Living And Breathing In Garry’s Mod

This is what the outside world looks like, right? I don't do outside.

Last week we suggested to RPS contributor Brendan Caldwell that he investigate physics sandbox Garry’s Mod, which is a bit like encouraging a kitten to investigate a saucer of gin. We shouldn’t have. But with Garry’s Mod and its community continuing to evolve like some heavily irradiated practical joke, we needed someone to take a look. Below, Brendan presents his miserable (yet hilarious!) report.

You there. You’ve probably heard of Garry’s Mod. You might have played it. It was released like six years ago. But see that kid? He hasn’t. Hey, kid. You there. Have you heard of Garry’s Mod? No. See. Well, obviously you can’t see each other. This is the internet. You’re all weaving about like blind puppies.

Garry’s Mod lets you bend Valve’s Source engine to your will, using the combined resources of their games. For examples, if you want Dr Kleiner from Half-Life 2 to ride a car with buzzsaws for wheels, you can do that.

It’s dirty cheap as well. And Garry has just added some new stuff to make it even more enticing. Basically, there’s no excuse for not playing. Which is just as well because I’d never played it before. Until I went in search of adventure in Garry’s latest version, that is. I didn’t find adventure. But I did find misadventure. Which is sort of the same thing. Read on!

The latest update contains exciting sentences, such as “Players now breathe”, which is always reassuring, and “Players hold their ear when using voicechat”, which is actually a rather neat idea for an animation. I would need other humans to validate these claims, but my first stop was singleplayer. Lonely, lonely singleplayer, where I stumbled around like a child taking his first Bambi steps.

“Press Q to spawn item,” the tutorial blippotron commanded. And I duly obliged, scrolling down the list of items trying to pick one I liked the look of – sticking my tongue out in concentration at the choice of objects, like some perversely focused Pokemon. Think of the possibilities! With such potential for creativity, with such raw What If staring me in the face, I did what any right-thinking man would do in my place.

That’s right. I recreated the famous scene in Mad Men, where Don Draper sits in his thirtieth floor office and drinks Bourbon from a Greek vase, admiring an expensive bust of Henry Ford balanced atop a column of human spines.

It strikes me that this isn’t a famous scene in Mad Men. Or in any popular television programme. I will have to do away with it, in a clear and direct manner. So I scroll down the list in the spawn menu until I come to the category marked “Useful and Explosive.” As in real war, objects are marked by their mutually inclusive definitions. Nothing is useful unless it is also explosive. Do you see? You do. I am glad we have this understanding.

It’s a cannon. Sadly, when I try to load the cannonball into this monstrosity using Gmod’s wonderfully useful and satisfyingly fiddly Physics Gun, the cannon misfires. By misfire I mean it turns into a giant spasmic tube of iron and hits me in my face. To say it “misfired” would imply it missed everything completely, which is inaccurate. I don’t know the correct terminology for events like this. “Physics prop toilet seated Brendy,” according to the kill ticker.

I tried to get rid of Don Draper in other devious ways, degenerating from Wile E. Coyote missile fire to traditional Barrel-o-Splosion pile-up. They all ended up with my face on the wrong side of my face. Ewww. Inside-face.

Meanwhile, the office went undamaged. I finally realised I had locked everything in place, the Physics gun proving itself to be surprisingly intuitive when you want it to be. Eventually, I settled for emptying a machine gun into the scene, screaming “Who is Don Draper!? Who the fuck is Don Draper!?” Sigh. Why does it always end this way? So undignified.

I messed around some more. First, I made an art installation to soothe my tortured, evidently murderous soul.

I call it “Just Another Brick in the Ball.” I’m sort of sad I didn’t save it in the Toybox now. That’s where all the cool kids keep their stuff.

Then I chased the fantasy of becoming an eccentric British balloonist and world renowned adventurer (even though everyone knows people like that don’t exist). Think of the possibilities (again). Think what mighty mechanical wonders I could create with which to sail the skies of the globe!

It’s a work in progress.

So, with knowledge of the basics behind me I set out to confirm the recent updates more thoroughly.

I jumped into a multiplayer server and immediately ran up to the nearest player to see if they were breathing.

Oh, thank Christ. He’s breathing. Check one.

I saw someone speak over their microphone and saw them raise their hands to their ear in an eerie, robotic kind of way. Uh. Check two, I guess.

None of this seemed to matter to the citizens of the server. Half of them were busy building a neat row of shacks. The other half were busy throwing trains around. These two groups didn’t seem to get on. For a moment I couldn’t grasp why. Then I noticed the yellow gauge in the corner of my screen that read “Pee.” This was a role-playing server. These exist? Oh, neat.

The group building the housing row were playing in character. They called themselves “The Saints” and had set up their walled village of corrugated steel shacks with a code on the gate, cutting themselves off from the deranged out-of-character savages outside, who were running about stealing each other’s cardboard boxes. How uncivilised. For every person who came to join them, the Saints offered a job and a home in the row of shacks. A primeval housing welfare scheme.

