*** Installing Mods, Step-by-Step, Using Zip Genius ***
Understand first that the exact install procedure will depend on the particular mod and how it was archived. There is no single installation procedure that is correct for every mod. If you can not understand/follow these directions, you might want to find someone who is a little more computer “savvy” to help you out.
First and foremost you are going to need a good archive utility. Many people will suggest WinZip, WinAce, WinRar or PowerArchiver for this. I suggest you download Zip Genius instead. Why? Because ZG is the only archive utility I’ve found that is 100% reliable. It also handles almost two dozen different archive formats, integrates seamlessly with my virus scanner, is skinnable, easy to use, free to download, offers far more control over archived files, comes with loads of extra options, and is totally free of ad-ware and spy-ware. You can download Zip Genius here:
Now then… let’s get started.
Double-click the icon for your newly downloaded archive file (your plug-in). Zip Genius will open a window and you will see the file names that make up your plug-in. Look to the right and you will see several columns of data. Most of them you can ignore, but the one key-column, is the one labeled “Path”. Look at this column CLOSELY because it is very, very important.
Looking at this column, you will encounter one of four possibilities:
1. The Data Paths for the mod do NOT have “Data Files” specified in it (meaning it looks something like this: Meshes/a). This indicates you need to extract the files to your Data Files folder using sub-folder information (more on this in a second).
2. The Data Path already contains “Data Files” (meaning it looks something like this: Data Files/Meshes/a). This indicates you need to extract your files to your “Morrowind” directory using sub-folder information (more on this in a second). In this instance, I don’t care WHAT the “Read Me” says to the contrary about where to extract the files… I have seen a lot of “Read Me” files that tell me to extract to the wrong location.
3. Data Paths have been specified, BUT, there is a folder name in front of Data Files (meaning the Path column you see looks something like this: Mod_Name/Data Files/Meshes/a or something similar).
4. There is no Data Path specified at all. The “Paths” column is totally empty.
If your mod falls into category-one, or category-two, the extraction process will be a cakewalk. If it falls into category-three or category-four, you are going to have to put forth a little extra effort. For now I will assume that your mod falls into either category-one, or into category-two. I will cover mod-categories three and four in a minute.
Click on “Extract Files” in the Zip Genius left pane, and a new window will open. First, you need to specify where you want your files to be sent when extracted by navigating through the directory tree in the center window.
For category one mods this means you want to navigate to your Morrowind “Data Files” folder, located at C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind/Data Files. This is your target folder for extraction for category-one mods.
For category-two mods, you are going to navigate to C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind and click on that folder to select it. This is your target folder for extraction for category-two mods.
In either case, the target folder path will show in the little window under the directory tree – but don’t “Extract” your files just yet!
Look up at the top of this window and you’ll see some tabs. Click on the “Options” tab and under this tab, select the button for “Use Subfolders Information” - this is important and will ensure that your files go into the proper folders when extracted. It may be selected already by default, which is fine, but you are just going to check because it is THAT IMPORTANT.
Now… Click on “Extract”, your mod will extract, and you are ALMOST done.
To finish things up, start up Morrowind and select “Data Files” from the splash-screen. Scroll down the window and double-click the little white box next to the mod you just extracted and you should see the box now has an “X” in it, indicating the mod is “active”.
Exit “Data Files” load your game, and your new mod should load up and be active in your game at this point. Congratulations… You are done!!
*** For Category Three Mods Only ***
The sticky wicket we have with category-three mods, is that pesky folder sitting in front of the “Data Files” folder in the Path (I see this commonly in .rar files). To work around this, sort the files by pathname by clicking on the column header for “Path”. Doing so will group all the files that go to the same folder/subfolder together.
Select a group of files that have the same destination folder/subfolder (you may need to expand the “File” column in order to be able to “click-and-drag to select a group of files) then UNSELECT “Use Subfolders Information” by clicking on the “Options” tab at the top.
Now navigate to the proper folder and subfolder as shown in the “Path” column. For example, if the destination folder shown in the “Path” column is “Mod_Name_XYZ/Data Files/Meshes/a”, then you need to navigate to: “C:/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Morrowind/Data Files/Meshes/a” and extract ONLY THAT GROUP of files.
