Seyda Neen from Above, Using FarNifAutoGen v0.10, Vurt's Bitter Coast Tree Replacer II, Vurt's Ascadian Isles Tree Replacer, and Vurt's Ashland Tree Replacer in the distant background. Also visible in the background is Pelagiad. Sharp eyed viewers might also recognize the bridge to Suran on the far right edge.
The FarNifAutoGen tool is still missing convenient BSA reading/extraction and artifact-free GhostFence FAR.NIF generation, but I've finally achieved one of my main goals and also the driving reason for creating this tool in the first place: a solution to blocky leaf and branch textures when using Vurt's Tree Replacers for Morroblivion with VWD trees models.
Developer Journal, 2019-April-6:
Back in 2016, I received permission from Vurt to convert his popular Tree Replacer mods for Morrowind to Morroblivion. I am a big fan of his Tree mods, so I wanted to create the most faithful conversion to Morroblivion that I could. The first hurdle was figuring out how to convert the thousands of hand-placed trees, moved trees and deleted trees from Morrowind to Morroblivion. This was achieved with the latest versions of the ModExporter. An additional bonus of the ModExporter was the automatic generation of VWD models or _FAR.NIFs. It only took a few seconds of in-game testing to realize that, in order to fully enjoy Vurt's high quality models and trees, that users needed to be able to see these models from far away (aka VWD/Distant Object support).
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a much more complicated issue than I first thought: although the ModExporter automatically generated VWDs during the conversion from Morrowind to Morroblivion, there turned out to be an inherent incompatibility in the existing _FAR.NIF files in the Morrblivion BSA. Specifically, Vurt's tree models use textures with alpha-channels as an efficient way to draw leaves and small branches. However, most Oblivion and Morroblivion VWDs are created with the assumption that alpha-channels are not used. Even the popular PyFFI NifToaster utility will delete alpha-channel properties in _FAR.NIF files in the mistaken assumption that no VWD models use alpha-channels. The end result of these mistaken assumptions is that the TES4 game engine's graphics pipeline will disable alpha blending/drawing causing the branch textures to be drawn with black borders filling in areas intended to be see-through (between leaves and branches).
In order to solve these blocky texture artifacts, we needed to go through every FAR.NIF file in the Morroblivion worldspace and modify or replace it with a version that contained an alpha-property records for each vertex group, even if it was unused. Additionally, many existing Morroblivion textures contained hidden and unused alpha-channel data that needed to be analyzed and zeroed out when alpha-channels are activated for their respective models. This process would have to be repeated for the nearly 100 _FAR.NIF files in the Morroblivion meshes BSA. This issue sat on the back burner for over a year as I worked on more immediate issues with bugfixes, etc.
These issues will finally be resolved with the upcoming release of the FarNifAutoGen tool. With it, I have generated all the necessary replacement _FAR.NIF files to over-ride the Morroblivion BSA, allowing the true beauty of Vurt's Tree Replacers to finally be enjoyed in Morroblivion.