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There's a game for every kind of man. So why not show dad some love this Father's Day with a new one? Whether you're a video game know-it-all or can't stand them, dad might enjoy something new to play. Use our handy guide to figure out what game to give him after the barbecue this weekend.
LittleBigPlanet 2/ Garry's Mod/ Minecraft
The handyman dad has the skill and the know-how, but sometimes he doesn't have the tools. That's where open-world building games like Minecraft, Garry's Mod or LittleBigPlanet 2 come in to play. With limitless tools and space the only thing stopping dad is his imagination.
This mind-bending puzzler combines physics and humor to deliver a one-two punch that'll make dad break a mental sweat. And speaking of one-two punches, Portal 2's co-op mode gives dad the chance to play with his new favorite child (you).
Plants vs. Zombies/ Dungeon Raid/ Drop 7
Plants vs. Zombies is a solid tower-defense game (translation...kind of like playing chess against a perpetually-moving opponent). It has a ton of different game modes and mini-games that can keep dad busy for five minutes...or five hours. Expect to see dad tending this garden like his life depends on it. It's available on Android, iPhone, iPad, and nearly every other mobile platform. There's also the infinitely-enjoyable Dungeon Raid which is essentially the Mom-hit Bejeweled with swords and a little more complexity. You could even recommend the free iOS game Drop 7, which might make you seem cheap but also wise.
Plants vs. Zombies (For PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, Nintendo DS, iPad, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Dungeon Raid (for iOS)
Drop 7 (for iOS)
MLB The Show 11/Major League Baseball 2K11
Father's Day comes around just when the baseball season is about to pick up, so if your dad looks forward to every Game Day with anticipation, make the wait a little easier to bear with one of these games. We prefer The Show, but buyer beware—it's a Playstation exclusive. If your dad is more into the fairway then the outfield, then this year would be a great time to get him Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters. It makes a fantastic gift for golfers as it marks the first time the Masters Tournament has been incorporated into a videogame—it's kind of a big deal.
Gran Turismo 5/ Forza Motorsport 3
For the dad who loves his vehicle as much as (or more than) his family, these games are the ultimate in video game automotive passion. Endless customization, every car he'd want to drive, and every track he'd want to race; both games also include casual modes for the more passive hobbyists. A word of caution: Gran Turismo 5 is exclusive to Playstation 3, Forza to Xbox360. Check which console dad owns first!
Lego Starwars III
The Lego Star Wars games have always been crowd pleasers for kids and adults, and the third entry does not disappoint. The Clone Wars , which playfully depicts episodes of the first two seasons of the ongoing Cartoon Network hit, is the biggest and prettiest of the bunch with a dynamic split screen for those times when your partner wanders off screen—and if dad is playing with the kids, this feature is bound to come in handy.
A serial crime story in the film noir tradition, this detective game is great for film lovers—it even has a black-and-white mode for genre devotees. The game's levels are structured like episodes in a television series, making it easy to pick up and play.
The pint-sized ceramic co-star of Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 may be deserving of his own video game, as evidenced by the trailer for the sadly nonexistent Gnome Chompski: The Game.
Expertly crafted in Garry's Mod by the folk(s) at Fine Leather Jackets, Gnome Chompski: The Game has everything we now demand of our video games: jet packs, zombies, miniguns, dinosaurs, driving sequences, pointy hat-wearing figurines of German origin. Hell, there are a few memes thrown in for good measure, ones that we're not even that tired of yet!
Please, someone with the talent to make video games playable, make Gnome Chompski: The Game playable.
Before you go asking OMG, where's the texture pack, here's the scoop. Artist Robbaz recorded the opening in Minecraft, went through the portal, then spliced in a recording made in a Half-Life 2 map made to look like Minecraft.
Still, it's nice to see the Creepers get the business end of an M-60.
Minecraft - The Source Portal [YouTube]
What better way to kick off a Tuesday then a little dead zombie hooker action? Right?
OK, maybe not for everyone, but you still should probably watch this for a morning grin. Just make sure you're wearing headphones.
Stay around after the credits for a pro tip on which babies are OK to kill.
He may have flubbed his one job interview with Valve, but the man behind Garry's Mod is doing alright and has some thoughts about modern modding.
Newman is set up in Walsall, England, He's 28 and tinkers all the time with his world-famous prized creation. That creation, Garry's Mod, launched in late 2004 and has been a hit since then, regularly one of the 10 most-played game on Steam.
Of course, Garry's Mod isn't a game. It's a toolset, a playground for tinkering in Valve Software's Source Engine and one of the most successful gaming canvases ever released to the computer-playing public. Players who own games made with Valve's Source Engine — Half Life 2 or Team Fortress 2 — can use the mod to set up worlds, pose characters, design contraptions and do all sorts of wondrous things.
