Is simply surviving not good enough for you?
We've opened Steam Workshop
for The Dead Linger. Now what? Well, that's simple. We're going to be taking submissions for all kinds of items, objects, structures, vehicles, creatures, and more! If we at Sandswept see something we like, we're going to include it in a future update to The Dead Linger!
Upset that we haven't made that super awesome weapon you want? Don't wait for us -- make it!
Wish we had a specific vehicle in the game? By all means -- create it!
Wondering why your house isn't available to explore and survive within The Dead Linger? Seriously -- get on this!
Want to make some zone layouts with our fancy Watertower - Scene Creator Tool? [Coming Soon!] You're in the right place.
Okay, you get the idea.
It's time you take the apocalypse into your own hands.
Through the power of Steam Workshop, you can submit finished 3D models and other content for community feedback and developer review for a chance to actually have them incorporated into the game as official content! To publish an item for consideration, read the FAQ and various guides below to ensure you're doing everything right.
New to making content for games? Watch the video and read below to get started!
Not new to model making but very interested? You can pick up The Dead Linger
We will not accept items that contain offensive imagery or any copyrighted or trademarked material.
Some examples of forbidden content:
- Nudity for the sake of nudity (Nudity in a dead-zombie context may be acceptable, but in most cases your submission may be rejected. We'd recommended steering clear of nudity entirely as it's definitely not what TDL is about.)
- Copyrighted logos or content (If you are creating a vehicle based on a real world vehicle, please read our guides on vehicles first! We have lots of lore-friendly corporations!)
Tools / Packages:
- TDL Workshop Uploader - Required. This tool is used to upload and manage your creations for Steam Workshop.
- TDL 3D Workshop Package - Want to make 3D stuff for TDL? Pick up this package. It currently contains the male survivor rig template for creating and skinning 3D clothing. More updates will arrive to this package in the future.
- TDL Item Testing Tool - Not Yet Available. This tool is for testing your creations in the game engine as well as running some additional checks to ensure the item is compatible with the game.
Additional Reading / Viewing:
- TDL Steam Workshop - Browse, rate and give feedback on other community-made TDL items
- Corporations in The Dead Linger - Recommended read. This list shows all the lore-friendly corporations for branding and applying logos to content you create, for those artists who want to go the extra mile to fit the thematic theme and storyline of the game.
- The Dead Linger Wiki - Recommended read. Check out existing content in the game and learn more about the game itself. When creating content, it's good to understand context.
Content Creation Tutorials:
Skill Level Required: Low
- Creating a Zone Layout with Watertower - by Sandswept Design Director Geoff Keene [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Written Journal - by Sandswept Design Director Geoff Keene [New!]
- Create a Shirt Logo - Template Image for creating images and/or text on shirts (Hoodies, T-Shirts, etc.)
- Create Graffiti - Template Image for creating in-game graffiti, murals, posters, or scrawled wall-writings
- Create a Billboard/Advertisement - Template Image for creating fake advertisements (key word: fake)
Skill Level Required: Moderate
- Creating a World Prop - by Sandswept 3D Artist Chaoss Pierce [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Gas Mask - by Sandswept Character Artist Dane Petersen [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Melee Weapon - Sandswept 3D Artist Jeff Macalino [Coming Soon!]
- Creating an Audio Journal - by Sandswept Design Director Geoff Keene [Coming Soon!]
Skill Level Required: High
- Creating a Jacket - Sandswept Character Artist Dane Petersen [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Rifle - Sandswept 3D Artist Jeff Macalino [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Simple Building - by Sandswept 3D Artist Chaoss Pierce [Coming Soon!]
Skill Level Required: Expert
- Creating a Complex Building - by Sandswept 3D Artist Chaoss Pierce [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Vehicle - Sandswept 3D Artist Jeff Macalino [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Creature - Sandswept Character Artist Dane Petersen [Coming Soon!]
- Creating a Zombie Variant - Sandswept Character Artist Dane Petersen [Coming Soon!]
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the steps to making a 3D item, object, vehicle, building, etc?
A: Here are broad steps involved in making 3D content:
- Concept: Come up with a good idea in words. Trust us, this is the hardest part.
- Design: Draw in 2D or 3D what it will actually look like.
- Model: Using a 3D program, create the clean polygon model that will actually be in the game.
