Project Placeholder - Thousands of placeholder assets... for free

Hey guys! I’m happy to announce that I’ve got something really special in store for you. It’s a project I’ve been working on for a while and I hope you’ll look forward to it.
I don’t have a lot of screenshots to show you at this point, so you’ll have to settle for reading for now. :slight_smile:

There’s a tl;dr at the bottom if you’d prefer.

So without further ado, let me present Project Placeholder!


[SIZE=5]- What is Project Placeholder? -[/SIZE]

Project Placeholder is an experiment to create a vast collection of high-quality placeholder and game-ready meshes, with primarily UE4 and Unity in mind. At the time of writing, I have created around 300 meshes, 100 textures and 200 audio recordings, as well as a few UE4 Materials, Blueprints, Particle Effects and Terrains.

But this is only the beginning of the beginning. I’ve looked through pictures of various games and movies and noted everything I could see and written a list of over 1000 planned assets and am currently checking it off, one asset at a time, and new things are added to the list all the time.

And the best thing is… all of this will be released for free.

While this many assets require a workflow that promotes quantity over quality, great care is still being taken to make sure that all assets at least have correct dimensions, low polycount, correct physboxes, sensible origins and read well enough for people to see what they represent.

The package will be released in the not too distant future, and thereafter constantly updated as new assets are created. I’ll try to batch the releases so one week I might release an update with various weapons, and the next week is dedicated to buildings, then spaceship modules etc.

…And that is only phase 1. If this experiment works out, I’m planning to eventually begin phase 2 where the assets will be remade and polished into photorealistic game-ready assets with 4K textures, multiple handmade LODs and rigs and animations where applicable. All free to dissect, modify or use as they are in any project.

  • Why should I care about it? -

If free wasn’t enough to pique your interest, there are multiple benefits of using such a package.

  • First is the timesaving aspect. With this you can instantly begin prototyping your game with no art roadblocks. Even creating a box to serve as a stand-in model will take more time than just using the search field to find a Project Placeholder mesh that exactly represents what you need. You can also use the placeholder meshes themselves as a base for creating the final assets or just a scale and shape guide.

…and if Phase 2 happens, it obviously means that you can use the high quality models as they are or just slightly modified for the final game instead of creating the assetse from scratch.

  • Second, by using this, all placed assets are ensured to be in a correct scale in relation to eachother and the player. This is especially important for VR projects as well as for accurate physics.

  • Third, it helps for planning and time estimation for your project. You can quickly tally the number of placeholder assets you are using in your scene. Create a couple of final versions of your meshes and multiply the average time taken with the number of placeholder meshes left in the scene and you can judge whether you will meet that deadline or if you should cut down on non-essential assets or hire more artists.

  • Fourth, you can begin alpha/playtesting at a much earlier stage and the people who test your game will be less confused as they interact with actual meshes rather than just coloured boxes, making the actual play experience more accurate to the final product.

  • For free? No seriously, what will it cost? -

Absolutely nothing! :slight_smile: The plan is for it to be completely funded by Patreon.

  • What are the benefits of pledging on Patreon? -

Without support on Patreon, this experiment will not happen. I don’t have an income, and while I’d love to do this for free, the truth is that I will need money to afford to eat and live. The more support I get on Patreon, the more time I can spend to work on this. If I get more than I need, that means I can hire additional artists to help finish this package faster.

If this experiment turns out out the way I intend it to, it can be a complete game-changer for the games industry, similar to what Twitter Bootstrap became for websites. I envision both large and small studios making use of this, and perhaps not only for games but for movies as well. By becoming a patreon for Project Placeholder, you will be a part of this, and as thanks, you will be immortalized by having your name or message on an obelisk in the package, shared along with all other patreons.

Pledging more will grant you additional bonuses, such as being part of the decision-making process to vote upon which assets should be made next to get the assets you need for your game sooner, access to early releases, additional textures, development videos and such. I haven’t thought about it too much, so if anyone here has an idea for what would be a good reward, please post it!

  • I can’t afford to pledge. How else can I help? -

I get that. Many of us game developers are students or unemployed, eating ramen to survive day to day. That is why I wanted to release this for free instead of selling it. However, if you use this package to release a game and start making millions, I hope you would consider donating a bit at that point as a thanks. :wink:

Other than that, helping spread the word to other developers who might be interested in this is always appreciated. On gamedev-related Facebook groups, subreddits, forums and so on.

You can also help out by telling me what placeholders you consider essential for your project. Maybe I’ll notice something I’ve missed. However, the wishes and suggestions of the patrons come first, of course.

  • Whoa, that’s a lot of text. tl;dr? -
    Thousands of meshes, sounds, textures, effects. Released for free, but development is supported by Patreon. First release soonish, and will be constantly updated after that.

So, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this! Love it? Hate it? Questions? Suggestions?
Patreon link will be coming as soon as I finish that page. Please suggest ideas for rewards!


Here I’d just like to show an example of an asset that I made, in this case canned food, as it would appear in phase 1 and phase 2. At this point, I’m not converting any more of the meshes into high-fidelity but instead focusing on making as many low-fidelity assets as possible. This was just an example made specifically to show you guys what the final plan is for the distant future.

