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.

18 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.

  2. Midlou says:

    8-Bit Guy reference

  3. can says:

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

  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.

  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

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