(This is an extract including most of the substantive portions of the pinned thread.)
We can make 'em all day long, and they ain't gonna' be worth a hoot if people can't use 'em.
Have seen several posts recently on various boards concerning mod installation ("Big yellow
boxes!" (I love it- )). Reading the titles of these posts might be cute for those of us who
"know the way", but I doubt it's very amusing to those who download our mods with high hopes and
then wind up with a world full of "Big yellow boxes!".
(excuse me for a second... (still snickering))...
Just PMed kathode to try and get the old thread re-pinned, but that may not be possible, as it
came down after the forum upgrade, and may be gone.
Just PMed Sirkandi, requesting that a (hopefully) short tutorial could be made that (hopefully)
will be pinned, and also suggested that if Sirkandi does take this on, that a text version be
created for inclusion in all mods.
In the interim, I'm going to try my hand at it, and I hope others will add to/modify/flame this
To prospective mod downloadees (er.. downloaders (whatever)):
There are three typical formats that a mod will come in: .zip, .rar, .ace. You WILL need a
suitable decompressor program to decompress the mod (winzip's the only one that comes to mind,
but there are others).
Very first thing! Read the readme in it's entirety! We spend, literally seconds creating these
readme files, so please take the time to go through them! As a general rule...
Let me talk about general rules for a second: They don't exist. Sorry. I don't know how many
times I've downloaded a mod and read the readme which tells you to "unzip" the file to the
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Sotworks\Morrowind\Data Files folder, and have the thing create a
second Data Files folder under the existing one (Big yellow boxes!) (could be my .zip program,
(excuse me for another second... (more snickering)).
So, lets go at this another way, and define the contents of a mod:
Typical files included with a mod-
This is the file that gets created when one saves a mod in the editor. This is the one that has
all of the information (changes) that the game engine looks for when initializing the mod upon
start-up of the game. It will contain dialog entries, new characters, changes and additions to
exteriors, new interiors, etc..
This file goes in the C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files folder.
Some mods have ONLY this file (and hopefully a readme). These types of mods use only resources
(models/textures/etc.) that are included with the original game (and/or add-ons).
In these types of mods, this is the only file you will have to insure is placed in the correct
Again: .esp goes in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files
There are also .esm files, that are roughly equivalent to .esp, and go in the same folder, but
I'll let somebody else explain that (I got enough problems here already).
icons (.tga or .dds)
Now it gets a little more complicated. Some mods have new items, (weapons/armor/etc.) that will
require new icons. People who have created these types of mods will have added new meshes/textures
to those already existing in the MW/Trib/BM game world. Many of these will require new icons.
Icons are what will display in the inventory menu (icon representation of a sword for example.
Icon files go in the C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Icons folder.
But... (you knew there was going to be a "but" didn't you)
Most icons (but not all) will go into a sub-folder of the Icons folder. For example: Armor icons
MAY go in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Icons\a folder, or weapon
icons MIGHT go in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\w folder.
Some have user created folders (new). Some use those already used in the game; a or w as noted
above (a note here: If you check the icons folder in a new (un-modded) game, there will be NO
other subfolders (a,w,etc.). These only need to be created if new content is introduced. In this
case, new icons. You can take a look at these (original) sub-folders on the CS disk if you want
to.)... However, there are some modders who just use the Icons folder itself to store the new
icons in (have taken to this myself).
Again, icon files go in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Icons folder
(or sub folders).
Meshes are the 3D wireframe models that are used for all 3D objects in the game. These are used
for things like walls,rugs,swords,armor,books,cups... any object that is tangible in the game.
The same format for icons holds true here. There is a Meshes folder under the Data Files folder
right under the icons folder, and it can also make use of subfolders ("a" for armor, "w" for
weapons, etc.), and again, a modder may choose to use the Meshes folder itself to store these
.nif files instead of the subfolders.
Meshes (.nif) files go in C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Meshes
folder (or sub folders).
Textures (.tga, .bmp, .dds)
Last but not least are textures. Textures are the "skins" that cover the wireframe meshes (above).
Textures can be .bmp, .dds, or .tga files.
They are a little simpler. All textures go in the
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files\Textures folder.
There are typically no sub-folders used here (although if I remember right, somebody's mod I once
downloaded did use a sub-folder).
There is a little bit of a rub though: Texture files can be the same as icon files (no .bmp
files though (.dds and .tga)), so don't make the mistake of putting icon file textures into the
textures folder and expect mod nirvana. Usually if you misplace an Icon texture, you'll see a
"default" icon in you're inventory menu (all white box with crossed red circle). This is not a
"game threatening" situation, so if you see this just go on about your business and move the
texture to the right folder at your leisure.
One other note: Some .nif files have their associated textures imbedded, meaning that you will
see no other textures included with the mod (could be a "mix", though). You will know these
because their files size will be quite a bit larger than typical .nif files.
