Let’s just clarify right from the start that I am too stubborn and too dumb to use Source Film Maker. It runs poorly on my laptop and I just can’t get my head around it. Plus, I’m very much invested in Garry’s Mod now. The only reason I play TF2 is because I wanted Garry’s Mod and the cartoony shooter looked better than the serious shooter. Since that fateful day, I have been posing things in Garry’s Mod.
All my pictures on this blog are from Garry’s Mod or are taken in-game in Team Fortress 2. Dekky does his images in Source Film Maker and they look great. What everyone else uses is personal preference. But Garry’s Mod is simpler for me. It takes less time to load. Its interface used to be incredibly simple, although that was changed when Garry’s Mod 13 came out. Yes, there are improvements left right and center, but there’s still missing stuff and stuff moved around. Thankfully mods fix that.
There are significant downsides to using Garry’s Mod over Source Film Maker, such as animation being iffier. Lighting in particular is problematic, as you have far less control over the all-round lighting of a map or prop or location or whatever. The Lamp and Light tools will just have to do. Particles are iffy too, you need a mod for that. But overall, with the right settings, you can get lots of lovely pictures, and quite easily if you know what you’re doing mostly.
Problem is, like all games, Garry’s Mod has its own fair share of bugs. These bugs are amplified by the millions of addons and tools and props and stuff you can add to the game via the Steam Workshop. Most of the time, these bugs are small, benign little things. They’ll cause a bit of lag or a texture will disappear or something. As annoying as those purple checkers may be, the bugs could be much worse.
The biggest issue though is the crashing. To be precise, saving the game and crashing. There’s no autosave. And when you do save, things aren’t always the same when you come back. The giant Medic Subforum picture I did took five attempts, because the first four refused to save. I had to download a new bone-merger tool to make everything work right. The Duplication tool can also cause a lot of issues, especially if you just want a lot of the same thing. Even worse if you happened to use the Bone Merger tool on the item you wanted to duplicate. Floating cosmetics appear. And you can’t remove these floating things without restarting the map. I was reminded of this problem the other day, as I worked on my TF2 Halloween background. I’d bone-merged a Second Opinion onto a RED Medic animated prop. Wanting to know what said Medic would look like in blue, I used the Duplicator tool… but the Second Opinion on his face disappeared. So I deleted the copy and turned around. There was half a floating Medic face staring at me. Never again.
That floating bone-merged thing isn’t that much of a problem though. What’s worse are the crashes. Crashes can be hard to fix, even more so when you’ve got lots of mods installed. With Skyrim, which I also have modded to death, I can generally pin-point what caused a bug. Nine times out of ten, it’s my damn Burning Skies mod. With GMod? A much harder task. Generally it’s either the Bone Merger tool, the Animated Prop tool or having too many moving things on the screen at once. Once upon a time, just looking at fire would make my game crash, but that was because of graphics card issues. If such a thing, crash, bug or whatever, occurs, I just sigh and reload Garry’s Mod, reminding myself not to do that again.
So what’s on the list of things to “not do again”? Off the top of my head, it’s mostly the following:
Never try to bone-merge the Sight for Sore Eyes.
Never try and look at the Show1 animation on Soldier and Heavy.
Never try to detonate 1000 dynamites at once.
Never use the Easy Bone Merge Tool on the Bird of Aberdeen.
Never bother using the Bird of Aberdeen. Ever.
Never use taunt_woohoo on Demoman.
Never try any animations that look weird or out of place.
Never save the game if you used the Ragdoll Mover tool. It’ll never save right.
Never ever press any of the F# keys apart from F12 unless you know what they do.
Never load rd_asteroid.
Yeah. I can’t load rd_asteroid. It just instantly crashes my game. Oh well, never mind. Now I know.
As for the featured picture for this article? You know, this one?
Well… I spent three hours on it, having taken two screenshots 2 hours in. While trying to bind a key to developer screenshots, I accidentally pressed F9. F9 changes the map. I didn’t know that changed the map. And because I’d used the Ragdoll Mover tool, I hadn’t saved anything. A loading screen popped up, then the game crashed. I lost everything.