PC Gamer

This article was originally published in PC Gamer issue 298. For more quality articles about all things PC gaming, you can subscribe now in the UK and the US.

There s never been anything quite like Garry s Mod, and I d hazard a guess at there never being anything like it ever again. It s a mod of the Source engine, made to enable just about anyone to build, pose or simply mess around with its tools and tricks. It s a freeform sandbox designed to let you do whatever you want.

At least, that s it at the base level. On top of making it easy for players to toy around, it also gives modders a framework to work on new, often absurd ideas. Entirely original game modes have been created in Garry s Mod, short films have been made with it using players as actors, or utilising complex stop-motion techniques. And it s one of the most popular games on Steam. It celebrates its 10th birthday this month, and, as of January this year, has sold 10 million copies.

Since its release in 2006, Garry s Mod has grown into a hub for a host of other games and weird concepts, primarily developed by fans and small teams. There s one, though, that really took the cake in its size and ambition: GMod Tower. First publicly available in July 2009, GMod Tower had one primary aim: to create a large social space within Garry s Mod where people could chat, play together, and generally create a community that would accommodate and welcome anyone. A hotel-style lobby for people to meet and chat, with the capability for the infinite rooms of an endless hotel tower.

It was developed by PixelTail Games, a group based in Washington, but brought together contributors from around the globe.

A team of four, working under the names MacDGuy, Mr Sunabouzu, Nican, and AzuiSleet, were the ones that worked on the first public release of GMod Tower, after some years of people dropping in and out of the project. It was one of the most ambitious things ever made in Garry s Mod, and was greeted with the success that sort of ambition often warrants. Mere hours after release, GMod Tower s website hit two million views. It was far too popular so much so that Garry s Mod s server limit was upped by its developers just to cope.

Featuring at launch a couple of minigames, a mode akin to Half-Life Deathmatch: Source and another not dissimilar to Super Monkey Ball, the mod was already fleshed out. There were even movie nights: players could get together and watch streamed videos while hanging out in the tower s lobby.

Its popularity was perhaps one of GMod Tower s many downfalls: it was a mod of a mod, made by a few fans that wanted to create something new. It didn t have the support of a regular income through sales, nor the power of a massive development team. As 2011 rolled into 2012, GMod Tower shut down, closing its doors without any clear intention to return.

GMod Tower came back with a bang. Over time, the game grew to having seven individual modes wrapped inside the tower. From minigolf to a game inspired by Mother 3.

As with any social space that is shut down, closed, or built over, those who had enjoyed inhabiting it were left disappointed. In the Steam group for GMod Tower, users asked where it had gone. The development team were pretty quiet. One Steam user summed up the prevailing mood, saying simply, I want to play again in gmod tower :( .

Then, in April 2012, GMod Tower returned almost out of nowhere, with a host of updates. Almost like a version 2.0, it arrived to a fanfare from those who missed their hub, their place to talk. It did come with a caveat, however: it had not been profitable or sustainable for some months. Hosting the servers was costly, and the team didn t want to rely upon microtransactions or adverts to fund it.

And yet, GMod Tower came back with a bang. New features, a new and improved lobby map, and more. Over time, the game grew to having seven individual modes wrapped inside the tower. From minigolf to a game inspired by Mother 3, PixelTail Games remained committed, and the players recognised that, rewarding it with their love and support.

With its re-release, the initial core ethos was reinforced: this was to be a social hub. Be nice, friendly, and kind, and you were welcomed with open arms into GMod Tower.

What distinguished GMod Tower from many other projects with similar ambitions to be welcoming to all, regardless of who they were, was that it worked, and it worked tremendously. The vast majority of stories from players are of a positive community.

For the game s fifth anniversary, in 2014, the developers held a small raffle. There was one requirement for entering: you had to tell a story of your experience in GMod Tower. Some of these stories were short and over in just a couple of sentences, but many were filled with emotion and love. Over a hundred people told lengthy stories of their experiences, archived on the game s forums.

