find it a lark.

OpenMW’s own blog post about the launch highlights cool things possible with scripting:

“During the alpha testing phase one of the modders scripted a new game mode – battle royale. It was set up in a way that players would spawn in a waiting cell and when a minimum of 3 players had joined the server, a 60 second count-down would start. Once the numbers ticked down, players were teleported to random cities around Vvardenfel with 25 minutes to arm themselves to the best of their ability before abruptly being teleported into an arena where they’d duke it out. Imagine the possibilities here!”

I don’t even like Elder Scrolls games and I dig the sound of that. A neat challenge of figuring out the best way to arm up. Good stuff.

If you fancy a crack, download TES3MP v0.6.0 from GitHub. You will need a copy of Morrowind to play, as OpenMW and TES3MP only replace the engine and do still need the original data files.