OpenMW 0.45.0 Release Commentary


Attention: This release does not include shadows! If you want to play OpenMW with shadows, either wait for the next release or grab one of our nightly builds. Sorry for the inconvenience! Welcome to the first OpenMW release commentary in 2019! The OpenMW team is proud to announce the release of version 0.45.0 of our open-source reimplementation of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. As usual, this video focusses on changes in our game engine, whereas progress on our editor, OpenMW-CS, is documented in a separate release video. Keeping the pace of the last release, our developers have solved outstanding 200 issues, making version 0.45.0 the single biggest release in OpenMW history. Our project is currently on a streak – and although neither recastnavigation nor the long-awaited shadows reimplementation were ready for this release, we made sure to spice your usual dose of bugfixes up with several new features. So, let’s have a closer look at the more prominent changes. The first thing you’ll notice is the new “Actors Processing Range” slider in the options menu. It allows you to set the maximum distance for actors to be processed, i.e., rendering, animations, physics, and AI are skipped for NPCs and creatures outside that range from the player. Additionally, actors near that threshold fade in and out of the scene to prevent them from popping up. Please note that scripts and game mechanics, e.g., drowning, resting, or magic effects, still apply on actors in greater distances. Nevertheless, this feature significantly improves the performance on setups with greater view distance. In previous versions of our engine, actors who casted a spell due to a script, didn’t play the corresponding casting animation and sound. Virtually the same issue occurred with non-actor objects, e.g., temple shrines. Looking at our friend Lustidrike, you’ll also realise that actors didn’t care to properly aim scripted spells, only hitting targets directly in front of them. Version 0.45.0 fixes all three problems: Casting animations and sounds of scripted spells are now played for actors as well as for non-actor objects, and actors correctly aim those spells at their target. The AI’s weapon rating has been significantly improved. E.g., actors now prefer ranged weapons if they are far away from an opponent wielding a melee weapon. However, if their opponent draws a ranged weapon, they try to close in on their target with melee weapons. Please note that this is only a tendency; you may run into expert archers who completely rely on their marksman skill, or fearless warriors who always fight in close combat. Also note that weapon rating has been improved in various other ways – quite difficult to show in a video –, as it now considers weapon speed, weighted weapon damage, and the opponent’s combat stance. Morrowind offers a variety of bound-item spells to allow spellcasters to fight alongside their more combat-trained companions. However, in OpenMW, your character wouldn’t re-equip previously worn items when such a spell expired. The current version fixes that issue. Our engine also had problems with hit detection. This made aiming with on-touch spells or short-range weapons a very tedious task – especially against small creatures or at extreme angles. We’ve now fixed that behaviour. Sneaking and ranged combat aren’t the best choices for new characters in Morrowind as they aren’t very powerful in early game. To make things even worse, OpenMW didn’t apply a damage bonus to ranged attacks on unsuspecting opponents. In return for that oversight, we’ve not only added that bonus damage in the current version, but it also comes with a message box and uses another value than the vanilla game, increasing the bonus multiplier from 1.5 to 4. Let’s see how that boost works out for sneaky characters. The “resurrect” command is a useful way to revive NPCs which were killed by, ehm, accident. But what if you wanted to resurrect your own character, e.g., to make a mod where you play an immortal hero, doomed to always rise from the dead again? Resurrecting the player character in vanilla Morrowind or in previous versions of our engine, breaks the game. Well, not anymore! OpenMW now fully resumes the game after reviving your character. – Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do see mod potential here. Another vanilla feature already used in mods is the ability to create locks which can only be unlocked using the appropriate key. This is achieved by assigning a lock level of zero. As you may have guessed, OpenMW now supports that feature. To conclude all these gameplay changes, let me introduce the new game settings of this release – as usual, inspired by the Morrowind Code Patch: On the one hand, you may now choose to make disposition changes caused by barter deals permanent. Please note that this feature can be easily exploited. Not that anyone ever used an exploit in Morrowind… On the other hand, OpenMW now provides the option to calculate hand-to-hand damage based on your character’s strength. Have a look at the normal damage dealt to a randomly chosen opponent; and now compare it to the strength-based damage infl – what the hell?! I totally forgot to mention the extra option to exclude werewolves from this change. – And you better consider this option if you want to survive Solstheim! Apart from the aforementioned options, there is another change in the launcher’s “Advanced” tab which might catch your eye: The new “Testing” panel allows developers, testers, and modders alike to quickly set up a new game in a cell of their choice and to also run a specified console script after starting said game. Until now, these options had to be manually added to the openmw.cfg file or to the OpenMW start command in the terminal. Neat! Did you know that thrown weapons in Morrowind deal twice their specified damage? Well, if yes, you are a nerd – and more knowledgeable than our user interface and AI. At least, until now! We’ve finally adjusted the displayed in-game tooltip as well as the AI’s weapon rating to reflect the increased damage. OpenMW provides basic keyboard navigation for its user interface – and since we are talking about a Bethesda game here, such a feature is bound to be exploited. In this case, keyboard navigation turns Vvardenfell into Tamriel’s speed dating place number one. No need to meticulously set up menus, no need to passionately smash your left mouse button – no, just hold down the [Enter] key and wait until your vis-à-vis gives up any resistance. From this point of view, I hope, it is understandable that we had to revert this behaviour: Pressing a key to confirm an action now only triggers that key once. – But wait! What about other useful applications of the old behaviour, e.g., quickly brewing a huge number of potions? Well, luckily, we aren’t restricted by vanilla limitations, so we decided to add a much more elegant solution to this problem: The alchemy window now provides an integer field which allows you to specify the exact number of brewing attempts. – Just open the menu, select your ingredients, enter a number, and click to confirm. That’s what I call user-friendly. The current version also improves some of the game’s visuals. Have a look at this scene from our last update. I think we can all agree on these flickering effects being awful – and potentially dangerous. We’ve now adjusted the underlying calculations to replicate the original engine’s light patterns. Not exactly brilliant, but much, much better than before. Another annoying aspect of Morrowind are its bad character animations. To make things even worse, OpenMW previously included some additional animation quirks. Thankfully, most of them have been fixed in the current release. – Instead of going through the whole list of changes, let me show you some side-by-side comparison shots. Like almost every OpenMW release, version 0.45.0 improves the handling of NIF files, which contain data for displaying in-game models. One of these changes finally enables the dragonflies from Bethesda’s official “Bitter Coast Sounds” plug-in. Oh, and in contrast to the original engine, they don’t collide with anything, so don’t worry about getting stuck in a quagmire – which is probably the most pathetic way to die in an RPG. OpenMW already provides a custom water shader to overcome the quite old – yet strangely appealing – original engine’s water. To further improve this very basic implementation, we’ve now added a second set of shader parameters which make the water surface rougher during rainy weather. Moreover, this change considers weather transitions as well. Ah, beautiful! Well, that’s it. – What? You want an encore? Alright, how about this: After extensive testing and numerous fixes, abot’s “Silt Striders” mod should now be fully compatible with OpenMW. To demonstrate this, let me show you the scenic travel from Seyda Neen to Balmora as the closing scene. Don’t forget to check out the corresponding release video for our editor, OpenMW-CS; a handful of fixes and even several new editor features made it into this release. Also – due to the huge delay of this release, which was mainly caused by a temporary halt of video production, you have my apologies – the upcoming release already includes 70 solved issues, so expect another release in the not too distant – *sigh*, okay, no promises this time: Just expect another release. When it’s done. As always. If you want to check out the possibly record-breaking change log of this release, consider reading through the official release notes. Also, visit our homepage and forums on openmw.org for more updates. See you again next time, when shadows return to OpenMW! And, as always, thanks for watching!

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