People were naming the many friends they had made, even partners they met through it. GhostDj told of how an admin changed everyone s player models to dogs for an evening, and they ran around barking like one big pack. Boltaction17 said they managed to get over 20 people to dance to The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats, and it just made them happy to see everyone coming together for something so fun and silly. One user, Davem322, simply ended their story with We are a group. We are brothers and sisters. We are the Gmod Tower.

Over the years, PixelTail Games finished off a couple other projects in Garry s Mod, from a horror map called Gm_Apartment to Elevator: Source, the one true elevator simulator. But behind the scenes, they were working on something new. Something beyond GMod Tower: Tower Unite.

A standalone release, Tower Unite would move the concept on from Garry s Mod, and onto its own two feet, the idea being to create an entire game that encapsulated the ideals upon which GMod Tower had been built.

Once Tower Unite was released on Steam in Early Access, however, GMod Tower had to go down. PixelTail Games couldn t host both games, and Tower Unite was now their sole project. There were no official tools ever released for hosting your own tower the only way to play was through the official server. That meant that once PixelTail Games took their server down, that was it for the original GMod Tower.

I spoke to Macklin Guy, the founder of PixelTail Games, about GMod Tower, and moving on. As for why the company had to do so, the Source engine and Garry s Mod itself limited us our creations and ideas, Guy told me.

It was a constant battle for us. We knew we had to expand past being a mod when we had to take advantage of undocumented features of Source s level format just to get it running. A good chunk of the things we have done (and continue to do) in Tower Unite would never have been possible in Garry s Mod.

On top of being a force for good in the community, GMod Tower meant a lot to the development team working on it, too.

The project fostered countless connections made by the community across the world. This had a massive effect on the lives of all of us. People would log on daily just to hang out with their friends.

Guy even met his wife on GMod Tower. They ve been happily married for a year and a half.

Tower brought a lot of people together. Just being a small part of that has had a huge impact on all of us and is one of the catalysts that drives Tower Unite forward.

The tower closed down in April 2016, after just under seven years serving as Garry s Mod s largest social space. The PixelTails Games team said their goodbyes too, through a video reminiscing about everything that had gone on in the tower. There is no longer a way to play GMod Tower. While all the relevant files are available on the Steam Workshop, without the server it s impossible to play as intended. The customisation systems are gone, game modes no longer function, and, most importantly, there s no one around.

Every map is now a ghost town, a set of what once was in GMod Tower, a relic of the stories told by those who were there. Without the chatter of people having conversations around the place, the lounge is eerily quiet.

Many people who played GMod Tower have moved on to Tower Unite it picked up over $73,000 in an Indiegogo campaign, and has received regular updates since entering Early Access. It s distinctly similar to its predecessor, but Tower Unite also has its differences: it s not a part of Garry s Mod, and so lacks that infinitely wide variety of players to join in on the fun.

Because of that, those previous stories are being left behind, but that s so that others can create their own so that a social space like this can flourish on its own. GMod Tower, like Garry s Mod itself, might well be a flashpoint in games, never to be recreated in the same way again. While other social games have found success, the broad and absurd appeal of Garry s Mod meant millions of players could be introduced to a hub that would welcome them.

It s still fun to walk around that ghost town, and find the places where those stories took place. The roof where someone was going on a wild goose chase for an item, the cinema where people gathered to watch funny videos, or the fountain where players waved goodbye to the tower.

I don t think anyone will ever recreate GMod Tower; the stars aligned to make it such a welcoming place. But it s heartwarming to look around the place that made so many people of all creeds, cultures, and types happy. You can t call GMod Tower abandoned: it simply moved on. But the patch of virtual ground it was built on will remain special.

Community Announcements - Willox 👻
A new update has been released!

This update is optional. However, I'd recommend that you update any servers you are running.
Clients will automatically update via Steam when the game is restarted.

