If you want to create your own packages for others to use you can sign up to our Developer Program and download the necessary tools for it. You can freely play around with it, try out different ideas and see how they look in the program. However if you are considering developing a pack to actually share with the community, we would advice to get in touch with us first so we can make sure that the pack you would like to work on is in line with our plans, and of course with other content creators too.
There are several different type of packs you can create:
- Base character packs don't have much content, but provide a backbone for expansion packs. Examples are the current Female, Male and Muscular Male packs.
- Expansion character packs can be loaded on a single base. All the Season #2 packages are expansion packs.
- Standalone character packs can be used if you intend to develop a single pack only, without future expansions. All our Season #1 packs are standalones.
- Core packs don't have character or base specific items, instead provide the categories in the General one, like background, companions, effects, cards and tokens, etc. Setting the Theme of the pack will define where it will appear. Currently Fantasy and Modern themes are available.
How to get started?
Once you've downloaded the Developer Pack, unpack it in the directory you've installed the generator. You should see the following structure:
- assets: this will be your working folder, the packages you put here can be loaded in the program in developer mode
- dat: folder for the data files used by the program
- logs: logs and crashdumps are being created here
- package_generator: contains the tool to generate usable packages from the images you create
- psd_template: contains a psd with a basic setup for you to build upon
How to create the Demo pack?
- Open the template.psd in Photoshop. You can use any image editor software you'd like, but we've put together this psd to provide a better understanding of the program's structure. You can then see the categories and their respective order being setup as layers.
There are a few layers saying they will ignore others. This means that if there is an active item selected on that layer, the ignored layers will be turned off. This can be used to eliminate category-pairs which look wrong.
Most of the layers have a Front and a Back part. This enables you to position your items correctly, as the Front will be shown in front of the character, while the Back will be put behind, as you can tell by the ordering already.
The Alpha layer is a special one, as you can't see this in the program. You can use this to create special bodyparts which completely override the original base character. We'll show you an example of how to set up such later. You can only create alpha items for a base or standalone character.
Once you've familiarized yourself with the psd you can add new items to each category and see how they look in Photoshop. When you are happy with the results you can use the ePic Exporter script to export the images, located next to the template.psd (you'll need to have CS2 version at least to be able to use the script). Every layer will be exported to the folder specified between the  signs in the layer's name, so make sure not to modify them.
In case you don't have Photoshop, we've created a folder called exported next to the psd. This is the result of the export, so you can still make progress, although it would be a bit harder to get a good grasp of how the layers are set up or to easily see how they interact with each other. You might notice that all the images are png files except the backgrounds. This is because the backgrounds don't need transparent parts, so they can be saved as jpgs to save some space, so the script will automatically save them in this format.
- We have the following naming convention in place:
- the first four characters tell what the pack is. char means it's a character, and core means it contains items in the General main category, usable by multiple characters and bases.
- the second four character tell the name of the pack, cofe means Common Female, while coma is Common Male.
- the third part is the name of the expansion, if it's an expansion pack. el is Elf, dr is Drow
You will find the char_cofe_test folder in the assets directory, which means it's a character for the cofe base, and the pack name is test. If you open it you'll see the directory called pictures. Copy the content of the exported folder (either the one you've created using the exporter script, or the one we've added in the psd_template folder) to the pictures directory, so you should have a structure like this: assets/char_cofe_test/pictures/ list of categories.
- Once you've put everything in the pictures folder you can run the package generator tool. Navigate to the package_generator directory, where you'll find a bunch of files, but there are only two which should be interesting for you:
- generate_char_cofe_test.bat is used to run the package generator with preset parameters. You can always run the .exe and type the parameters by hand, but it's easier to have .bat files. You can open it in a text editor to see what's inside. There are several parameters you can set, but the most basic usage would be: <base pack name> [optional: expansion/core pack name]. If you want to generate a base pack, only set the first parameter, and if you want to create an expansion or core pack, then set the first parameter to be the base pack, and the second one to be the pack you are working on. Later if you only want to update parts of the package you can use the -ico_only to generate only the icons and -cfg_only to generate only the config files. The program will use the cfg_template_*.txt files to generate the pack based on what parameters you have entered, but if you want to use your custom config template, you can override the default behavior by specifying -template your_custom_template.cfg. These parameters should be specified before setting the <base package name>.
