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Garden Gnome

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Garden Gnome model.jpg
Garden Gnome
General information
Type

Garden ornament

Usage
Used by
Game information
Entity
  • prop_physics (props_junk/gnome.mdl) (Ep2)
  • prop_physics (props/choreo_office/
    gnome.vmdl
    ) (HL:A)
Designer(s)

Matt Wright[1]

"'Wait a moment,' you hear Kleiner say. 'I’m seeing a payload anomaly of approximately eight and a half pounds.' That’s either the size of a Headcrab or a small gnome. You can’t decide which."
Half-Life 2 (Orange Box): Prima Official Game Guide

The Garden Gnome is an iconic prop in the series first appearing in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. It has gained a great amount of notoriety over time due to the difficult Achievements it's involved in.

Appearances[edit]

The Garden Gnome's first appearance.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

Whilst seeming insignificant at first, the Garden Gnome is in fact part of the famed and equally infamous "Little Rocket Man" Achievement which requires the player to carry it all the way to White Forest, the final location of the game, and place it within the rocket. It is found early during Episode Two’s first chapter, To The White Forest, in the communications building in the Victory Mine compound, just under the bunk bed among some old bottles. The journey of bringing the Gnome along the whole way is notorious in its difficulty.

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

The Garden Gnome as it first appears in Half-Life: Alyx.

The Garden Gnome can first be seen in Russell's Lab as a magnetic bottle opener on the side of Russell's fridge. Outside the lab, the actual Garden Gnome itself can be found on the couch behind a fence. Appearing identical to its form in Episode Two (which canonically takes place five years after Alyx), it can be pulled towards Alyx using the Gravity Gloves. Once again, carrying either the Gnome or the Gnome magnet to the final location of the game, the Vault, grants the player the "Gnome Vault of My Own" Achievement.[2]

Tactics[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two[edit]

What follows is general advice on getting the gnome to White Forest, described chapter by chapter.

This Vortal Coil[edit]

The Gnome can be left in the chamber with Alyx and the Vortigaunts before descending into the Antlion nests in the Victory Mine as the location is later revisited.

Freeman Pontifex[edit]

The Gnome must not be left in the area overlooking the settlement with the monitor and the Overwatch Sniper Rifle as it cannot be returned to after descending into the settlement. However, if the Gnome is placed leaning against the door facing the bridge, it will fall through once the door is opened from the far side. Alternatively, it is possible to throw it onto the near side of the bridge using the Gravity Gun or drop it onto the warehouse roof below.

Riding Shotgun[edit]

Alyx and the Gnome sitting in the Muscle Car.

The Garden Gnome is notoriously difficult to transport in the Muscle Car, thus it's advised to drive carefully, especially during the Hunter-Chopper chase sequence. It is possible to transport the Gnome in the Muscle Car either by shoving it under the back covers of the car or by placing it near or behind the passenger seat. Numerous train car wrecks may be utilized as cover from the Chopper's pulse cannon bursts if a need arises to carry the Gnome on foot instead.

The Gnome shouldn't be left in the car when entering the Combine Advisor barn as the Muscle Car may be moved to make room for the APC that arrives after the barn encounter, rendering the Gnome lost. However, it is possible to leave the Gnome near the barn, continuing through the game as normal, and backtracking after loading the next map. The Chopper will not be present, making it easier to transport it through this section.

When the car's engine catches fire, the Gnome must be taken into the yard for the Chopper battle. It can be placed under a boxcar for safekeeping for the duration of the fight.

Under the Radar[edit]

The Gnome can be left in the garage with Alyx and the Rebels while heading to the Autogun to destroy it. During the Combine ambush that follows at the White Forest Inn, the Gnome can be left in the house while the Force Fields are disabled, then picked up again. The Gnome can also be dropped down the following hill before driving down it. Later, after the battle between Dog and the Strider, the Gnome can be left near the start of the race against Dog to the base and retrieved afterward.

Our Mutual Fiend[edit]

The Achievement can only be earned by placing the Gnome inside the rocket's hatch and, above all, closing the hatch door.[a] Neglecting to close the hatch will not yield the Achievement.

Half-Life: Alyx[edit]

While both the Gnome and the Gnome magnet will grant the achievement, it is advised to choose the Gnome since the magnet tends to get lost more easily due to its small size and flat shape. The chosen object has to be carried by hand as it cannot be stored in the backpack or the wrist pockets. It must accompany the player through the whole game up to the Vault since there are no sections in which it could be temporarily abandoned for a significant period of time. This includes the area in front of the hotel's entrance in the chapter Superweapon, which is revisited later near the end of The Northern Star; the Gnome (or the Gnome magnet) will not get transitioned between the levels if left there. In order for the Achievement to be unlocked, the object has to be held while entering the Vault's beam.

