Mailbag: Sausage Men

I haven’t done a mailbag for a long time, but this is a common enough question that I thought I’d explain my thinking here.

This particular email was fair and level headed and I’m hoping that my posting it as a blog I can redirect future generations here.

Hello,

I played Garry’s Mod for a couple thousand hours and yadda yadda you’ve heard all that before. Big fan. Just learned about s&box and I’m very excited. We’ve had a pretty severe lack of games that do the whole “moddable sandbox with hostable custom gamemodes” thing of late – at least, ones that aren’t insufferable free kiddie cesspools. Please charge money for s&box.

I gotta say though. The current default character model is so amazingly viscerally unappealing that I legitimately think it’s gonna fuck up the game’s marketing appeal. The goofy wacky silly sausage people sit on the extreme end of juvenile cartoon humor aesthetic and almost instantly turned me off of the game. Every one of my friends I went and showed it to after agreed. It’d be kind of a problem if the game is less popular due strictly to a much worse surface aesthetic (see: Nidhogg 2) when the game is so focused on creator involvement and UGC.

“Just change the model if you don’t like it!” says everyone on the forums to similar complaints. Guess what? Can’t change the splash screens and marketing material. God save me if I have to look at this wacky sausage man every time I boot up the game. “It really grows on you!” say other people on the forums. That means absolutely nothing to marketing appeal.

Give it some thought.

All the best

Tom

Garry’s Mod

The default player models in Garry’s Mod were from Half-Life 2. They aren’t generic humanoids. They were designed and iterated on and refined by legit artists for years. They come with character built in.. not only in their design but by the experiences we’ve had with them. They’re mostly downtrodden – so we like them. They’re good at doing something – so we like them. We can predict a lot of aspects of their characters because we know their personality. That’s a lot of shorthand built in.

As an example of this, GMan with a traffic cone on his head with his eyes crossed is funny to us – because we know his personality. We know he’s a serious guy who wouldn’t want to be laughed at.

Humans Suck

Generic humanoids don’t come with any of those benefits. In fact, whenever I see generic humanoids in a game I get annoyed. I don’t want to play a game filled with trendy hipster 20 somethings. It’s annoying. Everyone so cool, perfect figures, stylish hair.

Crayta
Fortnite

Characters

There’s a few shortcuts to likability. Let’s do some analysis of common likable characters.

Homer SimpsonFat, Bald, Stupid
Alyx VanceNo Redeeming Quality
Marty McFlyShort, Moral, Weak
George CostanzaFat, Bald, Glasses, Loser
Michael ScottIdiot, Good at job
Max PayneDead Family
Wall-EIdiot, Lonely
Jason BourneExploited, Amnesia, Good at job

In s&box we don’t have any characters yet. They don’t talk, they don’t have jobs, they can’t be good at things. So right now we have to throw everything away except their appearance. So our strategy is to try to be less Fortnite and more Bullseye:

I’d much rather hang around with these guys than the characters in the previous section. Real looking mother fuckers. Every one of them is a character.

I tend to think that a lot of people have the general feeling that real looking people are nicer than good looking people. That’s why it’s always such a surprise when someone good looking isn’t a complete arshole, suprising enough to tell people that they aren’t an arshole. Because the assumption is that good looking people are arsholes.

This has a big influence on the media I consume. I can’t stand shows like Love Island that seem to revolve around young beautiful people. Can’t stand to watch all the good looking young youtubers running around loving life. But yeah I’ll watch a fat guy with a mullet mow his grass for 40 minutes. Yeah I’ll watch a young Gordon Freeman build a pretend space station on his own for an hour. Yeah I’ll watch a chubby bald guy retrobrite old computers over and over for hours on end.

AK47

Back when Counter-Strike was released there was a healthy mod scene, which spawned actual websites that used to post news about them. Every mod had an AK47. So there were dozens of games making the same AK47 model.

