A Discussion on the Addon Philosophy of S&box

So recently some quotes by Garry have come to my attention, more specifically one from the devlog and the other from Discord:

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If I’m not wildly misinterpreting them, then this means that the Facepunch’s philosophy for S&box does not include add-ons as a part of the game. Removing dependencies for code is completely understandable - as there’s an inherent overhead in requiring them, but I cannot think of a more detrimental idea to the health & creative freedom of the community than removing dependencies for assets. So much of what made Garry’s mod great was the community building, longevity, and constant evolution of gamemodes via user-made addons that augmented the original experience. This kind of additive development meant that even long after a gamemode’s creator lost interest, the community could continue on their creation, adding and evolving it as time passed.

With this new system - the bar of entry for addon creation is infinitely higher, and thus creative freedom as a whole is restricted. Here’s an example: let’s say you’re playing TTT. On Garry’s Mod, you could go “Oh man, this gamemode’s neat, but I wish it had (blank) feature!” then, you could go and create an addon that augmented the gamemode to add said feature, and then you would host your own server with your homemade custom content, bada bing, bada boom. Now let’s say you had the same conundrum on S&box - you’d want to be able to augment the preexisting gamemode, but due to the non-existence of asset dependencies - you’d be restricted. If still wanted your feature - you’d have to assemble a capable team and then start creation of a gamemode from scratch that emulated the original, but with your own twist on it.

This kind of philosophy immensely limits the creative freedom of community content creators, and massively raises the bar for entry into adding content to the game. Think of how many people in the community who can actually code/create assets for the game. Now - split that into a smaller fraction of the playerbase that both has the skills to develop as well as the time investment to create an entirely new gamemode whenever they want to implement their ideas rather than augment a preexisting gamemode with addons. Plenty of people have the skill, energy, and will to make an addon for a gamemode, far less are able to make an entire gamemode.

Think about the currently extant GMod workshop. 80%+ of the content on there are addons - things that do nothing on their own without a gamemode to house themselves within. Things like playermodels, weapon packs, textures, props, general assets etc. This kind of content seemingly has no place within S&box. Gamemodes would be monolithic, and any variant of a gamemode would have to be a whole new mode entirely.

Again, I could be misinterpreting something greatly here (and if I am I am pleased to be corrected), but if I’m not, this path forward for S&box is highly detrimental to the community and their creative freedom, as well as seemingly being a disconnect between the developers and the vast majority of the playerbases’ expectations for this game.

I don’t think we need more threads about this, but whatever.

You say it limits creativity, but I say the opposite, adding player models or additional taunt lines to a TTT server is the opposite of creative to me. Addons made the majority of the gmod a game about 3 or 4 big gamemodes and then really unoriginal “modifications”.

With the the s&box approach the focus will shift from: let’s create an addon for X game to let’s make X game. I’ll take anything that makes s&box have more games than DarkRP (and its clones), TTT and Prop Hunt. And at the end of the day if more games are being created and the platform is built for it and whatnot, you’ll have way more original and creative content than what’s currently in Gmod.

Restricting the existence of addons is, by definition, limiting creativity. No if ands or buts about it. You are fundamentally restricting the options someone has to create content for the game, regardless of how you feel about said content. Many gamemodes simply wouldn’t exist without the existence of addons, the community as you know it wouldn’t be the same, and I guarantee you’d have a smaller base of capable creators to pull from.

Yes you have more creative freedom within the limits of the engine, but just think of any long-lasting Gmod community. They exist and thrive off of the constant and consistent creation of new content, essentially rejuvenating dying modes. You can still have the focus be on unique and new gamemodes, but removing addons from the equation is a huge mistake, and I’d suggest the like/dislike ratio on Garry’s post in the devlog would show that most people agree.

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No, I disagree.
There was a gamemode in Gmod that lets you build in space. Pretty bare bones but a very good baseline. Then with addons you could add Stargates, resource gathering and managing, Wiremod, etc. depending on what you wanted to do.

Now image that without addons. Sounds quite limited to me.

To get the same amount of “creativity” you now need at least 8 gamemodes with every possible combination.

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Putting creativity aside, I believe addons and gamemode modifications are essential part of many different gaming communities, that want to make their servers or gamemodes unique, original and standing out at some point.

We reached times where majority of new games come with match making and no community server hosting options. (Here’s a good and old article about it). There are many players who just want to jump in to a vanilla gamemode and have some fun, without downloading tons of additional models, sounds etc. They also might simply prefer the original vanilla version without the rainbows and fountains, and that’s totally ok.

There are also players who prefer to stick to one or few server, vanilla or not, because of the people and the community. When you play same gamemode, with same people in a big or small community, you reach a point where most of the people want’s to either make some changes and modifications to the current gamemode or change the gamemode to something else. That’s also totally normal.

I really hope S&bow will accommodate both of those player types.

