Creator Garry Newman tweeted yesterday that he enabled the error, which is designed to occur only in pirated copies. "Having fun watching people complain," he added, linking to a Google search for "Unable to shade polygon normals." The error code spits out a number, which happens to be the user's Steam ID. Posting the error code on the Steam forum gives Valve an easy way to find the user's Steam ID, compare to list of GMod owners, and then make with forum bans.
"It's the simplest stupidest DRM possible, a phone home," Newman said on his blog. "It is not uncrackable. You could crack it with notepad. Or by disconnecting from the internet." The point isn't to make impenetrable DRM, he said. "Making it uncrackable isn't the motive here – laughing at [pirates] is."