Well, sucks to your Saints row. If I’m going to do this properly, Ima make my own damn house.

There. Ne’er a more finely decorated shanty existed. I assigned myself a job as a “Janitor” but quickly decided that a janitor’s salary was not sufficient to keep my stolen Henry Ford bust adequately polished. So I bought a money printing machine for $2000, which seemed like a perfectly sound investment. In hindsight, I should not have had my name scrawled on it in big letters.

A civil protection man from the Saints wandered toward me. He looked at the money printer, then at me. With a world-weary, not-angry-just-disappointed look gleaming in his steampunk death-goggles, he said that I was under arrest and tried to imprison me in a sci-fi holding cell.

Aha! I am too quick for him. No man of law can tame the nimble janitor. A quick sidestep and he ended up imprisoning himself. And I cackled and cackled and cackled until a ninja stabbed me in my head.

I began to see the benefits of housing welfare.

It turns out the ninja had been hopping around causing havoc throughout the game. Was he griefing? Or was he genuinely roleplaying a homicidal maniac? Apart from the occasional broadcast demanding that all scummy savages “Join the Saints, TODAY” there was a severe lack of communication outside the walls of the corrugated sanctuary. Nobody spoke. We were all too busy scrambling for a few extra seconds of survival before the serial murderer came back to make us all feel very silly for being dead.

On top of all this my pee gauge was nearly full. I really, really needed to go.

There was only one place I could turn.

The Saints. Well, those lousy deceitful mobsters. Their attitude to new recruits was as aggressive as their marketing strategy. As I wandered up to the gate I was promptly chased off by a terrorist with a knife. “Why is it always knives!?” I typed furiously, just before I was shot in the face. “Why is it always the face!?”

I could only imagine the inside of the shantytown. Bedrooms with velvet pillows, no doubt. Pools of milk and honey and wine, no doubt. Don Draper sitting smugly at his fucking gold-gilded desk, managing the group’s advertising, no doubt.

It’s always interesting to see how a select group of people in a lawless, creatively explosive environment will always try to form order out of madness. But to see them become the criminal tribe, lording it over the plebs – that’s the real kicker. Proof if ever it were needed that online communities, given complete freedom, will always become a microcosm of early society. You can call it griefing. You can call it out-of-character. But really it’s just humans doing what they do best: being nasty to me.

But Gmod is a sandbox. You can’t roll in and start building a castle, then get upset when everyone else starts kicking the sand in your eyes. Right?

I’d like to tell you I persisted. That I got in with the Saints. That I worked my way up from shiv-toting gangster to Creative Director of Knifings. But that’s not what happened. What happened next was… uh. Yeah.

I peed myself.

The yellow gauge had been filling up this entire time. I’d completely forgotten. By the time I saw the unsightly spray of shame jet forth from the bottom of my screen it was too late to get to the nearest corner.

This was silly. With the sullen sorry-for-myself-not-playing-anymore face of a toddler I disconnected and ran back to the lovely, reassuring arms of single player.

Like a caring single mother, Garry’s Mod cleaned me up and looked tenderly on as I spawned some more balloons and car tires. And like an only child set loose in his back garden, protected from the harsh realities of human nature, I played.

And I liked that just fine.


  1. Mr_Hands says:

    I hate meeting new people on the internet, getting stabbed and inadvertently wetting myself.

    Alas, it happens more often than you’d think.

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:

      I guess it’s better on the internet than happening in real life

    • Heliocentric says:

      No, no, no, no, no… You’ve got it wrong, you say ‘and in the game’.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      So it happens on the internet, in real life, and in the game?

      That’s at least three stabs too many, sir!

    • tomeoftom says:

      Wait, let me take a stab at this…

      And in the game!

    • Maxrmk says:

      Just let me stab the damned game!

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Stop stabbing everything!
      You are tearing this family APART!

  2. Barrow says:

    I’ve tried to get into GMod multiplayer on numerous occasions, but it seems to have become a community where you are either a veteran player with a knowledge of some unknown code of building/roleplaying ethics, or you’re a prepubescent griefer. Has anyone had any luck finding noob-friendly GMod communities?

    • postman says:

      Generally my clans server is friendly to noobs, but not if you do things that could be considered greifing, minging, or generally annoying.

      Feel free to join us any time, my name in game is “THE POSTMAN”


    • Killord says:

      FUUUUUUUUUUUUU i hate noobs of all types wether it be a spammer, minge, view my profile ÆkillordÆ the picture that i use is of a cat eating a cactuss * LAWL * if you cant find my profile email me at and i’ll send you the link to join my clan / add me for a better anti minge tomorrow * LAWL AGAIN *…

  3. McDan says:

    This was truly brilliant. Thank you Brendan.

  4. mollemannen says:

    i loved playing stranded and trouble in terrorist town. but as with all multiplayer were the players set the rules the admins think they are almighty beings of divine and launches bans right and left.

  5. Sweedums says:

    i can’t believe i still haven’t even bought this, I really ought to, this has made me want it even more…

  6. patricij says:

    You should’ve peed the ninja…in the face!