- Unwrap: Unwrap the 3D model like skinning an animal (UVs) so you can texture map it.
- Texture: Using your UVs as a guide, start with a basic color. Add more colors. Add more details. Add scratches. Add dirt. Paint away! Repeat.
- Skin: If your item attaches to the player or has moving parts, you'll need to bind the model to a joint or create a skeleton for it.
- LOD: All items will need to be represented with multiple levels of detail. Check the guides for more information on that!
- Test: Load your item in the TDL Item Testing Tool and make sure it works as intended. [Not Yet Available]
- Publish: Upload it to the steam workshop with the TDL Workshop Uploader Tool! Include really clean screenshots, and maybe even some video!
Q: What formats are we dealing with here?
Great question! These are mandatory. We will reject files that do not use the correct formats.
- Template images must be in .PNG format.
- 3D models must be in .FBX format.
- Textures must be in .PNG or .PSD format (see "Texture Tips" question further down this page for more information)
- Package it all in a .zip, .rar, or .7z file when you upload the file to Workshop.
- Include any notes or things you want us to be aware of in a file called README.txt within this file.
- Sound or other audio files must be in .wav format.
- Music files must be in .wav format.
You must own the content you are submitting. We will repeat this many times to ensure everyone understands that. We will not ever be taking copyrighted content.
Q: How does the item publishing process work?
A: Like this:
- You create an item that meets the submission requirements.
- You test your item using the TDL Item Testing Tool and verify it is correct. [Not Yet Available]
- You publish your item to the Steam Workshop through the in-game item publishing tool.
- We review your item and decide if it meets our requirements to be added to the game.
- If selected, we will contact you and let you know. We will integrate the item into The Dead Linger.
- We will extensively test your item and make any necessary changes to ensure it fits.
- We will add it to the game, decide how it operates, and balance it properly. It will appear in an upcoming build!
NOTE: Content creators may suggest what their item or object does (if applicable) by including that info in their Steam Workshop submission description, but we at Sandswept will make the final gameplay decision and balance the item accordingly.
Q: Where can I find good tutorials to learn 3D modeling?
A: Search for “speed modeling” on YouTube.
There are a lot of digital art communities online with great information. Here are a few that we like to visit.
Q: What are some guidelines for matching TDL's art style and improving the chances of my item getting in?
A: This is a tricky question as the artstyle in TDL is always aiming to be realistic, but it also has to remain unified at the level of detail we're working towards. For example, photo-realistic textures are good, but having a flat surface with a heavily detailed photographic texture on it might not fit the style of geometry. Everything must match as closely as possible to the quality and style of existing items. So here's some general guidelines we follow when creating items:
- TDL takes place around the year 2016. For example, most cars are based on the same aesthetics as real-world 2012-2016 models, but there are plenty of classics and older vehicles as well.
- Everything in TDL is "used." Nothing in the world has not been worn by the passage of feet, wear from the sliding of hands, or the dinging of surfaces. A hammer would show sufficient wear to have been in use for years. A car, while perhaps being a modern car, would look like it's been used for at least a few years, hasn't been washed much, and has sufficient dirt and road wear. A jacket would look like it's been worn for quite some time in dirty conditions without being washed.
- Everything should make sense in the context of the apocalypse. Silly stuff isn't disallowed, but it has to make sense. If you want a cartoony, wearable dinosaur head, it would have to look like a costume when scrutinized in detail. If you want a silly backpack, or a silly melee weapon, imagine a survivor raided a toy store and found a funny toy weapon to hit things with. The weapon might stink, but in the context of the apocalypse, it would still make sense to be able to find it.
- This means no science fiction is allowed. No laser guns, no spaceships. Fictional high-level-military is however, allowed. (i.e. The Siren) No space marine stuff, unless of course, it fits in the context we mentioned previously, such as costumes.
- Old-world content is allowed as well, such as a blunderbuss from the 1800s, or medieval gear from even earlier, as long as there would potentially be a reasonable place to find them, such as a museum or collector's home.
- TDL has generally has realistic body and character proportions. Try to mimic real life as much as possible.
