Morrowind,  Other Commentary

Morrowind doesn’t work on my Win11 ARM VM

I cannot imagine there are too many people in the world besides me who meet the following criteria:

  1. Interested in playing Morrowind
  2. Are primarily Mac owners
  3. Own a M1 MacBook Pro (this is my new computer Lydia)
  4. Prefer to use a controller rather than a gaming mouse
  5. Has a Nintendo Switch Pro controller as current controller of choice
  6. Have set up a Windows 11 ARM build as a VM on said M1 MacBook Pro explicitly for gaming
  7. Have attempted to run Morrowind in that VM

But if anybody else out there actually does fall into this extremely niche case, it may interest you to know that I learned tonight that at least out of the box, I cannot run Morrowind well in my VM.

It does load and I can get into my prior save files from the Steam Cloud. But the game does not want to talk to my Switch Pro controller. I can’t move with it at all. Given that I have learned from setting up games on my ancient PC laptop (Savah) that I prefer to play with a controller, not having my controller of choice working in this scenario is sub-optimal.

It’s also confusing, at least somewhat. This exact same controller is working well when I play Skyrim in this VM.

But on the other hand, Skyrim is eleven years old. Morrowind is twenty. I’m frankly kind of stunned that Morrowind loads on an ARM build of Windows 11 at all.

So now I’m torn between conflicting impulses. On the one hand, making Morrowind work in this VM is not a priority. I have a fully viable Morrowind set up on my Steam Deck, and arguably, the play experience is nicer on the Deck anyway, since I can take advantage of the back buttons there.

On the other hand, I now have a technical problem before me! And it’s probably going to nag at me until I figure out a solution, or at least a plausible cause.

As near as I can tell, Steam on both this VM and on Savah are defaulting to the same controller configuration for Morrowind, i.e., a keyboard (WASD) + mouse setup. But Savah is picking up on the controller anyway. The VM isn’t, and I’m not sure what step I missed.

It’s clearly not a question of Windows in general not seeing the controller, because I can use it in Skyrim. What’s going on here appears to be entirely Morrowind’s fault.

I’ve even tried the PS4 controller we had unused in the house (it’s not mine, but neither Paul nor Dara were using it, so I’ve co-opted it for use in ESO), and that controller shows the same behavior as the Switch Pro controller does. Morrowind’s EXE just doesn’t acknowledge that it’s there.

Windows sees the controller. So does Steam. Morrowind, not so much.

At this point the only other thing I can think to try is to doink around with the EXE’s compatibility settings, and see if that helps. I will report my findings when I try that!

But other than that, if anybody has ideas for other things to check, let me know!

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.