I feel like a lot of the games that get made now are doing the same thing. Especially in the Sandbox/UGC area we’re in. The same player models over and over again.

Sausage People

But why sausage people? Why not make ugly humans? To be honest, I don’t see a lot of difference. They’re not strictly humans, but they’re not strictly not humans.

More important to me is that they’re not pretty, or trendy. I haven’t seen the exact same models in 4 different games this year.

Kids Game

I’ve heard a quite a few people mention that the models are like something out of a children’s show. I can accept that and while first impressions are important, I don’t totally see it as a negative. I kind of enjoy when things look one way and turn out to be another.

The world I envision them living in isn’t a kids cartoon. There was an old cartoony show in the 90s, it was shown late at night so my dad used to set the video to record it so he could watch it on Sunday morning. It was called Crapston Villas. This is the kind of world I imagine these guys live in. Grimey and real.

All that said, it’s totally not our intention to make everything look like a sanitized kids show. I have been pushing the guys to increase the dirt and grime, to make everything look dated and worn. I don’t know how easy it is for an artist to make things look like shit.

Marketing

It’s probably important to point out that we haven’t started marketing the game. We haven’t even started finishing the game yet. So any screenshots of the citizens you’ve seen and thought “omg baby game”, those are development shots. Making assumptions based on those would be like looking at a greybox of a map and worrying that there aren’t any textures.

It’s also worth noting that our games haven’t historically sold well because they look amazing. They sell well because we have a plan and are in it for the long haul, changing the plan as things come up. If s&box fails or succeeds – that won’t be because of the citizen models. Games that rely primarily on being visually appealing don’t stay popular for 20 years.

Your general sentiment is correct though. There is a shopping list of things we need to do to sell the citizens to the players. Some of those things have already started and some are pending.

Another thing is that the citizens are the thing the most screenshots exist of because they’re the most interesting thing to take screenshots of right now. We haven’t been posting screenshots and videos of the content created for s&box – which is the bread and butter of what we’re doing. That’s why people buy GMod, and I expect that’s why people will buy s&box.

32 Comments

  1. fdfdf says:

    I will just buy your game (or support it) and change the models, but I will always regret that other people (most of humanity) will just avoid playing it because they’re superficial and like looking at pretty things out of the box. No one played Gmod because of the graphics, but no one played it *in spite* of the graphics either.

    To be clear, I think all your arguments are true. But you’re intentionally not thinking about the fact they also apply to making a game look *bad* on purpose, and will get the same effect here.

    1. Matt Borgelt says:

      They are ugly and that’s why I love them. I wish I was a sausageman.

  2. Midlou says:

    8-Bit Guy reference

  3. can says:

    can’t wait to start modding it. this is like MTA, but in 2022

    1. The Empty Shadow says:

      MTA?

      1. Ketel says:

        Multi Theft Auto, multiplayer mod for GTA San Andreas. Highly scriptable!

  4. Gringo says:

    People complaining about the player model in a game where you can choose your own player model (from community workshop). It’s like people who try comment a drawing before it gets done, don’t help and aways are wrong.

    1. Tom says:

      I can choose my own player model which I rarely see, but I can’t choose the player models I spend the most time looking at – that’s up to everyone else.

  5. Pohn says:

    I think the sausages have character, so you’re smart (and it’s your right) to keep them. Though, I think some generic models would be good for certain gamemodes. Obviously the community is going to create an arsenal of models for this and that, but certain games will feel a bit silly with the sausages, whilst for the sillier ones they’ll be perfect. IMO a sausage based character creator, allowing devs to check a box to allow them in gamemodes, would be a good way to balance things. Even sausage haters will like them if they can put their own spin on a sausage.

    1. Jonny says:

      People will stop caring once more great content is available. They need to show more off like the videos in this post.

  6. Cabbose says:

    You didn’t even try.