Repeat this process for the remaining “groups” of files, navigating to the appropriate folder as shown in the “Path” column (i.e. “Mod_Name_XYZ/Meshes/c” goes into your “Morrowind/Data Files/Meshes/c” folder.
To finish the Plug-in installation process, start Morrowind, Select Data Files from the splash-screen and double-click the little box in front of your Plug-in to finish installing it. Start Morrowind and your new Plug-in should load up.
*** Category-Four Mods & The Absolute Worst-Case Scenario
Since your mod does NOT have the data-paths specified, you are going to have to move them yourself. If your Modder was kind, they specified where all the files in the Plug-in are supposed to be located in the “Read Me” file. You may need to create some or all of those specific sub-folders as well. Use Zip Genius to extract the files, by TYPE, to the folders as specified in the “Read Me” file.
The “Absolute Worst-Case Scenario” would be that there is no “Read Me” file in the mod to help you, or that it does not explain how or where to move the files that comprise the mod, leaving you completely on your own to move the files. Generally speaking, you are going to run into four different file types for Morrowind Plug-ins. The four file types and where they go has been shown below. Once again, extract them by file type to the folders indicated:
These files get moved to the “Data Files/Meshes” subfolder.
These files get moved to the “Data Files/Textures” subfolder.
These files get moved to the “Data Files/Icons” subfolder.
These files get moved to your “Data Files” folder.
On a few occasions, I have run into plug-ins that have bit map files included (*.bmp). If the "Read Me" file does not explain what to do with them, move them to your "Textures" folder.
After moving your files, you will need to finish installing the Plug-in by selecting “Data Files” from the Morrowind splash-screen, and double-clicking the little box next to your Plug-in. Start your game and your Plug-in/s should load up.
*** That Annoying Plug-in “Error Message”
Now… about that annoying little error message that crops up - the one that tells you something about certain master files being changed and so forth? This is not really an error at all, but let’s deal with it right now anyway, and be done with it.
To prevent that “error message” from occurring, fire up the Construction Set, click on “Open” and select your Plug-in file by checking the box in front of it. Click on “Set as Active File” and open it. This will take a few seconds. Once the files have loaded, click on “Save” and exit the Construction Set. Problem solved. You will need to repeat these steps for every mod that causes that “error message” to appear, or you can just live with it. I promise you, it doesn’t hurt your game in any way.
***Big, Yellow Geometric Shapes (with the “!”)
The “default error-marker.nif” is that big, yellow “shape” you see with the exclamation mark (!) running through it. They’re a pain, but typically easy to fix. You have a missing *.nif file and that is why this error is cropping up. You will have gotten an error message saying Morrowind can not find a specific file that it needs, and that it is going to use the “default error-marker.nif” instead. Write down the exact wording of the error message. Morrowind is kind enough to tell you in this error message exactly what file it is looking for that cannot be found, and more importantly WHERE it is looking for it. To fix things, try re-extracting the files from the original archive file, or unzip the archived file into a temporary folder on your desktop. Search for the specific file that you need in that folder, and then move that file manually. The error message will tell you where the file goes.
*** Some Other Cool Stuff That Comes With Zip Genius
Skins: Want to change the “look” of Zip Genius? Click on Tools, Options, Layout. You can change skins, fonts, and all sorts of stuff. Nice.
Data integrity check (Do not miss this one!): Tools, Options, Advanced Options. Click on “Enable ZIP Auto Check Integrity” and the button below it: “Try to repair archive automatically if damaged”. With these options enabled, Zip Genius will automatically scan your compressed file checking it for data integrity - if errors are found, ZG will attempt to fix them for you. This has been a real “life saver” for me.
You can also tell ZG how to integrate with your Antivirus Scanner if you want to check your downloads for any “hidden surprises” you’d rather not have running loose on your computer using the “Antivirus” tab located here.
If you download plug-ins, you NEED it: Zip Genius.
Member of the Gamers Roam
== Mod Review Team ==