Morrowind is an open-world first-person RPG developed by Bethesda Softworks, and is the third in the Elder Scrolls series of games. The game has a world rich in art and lore, and because the game was designed to be completely moddable, has a sizable active community. OpenMW was started as a project to re-implement the Morrowind game engine in an open-source and cross-platform project.
OpenMW seeks to re-implement the entirety of the game mechanics of the original game, as well as support all assets and mod files made for the original engine, so that all original content can be played on a cross-platform and open source engine. Some other examples of projects like this for other games include GemRB, OpenTTD, and DaggerXL.
OpenMW's history has been an interesting one. Early on in development, the lead developer and driving force behind the project vanished. Normally an event as catastrophic as this so early in such an ambitious project would spell the end of it, but the active OpenMW development community rallied to fill the void. Zini was appointed project lead, and has been faithfully and adeptly guiding the project since. Another significant event in OpenMW history was the decision to switch the entire codebase from the D programming language to C++. Successfully making this switch enabled the project to tap a much wider pool of contributing developers. Most development discussion is centered around the OpenMW forum, rather than a mailing list or IRC channel, so discussions are public, permanent, and accessible. The decision to take action on non-developer tasks, such as PR work, website design/administration, and gameplay formula research also added significant momentum to the project.
OpenMW has struggled with handling the proprietary assets used by the original game engine, and the positives and negatives of using open source engine libraries instead of rolling our own subsystems. The project is commonly misunderstood by the non-development literate gaming community on the internet. But through the outstanding efforts of the entire team, the project has successfully put out several alpha releases, and is well on its way to reaching it's goal of hitting a "1.0" release.
This talk is intended to be a portrait of the history and current state of the OpenMW project, as well as a glimpse into the nature of open source game engine reimplimentation projects.