The way I see it is to differentiate vanilla gamemodes from the modded ones. For example “DM98” and “DM98 Based” gamemode category. Otherwise there will be tons of gamemodes listed separately like DM98 Quake, DM98 CSGO, DM98 CoD etc.

Another important thing here, besides creative addons side, like player models, effects and so on, is the administration part. Both vanilla and modded gamemodes will need administration tools to keep players in check and stuff like community ban list, to keep some players out of all S&box server in your community, discord integrations and so on.

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Addons aren’t being removed you guys keep forgetting that. You will just have to actually know coding for them to be added into the game.

And any instances of addons that really changed the game were made by people specifically for that gamemode, in short: it’s not any different than what it will be in s&box. I’m sure many addons will be drag and drop and that’s it.

The creative, great side of gmod will prevail. The ugly, leechy side of it (server hosters profitting from the work of creators for very little money or completely free and raking in the donations, broken servers that are an amalgamation of nonsense addons), will not.

I realize you’re afraid because this isn’t Gmod 2. But it was never meant to be, and garry repeatedly stated and continues to state it. But I personally believe that this is for the better, and not by a little, but by a huge margin. Gmod had the vibes of “source engine mods” (and many low effort ones), while S&box will have the vibes of “source² engine games”. The potential is much higher.

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This. Addons are not being axed altogether, it’s just the way they work that is being changed. You will no longer have the option to fill a server with hundreds of addons and create some weird mess that calls itself something unique. GMod is plagued with servers that rely entirely on addons, without bringing anything new to the table.
The official Sandbox mode is supposed to have cloud-based addon support, kind of like Toybox back in the days I suppose. This might imply that gamemode makers will have the option to introduce some sort of addon support to their gamemode if it makes sense. So if it’s the special effects, playermodels and admin mods that make you worry about addons, then chances are there’s no need to worry. There will likely be an effective solution to it.

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In the original dev update, I personally thought of dependencies as addons that RELY on other addons to work. (e.g. ULX needs ULib from the workshop as well)

If someone wants to develop a base addon, I think it makes sense to just clone the base and do the modifications on top of the base. Git supports submodules, and some clever tinkering could allow you to separate your code from the base, then you could just update the submodules.

Say I made addon A, which is a simple base gamemode. Addon A could have a folder named “mods”, and you could place your custom tweaks and stuff in there.

What do two-directional arrows mean?
Also, will there be some kind of versioning system for gamemodes/addons and a way to download specific version of mods?

I’m unclear if you’re implying that the assets are going to be borrowed from already existing gamemodes to fill in the gaps with this image, a written response would have been preferred. If that’s the case then the dependencies not existing statement is purely a semantic based misunderstanding. If we can just utilize textures, models, etc from other existing gamemodes to fulfil the needs of the server then that’s great and fantastic. I’d like to hear your response to that if possible, but that does bring me to my next point even if we can happen to just borrow individual aspects of other gamemodes to fulfill asset deficiencies. Where the concern lies is issues that could arise from very heavy asset using gamemodes. Many roleplay gamemodes can commonly have content packs in the tens of gigs. Now I understand to you might that might sound absurd, but unless pre-caching is an option there aren’t very many people that can just live cache many gigs of content everytime they connect to an HL2RP server or what have you.

But 0% of gamemmodes are using tens of gigs of content at one time.
The image Garry posted makes it pretty clear that you can or will download assets on the fly as needed, removing the necessity to pre-cache an entire 10gb asset content pack. The only thing you really need to begin is just the map.

You’ve clearly never been on a fully propped out map, using many different playermodels, and weapons. You can easily hit multiple gigs if your team cares about creating immersive experiences. Not to mention the absurdity that is the file size on perp cars. I couldn’t imagine trying to cache a PERP server live lol. I have fiber, but not everyone does.

Then package the content with your gamemode and don’t stream it?

Maybe I need a bigger brain but Garry’s piss poor excuse for macaroni art is not clear or understandable in the slightest. It’s kind of concerning when a developer doesn’t give a written response but instead posts shitty infographics that were probably made in MS Paint.

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Which again, if you can’t have them precache the relevant assets from other gamemodes without having to integrate the assets into your own gamemode, which creates a barrier of entry for server hosts, creates an issue.

“Dependencies are bad to process in real time because they have overhead. We’re going to remove addons.”
I can understand this, but the cure seems worse than the disease. As a codemonkey I’m capable of forking a codebase, but this complicates things for the average joe. Why would somebody want to fork Sandbox to put in Simphys?

“But also we’re going to download, stream, and cache content mid-game.”
lol okay

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If it weren’t for addons, Garry’s Mod itself would not have had the 15 year run it had, there is no argument about it. Gmod would have died many years ago if it weren’t for community-made mods. I don’t care how extensive you think the vanilla game is, neither s&box nor gmod would be holding more than a couple of hundred hours worth of gameplay. I’ve enjoyed making many mods for that game over the years, even moreso than playing the game itself, and there are many people whose sentiments are exactly the same. No addon capabilities = a dead game.