- packs.txt is used to load the packs you are working on. After you've created a new pack in the assets folder, all you need to do is put it in this file so the program will read it. Put each pack in a separate line. Enter char_cofe_test in the first line right away. If you had three packs already it would look like this:
For now, you can run the generate_char_cofe_test.bat to create the pack from the files you've put in there. After running the script you can revisit the asset folder. You'll notice that a new folder has been created with the same name, but having the _prev prefix at the end. This folder only contains the icon, preview and info images for the character, while the .txt tells the program which pack it should open, and which theme it belongs to.
If you step into the char_cofe_test directory you'll see that there is a new folder here too, icon stores the icons for the images. The .txt is a map for this packages, as it tells the program how the categories should behave, which order they should be rendered and how many item each one has. Be aware that if you change the order of the categories, or create new ones, you'll need to set this up as a base or a standalone character, as the expansion characters only provide the item numbers from them, and all other information is discarded. Currently we don't have a way to allow you to create new categories from scratch, so you can use existing ones as placeholders and meanwhile get in touch with us to provide you with the new ones if they are really needed.
- Congratulations, your test pack is ready to be used! Start the generator, navigate to the Female packs and open the test package you've just created. As you navigate around you can notice that the extreme item is not making the lower body correctly disappear.
Let's fix this by using alphas. Open the char_cofe_test/pictures/extreme folder and you'll see that there's only a single file called 1.png. In order to activate the alpha for a specific item, you'll need to create a new file here called alpha.txt. All you need to do is put two indexes here, the first one will be the item index which should activate the alpha (in that case it's item number 1), press space, and the second index is the alpha it should activate (in this scenario we want to hide the whole lower body, so alpha number 5). The result should be like this: 1 5. If you want to put more items using alphas here, you can separate them with a single comma. For example, if you want to switch on alpha 5 to item 1, alpha 2 to item 2, and alpha 1 to item 3, you put in: 1 5,2 2,3 1. Remember that the alpha items are in the base package, so in char_cofe in this case.
After you've saved the file let's run the package generator again, once it finishes all you need to do is navigate back to the menu and start the pack you are working on, all your changes will be loaded. You can test changes on the images simply by deselecting and selecting them again while the pack is open. You only need to restart the pack if you change something in the config file (add or delete items for example).
You might notice that the General items are not visible in the program, although they are in the pictures directory. This is because char packs don't have these items, only core do. You can go ahead and create the core_cofe_test pack with the exact same categories in the pictures folder and generate it. In this case, you'll see all the General items too. If you want to see what categories are in char or core, you can check the cfg_template files in the package_generator directory.
We've included the three base characters in the assets directory, so you can have the bases and alphas to start working on expansion packs for them, if you want to. You can also see what categories are in there, as they are used by the package generator tool to create the necessary icons. If you create a base you'll have to include at least one image in the base and background categories. Notice that the background is the one which is used for the transparent saving option, and it's index is 0 instead of 1. Items at the 0 index will be used as default items.
What to do with a finished pack?
When you've finished working on a package simply compress the whole package directory to a single zip or rar file and use the Submission Form below to send it to us. After your submission we'll review the pack, create the necessary assets and convert it to our package file. We'll get back to you with the details of when it will be released and to confirm other details, like the price, the distribution method and the options for revenue share.
There are two ways you can create and distribute packs currently:
- The easier way is to use the Steam Workshop system. If you choose this, Steam will send you the share of the revenue for your packs automatically, and you can take care of paying your taxes the way you want. Although this would limit the number of users who can use your packages, as it will require a Steam account to purchase them.
- The alternative is to publish them through us. We will make it available in all of the current and upcoming platforms so every user will be able to get it, and we will process and split the payment with you. However we can only pay you if you are able to produce an invoice. It's a better solution if you are planning to, or are already set up to hand out invoices.
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