The update just fixes a few bugs and isn't all that exciting. You can view the changelog @ http://www.garrysmod.com/2016/10/28/october-2016-update-2/
Community Announcements - Willox 🦇
A new update has been released!

This update brings the following to Garry's Mod:
  • Peer-To-Peer friends only mode - Enable this to only allow friends to join your games
  • Substantial updates & optimization to Sandbox and User Interface
  • NPC networking optimizations
  • Numerous crash & security fixes
  • New main menu backgrounds created by the community
  • Numerous Physics gun improvements

The update will be automatically downloaded when you restart your game.
All servers will need to be updated before you can play on them.

Thanks to everybody who helped with testing the update and reported bugs/problems.

You can find full changelist here.

Please do not panic if when you join a server you get "Server is running an older version of the game" - let the server(s) update to the latest version of the game first. Just wait a few hours at most.

It can take up to 15 minutes for the update to propagate through Steam.
Community Announcements - Willox
Hello everyone!

The next update for Garry's Mod is coming soon.

Currently, the update is planned for the 10th of October.

Pre-release Steam branch
The Pre-release Steam Beta branch for Garry's Mod has been updated and contains all the changes that will be included into the next update.

You can see the full change list for the next update as well as how to join or leave the Pre-release branch here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/changelist/prerelease/

This update will be mandatory. (i.e. Servers will have to update)

This next update will bring the following to Garry's Mod:
* Peer-To-Peer friends only mode - Enable this to only allow friends to join your games
* Substantial updates & optimization to Sandbox Spawnmenu and other UI
* Many updates, fixes and new features to all base Sandbox tools
* NPC networking optimizations
* New and improved features for modders
* Numerous crash & security fixes
* New main menu backgrounds created by the community
* Numerous Physgun improvements

Help us test it!
We ask you, players and modders alike, to help us test this update so that there will be as few problems as possible on release.

We urge you to spend as much time as convenient for you in single player, testing your addons and whatnot, and report any issues you find that did not happen before here:
https://github.com/Facepunch/garrysmod-issues/
Or at least in the comments of this announcement.

If you own a Garry's Mod server, we highly recommend you test your server on the Pre-release branch. Information about using experimental branches on dedicated servers can be found here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/page/Hosting_A_Dedicated_Server
Community Announcements - Willox
A new update has been released!

This update is optional, however it is strongly recommended that server owners install it.
Clients will automatically update via Steam when the game is restarted.

Peer-To-Peer Listen Servers
Servers that are created via the main-menu's "Start New Game" button can now be connected to via Steam's P2P networking. This means that - on most networks - friends are able to connect to each other's games without any special network configuration being required (e.g. port forwarding).

To use it, all you have to do is use your friends list to join/invite a friend!

Queued (Multi-Core) Rendering
This isn't finished yet, but queued rendering should be pretty robust now. Any changes in performance are entirely dependent on your hardware and the scene being rendered.

You can enable it by running a few commands when you launch the game (press Shift+Escape to open the console):
gmod_mcore_test 1
mat_queue_mode -1
cl_threaded_bone_setup 1


Other Changes
  • Added mat_requires_rt_alloc_first ConVar from upstream.
  • Lua console commands are now removed when disconnecting from a server/changing level.
  • Replicated Lua ConVars are now properly synched with the server.
  • Scripted weapons now function correctly when switching to a weapon with no ammo.
  • Clients will no longer be disconnected with the reason "CL_CopyExistingEntity: missing client entity".
  • Crouch-jumping will no longer cause the screen to flicker after a certain amount of server up-time.
  • Fixed rare crash that occurs when increasing the outgoing network buffer size for game-state snapshots.
  • Ropes no longer cause the game to not properly close on exit.
  • Fixed issue that could cause the "GetLuaTable != TABLE" crash to occur on level change.
  • file.Find() now sorts its results properly. The default behavior is unchanged.
  • HTTP() no longer leaks request references and won't crash if the Lua state is destroyed during a request.
  • Some security fixes.

