Watch Morrowind Multiplayer Take Its First Steps

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was released in 2002, but it’s on the verge of experiencing new life through multiple revival projects. One of those is OpenMW, which aims to port the game to a new open source engine optimised for modern computers, with robust editing tools, and as of the first early test shown in a video below, multiplayer.

It’s obviously pretty early: the two instances of the game seem to be running on the same computer and only simulating, I assume, the sending of data packets that would normally be tossed over the internet or network cable. As a first test however – to check the synchronization of position, inventory, race info, player attributes, and animations between different instances – it seems to work. OpenMW is open source, so anyone can fiddle with its codebase and have a go at implementing things like this, so it remains to be seen where it will go and whether we’ll one day be riding Silt Striders with friends.

OpenMW has been in development for years and the current build lets you explore Morrowind environments with little or no mechanical interaction with the world. It does have a fancy new renderer as of November last year however, and progress has been consistent enough that I believe it’ll eventually receive everything listed on its roadmap.

It’s also worth noting that OpenMW is simply an engine and it requires the original Morrowind files if you want to play it. Morrowind-to-Skyrim port Skywind is the same, which hopefully puts them both on the right side of copyright law.

You can download the current build of OpenMW – which does not include multiplayer, I stress – for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.


  1. lutherblissett23 says:

    OpenMW’s current builds are totally functional and you can play the entirety of Morrowind and both its expansions with them. I don’t know where you got the idea that they “the current build lets you explore Morrowind environments with little or no mechanical interaction with the world” but misrepresenting OpenMW through shoddy research doesn’t do it or your readers any favors.

    • Piento says:

      Yup. I’ve played through Morrowind, Tribunal and Blood Moon in OpenMW without problem (besides the bugs that Morrowind itself still has).

      This multiplayer experiment doesn’t allow for any meaningful interaction, perhaps that’s where the author got confused. This should be clarified rather than misrepresenting the awesome OpenMW project.

      Also going to add that OpenMW is nothing at all like Skywind. Skywind is essentially Morrowind’s maps and quests modded into Skyrim’s engine. OpenMW is an engine reimplementation for Morrowind, as OpenTTD is to TTD. Copyright has nothing to do with it.

    • Thurgret says:

      I promptly lost interest and almost closed the tab upon reading that. Thanks for the clarification.

    • baozi says:

      On OS X getting the files you need from Steam involves a bit of Terminal usage, but I tried it out earlier, and hey, Morrowind on OS X without Wine.

  2. TheOuroboros says:

    I also wanted to stress that they don’t need to “simulate” the sending of packets and likely DO send packets. Similarly, when you run a Minecraft server instance on your own computer and log in to it, you are sending and receiving packets between programs. Obviously, sending packets over the internet is more volatile, but sending packets on a local machine is a real thing.

  3. Amstrad says:

    This is cool and seems like it’d be a great way to enjoy the game again, hopping in with a friend for some co-op.

  4. RanDomino says:

    This is basically all that Bethesda needed to do to make ESO.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      But then they wouldn’t have painstakingly recreated the development of WoW, and then they’d NEVER have had a chance of making WoW profits.

  5. Catchcart says:

    Morrowind-to-Skyrim port Skywind is the same, which hopefully puts them both on the right side of copyright law.

    As others have pointed out, this is a non-issue. It is however quite interesting to read the email exchange between the developers and a Bethesda spokesperson. While an amicable agreement is reached – you’ll not do this, we won’t do that – it is never explicitly acknowledged what legal recourse Bethesda might have. It is just implicit that they have a lot of expensive lawyers (“folks”) that could be unleashed, regardless of what legal merit any requests or threats might have.

    • Catchcart says:

      Actually, rather than copyright what may be relevant here is the notion of anti-circumvention that is best known as a feature of the American DMCA (but is also enshrined in EU law). Of course, the point of OpenMW is not to bypass DRM (which is the essence of “anti-circumvention”) but to ensure that MW stays accessible on modern platforms (including OS X and linux). The situation between Bethesda and OpenMW is actually quite similar to the LucasArts/SCUMMvm standoff. Except of course that LucasArts did actually threaten with legal proceedings and generated a lot of ill will in doing so (and eventually simply stood down and did nothing).

  6. Nixitur says:

    Hang on, first steps? I could have sworn that some people had already done Morrowind multiplayer. As in, on the original Morrowind without the engine rewrite.
    I’ve found this from 2013, but I’m fairly certain I’ve seen that a few years earlier.
    Yeah, it’s pretty buggy, but as far as I can see, it’s a bit of a misnomer to call the OpenMW stuff “first steps” towards Morrowind multiplayer.

    • rabbit says:

      i remember something from years ago – back when i used to read pc gamer so i’d say sometime before 2008 – which fits the bill. back then though the hack which had been figured out (which was for morrowind itself, rather than openMW, and so was thought to be as far as the concept could ever be taken) was a one-to-one P2P sort of arrangement. pretty sure questing was impossible in that & would never be possible, but i think that other than that the whole of morrowind was available for two people to trundle about in.
      so maybe that’s what you’re thinking about , the two player P2P thing for morrowind itself.