  7. Cool and all. but kinda curious.
    Can people make regular people using sausage people’s bones, like, without changing scaling animations and etc, just swapping the mesh.
    And isn’t it gonna bite your ass later having only 4 fingers instead of 5 on sausage models?

  8. Terryunenjoyer says:

    I agree with everything up until: Thus make them look like minions.

  9. IanSource2 says:

    I feel that the people who are not gonna buy s&box just for terry being in it is a really stupid choice. I used to hate the old model for them cuz they looked hideous (no offence, I’m sure those original few took a while to make lol). Over time things have to be switched out, you just need to be ok with change.

    1. I AM says:

      All assumptions create “reality”.
      Man that assumes that certain physical appeal is unreal or bad character makes the SPECIFIC person feel whatever they feel.

      Its a lie that those nerdy characters are real,
      They are just as fake as a fortnite good looking man.
      Its just that people have assumptions that change their outlook on life.

      I gurantee to you 1000000% that every “goofy nerd” in those pics are just as Personas worn by people just as you assume good looking people to be.

      Imagination creates reality.
      Humans create their own horror and their own loveliness from assumptions.

      Its never too late to change your assumption.
      You will find it as useful and powerful in every aspect of life.

      People block things in life just because they reflect their own hostile assumption on it, and forcefully side with the direct opposite.

      Clean opinion on sausage men?
      They look unnatural.
      It makes me feel uncomfortable, not funny or goofy, its just weird.

      I could instead naturally ignore the presented character and my main attention focus would be other assets on the storepage.
      But my eyes were attracted by a loud eye attraction of something that to me looks real ugly.
      Not UNpretty. But Ugly.

      For a fictional character its real kinda uncomfy.

      In general
      I see appealing humans that just look nice, as game characters obv, unreal and all that.

      to me its a virtual mascot.
      Without judging too much, fortnite characters are as generic as male07 but with modern loud style,

      We can add assumptions from here or just ignore the way their clothes look and what colors they wear and just appreciate that THEY LOOK NICE FOR A MASCOT.
      Looks are just flesh.
      Man adds assumptions and experiences life based on his assumptions.

      I like to look at nice things.
      If the presentation was a store front presentation, especially for a Mod your character Game.

      I wouldnt want on my mascot presentation storefront any disturbing appearances.
      My temporary mascot should atleast look clean and comfy to the eye.
      Thats what is good at those AAA human characters.

      Too good and boring generic are WAY BETTER than disturbing.

      Its just a human thing.
      Not all have the same hostile assumption.
      And its a human thing to like nice things.

      Flowers have many colors and shapes, and trends too.

      But just as flowers all humans are just humans, yet assumptions change their appearance so much for the assumer,
      The rest you know yourself.

      I personally very dislike the mascot.
      I dont “relate” to characters because I AM man.
      I am real human and no fictional persona.

      Yet in a storefront of a game that isnt about character permanance…
      A first impression of unappealing persona WILL cause ASSUMPTIONS

      And assumptions create behavior that if negative…. you know.
      Just like you have disdain for fortnite characters, and hold them as example what isnt ok.
      The storefront lookers, disturbed by the sausagemen, WILL ASSUME negative,

      And who knows how they react?
      Read the storepage less, or if they arent caught in the YT hype, just wont buy it.

      So many games I refused to buy simply because first impression sucks on steam page of it.
      How long did I delay buying Rimworld?

      I too am Man, and as human prone to assumptions.

      So lets assume only the best for the best results.
      It really works that way man.

      I love you Garry and your work,
      Only because I love you I assume no bad thru what I read in the blog.

      But do give it a thought…

      Assumptions do create reality and impact human action and thought a lot.

      Its less about sausagemen and more about rethinking how we think.

      What you assume stirs in you SO MUCH imaginative imagary,

      You can agree with me that in reality… Man suffers more in imagination than in reality.

      People with a different outlook on specific topics were just never exposed to the experience u had with specific type of people which COINCIDENTALLY were cleaner and less goofyer looking.

