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Garry's Mod catches pirates with error message

Creator locks pirates out of mod and forum via secret Steam ID reveal

The creator of Garry's Mod has revealed that he intentionally added an error message to the commercial version of the mod, which only appears in pirated versions of the game.

Speaking on Twitter Garry Newman commented on how he, "Just enabled this error in GMod today. It happens when you pirated it. Having fun watching people complain." He then provides a link to Google searching for the error message "unable to shade polygon normals".

The error only occurs in pirated version of the utility, with the user's 64-bit Steam ID also forming part of the message. Newman has identified the pirates and locked them out of the illegal version, while also banning them from his forum.

Questioned by fans as to why he implemented the measure, Newman responded: "I don't think the error isn't going to boost GMod sales. I just like to give people that paid something to be smug about."

Although it first became popular in 2004 as a free download, Garry's Mod has been available on a Steam as an officially-licensed Source engine product since 2006.

Latest comments (22)

David Stenow5 years ago
Brilliant. Never tried Garry's Mod, but thinking about buying it now.
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Brilliant!
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James Taylor Studying Games and Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology5 years ago
I miss messing around in gmod. Such a creative community.
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Show all comments (22)
Terence Gage Freelance writer 5 years ago
"Questioned by fans as to why he implemented the measure"

I think he should be congratulated, not questioned! Sounds like a great idea, and a slick way to get pirates to expose themselves.
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Lynn Vanbesien Office Manager, Larian Studios5 years ago
Indeed: brilliant! :-)
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
As long as there's no false positives and that there's some way to question the decision if you believe you've been wronged - unlike the official Steam policy atm - because software is always 100% reliable and DRM never harmed or inconvenienced legitimate customers....

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 13th April 2011 2:40pm

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Well done! Just the right prod to remind pirates that some of us work for a living around here.
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Bravo Garry

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Gonzalez on 13th April 2011 2:43pm

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
In short, bloody brilliant!
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design5 years ago
Never tried it. I'm buying it now - genius move.
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Alex Dawson Technical Art director, Firing Pin Games5 years ago
Where is this man so I can slap him a big high five!
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That's a hilarious and amazing way to catch pirate :O
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Martin Asnong Tool Programmer, Ubisoft Montreal5 years ago
/bow
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Markus Lai Editor 5 years ago
a huge wi-five to him.
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Peter Ohlmann Technical Director 5 years ago
Good idea, but nothing new.

Settlers III (a RTS city building game from 1998) was famous for its peculiar copy protection: in pirated versions of the game, iron smelters would only produce pigs instead of iron, which made weapon production impossible. Same here: many people complained about that in the support forums uncloaking themselves.
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Trevor Johnson Environment Designer, Compulsion5 years ago
This really isn't anything new, Autodesk used to (i don't know about now) put tons of tiny bugs and errors into its software that would be fixed upon legitimate activation. Eyeon Fusion also had/has something very similar.
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Cain Sinopoulos Community Developer, Massive - A Ubisoft Studio5 years ago
hehe, nice one indeed.

For those who haven't played GMod, it is a cheap (cost) and endless way to be creative, have a laugh and a great way to take a break from more serious games.

With the right mindset and a little creativity, you can build anything you can think of in GMod.
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Stephen Hands Director, 3dnative5 years ago
Brilliant fingers up to pirates. These guys are based down the road from our office. Nice to see some local talent kicking up an international storm. GMod is a fantastic sandbox providing more ways to skin a cat than any other SB pretender.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology5 years ago
thats a good little move,now why cant more devlopers do something like that instead of using bad DRM?

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Gregor Manby Producer 5 years ago
Clever! I have to ask though, if its this easy to catch out pirates... Why not just include some feature that makes them unable to play the game in the first place..?
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
@Jamie:

It is DRM.... Just in a different form.

@Gregor: Because they're never 100% accurate and this sort of DRM can obscure actual problems (or confound them). e.g. a TitanQuest scenario. Or the recent DA:O debacle... Your DLC is unauthorised because you're a whinging pirate!! not because you have a legitimate grievance... I love the excuse they came out with about that.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 14th April 2011 5:37am

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Sam Bargeron Studying Game Design Bachelors of Science, Full Sail University5 years ago
I wonder how accurate the detection is. I know a lot of legitimate sony customers had their machines turned into bricks by the anti-hack update they did a year or two back.
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