Last updated June 9th.
May 10th: first version of the document
Jun 9th: cleaned up some grammatical mistakes, trimmed some unhelpful and overlong sections, added an additional suggestions section and uploaded a small bug fix for windoors glow.
->Guideanon's Morrowind modding guide (http://pastebin.com/7gF2VLaf) is a fantastic resource, it's one of the few up to date Morrowind graphics guides out there and easily the most comprehensive among them. With MGSO really starting to show its age, this guide was especially useful for anyone not constantly keeping themselves up to date on the happenings within the games modding community, which is still quite active to this day. Unfortunately I've noticed there are a few issues with the guide that never truly got ironed out which I've outlined below. Some of this is just meant to steer people away from problematic mods and other information is to make them aware of issues a mod has before they decide whether or not they want to use it, but I figured I'd include everything I noticed.
1. Major points of note (important!)
Animation Compilation and the Morrowind Code Patch (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/43982/?)
-> Weird and borderline game breaking issues like NPCs having a hard time navigating during combat, attacking infrequently and sliding across the floor on death will occur if you use this alongside the improved animation support option in the morrowind code patch. Make sure you keep that option in the code patch unchecked! On a related note, Abot wrote about some other options in the code patch that you may want to leave unchecked and why. Anyone using the code patch (which should be just about all of you) should give it a look;
LGNPC; Less Generic Tribunal
-> This has already been noted on tesgeneral and a helpful anon made me aware of this problem, but I'll try to outline it as clearly as possible here since it's a bit convoluted. The official version of less generic tribunal contains a few bizarre errors (like turning the sound effect from muck piles into a robotic buzzing noise) that never got fixed for whatever reason. As noted in the guide, Abot was awesome enough to release a fix for it. The problem? The guide only links to the fix, which in turn only includes the .esp file that needed fixing. You still need the data from the original mod for everything to work properly. Here's what you need to do;
Install the original mod (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/23363/?)
Then install abots fixed .esp file (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bywrx4WHfGJJcjZJVFVLVXhsREE/view) and overwrite the .esp from the original mod (or just install everything from the original mod except the .esp file and then install this on top, whichever works for you). Everything should work properly now.
Vurts Tree Replacers
-> On the subject of Vurts trees, it should be noted that a few of them have buggy collision that never got cleaned up, and there a number of instances where they cause noticeable clipping and/or collision issues in interiors. If you'd like to quickly check this out for yourself, the tree just inside the entrance to Llethri manor in Ald-Ruhn is about as bad as this issue gets. I'm of the opinion that they're still definitely worth using and add a lot to the game visually, but this is still worth keeping in mind before deciding whether or not you want to make them a permanent fixture in your game.
3. Bump maps
A note for Open Morrowind users
->Chances are you aren't the sort who goes for these sorts of guides if you're an early adopter of OpenMW as it means you've opted for a pre-1.0 version of the new engine over MGE, the code patch and many scripted mods, but if you are you should be aware that anything bump mapped for the original engine won't work with OpenMW. What I mean by that is that bump mapping that was made possible by the code patch isn't real bump mapping but rather a work around that looks like the worlds shiniest plastic when rendered in OpenMW. Well, either that or a very heavily glazed donut depending on your interpretation I suppose. The point is, you won't want to use these or other texture replacers using fake normal maps if you're an OpenMW user.
Tipping the scales slightly, at the time of this writing there are 3 texture replacers by the same author made specifically for OpenMW that use real normal maps and apparently even have some parallax maps as well. They look quite good and are worth checking out if you're an OpenMW user. Even if you aren't like me, they still don't look half bad in the original Morrowind engine despite the parallax, normal and specular maps not working and might be worth giving a look if you want something vanilla friendly and aren't happy with the other options out there;
Guar Skin Banners (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44355/?)
Redoran Arkitektora (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/43003/?)
->Not directly related to bump mapping, but the most prominent redoran texture is blurry looking in this recommended texture replacer, almost as though it's of a significantly lower resolution than it actually is. The texture in question is used on redoran building exteriors and interiors on walls and floors. If you want to experiment with alternatives, the texture in question is called tx_redoran_hut_00.dds. I'm only mentioning this because of how jarringly "off" it appears to my eyes compared to how good the rest of the mod looks, and the texture is oddly named for how much it gets used which can make it tough to track down.
Redoran bump mapped (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/42406/?)