You can find full changelist here.
Community Announcements - Rubat
The next update for Garry's Mod will be coming next month.

Pre-release Steam branch
The pre-release Steam Beta branch for Garry's Mod has been updated and contains all the changes that will be included into the next update.

You can see the full change list for the next update as well as how to join or leave the pre-release branch here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/changelist/prerelease/

The next update, while not having a usual massive amount of changes, comes with two very big features:
  • Steam Peer-To-Peer - Allows people to play with each other without having to mess around with your router, modem or firewalls, similarly to how CS:GO does it. This is best suited to play with a few of your friends and is not meant for hosting public servers. Simply start a mutliplayer game from your main menu and invite your friends through the Steam Friend's List.
  • Queued(Multicore) Rendering - This will boost your in-game performance in most cases up to double the frame rate. Currently the option is hidden and you will have to enable it manually every time in order to use it, this is in case there are still problems with it. Instructions on how to enable it are below

To enable Queued(Multicore) Rendering, enter the following console commands into your console before entering a game.
gmod_mcore_test 1
mat_queue_mode -1
cl_threaded_bone_setup 1

The pre-release beta branch is compatible with all servers in the game, so you will be able to play on servers and test the game at the same time!

Help us test it!
We ask you, players and modders alike, to help us test this update so that there will be as few problems as possible.

We urge you to spend around 15 minutes in single player, testing your addons and whatnot, and report any issues you find that did not happen before here:
https://github.com/Facepunch/garrysmod-issues/
Or at least in the comments of this announcement.

If you own a Garry's Mod server, we highly recommend you test your server on the pre-release branch. Information about using experimental branches on dedicated servers can be found here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/page/Hosting_A_Dedicated_Server
Product Update - Valve
An update for Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat: Source, Half-Life Deathmatch: Source, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, and the Source SDK 2013 Base has been made available.

Important note for SDK mod authors: This update replaces the current main branch of the SDK 2013 Base with what was previously the "beta_test" branch. The previous SDK 2013 release branch as well as the outdated "upcoming" branch are now available for a short time as "previous" and "previous_upcoming" respectively.

The major changes include:

  • Fixed potential security issues (thanks to Justin G. (aka sigsegv), Nathaniel Theis, Simon Pinfold for these reports)
  • Fixed a case where changelevel2 would print a map not found error and fail to function in SDK2013 mods
  • Fixed an exploit that could be used to crash dedicated servers
Community Announcements - Rubat
An update has been released!

This update focuses on fixing bugs and improving performance as well as adding some new features for modders.

As usual, servers will need to be updated.
The update will be automatically downloaded when you restart your game.

Thanks to everybody who helped with testing the update and reported bugs/problems.

You can find full changelist here.

Don't panic if when you join you will get "Server is running an older version of the game" - let the server update to the latest version of the game first. Just wait a few hours at most.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Garry's Mod!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Thursday at 10AM Pacific Time
Community Announcements - Rubat
The next update for Garry's Mod will be coming later this month.

We ask you, players and modders alike, to help us test this update so it won't be as problematic as the first March update.

We have added a new pre-release branch that contains all the changes that will be included into the next update.

You can see the full changelist for the next update as well as how to join or leave the pre-release branch here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/changelist/prerelease/

We urge you to spend around 15 minutes in single player, testing your addons and whatnot, and report any issues you find that did not happen before here:
https://github.com/Facepunch/garrysmod-issues/
Or at least in the comments of this announcement.

If you own a Garry's Mod server, we highly recommend you test your server on the pre-release branch. Information about using experimental branches on dedicated servers can be found here:
http://wiki.garrysmod.com/page/Hosting_A_Dedicated_Server

The Dev branch is not going anywhere and contains latest changes that may not be included in the April update, but will be included in future updates.
...

Search news
Archive
2016
Dec   Nov   Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul  
Jun   May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2016   2015   2014   2013   2012  
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007  
2006   2005   2004   2003   2002