The story of MachineCult's dupes. From towering Combine mechs, to junk ships and more.
16 November 2017 by Craig Pearson
Dupes are easy: you spawn a locker, add some hoverballs, call it something like 'Server Sexer 1337' and upload it to Steam. You have duped. The next part, where people download it and use it, might prove trickier. That requires effort and talent, something that MachineCult has in abundance. His dupes are downloaded and used by loads of people. Over 380 of them are listed on Steam, and many have made it to the top of the charts. He was making a huge number of popular and high quality builds using vanilla Garry's Mod, and I had to know more. So, you know, I asked.
I think the first version I played was Garry’s Mod 8 in around 2006. I saw it while randomly searching for mods on the HL2 page of filefront.com (RIP). I used to mess around, using elastic to fling ragdolls at piles of boxes, playing melon race, etc.
I probably started around 2012. For someone who has never really done much in sandbox before, adding hoverballs and thrusters to a prop is the easiest thing to do and get cool results. I quickly moved on to adding thrusters and hoverballs to a medium-sized prop on sandbox servers, with the simple intention of prop-killing, to great effect. This is why the Combine T-Wagon was created.
The Combine T Wagon was my first creation, used to prop kill with it on sandbox servers many years ago.
Honestly, I don’t know why I chose to upload it (it is terrible). I do remember being on gm_bigcity and considering it. My reasoning was: "Fuck it, other people publish things, why not?"
The Combine set of props was great to use, because they all match each other. There is a variety of different shapes and sizes, but there aren’t that many, so every time I had an idea I had to think 'how do I realise this with what I’ve got?' The idea of the Combine space fleet was very interesting to me (whether required in the canon or not). Many of the ships that I created were my attempt at visualising what they might look like.Combine Deep Space Vessel Combine Dreadnaught Combine Harambe-class Destroyer
In the Combine Raider series, I was imagining that many years ago an apocalyptic event had destroyed civilisation and the Combine portal, stranding them on Earth. The humans and Combine continue to fight, using makeshift vehicles built with scavenged parts.
It likely stems from the fact that I’m a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, and love all the starships. Following on from the previous question, I took great pleasure in creating the T-Wagon. Perfecting the settings and placement of the hoverballs and thrusters so that it would move fast, stay rigidly at its elevation, tilt while turning, etc. So that it looks good while your ragdoll is hitting the wall after it’s killed you. I’d make sure I kept my hoverballs and thrusters at the same settings so that I could quickly create it again on a new server.
I found that adding more props didn’t affect the way it moved, so I made something a little bigger, then the Combine Starship. After that I think I just became addicted.
I’ve found that you can make any size or shape of contraption float and move however you want. The key is to weld it up properly (painstakingly). Many people have told me to use weld groups and other addons, but I only use vanilla props and vanilla tools. With vanilla weld I know exactly what has been welded to what.
A lot of my ships will have a big main prop at the centre which all other props are welded to, and the hoverballs and functional thrusters are attached to. For smaller ships without a strong structure, you sometimes need to have an invisible, non-colliding prop of the same rough size holding it all together.
The Combine Raider Type 6. I had an idea for an engine effect and ended up with this.
I managed to achieve what I intended to with the engine. I wanted just a huge, fiery thruster blasting out, like the vehicle could barely contain it. I used lights, emitters for fire effects and a large flat Combine prop covering it with an orange translucent watery material.
The interior happened after I had bolted most of one of my other vehicles onto the front and realised there was a huge hollow space in the back. I cleared a path between the front and the back and filled it up with engine room type stuff.
The Combine Titan, the largest and most challenging to create.
After I built the Combine Gusion--which was a successful experiment: a sort of ragdoll which stands up on its own, with separate body parts built on a skeleton--I thought I’d just go as far as I possibly could with it and make the Titan.
It was tough, because you’re obviously building in-game in Garry’s Mod, it does get more difficult the larger you go. The individual parts of the Titan were heavy and hard to position, and it’s difficult to step back and look at the whole thing because it takes so long to circle around it. I started with the head and then made the torso and limbs. Then at the start of day two of the build I deleted everything but the head because the proportions didn’t look right.
It’s easier to make the higher detailed Junk ships versus the Combine ships because there are more props available and many of the props themselves are highly detailed. Combine ships are always a challenge to build because of the limited props. Something like the Junk Airship XXXI is very detailed. It sort of looks like Top Hat from TUGS.
TUGS has been a favourite since I watched it as a kid, so after building thirty Airships I finally had to build a proper tugboat shaped ship. Annoyingly I mostly build without any kind of plan or forethought. In this case (and many others) I built the hull and structure first, which made the walkways I had to put in quite convoluted.
I expanded on it and made it larger, more like a floating motorway services. There’s the fuel platform, a storefront (with 2x back rooms), a waiting area and living quarters for the poor sod who has to work there. After the interior layout was completed the idea also came to me to have the pillars extending upwards and downwards from the centre of the main structure, as with the tibanna gas platforms and skyhooks of Star Wars.
Yeah! Junk Oldmech Base is one of my most complex. The idea sort of came out of the blue. I’d seen a lot of images of lanky mechs, stuff from Warhammer 40k, AT-STs. I couldn’t make one that could actually walk, but I could make one which is stationary, a tall ancient mech which seized up many years ago and was at some point afterwards turned into a static base. The AT-TE used by the clones in Star Wars Rebels probably gave me the idea for a mech converted into living quarters, although they don’t look anything alike.
Yeah. The Junk Airspeeder concept is based on tiny silhouette which I saw on the early Destiny 2 poster. I decided to keep the shell hollow and gave it a full interior. It gained popularity faster than any previous upload, over 20k views in 3 days, and is the first of a long series.
With this design I created what I interpreted the little silhouette image in the poster to be. I might have been completely wrong, I haven’t seen a vehicle looking anything like it in the game. After Destiny 2 came out the design of an Omolon pulse rifle inspired another airspeeder. In the past I’ve made replicas of ships from Star Wars, Trek, Mass Effect, Planetside 2, etc. and tried to be as exact as possible, other times it’s just an element of the general design philosophy which has inspired me. I take any existing design as a challenge, to replicate as much or as little as I like, only using a certain set of props.
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