Tamriel Rebuilt is a mod for TES III: Morrowind that aims to add the mainland of the Morrowind province to the game, as Bethesda would have done it. The province is released as a series of expansions; players can already download and enjoy a landmass twice the size of the original game and containing an amount of quests roughly equal to that of the base game.
Happy new year from the Tamriel Rebuilt team! As is our hallowed tradition dating back at least to 2005, let’s take a look back at what went on in Tamriel Rebuilt throughout 2022.
Of course, the biggest thing to happen this year was the release of our twin-expansions of Dominions of Dust and Embers of Empire on November 24th. Dominions of Dust in particular was a long time coming and a tough slog for our developers. This expansion – centered on the borderlands of House Hlaalu and Redoran – was plagued by issues stemming from its more than a decade-long development process. Counter-intuitively, repurposing old work is often much harder and less motivating for our developers than building things from scratch. In particular, quest development for this expansion had taken a long time, as many our initial drafts for the questlines turned out too complex or disjointed, and since quality issues with old interiors and exteriors commonly interfered with quest work, requiring long stretches of downtime while the issues were fixed.
The city of Andothren. Its exterior was originally made by kingfish, and was overhauled by Gnomey and Chef.
The Embers of Empire expansion – a full rework of the western coast of Telvannis and its Imperial settlements – was born in late 2020, largely out of Taniquetil’s frustration with Dominions. In contrast to Dominions, many developers took to this expansion with much enthusiasm. However, Embers, too, was problematic in its own way, given the tendency of its scope to keep expanding, drawing development out much longer than originally intended.
Great strides were made on both expansions through 2022, however. Innumerable assets were added to give more character to our new locations, dozens of missing interiors were made and reviewed, landscapes were fixed or overhauled, and far more than a hundred quests were implemented and reviewed over the course of the year. In particular, the team learned a lot about quests: how important it is for the quest writer to also implement it in the Construction Set, how it is far easier and more effective to conceptualize a questline from scratch, rather than stitch together years-old plans, and how less is often more in Morrowind quests.
The real breakthrough was the imposition of an internal deadline for all quests to be finished by September 20th, which was met in the case of most of our in-development questlines. This left only two short months for a projected November 20th release, but the reviewing and bug-hunting team truly made miracles happen. The expansions, which for several years seemed perennially “six months away,” were finally released only four days past the target date, accompanied by DarkElfGuy’s incredible trailer, and even garnering notice from established gaming magazines. By now, the release has received three hotfixes, available on our website, with a full bugfix release upcoming.
Moving past Dominions and Embers, 2022 was also a great year for our further expansions. The next one – centered on the south-eastern shore of Lake Andaram and the town of Hlan Oek – was conceptualized early in the year as a small stop-gap replacement for what used to be the Coronati Basin release, most of which was folded together with the upcoming Narsis expansion. Although the town of Hlan Oek was a relatively recent creation from 2018, its exterior and all of its interiors were overhauled to adhere to our current quality standards and, more importantly, to fit the town’s main story themes better. Furthermore, a large transition zone of the alien-looking Othreleth Woods region was added just to the west of Hlan Oek to keep the players from gazing into the void.
The Armun Pass fort currently marks the edge of the Dominions of Dust. In the next expansion, you can explore some of the lands beyond thanks to the exterior work of Chef and Blackbird.
Even more, the addition of NPCs to the Hlan Oek area already began in the latter part of the year, as the final quests were being reviewed for Dominions and Embers; this work is now almost finished, as are some miscellaneous quests. Planned additions to the Aanthirin region are also mostly completed. What remains are a couple of questlines and a moderate rework of Almas Thirr to make space for the Imperial guilds.
The second half of 2022 saw the beginning of work on the Sundered Scar region, which is to receive a similar overhaul as that seen in Embers of Empire. The new island of Gorne in the Inner Sea was completed by Cicero already in Summer, and buoyed by the good progress on required assets, exterior claims on the mainland proper were opened. One of them, containing the entirely rebuilt town of Darvonis, was completed by Chef towards the end of the year. This allowed our interior developers to start filling it up; more than half of the interiors in this town are now done.
