Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OpenMW reaches next milestone, reboots, recruits

OpenMW has released 0.9.0!

For those that don't know, OpenMW is a project to write an entire 3d rpg engine from scratch, made compatible with Morrowind data formats (other formats can be added later) with the noble intention of setting the first target at being feature complete with Bethesda's Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
And after that's achieved?

"Ideas include multiplayer, improved graphics and animation, improved scripting and more flexible modding, a new editor, or moving on to Oblivion and other games" 
 sayeth their roadmap making them one of the most potential brimming opensource projects around.

Basically at 1.0:

  • All Morrowind mods will be compatible

  • Total conversions that do not use Bethesda art or recreate them, will be totally FOSS, (0$ for people who've never brought Morrowind). Non-total conversions need the retail copy.

  • Modder rage inducing technical restrictions/bugs removed, improved modability/interface (of the type that caused Tolkien based AME project on Oblivion to give up after a heightmap issue)


Continuing development(see here), driven by a community, and not made casually obsolete once every 5 years when the next utterly incompatible game gets released

Why is it promising, and liable to deliver rapidly once a strong core is established?

These factors:

  • Lots, and lots and lots of lots of total conversions for morrowind, and post v1.0, oblivion.

  • Unlike other projects the modderbase, recognition and interest is there and widespread

  • Morrowind rebirth project, Nehrim at fate's edge (moddb 2010 winner) for oblivion, Enormous Tolkien based MERP mod for oblivion, or the stunning Betrayal of Jarvall all are proof of the dedicated community required to energise and drive a project, even with engines more than half a decade old.

  • Total conversions are often recreations of literary/television franchises. Suited for ongoing/iterative development..rather than reaching a completion point, or becoming completely boring conveniently in time for a new engine and different art

  • Modders tired with 10s of thousands of modder-hours being gradually faded away by game obsolescense post-release dev halting

  • Free->lower investment risk->wider audience

  • After Morrowind/Oblivion waypoints, large community means attracting contributors, leading to real development a marquee status of OpenMW and opensource RPGs:)

Download from the OpenMW website.

How much left to do, you ask? 6-7 months, calculated when team was a handful of coders, apparently.


The project has been rebooted, after the lead dev went MIA for a while.

They are conducting an extensive recruiting campaign after the reboot, so Ogre/Bullet/general c++ coders, python scripters, PR people, ideas people and moral support welcome:)

One option for them to disseminate the scale of what has been achieved (3d RPG engine from scratch) might be to retitle the project as OpenRPG and:
  • Release a Morrowind compatible branch, Morrowind
  • Maintain a branch that ports new compatibility breaking features, Morrowind+
  • Release a Oblivion compatible branch, Oblivion
  • Maintain a branch that ports new compatibility breaking features, Oblivion+
  • Do the same for other games, but I suspect they will have enough of a following to just work on OpenRPG branch by then.
  • Create a small test bed game using available foss art work, so everyone can try it
  • Associate themselves with a few open ended total conversion projects, like Morrowind Rebirth (small team, but right spirit), and start working with an Oblivion total conversion team towards a free for public release by the time the mod is finished. The Tolkien based MERP Mod (large team/mod) would be released in about 3 years  which is ideal and given the Tolkien fan forums (not to mention game forums) with 50-100 thousand+ users a public FOSS release would be welcomed. (What ever project the Nehrim's sureAI team would want to work on next is an option, too)
  • +s: Administrative and PR manpower that has been largely lacking, buzz, actual project requirements and practically tested feedback needed to drive design. Modders will benefit from not having to persuade users to buy an old/obsolete engine just for their mod.

Anouncements thread, twitter,moddb, online PR appear to be up:)