Practice English Speaking&Listening with: OpenMW 0.46.0 Release Commentary

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Welcome to this edition of the OpenMW Release Commentaries.

The OpenMW team is proud to announce the release of version 0.46.0

of our open-source reimplementation of the engine behind games such as The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Many exciting new changes are to be found in this release,

including but certainly not limited to:

real-time shadows,

a powerful new navigation system,

a giant number of mod compatibility improvements,

and a larger cliff racer aggression distance!

Breaking the record mentioned in the last release commentary,

this version sees over 270 issues closed, making it the biggest release in the five years since 0.37,

the release that saw OpenMW rewritten from Ogre3D to OpenSceneGraph libraries;

and this video will give you an impression of what you can expect in a new stable build.

But first and foremost: here's a quick look at the feature many have been waiting for,

beautiful real-time shadows!

I'll be taking a deeper look at shadows in just a bit,

but let's first take a quick look at some nice bug fixes and improvements users can expect from this release:

A lot of hard work has gone into pathfinding, which has seen major improvements.

For example, in previous versions of the engine one would have seen guards endlessly attempt to walk through a wall,

while now they will go around, over, and under obstacles to find the player.

As you can see, a hostile NPC would be completely blocked by even the most basic of obstacles.

Can you see me?

Hi, guys!

Wow, this is almost fun...

Now, thanks to the usage of the free and open-source Recast toolset,

our engine can generate navigation meshes - something familiar to Skyrim players - on the fly.

Coupled with other Recast navigation functionality that was integrated,

they allow characters to gracefully walk around walls, over hills, and generally navigate the way they should.

Oh - gotta run!

Unfortunately, OpenMW is not a pixel-perfect recreation of Morrowind.

Observant players of Morrowind replaying the game in OpenMW may have noticed that there's something... missing in their final boss fight.

Dagoth Ur actually has a shield ability on him, but you couldn't see it in the previous version!

Now, your favourite god will have a nice visual effect that you could see in the original game.

Previously, werewolves would shield their eyes in an ash storm or a blizzard, which looked quite interesting, but... umm...

It's clear from our lycanthropy specification, the Bloodmoon expansion,

that werewolves don't need to protect their eyes like puny mer, right?

So, here we go.

On the previous episode of OpenMW Release Commentaries:

You may recall from our last release video that light source flickering became more pleasant in 0.45.0,

but this time

it became more pleasant with 0.46.0.

Let's take a look at .45 again.

Notice something... "off" about that lighting?

While the previous attempt to make light flickering look better was only an approximation of the vanilla flickering behavior,

now it's much more in line with the vanilla look and feel

- thanks to the accurate Morrowind research we have received from the community.

Nice!

Did you ever find yourself marvelling at the forests of Skyrim, only to behold this sight?

It's not likely you did - for various reasons - but, anyway, this release includes a fix for movement accumulation handling

that allows the intended behavior for this little pup to play out.

Oouch! That's better!

We've mentioned NIF support improvements in the previous release videos, and this one is no exception:

NiRollController,

NiSwitchNode,

NiPalette,

and NiTriStrips NIF record types become a thing in this release.

NiRollControllers make nodes spin,

NiSwitchNode allows the engine to switch between different node states provided in the node,

NiPalette allows NIFs to have palettised internal textures,

and triangle strips are an alternative to the usual triangle-based geometry.

This allows OpenMW to properly load and display models from some very obscure mods.

- And from some very recent ones.

One thing to note is that OpenMW doesn't need the INI file of Morrowind to work anymore,

allowing game developers not to rely on proprietary content to make their game playable.

Still, you should probably import Morrowind.ini to play Morrowind;

we don't have any Ken Rolstons on board to write immersive level-up and character generation messages.

There are some new settings.cfg options as well:

distant terrain is now configurable, allowing you to fine-tune its performance and look;

you can have a casting animation play when you use enchanted items, disallowing you to exploit the ridiculousness of enchantment spamming;

and water reflections now have more detail levels, allowing you to remove object reflections or even terrain reflections.

