Mod Testing Guidelines

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Introduction

OpenMW was designed to run "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind", a classic RPG which comes with its own editor and pretty decent modding capabilities. OpenMW has set one of its main goals to provide support for every mod that was created in a clean way and makes no use of third-party software or libraries. In order to achieve this goal, our engine has to be tested – and the vanilla game is not the best test place because, nowadays, it rarely hits the limits of our engine. A better way to discover bugs is to use a modded setup and extensively test every feature of every mod you have installed. This also has the advantage that scripting errors or plain methodical errors of these mods are revealed which gives mod authors the possibility to improve their own work.

The goal of this article is to provide some basic information about how to properly test a Morrowind mod in OpenMW – with regards to compatibility.

OpenMW setup

You may want to check out these articles first:

There are two main setups for testing mods in OpenMW: The test-focussed setup and the play-focussed setup.

Test-focussed setup

If your main goal is to test Morrowind mods and their OpenMW compatibility, your setup should look like the following:

  • Clean Morrowind installation.
  • (Additional Morrowind installations, e.g., vanilla + MCP or vanilla + MCP + MGE XE.)
  • Clean OpenMW installation, latest release version.
  • Clean OpenMW installation, latest nightly version (for bug-testing purposes).

It is necessary to have at least one suitable character "build" at hand. What I would recommend is the following:

  • Create a new character. Be aware of certain characteristics, e.g., beast races' not wearing shoes, characters born under the Atronach sign not regenerating mana, or male characters not being female.
  • "Start" savegame: Save your game right after you stepped out of the Census & Excise Office in Seyda Neen.
  • "Boost" savegame: Manually (or via script) boost your character's stats and gear; consider attributes, skills, Health/Magicka/Fatigue, money, weapons, etc.
  • "<Mod xyz>" savegame: Always save before (and while) you test a mod. You may want to get back to it later.

Please note that, for an ideal test, these steps need to be taken in both OpenMW and Morrowind itself. Unless you know a mod's behaviour inside out, better test it in both engines. Also, make sure that there is no other mod interfering with your current test objective.

For the sake of simplicity, it is recommended to install mods into the vanilla game's directory, ignoring OpenMW's "multiple datapaths" approach. If the mod would overwrite original game files, backup your game's entire Data Files directory, so you can "back out" of the mod easily.

Play-focussed setup

If you want to actually play Morrowind on OpenMW, it is also useful to have a clean, vanilla installation in order to cross-check certain bugs. Apart from that, you only need the following:

  • Clean OpenMW installation, latest release version.
  • Clean OpenMW installation, latest nightly version (for bug-testing purposes).

Of course, you don't need to cheat your character to high levels right at the start of your game – but keep in mind the characteristics of your character build. And keep savegames of certain milestones in your play-through (which you should do either way in case of game-breaking bugs).

Testing a mod

Make sure that you have properly installed the mod(s) of your choice. If you are test-focussed, also make sure that you use a clean savegame, e.g., "Start" or "Boost" (see above). After the savegame has been loaded, check your console for any error or warning messages. If everything is okay, start to play.

Whenever you find something strange or unexpected, create a savegame, check your console, or make a screenshot (if applicable). Especially if you are test-focussed, cross-check your findings with the vanilla engine. (I prefer to first play a mod in vanilla Morrowind, then switch to OpenMW and use the original game for cross-checking).

Before you leave the game, have another look at your console. Warning messages? Error messages? Even if you didn't notice any errors while playing, your log could be filled with messages. In that case, better make a copy of your openmw.log file in your local OpenMW directory. A developer may ask you to post it in order to solve an issue.

How to report compatibility issues

You may want to check out these articles first:

First of all, a compatibility issue often is a bug in our engine, i.e., you should report it on our bug tracker. However, you may not be sure whether you have encountered a bug in our engine, a general error in the mod itself, or a totally intended behaviour. That's why you should always double-check found issues:

  • Are there any comments in the mod's readme file?
  • Is the issue present in the vanilla game?
  • Are there any console messages?
  • Is there already a forum thread about that particular mod?
  • Is there already a ticket on the OpenMW bug tracker?

If you are experienced with Morrowind modding, you may also open the mod in OpenMW-CS and see whether you can find the error source – and maybe even provide a workaround or a fix for it.

Depending on the outcome of your research, you have several options:

  1. The mod works as intended.
    • Gather all relevant information and add the tested mod(s) to that Wiki page (see instructions in next section).
  2. There are errors on the mod's side or unclear issues you don't know how to treat.
    • Create a thread in our Mod Compatibility subforum, describe your issue, provide necessary information, and wait for others to join the discussion.
    • Try to contact the mod author, maybe even provide fixes for the issues.
    • Update our Mod status wiki page (see instructions in next section) with information about the issue.
  3. The error is on OpenMW's side

Adding a mod to our Wiki page

If you want to add a mod to our Mod Compatibility Wiki page, please make sure that you have the following information ready:

  • Mod name
  • Mod version
  • Mod author(s)
  • Working download link or link to mod page

Please, also provide the following information about your test setup:

  • Version of OpenMW used for the test (only use release versions!)
  • Test date
  • Tester(s) (usually your user name at our forums)
  • Additional comments

If you tested a mod which had been tested before, feel free to delete now outdated information and replace it with your current one. If you have re-tested an already working mod, add a comment about the first known version the mod has worked with (e.g., "This mod has already been successfully tested on OpenMW 0.ab.0 by XYZ.").