-> Even with the fix Guideanon included in his guide for this, you should be aware that the most prominent floor texture will shimmer in a distracting manner when moving around inside redoran buildings with this, as will some other assorted textures. I think this problem relates to how difficult it is for texture modders to pull off the pseudo bump mapping the code patch makes possible without the texture coming off as overly bright, but whatever the case you should probably skip this one if that sort of thing bothers you at all (it definitely bothers the living hell out of me). Unfortunate the quality of the textures themselves is great, but it is what it is and if you're just downloading it to get the bump mapping patch for Redoran Arkitektora like Guideanon Reccomends then there's really not much point.
Hlaalu bump mapped (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/42396/?)
-> If you like the look of this one you should go for it, but again if you're just getting it so you can use the bump mapping patch for Tyddy's Hlaalu replacer like Guideanon Recommends I'd advise against it. The Bump mapping adds a slight glazed donut type of sheen to Tyddy's textures and turns them paler, into an off-white colour. In other words, you should pick whichever of these two you prefer but really shouldn't be mixing them.
Trama root bump mapped (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/43015/?)
-> Some models that originally had no collision had some added, as evidenced by guards on patrol in Ald-Ruhn getting stuck on them. Oddly enough the model used the the graphic herbalism patch that replaces those meshes after you pick ingredients correctly don't have any collision, so it was definitely an oversight on the mod authors part. Hardly game breaking, but a problem worth being aware of at least.
4. Bug Fixes and Mod Management
Wrye Mash (http://download.fliggerty.com/download--141)
-> If you've used Wrye Bash for any of the later elder scrolls title, this is basically a simpler version of it. If you haven't, Wrye Mash allows you to manage your mods in a full sized window(!), save different load orders, sort your load list alphabetically, modify your load order on the spot (albeit less conveniently than bash) and other such convenience of life features for anyone managing an extensive list of mods. Why put this in the same category as bug fixes? It helps resolve one irritating issue you've undoubtedly run into by now.
You've probably noticed that some mods cause an error message on starting up the game about how your morrowind.esm doesn't meet the exacting standards of their morrowind.esm or some such bullshit. I've read conflicting things on whether or not this is more than just a completely harmless error message, but nonetheless it becomes irritating when it happens every single time you start up the game. With Wrye Mash it's an easy fix however, all you need to do is select any offending mod (their checkbox will be yellow instead of green) and then left click on the right pane that shows their master file(s). You should get a popup (unless you've already disabled it) asking if you're sure you want to edit or update the master list. Click OK, then click on save (located in the bottom right of the wrye mash window, just below the pane listing the mods master files) and that's all there is to it. No more annoying error messages!
-> This is definitely the best glowy window mod out there, and the fact that it hasn't been released on an English website at any point is kind of strange so it was good of Guideanon to point it out. However (likely lost in translation) it was never pointed out that this also needs to bsa file from the bloodmoon version of windows glow (specifically the _wgb/tex01.dds texture) in order to work properly. Not even a problem with the mod, just something the guide didn't mention that you should be aware of in case you decide to not use the bloodmoon version of windows glow (tomb of the snow prince integrates it after all) and wonder why you're getting error messages around imperial forts.
Modders must really hate the Redoran, because there's another problem relating to them that you've probably noticed if you've been playing with Windoors Glow for very long. Whenever you enter a Redoran style building with windows you'll be treated to a flurry of error messages firing off and the windows will be solid white if you've stumbled in there during the day. The problem is caused by the daytime window mesh added by the mod having a small pathing mistake in how the window portion of the model assigns its textures. I've gone ahead and made a fix for it, which you can find here;
5. Suggestions on how to improve the guide directly.
While the previous sections of this document were focused on bringing attention to problems that the guide missed, the following is simply outlining some optimizations the guide could do with alongside any new mods I'm aware of that it probably would have included if they existed at the time.
-> A lot of connary's texture replacers get suggested by the guide along the way with a whole bunch of different links, but there's really no reason I can think of to not just install all his mods after morrowind visual pack as something of an extended "base" and then go from there. A complete archive that includes all of his work can be found on morrowind modding history and mentioning it at the appropriate point in the guide instead of linking to individual connary mods along the way would help make things a bit less long winded.
Full Dwemer retexture (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44264/?)
