Garry’s Mod and the Mini-golf Masters

So, I’ve played plenty and plenty of video games. My steam profile says that my most played game ever is Counter Strike: Global Offensive. I don’t know if that is truly my most played game of all time because I don’t know my game times from my console play

(If we counted console play it might be that Far Cry 2 or Fallout New Vegas or Oblivion would shine as top dogs (even more possible, Call of Duty: Black Ops could also be in the running))

I have also dumped a considerable amount of time in RuneScape so it’s possible that it has the most Maxwell Hours (totally legit units) dumped into it.

My most played game on Steam or in life is not important to this story though. What is more important is what Steam considers to be my second most played game of all time, Garry’s Mod, or what everyone else in the biz calls it, Gmod.

Garry’s Mod is a game where… well… there isn’t inherently a game in it. All it is is a Source engine sandbox. Much like Minecraft you can get in a server or play alone and all you can do is spawn in objects or move them around and interact with them.

There is no story.

There is no objective (inherently).

There is no end to what can be done in it.

And so, once more like Minecraft, people made servers with mods and plugins, and got different game modes to work.

Of the popular ones are:

DarkRP- I don’t have much experience with this, so I won’t say much for it. I just know there are tons of great stories on the internet about it.

Murder – One person has a knife and wants to murder everyone. One person has a gun and wants to kill the murderer. Everybody else just tries to stay alive and collect pieces around the map to obtain more guns. It’s a super fun game and no matter the role is worthwhile.

Prop Hunt – The objective is simple, there are a team of props and a team of seekers. The props hide as garbage around a map while the seekers try to find an eliminate them. It was simple and it was fun, but it never felt satisfying to hide in plain sight, or to hide in general. Overall I didn’t sink that much time into this game mode (but I did watch a bunch of YouTube videos of people playing it that I thought was hilarious).

Trouble in Terrorist Town – I have a love-hate relationship with TTT. First, the premise is much the same as Murder. There are a couple of traitors who are trying to kill everyone. There are a couple of detectives with some abilities to scope out traitors. Everyone else is trying to kill the traitors and defend themselves. It’s a fun and if everyone plays the game as intended it can make some really interesting gameplay.

The problem with TTT is there are a lot of people who play the game and just start shooting people. They might not be a traitor, but they will still kill people who are innocent. This fundamentally breaks the game. So what a lot of servers do is enforce a strict set of rules to stop people from griefing (the term for doing not good things in general, basically).

Problems arise with these rule sets though. I’ve played tens of hours on servers where the game wasn’t Trouble in Terrorist Town, but rather Lawbreaking in Lawyer Land. People will report players for anything, assuming they are breaking the rule. Then the people who get reported more than likely get banned.

One fundamental rule is that you can’t shoot someone until you see them commit a “traitorous act” (See article V subsection 4). This is reasonable as a rule until you realize that traitors can’t tell if you saw them commit a traitorous act. I have seen so so so so so many cases of traitors getting people banned because they thought that they were killed on a whim and not because they saw the traitor commit a crime.

When I play a multiplayer game, I don’t think of fun as constantly checking a rule book to see if I can get someone banned

And finally the best server that ever was.

Gmod Tower. There are a couple of servers still on Gmod that are like this beauty, but nothing that comes close.

Gmod Tower was a game mode where you had an avatar and an apartment.

You could watch YouTube with random internet strangers. You could play chess and trivia with random internet strangers. You could deck out your apartment. You could get a watermelon pet that rolls behind you and emotes all of the time. You could gamble in the casino. You could play a variety of mini-games that would net you money to buy stuff for your apartment.

Best of all, the mini-games were all very, very good. And the best of the mini-games was mini-golf.

I love mini-golf. In real life. As a video game. As a game within a video game. As a mini-game within a game. As a mini-game inside of a game mode of a video game. All forms of mini-golf are great.

And I wasn’t the only one who thought this. Gmod Tower mini-golf was very well made. It was fair. It was fun. It had the right amount of challenge.

And the best part was it was filled with a lobby of full of people who were all very passionate about this mini-game and being the best at it.

Do you know how absurd that is? Think about it. This wasn’t your regular group of zealous mini-golf enthusiasts. This was a group of people who logged into a video game to log into a specific server to play one specific game mode on that server. And that was all they did. And I was one of them.

I don’t have any regrets playing Gmod Tower mini-golf. Hearing random people scream on the internet about mini-golf filled my heart with absolute joy. Hearing people brag, and cry, and laugh, and blast their mics with hip hop music, and play low quality static-filled meme sound bites all to the sound of relaxing mini-golf is easily one of the funniest experiences of my entire life.

Chuck and the Child of Destiny

Gather around boys and girls, it’s trope analysis time. And by analysis, I mean rant.