In this case, the mesh is very simple in phase 1, but the other placeholder meshes have more work put behind them, and I’m considering giving them multiple material slots as well, so you for example an arrow would have a grey/metal arrowhead and a brown/wood shaft. However, the placeholder meshes in phase 1 will most likely not have textures.


Hi Acriax,

I appreciate the creative spirit of what you’re doing here, however, promoting this as Placeholders may not garner the attention it deserves. My prospective on this as a Dev is, I rather save development time by previz’ing with the asset I’m going to actually use in production. There are plenty of free high-quality assets (many released by Epic themselves) to use as placeholders. If the assets are high quality and suitable for production use, than why not promote them as FREE AAA Ready-To-Use Assets.


With all of that said, I do have a concept for the application for Placeholders in Production! The concept of *Suitable Substitutes. *The idea came to me when working on a solution to Load Assets at run-time in which a Suitable Substitute is used in place of the Loading Asset, until loading is complete. I’m developing my games with a subsystem that allows the developers to create Suitable Substitute Categories, swapping Text, 2D, 3D, Audio Assets in the same category on-demand at runtime.

Potential uses for Suitable Substitutes is to allow the multiple players to choose a different theme, however, collaboratively play in the same server level map. Dependent on the theme selected, the player sees/hears different assets for Entities and Architecture that corresponds with the theme. So if a players select a Robot Annihilation, Zombie Apocalypse, Demonic Revelations, the models are swapped out by theme accordingly. I’m thinking this would be cool way to approach getting 4 or morel Games with different themes out a single game design.

Thanks for the input! Hmm, I agree that the name doesn’t fully represent what is planned. Originally, I had just planned to create placeholders, and phase 2 of it came more as an afterthought. I guess I just stuck with the name because I liked the alliteration… :stuck_out_tongue: and now the thread name is locked in, so I might have to delete and remake the thread with the new name. But if phase 2 does happen and all/most of these meshes are converted into AAA-quality, then of course then they are more than just placeholders! But just creating all these assets as placeholders is going to take effort and time, so… one step at a time! :slight_smile:

I’m not sure about what you mean with “previz’ing with the asset I’m going to actually use in production”. When you first start up a project, surely you don’t already have all the final production assets? This package is meant to bridge that large gap in the beginning where you need placeholders in place in order to test out the game functionality. Epic has some example projects, but they are all over the place in terms of style, rotation, scaling, and the selection of assets is still pretty limited. And they are high quality, but I’m not sure if you’re allowed to use them as they are in a retail project. It can be easy to forget to change one out when you have a scene full of stuff and that thing is hiding among them.

Suitable Substitutes sounds like a cool idea though (and I love the logo! xD). Could be good for halloween and christmas events etc too.

Glad you liked the logo. It was a pun on using a Suitable Substitute for the Logo. LOL. Please Keep the thread.

What I mean by previz’ing is re-iterative testing using placeholders. If I need placeholders I just download the free ones from the Unreal Marketplace. They’re temporary and I dont spend much time on hunting for them. When all fails, I use primitives or text render objects for notes in 3D space. They are literally throwaway, and efficient use of time is critical for me as a solo dev. I personally try to get rid of placeholders as soon as possible so that I can iterate using whats in the game for WYSIWYG results. This also helps me to maintain motivation and inspiration for game’s vision.

Thumbs up and 10chars to make a mental note to check back…

@Acriax I think this is a brilliant idea and I wholeheartedly support it!

With that being said,
A couple of colleagues and myself were looking to do something similar a couple of years back and to also utilise Patreon but due to issues with Epic Games frowning upon bulk-free assets and monetization outside of the UE4 Marketplace we released that the overall scope would have to increase to support that such as creating our own custom UE4 Launcher / Marketplace, etc (these days we could easily use Gumroad, etc.)

Feel free to check out the forum thread if you’d like to know more: [Free Marketplace Assets] A Patreon page funded approach :D - Community Content, Tools and Tutorials - Unreal Engine Forums
(there sure is an interest for this type of service based on the total views for that forum thread being 14,343 as of writing this)

And if you’re interested in collaborating then shoot me a DM (or add me on Skype) and we can get the ball rolling :slight_smile:

Noteworthy info:

  1. We have a website called + pretty much all social networks, etc secured with that name which we’d be happy to share with you.

  2. I have a ton of both current and former work colleagues and acquaintances who would be more than happy to help contribute to this project in some capacity.

  3. We’re incorporated as a company which may help open up the door to from additional areas to help such a project grow.

  4. I personally would be happy to help front some start-up money for the project and might know a couple others who might be interested in doing so too.

  5. The reason we did not proceed with our own project a couple of years ago was due to the timing being off.

  6. We stopped working on games and moved our focus to software.

  7. A couple of us got cushy new AAA job offerings with the downside being that there were strict non-compete, etc employment contract clauses.

  8. The initial scope of the project not being possible due to Epic Games denying us access to the UE4 Marketplace for releases and thus requiring us to create our own platform for distribution, etc.

  9. Our main issue with getting this up the ground is our limited free time so having someone dedicated and at the core of the project would be ideal for both parties and if you’re interested that very well could be you :smiley:

  10. A lot of other stuff best discussed in private at this point in time :wink: