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  Collaborative Building in ‘Half-Life 2’ [Updated]  
Posted 2007-07-14 by Tony Walsh
Imagine a 3D virtual world where users conjure coffee mugs or freight trains out of thin air, and work together to build roller coasters or giant robots. No, this isn't another Second Life story, but one about Garry's Mod, a sophisticated third-party modification ("mod") for the popular game Half-Life 2 that allows users to build and play together. Garry's Mod was made available last year as a paid download through the Steam distribution service, indicating an endorsement from the makers of the game it modifies.

I wouldn't call Garry's Mod a game as much as a game-powered sandbox--the main rules are those of physics; the only goals are those users set for themselves. Fun Motion describes how it all works:
"The primary method of interacting with objects in the game world is 'the physics gun." [I]t allows you to move and rotate objects, as well as freeze them in place with ease... A second gun, 'the tool gun' is used to weld objects together..."
Fun Motion's review concludes "If you can remember spending hours building with Legos, you have some idea of the sense of accomplishment that can come from building things in Garry's Mod." I'd add that if you're interested in collaborative building within a true game (rather than sandbox) environment, check out SourceForts, a Team Fortress-style Half-Life 2 mod where teams build their own fortifications prior to each round of combat.

[Update: Corrected paragraph about Garry's Mod availability on Steam. Thanks, Sven.]
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