There is a little show that is one of my favorite shows of all time and it goes by the name of Chuck.

Super spoilers ahead.

The synopsis of Chuck is that a nerdy dropout from Stanford who is now working at the Nerd Herd (Geek Squad) in Buy More (Best Buy). He has no discernible future and then one day he receives an e-mail from his ex-bestfriend. This e-mail contains all of the intel from all the intelligence agencies ever in a nice sublimal message format.

Chuck opens up this e-mail and then knows pretty much everything about anyone whenever the story calls for it.

Now Chuck is an asset for the CIA and NSA and helps them stop terror from happening.

And this is great.

Random guy, no future, stumbles upon greatness. In my book, this is grounds for a great story.

And that’s season 1

From there it gets discovered that his dad was a spy and his mom was a spy and his ex-bestfriend who was a spy also knew his spy mom and dad.

And his mom and dad planned for him to be a living government computer.

And all of this is feels like an after though.

Chuck is a great show with a lot of humor and cheesily great action writing, but this sort of child of destiny syndrome really irks me.

I am okay with child of destiny plotlines. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion you are a prisoner destined to save the kingdom, this is one of my favorite games of all time. Child of destiny plotlines are great, the idea that no matter what happens to the main character they are destined for greatness.

My problem is when a show adds the plot afterwards. It cheapens the power of luck.

Supernatural is another great example. Two brothers go on a quest to find their father. They are supernatural hunters, people who hunt all sorts of mythical beings. They learned this from their father (who learned from one other person), who went on a hunt for all mythical beings after their mother died to a demon.

This was an awesome dynamic, the idea that there is approximately 3-4 people who even know of the existence of mythical beings.

And then as the seasons went on it was discovered that they were both reincarnations of angels and demons. And their mom was a hunter, and all of their mom’s family were hunters. And there are whole swathes of hunters around the US. There are bars of people dedicated for supernatural hunters.

This is ridiculous. The idea of two brothers using their own hardened savvy to eliminate swarms of demons is awesome. The idea that they were destined from birth to do anything really just cheapens the blow in my opinion.

These shows are great and I still watched all of Chuck and probably about 6 seasons of supernatural. All I’m saying is that shows that don’t have to resort to saying that this was all planned from the start win huge props in my book.

Editing Videos

So I’ve always been really interested in video editing. There are a lot of cool things that can be done, and I think it takes a lot of skill to master. With that said, I have never had a super awesome, very utilizable video editing software.

When I was in high school I had a couple of video projects. No it wasn’t for some art class, I wasn’t in a video editing class, it was for the classes that make the most sense for videos to be made in.

If you didn’t guess health or history then you are WRONG.

Even though these were in weird subjects I found that I really enjoyed making these videos, and a part of me ever since has been wanting to make cool videos with weird effects ever since.

Our school would host a film competition every year and every year my friend and I would look at the posters and say, “This year we are going to do it, by golly!”

O.K. we didn’t say “by golly” but you still get the point.

And every year we didn’t enter the film competition because we didn’t have time. This trend continued through college where our university has also held a film competition every year.

This year though, this year is the year I start releasing cool videos.

In High School, the videos we created were just made with Windows Movie Maker, which doesn’t have a ton of special effects or adjustments, and it kind of clunky to work with. I got through with it alright, but it left me wanting more.

When I got into college and started Xylo-A-Day I figured this might be my chance to make cool videos finally. Armed with iMovie I was… let down a little.

iMovie is great. It is simple it is intuitive and when you are uploading a video every day for your novelty xylophone channel, it is an absolute godsend. It does a whole bunch of very simple editing, very simply.

Outside of that it fights you. Chroma keying can’t be resized or moved around. You don’t have more than two lanes of editing, one lane having to be a primary lane while the other lane is the secondary lane. Surprisingly, you can’t just float text anywhere on the screen.

Don’t get me wrong, you can put text in your iMovie. You can put text in 1 of 45 (Probably less, I don’t want to count) pre-determined locations, none of which are good for anything else but titles, which granted, are their goal.

This has all led up to this moment.

Humble Bundle, which is a website that sells software and games for dirt cheap and then donates the money to charity (super awesome web site, check them out, not a sponsor), had a software sale that contained Vegas Pro.

And so I got it.

It isn’t After-Effects or Final Cut, but it is a higher end video editing software then iMovie, and it’s going to take some time to learn.

I’m up for this challenge though, over this next year I hope to put out a video at least once a month with something cool going for it. Maybe it is editing, maybe it is just a cool video.

I think it is reasonable for me to release 12 videos this year, so be on the lookout, and lets see if I can get it done.

(Xylo-A-Day will continue as usual)