      Those that had no such exposure only had the best experiences even with those same model looking people.

      But BE AWARE.
      The Persona people like dripchasers in youngsters (which are fake right?)
      Are the same FALSE (fake) PEOPLE as the older generation’s have their Geek Goofy characters.

      Dont for a moment assume that because they took the least popular physical appeal they dont have their motive.

      All those characters of the nerd goofy type as clearly tv characters, persona to appeal to just those that assume those to be “better” or “realer”.

      Those are the same pretending people playing a forced character.

      All those fake characters are like those high school wannabes which I assume you mean by Real and Unreal people.

      Its all media! TV! Characters.

      So why even care? Why judge or assume and put mud in our general life assumptions of people?
      Idk
      Thats what media does to people sometimes.

      Humans are but a reflection of ourselves.
      And our assumptions

      We become our assumptions.

      In such a simple topic like a nice clean mascot that wont deter a customer,
      The subject is a virual pic
      Why add assumptions?

      I get that your personal work def has your personal blood and assumptions in it.
      But if such a simple subject like a storefront mascot which isnt a PERMAMNENT thing since we play a modding game,
      Is holding so much stubborn personal assumption of a decision by you…
      Even if it might be negatively recieved by customer first reaction…

      Its less about the character and more about a personal outlook on life.

      I wont ever play postal just because the game looks ugly to me on the same aspect.
      Sausagemen trigger disgust in me, they look VERY unnatural.
      Not UNpretty. From a nonassumptive standpoint.

      Like lab mutants, or birth defects.
      Idk why. Im human.

      But if I spent so much time writing to you here about the power of assumption.
      I speak from experience.

      There is something very familiar in the judgement that you stated in the post.

      I do not intend to judge, but I too dont want you to suffer in other aspects of life because of a false critical assumption.

      Media decieve and creates false drama to attract crowds. Thats what tv characters are for.
      People think they gotta choose sides…

      Chad or Nerd.
      Absolute nonesense.
      Media has got people mad
      And ASSUMPTIONS CREATE REALITY.

      Humanity likes good appeal, Coca cola wont ever put a dismorphed logo because clean is a nice first appeal.

      Humans judge, ASSUME.
      Hideous things create this same false assumption you had, (I say had.)

      And a bad assumption about a project which has Garry Newman’s blood and sweat work in,
      Is a disgrace to you my man.

      I worry for the customers disgracing YOUR lovely game (knowing your creations by now)
      With their false assumptions.

      You deserve the cleanest opening for this LEGEND of a game.
      Not a single false assumption by customers merely created as a result of another false assumption…
      Resulting in the stubborness of a mascot design.

      I love you, truly.

  10. game pirater says:

    This is the guy who tweeted nonstop about letting his kid play fortnite btw

  11. I honestly hated the sausage men at first. Mostly because I thought that they’d always be naked little sausage people like Rust. I’ve watched the different reiterations as the game has progressed, and every single time that you lot at Facepunch have given the sausage man another gloss over, I am always pleased. Every step so far has been in the right direction. The animations that this model has been given have breathed new life into this model for me. It’s no longer a little sausage person model, but it’s looking as if it’s growing into a real personality (thx max). The models in marketing won’t affect how people view this game in the grand scheme of things. Underneath its surface is a whole new level in a sense of world building and game design for the average consumer, and I think that’s what sbox will be known for. The sausage people are just a little silly factor that people will grow to recognize and remember (hopefully in a positive light).

  12. Jonny says:

    The Crapston Villas point is very good. I think the contrast of a high fidelity world and the sausage model could work for a lot of game modes.

  13. Good interchange with some useful insight, as always from Garry. Looking forward to seeing and trying out the early access / release.