  7. Tori says:

    Thanks for a good read Brendan!

  8. Hideous says:

    You really should’ve played on a good gamemode, though. Like Trouble in Terrorist Town.

  9. HunterZ says:

    I played Garry’s Mod a bit back when it was new-ish and still a free HL2 mod. It was kind of fun, but I can’t see the point of paying for it. Some people will try to monetize anything.

    • Tei says:

      Buying Garrys Mod was like paying for a very long experiment to see how far a sandbox building game can go. That is very far. We have paid millions to build the CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, and we got the World Wide Web… Science is this, unpredictable, you put lots of money on it, and something cool is done. So the next time you look at your 10€ shaped hole in your bank account, think “I did it.. FOR SCIENCE!”.

      Heres is a list of things Garrys Mod has invented:
      – Watermelons
      – Balloon powered flyiing vehicles
      – Rocket powered cars
      – Walking constructs made of explosive barrels

      Actually, things way more useful than the WWW, so has paid more than the CERN.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      It was worth the price for all the time I’ve spent in it.

      That said, I haven’t played it in over four months now, nothing grasped my attention last time I was on.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, I messed around with one of the earlier free versions for a while. I stopped well before it cost money, mostly because I’d run out of things to do. Are there more features now? I remember when I played it, it was kind of a quirky ‘attach stuff to other stuff’ game, with no challenges (it seemed like Minecraft Creative). But this talk of role-playing, does this mean there’s a way to gather resources or buy them or something? Are there actual game modes now? If so, I’ll probably end up buying it.

    • Tatourmi says:

      The thing with garry’s mod is it’s community. The game in itself provides a “simple” solo experience as well as some gamemodes (Which is already a lot) and the community created everything else that they could think of for the game. So yeah, there is your rpg, tons of it, including spacemods where building self reliant spacecrafts is pretty important (And then go from planet to planet, trying to survive in space and on ground), there are also multiple rts’s, 2D shooters, castle vs castle and whatnot. Seriously, there was even a mod back then where you would play as a sorts of psycho gardeners that needed to feed their carnivorous plants by lulling enemies to her, without any kind of weapons to defend yourself if said enemy appeared to be too fast for you.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Run out of things to do? On garry’s mod? Are you seriously?
      (Damn, that might be the most complex and supported sandbox game out there)

  10. Phoshi says:

    So hang on, you can pee but you can’t drink?

    Then where does the pee come from! Answer me that!

  11. tripwired says:

    Hahaha, what a fantastic post. Time for a reinstall methinks, been far too long since I made a crane, catapault, or hover car with sawblades for a bumper…

  12. noobnob says:

    You run faster while holding a knife, that’s why.

  13. colinssx says:

    Now you need to to an article on Trouble In Terrorist Town

    Best Garry’s Mod gamemode in years

  14. Freud says:

    Very funny stuff. And informative I suspect. I never tried Garry’s mod.

  15. Koozer says:

    Try a standard freebuild server, a much crazier place. I made a flying office I could observe the other inhabitants with, among many, many other things.

  16. Bret says:

    I remember building a giant helicopter robot on a multiplayer server once.
    Could move in any direction freely, had aimable turret arms of death, and a pilot’s seat.
    Even had a camera to ensure you see where it was going without exposing yourself to gunfire.
    Good times.

    Of course, then, like Alexander, I wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.

  17. SuperNova says:

    It’s crazy how far along G-mod has come since it’s first itterations!
    I’m tempted to go back and take a look at it now. (sadly I tried it when it was free, and so that would involve me spending some of my most precious monies)

    One thing RPS, please could you change the wording of the ‘practicle joke’ sentence in the opening paragraph? I think you can guess why..

  18. ezekiel2517 says:

    oops, wrong page.

  19. Raneman says:

    Should have mentioned Trouble in Terrorist Town. I play it all the time.

  20. Ricc says:

    That was a great read! I never quite got the hang of wtf was going on on most mp servers, when I played GM. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating game. :)

  21. bascule42 says:

    Ahhh, the modern day Lord of the Flies.

  22. Spacewalk says:

    It would be a scene from Mad Men if it was David Lynch’s Mad Men.

  23. Vendetta8678 says:

    link to

    GGG Servers, we had a spot in Wired talking about our servers.

    – Custom coded weapon system
    – Some of the best builders in the game.


  24. Trip says:

    A couple of things:
    1. This review barely skims the surface of ANYTHING on garrysmod. No wiremod is introduced (over half the game for alot of players, and for me it’s almost 95%)
    2. You neglected to experiment with any gamemode except role-playing which (in my opinion) is one of the worst gamemodes out there. Spacebuild introduces an entirely new system with custom models and extensions for wiremod that allow you to build self-sustaining space ships. Survival mode, one might find, is alot like minecraft in the way you create items and work with other people to survive. There are alot of gamemodes like this and you should completely redesign this review. I would honestly say that it sucked and that is unacceptable from a “professional”.

    Yes I made an account on here just to tell you how bad you are.