- If it's create-able or find-able in the real world, it would probably fit in TDL. We do allow some slightly unrealistic stuff, such as a craftable "explosive sledgehammer," (a sledgehammer with contact-explosives on the end) for the sake of fun. This is highly case-by-case. If you make an item that is slightly unrealistic, know that it is a bit of a gamble, but we will definitely be interested in reviewing it and seeing if it would be a good fit for TDL.
- Try and use slightly muted tones. Bright colors, such as a neon green hoodie, are allowed, as long as they have sufficient levels of dirt. Try and avoid full black, full white, or fully saturated colors. If you are making a common shirt, or a hat that could come in a wide variety of colors, be sure to create it in the proper way. The clothing guide will also explain setting up your items for changeable colors or color dyes.
Q: What software tool should I use to make my item?
A: It varies depending on what we're doing, but this is generally what we'd suggest:
- Maya (models, textures, skeletons, morphs, animation)
- 3ds Max (models, textures, skeletons, morphs, animation)
- Blender (models, textures, skeletons, animation FREE)
- Photoshop (textures)
- Zbrush (detail models, morphs and textures)
- 3Dcoat (models and textures)
- Mudbox (models and textures)
- Wings3D (models only, but it’s FREE)
- Modo (models and textures)
- XSI (models, textures, skeletons, morphs, animation)
Q: I am a 3D artist, how do I get started?
A: If you want to do clothing items, you need to download and install our TDL 3D Workshop Package. This includes the TDL Item Testing Tool as well. [Not Yet Available]
For other items, we'll assume you know how to create content and our tutorials (coming soon!) will help out with that if you're stuck. See questions below for additional information and guidance.
Q: What are the polygon and/or triangle count limits on my item?
A: Keep the polygon/triangle count similar to what's already in the game.
- Weapons: 6000 polygons (around 11,000 tris)
- Head/Face/Neck/Eyewear Items: 500 polygons (around 1000 tris) (even less for eyeglasses and simpler items)
- Body Clothing: 600 polygons (around 1200 tris)
- Other Items (i.e. food): 200 polygons (around 400 tris)
- Structures: Highly variable based on size, see Simple and Complex Building tutorials for more information. [Coming soon!]
- Vehicles: 10,000 polygons (around 18,000 tris)
- World Prop: Highly variable based on size, see Prop tutorial for more information. [Coming soon!]
- Doors / Windows: 200 polygons (around 400 tris)
Very rarely will we accept an item too far away from these numbers. See next question for LOD information.
Q: Any guidelines on the creating the LOD models?
A: Yes! Here's an LOD guide from Sandswept 3D Artist Chaoss Pierce:
"Always include 2 additional LOD levels. TDL supports up to 2 LODs maximum. The guide below is just that, a guide. Props which have lots of small parts can be combined with other
props, for example a vintage door may have a very detailed door handle, the door handle could be a second 'tiny' prop with the door being a huge prop.
As a rule of thumb; the larger the prop, the lower the triangle count can be. However, if you use a very strict level of detail mesh then you can have a higher triangle count.
Let's take a super detailed vintage door with steampunk gears, hinges and lots of decorative detail. You would normally say, "450 triangles max," but if the LOD is only 12 triangles, then you could instead use 600 polygons close up. Again this is all down to artistic choice, experience and skill. If you are unskilled with being crafty with your LODs, I'd recommend sticking to the basics and not trying anything too fancy. Main point of LODs is to reduce polygons and maintain the sillohuette and appearance of the object. TDL already takes care of "LOD Popping" with a dissolve effect between LODs.
Here's a quick guide for your LOD reduction amounts:
- LOD 0 (Master): No reduction. This is the close up model. (In this example: 1000 tris)
- LOD 1: 66% reduction or greater from LOD 0. (400 tris)
- LOD 2: 66% reduction or greater from LOD 1. (About 150 tris, or as low as possible)
Keep in mind that the lower your can make your LODs while maintaining the look of the object, the further away your LOD can be seen from. The Dead Linger is a careful dance of LODs to properly create this vast, long-distance world, and maintain performance.
Hopefully this answers most of your LOD questions! Please see the tutorials or visit our forums for further information on specifics."
Q: What resolution should my textures be?
A: Texture sizes should not be larger than 2048x2048. Preferably no smaller than 256x256 for smaller objects. We will scale your textures accordingly when we process it into the game. Including your higher resolution textures will give us the most 'wiggle-room' to work with your item.
