Modding Tutorials – A Guide to Conflicts

A Coastal ShackAlright, so you’re ready to head out into the modding world, finally installing and actually adding mods to your game instead of just reading about it, and you’ve already read the cleaning tutorial to know what to look out for. Great, but there’s just one more thing you should know, and that’s mod conflicts. As you might imagine, a mod conflict is when two mods aren’t compatible with one another and conflict, however, what you probably don’t realize is that there’s several different kind of conflicts, and some of them are quite easy to fix! The first, and probably the most common, is what I like to call the physical conflict, when two mods physically use the same location, and therefore conflict with each other. Consider the screenshot below. Morrowind Mod Conflict ExampleHere we have two mods (let’s just call them “Mod A” and “Mod B” for simplicity’s sake) that both place buildings in the exact same location in Balmora (a location which is coincidentally rather conflict-heavy among mods), and as you can tell it looks like a bit of a mess. The building placed by “Mod A” has been completely cut off by another building placed by “Mod B”, and a tree placed by “Mod A” is blocking “Mod B”. One way to avoid this sort of conflict if you’re a modder, is to avoid common locations (like Balmora) and do some research by looking at other mods that are out there. If you’re a player, however, and want to keep both mods in your save-game, you’re going to have to open the construction set and move one of the mods yourself (if you’re on Steam, you’ll need the CS fix download for this) or contact one of the modders involved about creating a solution.

Another rather common conflict is the landscape conflict, where two different mods use the Construction Set’s landscape editor to edit the same exterior cell. In some cases, Morrowind will use the cell changes of the newest mod, overwriting the cell changes of any older mods. For example, let’s say “Mod A” was created in 2005 and placed a hill in the exterior cell Ascadian Isles Region (1, -7), and “Mod B” was created in 2008 and flattened a tiny portion of the terrain in Ascadian Isles Region (1, -7). If both of these mods were active at the same time, the changes made by “Mod A” would be erased, and any objects added by “Mod A” on top of that hill would now be floating in the air. These conflicts also occur if one mod changes the ground textures in a cell, the game will still read this as a landscape conflict. In some cases, two mods with a landscape conflict will result in some strange bugs, like terrain tearing, as you can see below with a landscape conflict between “The Sable Dragon” and “Shacky Manor“. Terrain Tearing ExampleIn this sort of scenario, if you want to keep both mods, you’ll have to go through and delete the landscape changes made by one of them (there’s an example of how to do this with Enchanted Editor down below) and physically make corrections to any floating/buried objects that result from deleting that landscape change.

Modding in Morrowind - Landscape Change DeleteFinally, there’s object ID conflicts. These aren’t particularly common, but they can occur if two mods both have an object with the same ID. For example, if “Mod A” (made in 2005) added an object to the game called A_Com_Chest_02, and “Mod B” (made in 2008) also added an object with the same name, Morrowind will overwrite the properties of the object added by “Mod A” with the properties of the object added by “Mod B”. Now admittedly this isn’t a common problem, but I’ve seen it happen more than a few times. Usually, a modder will be lazy and just name an object starting with “A” or even worse “_”, probably assuming no one else would do that. Of course, where there’s one lazy modder, there’s typically more, and hence a conflict is born.

A simple way to prevent this sort of conflict is to have a unique naming convention. Just like with passwords, the more unique you make it, the less likely it’ll be to conflict. Personally, I use the system of ModderInitials_ProjectInitials#_ItemName to name all the objects I create in the editor. For example, an object from “Of Justice and Innocence” would be named DEG_OJAI01_ComChest, practically guaranteeing it won’t conflict with anyone else’s mod (except possibly one of my own future projects, but even that seems unlikely).

That about covers all of the conflicts between mods that I know of personally, though dirty references can also cause conflicts so you should always clean your mod before releasing it (you can refer to the cleaning guide here for how to deal with that). I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful, and good luck with your mod projects!

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