Skywind showcases the creativity of the PC modding community

What do you get when you take one of the most loved PC RPGs of all time, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and replace its aging graphics engine with the powerful beast that’s behind The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? Well, you get Skywind, an excellent fan made mod for Skyrim. It’s been in the making for over a year now, with development starting 2012. A part of the TES (The Elder Scrolls) renewal project, there are over 70 members currently working on Skywind (the project started off with 8 members), including 30 voice actors who will bring the characters of Morrowind to life in addition to music composers, animators, coders and weapon designers.

Further evidence of its ambition in lies in the fact that Skywind isn’t simply a port of Morrowind’s quests and game world into the Skyrim engine. The creators of the mod are quite clear on the fact that the Skyrim engine is purely a tool — the ultimate goal is to create a game world that fans of the series can call their own, with visual and aesthetic tweaks that serve to enhance Morrowind rather than take it to a place where Skyrim has been before. Skywind is not just a simple Skyrim mod, it is an experience enhancement. With the help of landscape designers, creature, character and armour modellers, the team behind the mod have added enough new world elements that set it apart from Skyrim. The edges are still as well rounded as Skyrim but the inhabitants, items and locales are still very familiar — and very Morrowind.

Then there’s the attention to detail. Armour for instance, has been designed not just with the complexities of shape and texture in mind, but with close adherence to The Elder Scrolls lore. For instance, you would find certain types of Dunmer (Dark Elf) armour crafted from materials that are resistant to heat and ash — the Dunmers were Morrowind natives who were affected by the volcanic eruption of Red Mountain. There’s also the matter of the questing engine, which will need to be fool-proofed. There were over 600 quests in Morrowind, and the team is on the job recreating and testing these quests for the final release.

In addition to being one big voice recording project, since Skywind’s characters will all feature voices unlike Morrowind, where only a few main characters featured voice acting, several tracks of original score have been added to Skywind (Morrowind only featured around eight tracks of score). With the music in place, the voice actors can turn their attention to recording around 30,000 lines of dialogue.

The Skyrim engine comes with a lot of perks as well. Fast travel and quest markers, which weren’t available in Morrowind are now a reality, as are the skill and perk system for character progression, as well as smithing and crafting. The engine is also flexible enough for the team to implement Morrowind’s armour system, allowing players to equip their characters with two pauldrons, 2 gauntlets, greaves, boots, cuirass and helmet at the same time.

The downside? Well, you can’t play Skywind right now. Due to its pre-alpha state, the testing is happening within a closed user group, but what you can do in the meantime, assuming you don’t own a copy of Skryim, Morrowind and its two expansion packs, Tribunal and Bloodmoon (all of which are required to experience Skywind), you can grab your copies at your local game store or digital copies online via Steam (the Game of the Year edition is priced at $20), and check out the mod’s official page at TESrenewal.com.