Q: Any tips on creating textures?
A: Maintain the same texture density of other models in the world. If your item is lacking in small details compared to existing objects, add more. If your item has way too many scratches or scuff marks compared to other items, clean it up a bit. Remember; everything should look used, but not completely abused OR polished and pristine.
As far as format, send us your textures in .PNG format. Remember to include all of your files (models, textures, etc.) and associated normal maps. Alpha channels should be stored in the diffuse PNG image. Normal Maps should be in "Dot3" format. If you don't know what that means, don't worry; if your normal maps look like this
then you are good to go.
Q: Where can I get the models of the existing characters and other reference objects so I can build my item in context?
A: Download and install our TDL 3D Workshop Package. This includes the TDL Item Testing Tool as well. [Not Yet Available]
Q: I've made a model and textured it; How do I test them in the game engine?
A: Use the TDL Item Testing Tool. [Not Yet Available]
Submit your content anyway and we'll verify it by hand until the TDL Item Testing Tool is released!
Q: Do I have to use the TDL Item Testing Tool?
A: If you don't use it, your chances of the item getting rejected are much higher. Always test your items thoroughly![Not Yet Available, ignore this question until that changes!]
Q: What about other items, such as Journal Entries, Sound Effects, or Music?
A: We will provide some documentation on those in the future. Here's some quick tips on those:
- For journals, it's fairly self explanatory. If you own the writing (be it a short story, a journal, or a transcript) you may upload it and it may appear in the game as a findable journal.
- For sound effects, upload only .wav format. You must own the sounds. Sounds with background noise (unless the sound itself is intended to be ambient noise) will not be accepted.
- For music, upload in .wav format. You must own the music. If you didn't create it, don't upload it. A musical track must be at least 2 minutes long. Be sure to listen to The Dead Linger's current music to get a feel for the right mood and tempo. Keep in mind that most music will be played as ambient background music. Tracks filled with heavy or invasive sounds will not be accepted. Do not include any sound effects in your tracks that could be mistaken for game sounds, such as gunshots, car honks, zombie moans, door creaks, etc. We will be very selective about music to ensure it fits the theme. Try your best!
Q: My item just got rejected. Why?
A: Chances are that it didn't meet one, or several, or possibly all of the guidelines listed below:
- Obscenity: We will automatically reject any obscene items. This mainly means nudity, but it also means racial slurs or any content that would be widely seen as offensive. Curse words are generally allowed if it is in the correct context.
- Copyright infringement: Even if you made the model yourself, if you used an existing likeness, it’s copyright infringement. We can't and won't put other people's intellectual property in our game, for the simple reason that we don't own it. They do. We will automatically reject any items based on existing intellectual property. Vehicles using a likeness are dangerously close to IP infringement, so we would recommend designing your own cars, even if you are using inspiration from a real-world vehicle. Food items can not be real-world food items but parodies are acceptable. Do not use real-world corporations or companies. We have a list of lore-friendly corporations for The Dead Linger.
- Overall Tone: We may reject an item if we feel it deviates too far from the tone of TDL, such as by being cartoony or just not befitting of the experience we want to create for the survivors.
- Gameplay: If you create an item that is cool and fitting, but we simply can't find a use for it, it could be rejected. (Try to avoid making duplicate versions of items already in the game. For example, if you want to make a hammer, make sure it is distinct enough from the regular hammer survivor's can already find in the game. Give your items some personality!)
- Too Little Detail: Make sure your items have a level of surface detail (scratches, scuffs, dirt, wear and tear) comparable to items already found in the game. This also includes ensuring your scratching style and dirt style match the way we dirty things up. The tutorials should help with this some.
- Too Much Detail: Don't go overboard on damage, either. Make sure the items stay in that "used" feel we talked about earlier.
- Technical limitations: Items that require crazy changes to the character might be considered too costly to produce. Note: This does not mean that we will always refuse an item based on technical complexity. But in most cases, it probably isn't helping.
Good luck and get crafting!
Remember: Except in the very specific 'bad' areas (obscenity or copyright infringement, for example), these are not hard and fast rules. They are guidelines. We may select an item that breaks one or several of these guidelines, simply because it's too awesome not to include. However, these guidelines do dictate our selection process. Following them can only help your chances!
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