There are other types of files that I'm not going to cover here. There aren't many uses of them.
These include mostly sound files. Maybe you'll get the general idea from the above.
What this is all leading up to:
First thing: Open the file with your decompression program and take a look at the contents. Make
a mental note of the number and types of files. I don't know about other .zip programs, but mine
does not show directory structure, just the files. However, directory structure is usually in
there (coded??). Having some idea of what files are in the mod (compressed file) will help you
determine if the extraction went as planned.
Generally, if you've got your extraction program (winzip, etc.) set up to extract the contents
of the compressed file (mod) to the correct target folder, all will go as planned. If the readme
says to extract to the Data Files folder, then aim your extraction program there and extract.
Now... Open explorer, and check to see if the thing looks like it extracted correctly. Again,
generally, if you see the .esp in the appropriate folder
(C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files), then the thing probably extracted
The following is important!
The next thing to check is to see if you've got another Data Files folder under the real Data
Files folder. If you see this, then the mod (.zip, .rar, .ace) file did not extract correctly.
Delete the new Data Files folder (NOT THE ORIGINAL), and point your extraction program to
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind (one folder higher) instead, and extract again...
and again, at least check to see if the .esp file is in the
C:\Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Morrowind\Data Files folder.
At this point, you should be seeing a pattern here. Yes, Binky, not all is as it should be...
That's the reason that many of us extract the mod to a temporary folder, and then hand place the
files into the appropriate folders under the Morrowind folder. Done this way, you'll be able to
see the directory structure, too.
I typically copy them instead of moving them, and keep the temporary folder that I originally
extracted the mod to. That way, if you want to remove the mod at a later date, you have a
permanent record of what files were included with the mod.
My fingers are tired.
Somebody else finish it...
We (at least me) do not make these mods intentionally difficult to install. It's just that not
all things go as planned, and it's a shame when a modder spends a bunch of time to make an
excellent mod, and then sees questioning posts because installation didn't go right for someone.
Please bear with us.
And best of luck to you prospective modees out there. There are some truly wonderous mods
floating around, and if you enjoy the game as much as I do, then installation isn't as much of
a chore. Even done manually. A few times and you'll get it...
Either that, or we'll see more posts about....
"Big yellow boxes!" (yep... you guessed it... )
(PS - My apologies to the individual who coined the term "Big yellow boxes". You were one of the
reasons I've sat here since Tuesday typing this post (4.5wpm not counting errors). Hope you
understand it was all in good fun.)
Not really seeing a guilty party here, and that was part of the reason for the post.
We are, in fact, dealing with something fairly complex here (game and mods), and also have to
take into consideration the differences between the "knowledge levels", and information
available to those just starting out and those who have been at this for awhile. Afraid that the
process is not always "intuitive".
Education is the key. Not culpability.
We want to keep modding (and in turn the game) a viable "sport", we better insure that we have
some customer demand for the products. In other words: If they can't use them, we (modders) are
out of business.
Kind of a veiled warning to modders.
Make 'em good...
#1837346 - 10/05/03 10:04 AM
Good point about the subfolders.
Something else needs to be included about error messages on game start-up (or during the game)
too, but I can't remember which are "OK", and which aren't. Think that some people, because
they've been told that the common "Older version" (whatever) errors are OK to bypass, assume
that all error messages are OK to bypass. Have seen several people here recently with "pooched"
saves because they saved games after recieving "bad" types of errors. Problem with this is that
some of these plug-ins are extensive, and a person could be half-way through the thing before
the error shows up. Not necessarily blaming modders, cause I've seen the game itself go "goofy"
from time to time, too: "missing object in script, bla, bla, bla" for example, and there is
actually nothing wrong with the mod.
Given that, then some type of explanation of error messages, and how to, or whether to proceed
when one gets them is warranted also.
Maybe something about cleaning saves (disaster recovery).
Have noticed a few people are now "pointing" to specific threads instead of using the ever
popular "Read the pinned stuff at the top" reply. That's encouraging.
Problem is that it's tough to make a comprehensive (yet, concise!) guide that will contain
every possible solution for the (ready for this?) plethora of problems that can be encountered
given the complexity (dynamics) of this situation (thas it!! No more of the big words for now...
severe pain in the brain box), and the sad fact is that most people tend to think of their
particular problems as "special", so they assume that the "common" solutions that are available
(pinned stuff and tuts) will not apply to their particular dilemma. The old "directions are for
kids" syndrome. (Me too, here. I remember the first time I tried my hand at skinning and after
kind of "glancing" at a tut, couldn't get the stuff to work (Wasn't my fault the game was ill
conceived and executed! ). Out of exasperation, I finally went back to the tut and saw several
steps that I'd missed (Wasn't my fault that the tut didin't have directions about actually
reading the directions.) and finally got the stuff to work. Tut is now a permanent resident on
my hard drive (memory ain't so hot anymore, either )).
