Previously, I described the goals and philosophy that were guiding my design of our implementation of the Leadwerks Workshop on Steam. To review, the goals were:
1. Frictionless sharing of items within the community.
2. Protection of intellectual property rights.
3. Tracking of the chain-of-authorship and support for derivative works.
In this update I will talk more specifically about how our implementation meets these goals.
Our implementation of the Steam Workshop allows Leadwerks developers to publish game assets directly to Steam. A Workshop item is typically a pack of similar files, like a model or texture pack, rather than single files:
To add an item to Leadwerks, simply hit the "Subscribe" button in Steam and the item will become available in a new section of the asset browser:
You can drag Workshop files into your scene and use them, just like a regular file. However, the user never needs to worry about managing these files; All subscribed items are available in the editor, no matter what project you are working on. When a file is used in a map or applied to a model, a unique global ID for that file is saved, rather than a file path. This allows the item author to continue updating and improving the file without ever having to re-download files, extract zip archives, or any other mess. Effectively, we are bringing the convenience of Steam's updating system to our community, so that you can work together more effectively. Here's one of the tutorial maps using materials from a sci-fi texture pack from the Workshop. When the map is saved, the unique file IDs are stored so I can share the map with others.
Publishing your own Workshop packages is easy. A built-in dialog allows you to set a title, description, and a preview image. You can add additional images and even videos to your item in Steam:
Leadwerks even has support for derivative works. You can create a model, prefab, or map that uses another Workshop file and publish it to Steam. Since Leadwerks tracks the original ID of any Workshop items you used, they will always be pulled from the original source. This allows an entirely new level of content authors to add value to items downstream from their origin, in a way similar to how Linux distributions have grown and evolved. For example, maybe you don't have the artistic skill to make every single texture you need for a house, but you can put together a pretty nice house model and pant it with another user's textures. You can then upload that model right back to the Workshop, without "ripping off" the texture artist; their original package will still be needed to load the textures. It's perfectly fine to change the name of your Workshop package at any time, and you never need to worry about your file names conflicting with files in other packages. (If you decide you want to change a lot of file names, it's best to just create a new package so that you don't interrupt the work of users "downstream" from you,)
Uninstalling a Workshop package just requires you to hit the "unsubscribe" button on the item's page in the Steam Workshop. No more hunting around for stray zip files! You can easily check out other users' work, use whatever you like, and unsubscribe from the packages you don't like, with no mess at all.
How Do I Get It?
The Leadwerks Workshop beta begins today. You must be a member of the Leadwerks Developer group on Steam to access the Workshop. A limited number of beta invites are being sent out. Once the system is completely polished, we will make it available to the entire Leadwerks community.