Garry’s Mod began as an independent mod for Half-Life 2. The mod was created by Garry Newman as a more direct way to interact and play with the physics of Half-Life 2. Since its initial release the mod has gained in popularity and moved through multiple versions until it has become what it is today: a pay-ware mod distributed through Valve’s Steam client.
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Garry’s Mod is a sandbox game with no goals or expectations. Players are given a huge variety of objects to spawn (ranging from coffee mugs to freight trains) as well as ragdolls and a list of various ways in which to interact with these objects. For example, ropes, pulleys, welds, and different physical properties can all be applied to objects. The game is viewed from the first-person and has both single-player and multi-player modes, each offering different experiences.
The primary method of interacting with objects in the game world is “the physics gun.” The physics gun, a beam weapon comparable to the proton gun from the movie Ghostbusters, is an intuitive way to interact with objects, and it allows you to move and rotate objects, as well as freeze them in place with ease. This gun behaves exactly how you want it to, and once you’ve gotten used to it, its presence will seem transparent. A second gun, “the tool gun” is used to weld objects together, attach wheels and thrusters, and generally do the majority of the building process.
Garry’s Mod has enough tools and options that there’s no conceivable limit to the things you can make. Even if you run out of things to build, or want to try something different, you can always play with ragdolls, which is inherently fun. Attach them to things, pose them, throw them off of buildings, whatever you want to do with a ragdoll.
It will probably be a long time before you do run out of things to keep yourself occupied, as one of Garry’s Mod’s great strengths is its user expandability. Thanks to the Source SDK, anyone can make new objects, levels, items, and game modes. Garry’s Mod also features Lua scripting, so the amount of new game modes and content is nearly limitless. There are also websites where you can download content from other players. One such website is garrysmod.org. Featuring nearly 10,000 files, it’s seemingly impossible not to find something of interest. One of my personal favorites is the PHX Premium Pack which adds a ton of new spawn items and tools to help further realize your creative visions.
You never know exactly what you’re going to find when you join a multi-player server. From simple building games to stat-based role-playing games to watermelon racing, the experience changes drastically in the multi-player game. It can be extremely rewarding collaborating with others to build a roller coaster, or robot, or whatever else your imaginations dream up. There are, however, downsides to multi-player. First there is no real way to save the game, as there is in single-player. That alone can be a huge problem as servers crash or people leave. More annoying still are people who intentionally crash servers by spawning large objects repeatedly or destroy others’ creations with the remover gun. Many servers have object spawn limits, or Lua scripts to prevent people from interacting with each others’ objects, but this can be detrimental to creativity, when you find yourself unable to spawn enough objects to finish a machine, or unable to work together because of inability to interface your objects with another’s.
While the multi-player mode is a lot of fun, single-player is ultimately where the most of my time was spent. In single-player there are no real limits to what can be done, you don’t have to worry about other people messing with your things, and you can save the game whenever you want. It’s also very rewarding to spend hours building a contraption and be able to save it so you can view it later, or show it off to your friends, or even upload it to the Internet for others to play around with. And you can spend hours and hours just playing with other peoples’ save games and enjoying their hard work. It’s this freedom of play and rewarding feeling you get when you finally finish and get to share with the world that gigantic walking robot, or battle tank, or roller coaster, or whatever you can dream up, that I believe keeps people coming back for more.
In short, whether you play Garry’s Mod online or offline, there is never a shortage of things to do. If you can remember spending hours building with Legos, you have some idea of the sense of accomplishment that can come from building things in Garry’s Mod. Only this time you’ll be able to experience what it feels like to crash into walls in the firetruck you’ve just spent hours building, or fly through the sky in the airplane you’ve just perfected, rather than just trying to imagine yourself as the little Lego man in the cockpit.
Garry’s Mod costs $9.95 and is available to purchase through Steam.