How Garry's Mod Revolutionized the Modding Community?Apr 21, 2018 | 1 Votes by jose 10 rate Garry's mod or Gmod has become a sort of gamer community institution on Steam. Since being first released as a mod of Half-Life 2 to a full-featured stand-alone sandbox game, Gmod has no doubt reinvented modding in its own special way.
When first-person shooter games started to become popular during the early days of it's inception to the PC games industry, players started to wonder if they could introduce content of their own which they could add to the game or create a new game altogether out of the game that they were playing.
Some players during those days had a firm grasp of game coding and graphics development and thus took it upon themselves to study what we may call the game's architecture and how to change a few things here and there to come up with an awesome add-on feature or something entirely new.
This was not an easy task. A lot of things had to be modified like some of the game's code but most of the time, the games assets and the way they looked. The assets are the things in the game that you see like in the case of an FPS would be the player characters, the NPC's, the objects you can move around or interact with and your background surroundings or the level (also known as a map) where you are playing in.
By changing some of the code and these assets, you err, change the game from what it originally was. You modify it and thus the term game modding was conceived. The first 3D version of the game Castle Wolfenstein was one of the first FPS to fall victim to modding. What came out was a game both amusing and fun, Castle Smurfenstein. Instead of the usual German soldiers of the original game, the mod featured the Smurfs and even the background had changed. The basic gameplay was the same but you could say it was a different game altogether.
Of course, this didn't stop with Wolfenstein, the modders went on to other games as they were after all on the roll. However, as innovative as it was, the first and early modding ventures violated the game's developers Intellectual Property Rights or IP (no, not internet protocol). So, as to take advantage of this milestone in the gaming industry, the leading commercial developers of those times like id, Epic and Valve started releasing mod kits and level designers for their games. Not only that but some modders, themselves good at coding, started creating tools or applications which facilitated modding in a much more accessible and easier way.
The one caveat to all of this was that the modders were not allowed to commercialize or sell the modified games that they made. They had to be freeware with the purpose of adding to or extending the original features and life of the game. This led to most modders using this as a way to get hired by big game companies. Valve is notorious for this as it is known to assimilate both the mod and its modders. Good examples of this are both Team Fortress Classic and CounterStrike which both evolved from the original Half-Life. Epic as well hired Unreal Tournament modders to keep pushing the game series to it's furthest limits. Even the original Doom was released with its own level editor.
This resulted in gamers and modders coming together and with the availability of the internet, the establishment of various online game modding communities made the resources, tools and know how accessible to those who wanted to try and get into the field of game modding and the game industry as well.
Valve is a leader in gaming community development and has both encouraged and utilized the contributions and feedback of both modders and players alike that when the Steam platform was launched, they made sure to include the Game (Steam) Work Shop as a major feature of it. The feature gave modders the chance to actually sell their modified content like skins, models and even maps. The acquisition of the DOTA mod alone created an entire modding community dedicated to DOTA2 on Steam. Weapon skins for CounterStrike have become a very good source of income for a lot of CS modders.
Now that we have an idea what game modding and modding communities are, let's now look at Garry's Mod or Gmod for short. Gmod was first released in 2006 on Steam. As it was a mod of Half-life 2, it was required that you had to have the game in order to run Gmod. Gmod gave players the ability to manipulate objects or props from Half-Life 2 or other Source engine games like CounterStrike, Left4Dead or Portal on a game map. By being able to move and manipulate them around with the use of a Physics Gun and a Tool Gun, players are able to create their own environment and finally play in them. The advantage was the limit of your imagination as you could create games from a regular FPS adventure to the Bizarre with Flying Cows, killer robots and Zombies all in one game. It was sort of a sandbox game maker and FPS rolled into one.
At first, the assets that could be pulled into the game where quite limited but by the time Gmod had been acquired by Valve (as they usually do) and was turned into a stand-alone commercial game, a ToyBox feature was added in 2010 which enabled the mod to access and download much more assets via Amazon S3 from third-party sources. This gave Gmod the ability to work with more content giving both gamers and modders a wide range of ideas to explore and play with.
If you had a sandbox game where you could somehow recreate your favorite FPS or 3d adventure or something new where you and your friends can play on via Online or Lan, you would be effectively making a game within the confines of the sandbox application. What more, with the commercial features of the Steam Work Shop, you can also profit from your efforts as well. In a way, Gmod revolutionizes modding by turning the players themselves into modders (again) within the confines of Gmod itself.
Players get to choose the props and objects they want to use and position them accordingly to their game design ideas or simply play around with the ability to do so. This process is heavily incorporated into game level editors and mapping applications, though at a much more complicated and technical level. Players through Gmod get to learn about and understand the principles of game design though at a limited scale as assets are already provided to choose from or download. This is also a limiting factor as actual game modding entails the development of the new assets themselves.
Despite lacking a custom asset creation process (which is difficult to do as it requires 3D graphics modeling apps or an extensive know-how on creating pre-fabricated objects via the 3D level editor), Gmod provides a way to bypass this albeit with limited results, is fun, amusing and creative. Even the props have audio outputs and can be directed to perform certain moves or tasks by adding other props that do things and can be controlled as well. This is where Gmod shines. The Tool Gun is a very nifty piece of equipment as it can use several tools on the game assets with different results like welding them together or turning them into solid or pass-through objects. NPC player models will execute their instructions as well when run or a game is started.
As far as modding is concerned, it has its advantages and disadvantages but one thing it does is it makes it easy and accessible to everyone and anyone interested in making a game.