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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Garry’s Mod successor S&box is coming along nicely

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It’s been a while since we last heard about s&box, Facepunch Studios’ kinda-sorta-sequel to Garry’s Mod. But over the last few months, the developer has started sharing more progress posts on the physics toybox—and from the looks of things, it’s shaping up as a worthy successor to its Half-Life 2 predecessor.

In the time since we last reported on it, Facepunch ditched plans to move to Unreal Engine 4 in favour of Source 2, the engine Valve used to create Half-Life: Alyx. In practice, this means it should be easier to bring over tools from Garry’s Mod, and the studio’s latest blog post shows a familiar array of thrusters, balloons, wheels and ragdoll tossing shown off in the shiny new software.

Some might miss the familiar, warped ragdolls of Half-Life 2’s dystopian scientists, but it’s nice to see Facepunch has landed on something equally upsetting.

It’s immediately obvious that s&box has ambitions well beyond just being a newer, shinier GMod though. Where that game was very obviously a reframing of Half-Life 2’s assets, s&box is quickly developing its own visual style—a look that involves piles of chunky, naked blokes. 

While much of the progress so far seems set on rebuilding and refining the simple physics sandbox GMod began with, there are hints that Facepunch wants to expand on what it became—a hub for dozens of community-created games and communities.

“It’s not going to be Garry’s Mod 2,” Garry Newman writes in the game’s About page. “My hope is that it will eclipse what is possible in Garry’s Mod rather than simply be a modern version of it.”

It seems it’ll be a good while yet before we get our hands on s&box, mind. According to Newman, the team has yet to really run any proper internal group tests, and there’s still plenty of work to do before he feels comfortable getting outsiders in on the action.

“I’m having tons of fun developing in relative isolation but I’m also keen to get more people playing with s&box as soon as possible. I’m putting thought into working out the best way to get there and what needs to be done before then.”

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