Related Achievements[edit]

Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Ep2 put iteminrocket.png Little Rocket Man (30G)
Send the Garden Gnome into space.
Half-Life: Alyx
Achievement Gnome Vault of My Own.jpg Gnome Vault of My Own
Bring a garden gnome with you to the Vault.

Behind the scenes[edit]

The "Jim With Hands in Pockets" gnome.

During the development of Episode Two, Valve originally intended the Gnome simply to be a prop that players could carry around to different landmarks and pose for humorous photo opportunities with no explicit reward ever being granted. However, while they were coming up with ideas for Achievements, they became aware of a Half-Life 2 challenge that players had devised of grabbing the baby doll found in the playground near the City 17 Trainstation, putting it in a plastic milk crate, and carrying it as far as it can possibly be taken through the game. This evolved into an in-joke for the team that they dubbed the "crate baby". They eventually decided to develop this concept into the full-fledged Achievement of transporting the Gnome from the beginning of the game all the way to the end, thus formally rewarding the player for the effort.[3][4][5][6]

Designer Matt Wright appears to have based the model on an actual garden gnome model named "Jim With Hands in Pockets".

Examination of the .vmf map source files[b] for both early and final Episode Two levels reveals that the Gnome was a late addition as it cannot be found in available maps preceding the rework of the opening chapters. In the retail maps, specific filters affecting clip brushes allow the Gnome to be carried into elevators in the Victory Mine maps ep2_outland_02 and ep2_outland_04, unlike other props. As a result, in the first map, the Gnome can be punted onto the upper level of the silo using the Gravity Gun before venturing into the nests. The set of filters in the second map ensures that the Achievement is obtainable for players that opt not to leave the Gnome with Griggs and Sheckley.

The Garden Gnome has become an iconic element and long running joke within the series and commonly appears in cameos throughout Valve's other titles. It was originally featured in the two security camera feeds featured on the ApertureScience.com promotional website for Portal. He stands on the mantelpiece in the first video, and in the second video, he sits right in front of the camera. Following the release of Portal 2, he was removed from the mantelpiece in the first video and replaced by P-body in the second. The gnome is also featured in the Two Bots, One Wrench game experiment in a sequence during which the masculine robot mistakes it for a live leprechaun.[8]

Trivia[edit]

In the acknowledgements section of the Half-Life 2 (Orange Box): Prima Official Game Guide, author David Hodgson thanks Episode Two level designer Phil Co "for his gnome-herding skills."[9]

The traveling gnome prank is when people steal a garden gnome from someone's lawn, often with the intention of bringing it on a trip and taking pictures of it to send back to the owner before returning it. The concept of the travelling gnome dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, with the prank made popular by the 2001 French film Amélie.

In other media[edit]

The Gnome makes an appearance in the Left 4 Dead 2 campaign Dark Carnival, where it is known as "Gnome Chompski", with higher-res textures of the upper part of his body, phong and and a much bigger size. Similar to Episode Two, an achievement requires the Gnome to be carried all the way to the rescue vehicle. Doing so gives the player the achievement "Guardin' Gnome" and unlocks Rochelle's shirt for the player's avatar on the Xbox 360 version. Furthermore, the Mutation "Last Gnome on Earth" will have the player holding the gnome being chased by Common and Uncommon Infected, as if they were splashed with Boomer bile.

Prior to the release of Half-Life: Alyx, several Half-Life themed items were added to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.[10] Among these was a sticker featuring the Gnome with the text "GNOME MERCY" overlaid on top of it.

Gallery[edit]

Half-Life 2 story arc[edit]

Main games[edit]

Misc[edit]

Other[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]

Other[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Placing any entity with gnome as its targetname inside the rocket will trigger the Achievement.
  2. In March 2017, the original uncompiled map files for the Half-Life 2 episodes were leaked by an unknown individual. Among them were source files showing different development stages of the games.[7]

References[edit]

  1. Matt Wright's resume
  2. Half-Life: Alyx game files, maps/a4_c17_parking_garage/entities/default_ents.vents_c
  3. Beyond the Box: Orange Box Afterthoughts and The Future of Valve on 1Up.com (February 6, 2008) (archived)
  4. Matt Wright's portfolio
  5. Tweet: "Grab that creepy doll you find in trainstation_01's playground, put inside a milk crate, carry it as far as you can." @Flargenstow (Adrian Finol) on Twitter (March 17, 2020)
  6. YouTube favicon.png Half-Life 2 Developers React to 50 Minute Speedrun on YouTube
  7. The leaked maps of the Half-Life 2 episodes - part 1 on ValveTime (March 27, 2017)
  8. YouTube favicon.png Two Bots One Wrench: Memory And Context on YouTube
  9. Half-Life 2 (Orange Box): Prima Official Game Guide, page 1
  10. Half-Life: Alyx on the official Counter-Strike: Global Offensive blog