Here's a classic example from a few years ago (and several Garry's Mod iterations ago).
For Garry, the Mod has been a few things over the years:
It was the thing he was talented enough to make. "I never started out thinking 'I will make a sandbox mod,'" he told me over e-mail this week. "I was just messing around with the Source Engine and it turned into this thing. It was mostly about letting me mess around with the Source Engine's features. … To be honest at this point I didn't really have the programming ability to make a real game on the Source Engine. Adding guns that attached things to ropes was easy compared to that."
It then became a surprise. Garry didn't realize it was popular, he said, until he "begrudgingly" set up forums for it. He didn't realize it was going to be so malleable until he added ragdoll posing and saw what people made of it.
And it's become income, a lot of income. He didn't tell me how much he's made in the four years the $10 mod has been on sale (it was free for two years before that). He did give me some numbers, so we can sort of do the math. He makes $5 when the game is bought on its own; $2.50 when it's in a bundle. 770,628 units sold lifetime, 264,350 of them since this time a year ago — which means sales are speeding up and it's safe to assume he's netted more than $1,000,000.
It did not become a job at Valve. "I did apply for a job there a long time ago," he told me. "I got a phone interview, which I must have blew. Admittedly, I wouldn't have hired myself back then either. I knew nothing."
Over the years, people have made the most marvelous Rube Goldberg contraptions in Garry's Mod, tinkering with the set in ways that gave us great domino tumbles and the adventures of Half-Life hero Gordon Freeman's brother. Oh, and they've made good-looking Zelda stuff.
Garry's favorites? He offered five, "some" of his favorites in no particular order.
Modding isn't what it used to be and Garry Newman sees a scene that not only has changed, but is pretty much the equivalent of making games worth being paid for.
"In the early days people were happy with really simple mods," he recalls. Faster-firing weapons, double high jumping, grappling hook, team based gamemodes etc etc. At some point (I'm guessing when proper SDK's [software development kits] started being released), the term 'mod' got to mean 'total conversion'. No-one cares unless you've got a new gamemode and every art asset has been completely re-made by your team."
That kind of work is game development, he says. "What's the difference between someone modding an engine and someone licensing an engine? There's no difference at all, it's just what you call it. A mod isn't just a mod anymore, it's a game."
If the mod-scene is indeed the game-development scene, then it's no surprise it's becoming more of a business. You've got Blizzard setting up a marketplace where player-modders will be able to sell their maps, Valve allowing players to profit off of player creations for Team Fortress 2. It's not all rosy. Big PC games, like Modern Warfare 2, don't ship with mod tools, despite a history of popular PC shooters supporting player mods.
Garry likes the marketplaces, sees them as a sign of modding "growing up," and he's undeterred by developers who don't make their games moddable.
"PC game modding can be pretty ironic," he says. "You've got these games with awesome SDKs, awesome level editors, and no-one gives a fuck. Then you've got games like GTA with no SDK, no easy way to change anything - and people are bending over backwards to make mods for it.
Garry's Mod launched on the Mac last month. Mac users are creating stuff as well, though Garry isn't spotting any differences between Mac and Windows users' creativity. "If there's someone in the server on a Mac they're indistinguishable from PC players," he says. "Which is the way it's got to stay since PC gamers are assholes to Mac gamers for some reason."
He encourages those who haven't seen Garry's Mod in a while to check it out again. He's built a "Toybox" option (pictured left) that lets users download other players' creations into Garry's Mod without having to look for add-ons on the Web yourself. That should make things more fun and even easier to create.
Garry may not have intended Garry's Mod to be anything other than a lark for himself and his friends, but he's created a hit. This is what a PC mod can do. This is the power of PC gaming where a Garry Newman, phone interview flubbed and all, can be a developer who matters — and help you be one too.
Garry Newman's crazy physics sandbox for the Source engine, the one that lets you manipulate, animate and torture characters from Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, has joined the list of Mac games on Steam.
"What's Garry's Mod?," you might be asking yourself, dear Mac owner. It's the playground with which hilarious and spectacular videos like Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, 100 Ways To Kill Yourself in Garry's Mod and epic Rube Goldberg machines are created. It's not a game; it's a tool. And, like most new Steam releases, it's cheap. Just $4.99 USD.
Newman admits the release has its share of bugs, warning and pleading that we should "please treat this as a beta release." So, buy accordingly or sit it out until Garry's Mod for Mac matures.
Also note that you're going to need at least one of these Source games to use Garry's Mod.
If you want to dive into Garry's Mod, now that you can do so at your nearest coffee shop while on your MacBook Pro, get up to speed with Machinima's handy video tutorials.
Garry's Mod [Steam]