Newman had enabled this ‘bug’ as a way to catch pirates, for it only would occur if you were attempting to launch a pirated copy of the game. A simple Google search shows how quickly this was being reported by pirates of the game on the internet.
But how was Newman able to catch these pirates? The error only occurred in-game, so unless the user reported this error in public, they could not be easily tracked. Even if the user did report this error in public, how was Newman supposed to know which Steam IDs to ban? The solution was in the error message itself:
Engine Error:Unable to shade polygon normals(###)
The ‘###’ in the error message above represents the SteamID of the player who has received this error. So, if a pirate was to post this deceptively ordinary looking error on an internet forum in order to get help fixing their pirate copy of Garry’s Mod, all Newman would have to do is pull their SteamID from the error message, cross-check with the logs on the Steam Store (to see if their SteamID has ever purchased Garry’s Mod), and then swing the ban hammer. A simple and fun way of tackling piracy!