To extend on the neat distant-terrain settings,

ever since distant terrain was added, it wasn't really pleasant to use, especially with province mods.

This was due to the fact that the entire world map had to be loaded in some situations, which is a huge burden for most setups.

Thanks to the generous efforts of bzzt and Andrei Kortunov,

cell transitions, distant-terrain generation, and rendering performance was streamlined,

allowing you to have smooth terrain LOD while travelling even when you have half of Tamriel in your game.

And now, finally, as promised in the previous release commentary video, I present to you the long-awaited real-time shadows feature,

brought to you by AnyOldName3 and others:

The last OpenMW version with Ogre shadows was 0.36.1, which came out in May of 2015.

It seems like so long ago...

Here's a couple comparisons of scenes under OGRE and under OSG.

Notice how the old shadows reacted to sun movement somewhat erratically?

You can also see this oddity in later Bethesda games, such as Skyrim.

Unfortunately, unlike in OGRE releases, you can't yet enable them in the in-game settings.

But you can do it in the launcher!

Well, that's it folks.

Thanks for watching and...

oh...

what?

Encore?

Sure! Why not.

As we did last time, allow me to present an encore featuring some of the next-generation mod support the engine has in this release.

NiSwitchNode support is quite versatile for making a node depend on certain game state.

This is useful for making a pluginless replacement for glowing-window mods.

When a switch node is named "NightDaySwitch",

the engine will set its state depending on the time of the day and on whether the model is placed in an exterior or an interior.

The same technique is used in the MWSE-based "Glow in the Dahrk" mod, and you can use assets that were made with it in mind.

It's a wonderful touch to the look of any city.

And, it's useful for making a pluginless visual-harvesting mod.

The special functionality you see depends on "HerbalismSwitch"-named switch nodes used in modified natural-container models.

It's very similar technically to another MWSE mod, Stuporstar's "Graphic Herbalism" from 2019, the assets from which are demonstrated in this footage

- and this new pluginless herbalism has an exceedingly better performance compared to the old mwscript-based mod.

A great opportunity for plant modellers!

Up next: custom bones injection into an actor's skeleton and support for unique animations of various weapon types.

These features make it possible for modders to enable weapon holstering in a scabbard next to their back or their hip and not in some Oblivion pocket dimension,

have them make use of quivers, and - eventually - many other things.

- Oh yeah, there's also shield sheathing!

These add something that I never realised I was missing, and it makes the game world feel so much more alive.

Oh yes, there is more:

in addition to what's just been mentioned, a quiver will be displayed on the character's back if they have arrows equipped.

The number of arrows in the quiver depends on the number of equipped arrows.

Of course, enchanted arrows will glow as expected.

The quiver model is detected automatically based on the path to the bow or crossbow model, while arrows use the same models they use when you shoot them.

Additionally, you can add animations to container modelsand you don't need a plugin to make them play.

While the classic Morrowind mod "Morrowind Containers Animated" by qqqbbb once relied on sound playback to work,

this isn't a requirement for OpenMW's implementation of the feature.

Note how the looting menu doesn't have to wait for the container to complete its animation before opening.

Quite immersive!

If you're a modder interested in adding support for this functionality into your mods,

please take a look at the documentation for the usage of these new features provided on openmw.readthedocs.io.

Another exciting major non-vanilla feature in this release

is the support of the compressed BSA format from Oblivion, Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and the original 2011 Skyrim.

This allows the engine to move one step closer towards being able to load assets of those games and their mods,

and when it comes to Morrowind-focused interests, allows developers of huge mods to pack their assets into smaller archives.

Such as *cough* landmass mods.

Hint-hint.

Okay folks, that's really it.

For a complete list of fixes and features, please see the change log at openmw.org.

Until next time; thanks for watching and enjoy this peak at what's to come...

The Description of OpenMW 0.46.0 Release Commentary