  14. NostalgiaAddicted says:

    I bought “Garry’s Mod” back then because of all the content that was made for the game and the possibilities to make something new. And that is the same reason why I’m happy to be able to play The s&Box Beta, because I don’t mind “Sausage men” I don’t mind the current graphic. As every game starts with something, and here in s&box the possibility to change everything and even now create something bigger is truly amazing. And here you can easily use your own solution, by replacing the models and do your own thing like a Sandbox game should do. It gives you a base, and you can decide what you will do out of it, no limits only your creativity.

  15. maximumjelly says:

    I think people need to understand that this is under heavy development. I’ve spent countless hours on Garry’s Mod and trying to compare Garry’s Mod to this is just something that shouldn’t be done. It is unavoidable of course due to the shadow it casts over other games but taking into account this is an entirely different game and yes, tons of mechanics coming from gmod.

    When I was going into Garry’s Mod seeing all those Characters from the HL universe, you’re going into it knowing who they are, their personalities and ideology and you have a basis.

    Going into this game with entirely original designs is a breath of fresh air. You can create your own personality and look. Going into an RP game, you can literally become whoever you please. Whereas 9/10 player models in gmod where assigned roles based on their image and you could assume who they were going to be or do.

    I embrace the sausages, I embrace the direction this is going.
    the player created content in the future will add an infinite amount of content that will define your experience. Make it your own, you are the limitation.

    Make it limitless.

  16. throwawayname500 says:

    can’t wait to mod it to remove the characters

  17. Clumsy says:

    I genuinely had no idea people didn’t like these player models. I’ve always thought the art style choice of these characters was right. I can envision A gritty Dark RP mode with these characters as a perfect application.

    These guys capture real human personality without being a boring un-humorous human or an annoying fortnite cartoon. I think you’ve hit a vocal minority and should stand firm in your convictions!

    If it’s a kid on the end of the microphone or a 40+ year old man. The character fits.

  18. PotatoMuffin says:

    You make some valid points in how you show some faces from Bullseye with goofy, individualistic charm that radiates distinct respective personalities. You appear to want to prioritize personality and genuinity over the perfect, chiseled beauty seen in many modern media, which is honestly a very valid artistic approach to the alternative that is the bland, corporate, beautiful plastic figurines seen in many different games media today.

    But while your principles are valid, I believe you’ve only managed to end up on the other side of the coin of character design. Instead of bland, corporate, beautiful avatars, you simply made bland, corporate, *ugly* avatars. Ironically, s&box’s sausage man feels just as corporate as the other designs you’ve previously presented here, as if it was some generic creature designed by Justin Roiland himself. I see people here saying that it took them time to warm up to these designs, but if one takes “warming up” to view the designs here from a neutral or even appreciative lens, I fail to see how this makes them proper character design to begin with.

    The issue here is that you appear to have ultimately failed to apply your own character design principles. You make the point that “every one of them is a character” in the faces you’ve presented from Bullseye, but how is that represented in the sausage man? Every one of them shares the exact same height, face, and cylindrical shape, feeling as if they were processed from a factory. They aren’t “ugly” in the appealing sense, they’re “ugly” in the *bland* sense. They aren’t expressive, they aren’t individualistic, they aren’t even funny to look at.

    I believe in your attempt to make “ugly” characters, you’ve went on to dismiss criticism of such designs under the assumption that those who resented them was because they weren’t pretty chiseled models. That isn’t the issue at all. The issue is that the design looks as visually appealing as a popped zit. Everywhere outside of your self-cultivated community circle are people who consistently find the designs hideous and thoroughly unappealing. I keep hearing different forms of “whoa, that s&box thing looks cool, shame the avatars look like utter dogshit though” every time people talk about it, and it’s utterly baffling you’ve done nothing to amend this, instead choosing to hide behind the justification of some artistic direction that you’ve failed to even properly follow the principles of.

    I mean, I’d love to see a proper character design that represents the concept of “real looking mother fuckers” that applies goofy exaggerated characteristics in an attempt to stray from the corporate model and depict something that feels rather genuine.