-> Tyddy has recently released a complete Dwemer retexture which definitely should be added to the end of that section of the guide, if not outright replace most of the other mods in it entirely given its comprehensive nature. His other retextures are already featured heavily in the guide, and this may be the best one he's released yet. Highly recommended.
Armors Retexture - Outlander Styles (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44210/?)
-> Another mod by Tyddy that postdates the last update the guide received, this time with a focus on armour styles which aren't native to Vvardenfell. A nice complimentary piece to the Native Styles mod already in the guide. On that note;
Hirez Armors - Native Styles
->Like less generic Tribunal this isn't my information, but one helpful anon made me aware of it and guardly has since added it to tesgeneral. I'm just putting it here (entirely quoted) for completions sake for anyone who hasn't seen it.
"HiRez has a new version, V2, not on nexus, linked in "forums"
Has fixes too
Better Morrowind Armor; Defemm: Seems to make orcish cuirass on males invisible for some reason.
6. Additional suggestions
While I think most of these mods represent improvements in keeping with the sort of mods the original guide recommends, I've opted to put them in a separate section from the one above because I'm not so certain everyone would agree. Think of this as a simple list of additional suggestions for anyone who has (or hasn't) already gone through Guideanon's guide and is still interested in adding some more stuff to their game.
Better Music System (http://mw.modhistory.com/download-61-13678)
-> If you've ever wanted to mod Morrowind's same-45-minutes-on-loop-forever soundtrack into something more robust like what basically every other game has, here you go. Unique music for different towns and all. Note that there's a bunch of download links on the mod page beneath the description, which you'll want to use at least as a base to get you started if you decide to use it. It comes with instructions on how to modify the soundtrack to your liking (adding in your own songs and such), and while more complicated to set up than your average mod if you choose to do much customization, it's entirely worthwhile.
Better Music System BTB Edit (http://btb2.free.fr/files/morrowind_bms.zip) (http://mw.modhistory.com/download-61-15318)
You'll need both of these downloads if you decide to use this version, but nothing from the version above. BTB heavily modified and stripped down the original mod, removing arguably extraneous elements such as night time and underwater music, along with much of its customizability. You can still swap in your own music like with the original, but this version was designed more to be a simple plug and play mod.
If you use either of these, be sure to either delete or rename the battle and explore folders in your data files/music folder or it won't work properly. The readmes say as much, but it's an unusual installation requirement so I might as well repeat it here.
Less Bulky Pauldrons (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/42566/?)
->Much in the same style as better Morrowind armor, this mod thins out a bunch of different pauldron sets. Comes with a patch for both better Morrowind armor and native styles v2 if you use them.
Better Ships and Boats (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44001/?)
-> Replaces all the boats in the game with high detail models and textures, including some faction appropriate sails for the larger ships in certain port towns. Uses its own texture set so you won't have to worry about any wood textures around the game getting overwritten by out of place boat planks either. The only downside is that any ships added by other mods will have some slightly misaligned and sunken crates/barrels/sacks/etc. on them but it's relatively minor, everything in the original game has been adjusted appropriately to fit with the new models.
Holamayan Monastery Replacer (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/43524/?)
-> Turns Holamayan from a bog standard Velothi building with a trick door into something befitting its status in the lore.
Winds of Sheogorad (http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44243/?)
-> Overhauls the Sheogorad region into an aesthetically pleasing pine forest with the occasional snowy zone and adds three new dungeons as well. You might look at the concept and wonder why you'd want to turn the Azura Coast clone region into the Solstheim clone region, but trust me it's extremely well done and the pictures don't do it justice. It also stands out from other landscape overhauls by not going overboard with adding too many things all over the place, preserving your fps which is probably struggling to keep your game playable as is. This will obviously conflict with any groundcover mods you might have adding grass to the Sheogorad region but eh.
Falensarano overhaul: http://www.nexusmods.com/morrowind/mods/44244/?
-> From the same author as the above mod, this overhauls Falensarano from being yet another forgettable ancient dunmer stronghold into something pretty neat and expansive, not to mention eye catching. If you like other mods that overhaul vanilla dungeons without turning them into anything out of place, you should give this one a go as well.
Hopefully this guide provided at least some useful information to those of you who looked through it, let me know if you notice anything you think can be added here or if I've inadvertently dug the rabbit hole even deeper by adding unintentional misinformation of my own. I'm fairly confident that everything in here is accurate, but human error being what it is you never know.