Projects I’m Looking Forward To – OpenMW…

Projects I’m Looking Forward To – OpenMW after the break…

Projects I’m Looking Forward To – OpenMW…

In the world of computer games, nothing is ever certain. The amount of uncertainty involving whether a computer game will ever be available to the general public to play reminds me of a famous joke concerning Hollywood actors. I can not remember the exact quote but it resembled something like this: “How do you know if you’ve got the leading part in a movie? When your name is on the marquee at opening night.” The punchline has since been reformatted in a variety of ways to represent modern times – “When you see the movie with your name on it selling for $2 dollars in the bargain bin,” “When you’re signing autographs because of it at a convention,” etc. so forth. The morale of the joke is that until a project is done, it can always be cancelled at any point throughout the process for a variety of reasons that defy rational explanation.

Video and computer games are notorious for their mortality rate while being developed. A game may be worked on for years and then suddenly disappear without a trace. Finished games, games that could be realistically played are cancelled for no apparent rhyme or reason. Entire visual themes or storylines changed at the last minute that realistically create a different game.

If video and computer games created by private companies with financial motivation are known for having fragile developments, such games and game projects developed by private individuals for no financial gain have little realistic chance of ever succeeding. The Internet is flooded with ambitious gaming plans that never reached beyond the drawing board or a crude prototype that only a skilled player would be able to get working on their computer. Therefore, those few ambitious fan game projects that are released in a version 1.0 format ought to be celebrated and cherished.

As readers of this blog should already know, I am an advocate of “The Dark Mod,” a total conversion mod (“mod” is a well known abbreviation for “modification” in the gaming culture) for the DOOM 3 computer game that emulates the game play of the computer games Thief 1 & 2. This highly ambitious mod took years to create and has since been maintained by a very faithful group of developers who continue to devote countless unpaid hours in adding new features, fixing glitches (otherwise known as “bugs”) and simply maintaining the program so that it may work on successive operating systems, chipsets and video cards. If only all private computer and video game developers worked that slavishly to maintain both their product and the fan base that uses that product.

Yet all such successful projects, like “The Dark Mod,” must first come from more humble beginnings. It is not enough to merely celebrate projects that have succeeded but to encourage those projects that have yet to make a successful initial release. Having little to no practical programming experience, the only way that I may envision helping out some of the projects I’m looking forward to is to simply advertise them in the hope that they gain wider recognition. I have advertised such projects before on this blog but I am going to start being a little more formal about it.

“OpenMW” is a project meant to modernize the computer game “Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” (otherwise known as simply “Morrowind” in the gaming culture). Morrowind was the first ‘modern’ role-playing game that the developers, Bethesda, created and continues to be thought of fondly. Computer role-playing game enthusiasts commend Morrowind for it’s degree of difficulty and immersion. Morrowind eventually had two large expansion packs (think of “expansion packs” as very large DLCs) made for it, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. Morrowind has come to be known by enthusiasts who play Bethesda games as the ‘gold standard’ for which all other Bethesda projects are compared towards.

Beyond modernizing the game, “OpenMW” also plans on becoming a game creation platform so that people who are interested in an American West-themed RPG or a Steampunk RPG or even a Cyberpunk RPG could take that engine and make their own game out of it.

“OpenMW” will still need, should it be completed, a valid copy of the game in order to be played. It will need a valid copy of “Morrowind” because the project is only concerned with the engine that allows the game to operate, not the game data (such as enemies, weapons, buildings, music and all the other creative parts).

To be fair, “OpenMW” is not the only “Let’s modernize Morrowind” project on the Internet. “Project Aedra” and “The Crystal Scrolls” are two similar projects like “OpenMW,” and all three projects overlap significantly in what they plan on implementing. My desire to see “OpenMW” come to fruition is not at the expense of those other two projects and I hope that they both succeed as well. It is always desirable to have more options, even if those options are similar to one another, then less options.

Successes like “The Dark Mod” show all of us the power and potential of collaborative projects meant to cater to a niche gaming market. “The Dark Mod” has gone on to be a phenomenal success, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a commercial game’s standards. I have no doubt that a modernization of Morrowind would energize the Morrowind enthusiasts and bring the game to a new generation of players accustomed to all the graphical features now standard in modern day games. I certainly hope that “OpenMW” reopens the world of Morrowind much like “The Dark Mod” revitalized the “Thief” franchise.

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