    Could you point me to it? Because I do not see it here.

    1. Reacher says:

      People I have spoken to as well have said the exact same thing: Great potential, but the character models are very off-putting.

      I feel the exact same way as you have described them, simply not being appealing at all, and while still early development, I have some concerns it may be the final design.

      Personally, if I were to describe the models, I’d say they feel like a joke that has overstayed its welcome. They are goofy, they are meant to provide some comedic value, but the way I see it for example in Garry’s Mod is that we take “unfun” things like the GMan, Breen etc and turn him funny, not the other way around. I imagine Terry being an april fools joke, not ending up in a finalized game.

      1. Mind says:

        Can confirm. I didn’t read any of the criticism of the character models before, so I definitely wasn’t biased against them. The first time I saw them, I found them weird, unfitting and off-putting. It just doesn’t fit. And I asked around as well, and received the same feedback you provided. Nobody liked the default playermodel, but they like the game, but possibly wouldn’t play it if this is the default playermodel. Fortunately, playermodel can be changed, but then again, I still think the default playermodel just doesn’t fit into a “successor of Garry’s mod”.
        In the end, it’s Garry’s game. But I definitely say that this is a poor character design choice and the arguments he provided really feel like a coping mechanism in response to the community’s dislike of the default playermodel. “I’m not like the other games!” has been pulled so many times now in the past, that even that has become a cliché.

  19. KTae says:

    We all know your real reason for doubling-down on unattractive default characters: killing sexy RP communities from the start. This is the best thing you could have done to push the majority of the lewd RP player base away and scaring off all the cringe pedos and furries in the process, I salute you.

    The lack of chins do give me “Hotdog, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades” sausage men NPC vibes though.

  20. jay says:

    These things make me feel awful. The people people from bullseye aren’t physically deformed. They’re normal, or unattractive at worst. If you want to create normal looking people, go right ahead. These are just wrong though. It’s the most unappealing design I’ve ever seen. You said you wanted them to seem like normal people because attractive people are arsholes, but if I met one of these things I would just feel sorry for it. Looking at them makes me feel sad and more than a little disgusted. I wouldn’t want to buy a game with these in it.

  21. gnarbarian says:

    a lot of the humor and enjoyment in Gary’s mod was in the hilarious physics based violence. that generation of gamers had a much tougher stomach for that sort of content. (I still love it). look at soldier of fortune 2 footage for example.
    these days unfortunately developers believe they need to be more sensitive to appeal to a different (wider?) audience of people who will be able to better appreciate unspeakable violence on cartoony characters.

    I get going with a more abstract interpretation which gives you more artistic license and maybe I’ll actually like it more. who knows.

  22. A few thoughts:

    Character traits (visual and personality) which push out from the centre ‘neutral’ position (e.g. annoyingly perfect physical specimen with a cliche personality) are more noticeable and memorable. It’s these variations – or protrusions that define the edifice of a character – that make them distinguishable.

    Characters with a commonly-understood background story let us create our own versions of a story that everyone appreciates because of the implications, juxtapositions, unusual circumstances etc. When you manipulate TF2 characters for a SFM video you are puppeteering them, adding to the story universe. These stories are often understandable for outsiders.

    Characters that have no personality of their own but have many customisation options allow us to express ourselves easily. They are our representation in the world. It’s up to us to create the story. The problem is that story isn’t interesting to anyone who isn’t participating in it.

    When I first learned of the sausage people I thought “They don’t have an existing fan base to draw to the game, so it’s a bit of a risk.” Perhaps in time after the game’s release we’ll start to see meme images and the like of posed and dressed characters which will intrigue potential new players.

  23. Evan says:

    I have 6000 hours in Garry’s mod and I already look like a sausage so all the more reason

  24. Lian says:

    Honestly i dont mind how they look. Just wanna say thank you for the laughs man, your games and projects have always pushed limits and really made people just have fun. – random gmod minge

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