I've only released a couple of mods, but one of the things I've done is include in the readme a
list of the files, and where they should go. Never got any complaints, so it must have worked.
Odd thing about the "never got any complaints" part was that my old zip program would only
extract correctly if I pointed the thing to the root (c:\) directory, so that's the way I set it
up (different from the normal Data Files target). Directions in the read-me stated this. Either
nobody ever used the thing or the people who did use it actually read the read-me! I prefer to
think it was the latter of the two.
1. Before you install a new mod for the first time, make a backup save game.
2. Once you install the mod, spend time just testing the mod. Don't worry about trying to make
progress in the game; just spend some time with the mod to decide if it you want to keep it,
delete it, modify it, or whatever.
3a. If you decide to keep the mod without any changes, then just go ahead and keep playing and
saving normally. Keep the backup saved game, in case you change your mind later on.
3b. If you decide to delete the mod, use the backup save (made before you installed the mod) to
continue your game.
3c. If you decide to make changes to the mod, go back to your backup save game first and delete
(or at least set aside) any saves made with the mod installed. Do all your testing from that
backup save. Don't make any saves with the mod installed until you're done editing and testing,
and you're absolutely sure you aren't going to make any more changes to the mod.
Some people have reported success using the Construction Set to remove references to deleted
mods from their save game files.
I have never tried this, but what I think you do is change the save game's file extension from
.ess to .esp, then load it into the Construction Set and clean it up. I don't know any more
about the process than that.
I would very strongly suggest backing up the save game first.
Before you install a mod, read the readme file carefull to see if it's really something you're
going to want to add to your game. And it's also useful to search the Morrowind Mods forum for
the name of the mod or the mod's creator, to see what other people have to say about it. A lot
of times that can save you from installing a mod that conflicts with other mods you use or has
#1890147 - 10/23/03 09:17 AM - DinkumThinkum continued
After you install game patches or expansions, when you load the game you may get a message about
changes to master files that some mods depend on. (I don't remember the exact wording .)
About that message:
All that means is that the mods were made with a different version of Morrowind: maybe a patch
that is later or earlier than what you have, for example. Or you may have Tribunal and/or
Bloodmoon and the mod was made without the expansion.
For most mods that shouldn't be a problem, and you can get rid of the error message easily by
re-saving the mod with your version of the game (but read my NOTE below first).
For each mod that's causing the error messages (do one mod at a time):
1. Start the Construction Set (just double-click on the shortcut)
2. On the File menu, choose the Data Files option.
3. On the Data Files screen, put a check mark next to Morrowind.esm; also next to Bloodmoon.esm
and/or Tribunal.esm if you have them. (Double-click to put the checkmark.)
4. Put a check mark next to the .esp file you need to resave. Then, with that .esp file
highlighted, click the 'Active' button. The .esp file should now be shown as 'active' on the list.
5. Now click the 'OK' button to load the .esp file and the masters into the Construction Set;
wait for all the data to be loaded (takes a bit).
6. If you have both Bloodmoon and Tribunal, you'll probably see a lot of Dialogue error messages,
followed by one about a 'duplicate reference' (or something similar). This is normal; just click
the OK button to get past them.
(If you have 'Yes to all' enabled in the morrowind.ini file, then you can just click the 'Cancel'
button to get past all of them at once.)
7. You should see the name of your .esp file in the Construction Set's title bar; this tells you
that it's the active file and will be the one saved.
8. Now immediately save the .esp file. You can use the 'Save' option on the File menu, or just
click the floppy disk icon in the tool bar.
Once you've saved the mod with your version of the game, you shouldn't get those 'has changed'
If a mod requires Tribunal and/or Bloodmoon, resaving the mod will not make the mod work without
the required expansions. If a mod requires Tribunal and/or Bloodmoon, then you need the
expansion(s) for it to work.
All re-saving the mod will do is get rid of the error message if you have a different patch
version of the game from the one the mod was made with.
Before installing mods, always check the readme file to see if they require any expansions you
If you have a lot of mods installed, not all of the may need to be resaved. Here are two ways to
see exactly which ones need resaving, which may save you time.
1. Go to the Data Files screen from the first menu when you start the game (the game, not the
editor). Highlight a mod, and look at the information in the boxes to the right. That will tell
you if the mod is was made with a different version of any of the master files, which means it
needs to be resaved.
2. After loading the game with all the plugins enabled, exit and read the 'warnings.txt' file in
your main Morrowind directory. That will list all the error and warning messages, including ones
about plugins needing different versions of the master files.
Quote: After you install game patches or expansions, when you load the game you may get
a message about changes to master files that some mods depend on. (I don't
remember the exact wording .)
I'm going to add something to this that was alluded to above: You CAN save over these
types of error messages without problems, but (AFAIK) these are the ONLY errors that are
safe to save over. Error messages about missing textures will probably not hurt, but you should
fix them before proceeding.
If you see any error messages on start up, OR ON ENTRANCE TO A NEW CELL WHILE PLAYING (active
(scripted) objects do not start processing until you enter the cell in which they reside), that
say something like: "missing reference to object in "xxx script"- DO NOT SAVE AND THEN SHUT THE
On some occasions a restart of the game will suffice to fix this (MW being stupid (per Inteligenz)),
but it can also be an error in the mod itself, and if you save AFTER seeing this type of message,
it can screw your save up big time.
Reason most modders tell you to make a clean (renamed) save of your current game before you run
#1910922 - 10/29/03 07:00 PM - cooldude55
Thanks for tutorial and I think I have a second Data Files folder because i followed your
instructions and it didn't work. If I do have how do I know that i do and how can I fix it?
Thank you very much.
#1911089 - 10/29/03 07:52 PM - Grumpy
In windows explorer, expand your "c:\program files\bethesda softworks\morrowind\data files"
folder. You will see the following subfolders:
There should NOT be another Data Files folder here. If there is, delete it (SUBFOLDER, NOT THE
ORIGINAL!!!) If it gets screwed up, go to your trashbin and restore to where you started from.
Expand your mod (.zip, .ace, etc.) again, but instead of pointing your extraction program to
the "Data Files" folder like you did the first time, jump one folder higher and point your
extraction program to the "Morrowind" folder instead.
One of the files included with the mod will be a .esm or .esp (check first post of this thread
for an explanation of what the various file types are). Check in your original "Data Files"
folder to insure that this file is in that folder. If it is, you should be able to enable this
plug-in on the splash screen.
Difficult (but more accurate method):
(Disclaimer: I'm doing this the best I can, but I ain't perfect, and take no responsibility if
it don't work (use of double negatives should fortify this "not perfect" point). At your own
The absolute best way to do this is to do it manually. Everybody in the know does it this way.
-Extract the mod to a temporary folder.
-Expand this temporary folder.
-Refer to the first post in this thread for information about the various files that can be
included with a mod (icons/meshes/textures/etc.).
-Find the subfolders (under Morrowind\Data Files) that match the ones now listed in your mods
-Copy... do not move, but copy the files from your temp folder into the corresponding folders
under Morrowind\Data Files.
-If a particular folder does not exist, you can just copy the entire folder to the appropriate
location (..."Data Files\Meshes\a" or "Data Files\Icons\w" for example (there can be many of
these new folders in some mods).
-Copy ALL files/folders to the appropriate locations. When your done, check and make ABSOLUTELY
SURE that all files/folders are in their correct locations by comparing what is in your temp
folder against what is in the Data Files folder.
-If you mess this up, it ain't gonna' work!
-Reason that we copy these files/folders instead of moving them is so that if you pooch it, or
at a later date, you decide that you want to remove the mod, then you'll have a record
(your temp folder) of what files/folders were included with the mod.
NOTE: Removal of any mod can present a whole new new set of problems, but I'm not going to go into that here.
It's simple... Get Zip Genius. It solved 99% of my plug-in install problems. You can see the
data paths specified BEFORE unzipping, allowing you to make sure the files wind up where they
should the first time.
#1970387 - 11/17/03 01:59 PM - Archived User Account
Quote: This thread is godly. I have already discovered the answer to several of my
questions and I'm just reading through this at work. Great job guys. *runs to re-install
mannequins mod* I do have a question for you, when using zipgenious to extract files, if
it places files in other folders, is there any way to tell them apart from the original
files? I went through and (thought I) deleted all my plug ins to I could start from scratch.
I didn't occur to me that there could be stray files running around. In this case, would it
behoove me to just copy my non-mod using save files and delete and re-install the whole
As part of the tutorial, I've only downloaded a dozen mods, but I've already run into a
TO THE MODDERS: Make sure you give your Read-me and origanol name. I have three read-mes
get this, "readme." Confusing as you can imagine.
If I understand your question correctly, no; there is no easy way to tell what mod put any
particular file into a particular folder. I would suggest that you keep the original archive
file for your plug-ins in a separate folder. That way if you need to reinstall it, you have it
somewhere handy. I also rename the "Read Me" files to something unique and move them all into
yet another folder (this one I keep on my desktop) for quick reference.
#2018818 - 12/02/03 02:24 PM - oldie
Well done, Grumpy, Dinkum and others!!
This should be standard bed-time reading for all newcomers to the world of modding
(would have saved me a whole lot of time if it had been around when I started)!