A cavern in the Shipal-Shin region by Aveno, featuring brand-new cavern assets by Stripes, S’Wit, and Kynesifnar.
One of the major achievements of Tamriel Rebuilt in 2022 was surely the huge progress made on Narsis – both the city itself and the surrounding countryside. As mentioned above, the beginning of the year saw the addition of the Coronati Basin with its many Hlaalu settlements to the Narsis expansion. All of the remaining exterior claims were finished thanks to Chef, Phenoix12, Mojo187, and Blackbird, as was a formidable amount of interior claims, including the entirety of the prosperous town of Ud Hleryn. By now, the bulk of all interior claims in the release are either done or actively being worked on.
Most incredible was the interior work speedrun done on the city of Narsis itself – since Summer, when the city’s exterior was completed by Chef, our many interior developers have finished more than 70% of the city’s interiors (with 40% being additionally reviewed), making incredibly quick work of what was once considered a huge bottleneck to further development. All of this was courtesy of the tireless planning of the Cabbage Enthusiasts Club.
A triangle of land centering on the Othreleth Woods region is all that remains to be made in southwestern Morrowind. Exterior claims for this area were opened in early 2022 and while progress on them was relatively slow in the beginning of the year, it has now substantially picked up. Blackbird had the honor of officially completing the first exterior claim in the woods proper, but a couple parts of the northwestern Shipal-Shin are very near completion, too, as is Nemon’s take on the grand metropolis of Kragenmoor. Most other claims remain in development and have by now seen considerable progress.
Progress on the exteriors of southwestern Morrowind over the past year. Many of the exteriors here are still works-in-progress.
Of the stragglers, the year also saw the creation of the new outlying island Vounoura in the northwestern Sea of Ghosts by Cicero, and some modest progress on the northeasterly Olanar. Our planned rework of the official mod Firemoth gained steam very recently and has now been completed exterior- and interior-wise, with the Firemoth quest being currently reimplemented by Evil Eye.
A new spell for Grurn by Evil Eye.
2022 also saw a motherlode of new 3D assets being created for Tamriel Rebuilt. Some of the highlights include the completion of the Sundered Scar and Othreleth Woods exterior assets, and the Shipal-Shin cavern set, all the work of several asset developers, which enabled much of the progress elaborated on above. Good progress was made on assets for the upcoming Deshaan Plains region by Hemaris, and innumerable new weapons and armors were added to Tamriel_Data primarily by AnrohaNexus, but also by other developers. Not least, great strides were made across the entire repository in fixing old assets and improving consistency and performance.
Many plans were laid down for future regions and factions in the mod, including Vern’s in-depth documents for the nomadic Shinathi in the Shipal-Shin region (previously known as the Red Swarm Militia) and the convoluted power structure of House Hlaalu with its many family branches. Mark contributed an ambitious plan for a full redo of Telvannis, for now consigned to the far future. Throughout the year, Taniquetil together with others made substantial changes to our planning map (i.e., the gridmap), with the previous ideas for Almalexia, as well as northwestern and southeastern Morrowind heavily revisited. A new version of the gridmap for all of Tamriel is coming soon.
On the website, the first fruit of a laborious deep dive into old forum archives by several developers was released as our revamped Tamriel Rebuilt project history page, chronicling the twists and turns of this two-decade-old project. Most other pages in the “About” section of the website were, likewise, overhauled for the new release. Jani and Magamo, furthermore, did some substantial technical work on the website, overhauling the role system and bringing our forum archives forward to a modern infrastructure.
Finally, from the administrative standpoint, we decided to do away with our Lead Developer positions to form a more consensus-based approach to things. Instead, we are now left only with normal and senior developers, with different administrative tasks, like website administration, role management, moderation, and editing privileges parceled out the senior developers as required.
Overall, it is not a stretch to say that 2022 was one of the best years in TR development so far. Let’s hope that 2023 can match it! If you want to make sure this is the case, consider joining us as a developer. Morrowind modding is easy to pick up; no prior experience is needed!
Images credits: AHumpierRogue, Chef, CMAugust, Ctroost, Evil Eye, Meriyal