Authoring Tools/SDK (Left 4 Dead)

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The Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools, also known as an SDK, is a set of software utilities that allow you to create your own levels, campaigns, common Infected, and other gameplay elements. They include versions of Source SDK tools that have been updated to work with the Left 4 Dead version of the Source Engine.

Warning.png Warning: For Left 4 Dead 2, please go to the Left 4 Dead 2 Level Creation page. You will however need to master the basics of Source and L4D level design first.


The Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools are freely available on Steam to all owners of the PC version of Left 4 Dead.

Downloading and installation

To install the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools, either click here or:

  1. Open the Libray window.
The Games dropdown menu.
  1. Click on the Games dropdown.
  2. Click on Tools checkbox.
The Tools category.
  1. Scroll down in your library until you see the Tools category.
  2. Double click on Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools and install them.
  3. The Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools will download to your computer via Steam.
  4. Once it has been fully installed, you will be able to launch it in the same way you installed it (from the Tools section of your library.

You can also create a desktop shortcut by right-clicking on the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools entry, Manage and then click Add desktop shortcut.

Note.png Note: For the Authoring Tools to function correctly, it is important that your installation of Left 4 Dead is fully up-to-date. You can make sure of this by running the game before launching the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools. Simply launching the game then quitting after you get to the main menu is sufficient.
Bug.png Bug:  Hammer World Editor 4.1 Build 9028 - program crash/freeze when operating system run more than 19 threads.

What's included?

The package includes:

  • Updated Hammer, the Source level editor
  • Suite of command line compiling utilities, such as studiomdl and map compiling tools
  • Updated Particle editor
  • Updated Faceposer
  • Example maps
  • Example models: common Infected, a breakable prop, and explosives
  • Example particle systems (particles/particle_sample.pcf)

Where do I go from here?

  • The L4D Level Design Basics Tutorial is a step-by-step tutorial to get started making Left 4 Dead levels using the Hammer level editor.
  • Another good way to start creating your own levels is using the SketchUp Source Tools.
  • If you want to learn about how to create content for the Source Engine in general, the main page of the Source SDK documentation is a good place to start.
  • You may also visit the Left 4 Dead Level Creation page for further tutorials and tips specific to making levels for Left 4 Dead.
  • Once you're ready to distribute your campaigns, you can use the vpk packager to create your own Add-ons. See L4D Campaign Add-on Tutorial for instructions.

Bugs and issues

See also