MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

Non-Gaming Diversions -

Not a proper blog post, and most definitely not a stunning exposé of sweatshop conditions in Valve headquarters (actually, it seems more like trips to Hawaii and an on-site masseuse) - but instead, have some random odds and ends I've been accumulating.

  • Seattle panorama - excuse the clouds. Note to self: do not climb Space Needle on first opportunity, wait for sunshine instead.
  • Yet more photos - this time of Genoa, Italy. Go me!
  • Oh, and this article should highlight itself as being new. Hopefully. This is a test.

Article Comments (now closed)

Omnivore's gravatar

1. success!...er...

Posted by Omnivore at 1:17AM, Thursday April 27 2006

Yay, highlights!

Er, wait...implementation of proper highlighting is mutually exclusive with MINERVA 3, right?

Boo, highlights! Evil BlogSheep, release our leader!

*releases pained ululation*

Cargo Cult's gravatar

2. Highlights

Posted by Cargo Cult at 2:22AM, Thursday April 27 2006

Actually, they were coded on the train on Saturday - they were a matter of a few lines of code over the comments highlighting things.

I think I'll tweak the time-outs a bit, so it'll class your visit as ended if you're away from the site for just ten minutes, rather than a whole hour.

The MINERVA-prevention was more the trip to Genoa. The combination of a Russian plus Italian roads is mildly terrifying. Don't ask.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

3. Task for the Acolytes

Posted by Cargo Cult at 6:44PM, Thursday April 27 2006

Incidentally, anyone want to write a Wikipedia article for me?


With magazine appearances, oodles of downloads and two released episodes, it *might* just be classed as notable by now... ;-)

Omnivore's gravatar

4. *Salute*

Posted by Omnivore at 12:51AM, Friday April 28 2006

Yes, sir!

Just let me complete this dissertation thingy first (due Monday). Then I'm all over Wikipedia like crabs on heads. Whether to edit or to start will be up to my fellow long-suffering brethren -- how about a *ahem* NEW LEVEL *cough* as incentive?

*cowers in anticipation of tongue-lashing*

Kast's gravatar

5. *Kow-tow*

Posted by Kast at 5:50AM, Friday April 28 2006

Even little bitty screen shots of the new level or a taunting message from Minerva would be greatly appreciated.

Omnivore - have fun. :) I think we'll leave you to that. Too many cooks, not enough waiters and all that. Besides, I have an alter to make. *Hides a busted thumb, wrapped in bandages* Darn hammer got a mind of its own.

Actually, given me an idea, you have, Adam. Might think my way into somesort of Minerva-based mini comic. Hmm... *ponders*

Evan's gravatar

6. Metastasis 3

Posted by Evan at 4:24AM, Sunday April 30 2006

Can we get a rough estimation of when the next chapter will be out?

And here's a question... Will there be any series -after- Metastasis? :o

Errant's gravatar

7. Acolytes calling ;)

Posted by Errant at 2:13PM, Sunday April 30 2006

Ok great Mod etc. Definitely my favourite and I can't wait for the last installment.

BTW I ctreated the Minerva Wikki page:

So take a look, edit, embellish and make nice!!


Omnivore's gravatar

8. excellent

Posted by Omnivore at 12:50AM, Monday May 1 2006

Nice work, Errant. I edited one paragraph a bit -- Minerva is female! :)

Errant's gravatar

9. Doh!

Posted by Errant at 4:43AM, Monday May 1 2006

Ooops :( Missed that (tbh I did it at 4am sooooo

Thanks Omnivore

vecima's gravatar

10. final?

Posted by vecima at 10:34AM, Monday May 1 2006

umm just to verify, on the wiki site, under Metastasis 3 it says this:
The final installment of Minerva is still in development but Foster has promised a release in the near future.

question- will metastasis 3 be the end of minerva or the end of perhaps the metastasis chapter of minerva?

also, i'm working on the website for the mod i'm doing, and i decided to build the forums from scratch, instead of going for an ugly, convoluded phpBB...
anyhoo, how do you do the "new post since last visit" thing? if you don't mind me inquiring... i had some idea, but upon implementation, it broke my "topics" area...


Cargo Cult's gravatar

11. First!

Posted by Cargo Cult at 9:18PM, Monday May 1 2006

Metastasis is the first 'chapter' ... thingy of MINERVA. Hopefully there'll be as many chapters as possible - basically, until I get bored, computers go out of fashion or whatever...

For the cookies stuff, I've shorn some source code out of BaaBaa-BlogSheep and posted it here:


It's a bit brain-bruising at first, but seems to work well. It sets two cookies (could easily be reduced to just one), and does stuff with 'em.

Finally, thanks for the Wikipedia article - I've noticed a few errors, but avoiding the whole autobiographical thing, I'm refraining from editing anything. Just remember to source those statements!

Errant's gravatar

12. Edited!!

Posted by Errant at 10:19PM, Monday May 1 2006

As I said it was done early in the morning so I expected mroe erros than have been noted. I will edit the last part to show Metastasis as the first in a series.

By source the statements I assume you mean the paragraphs at the start of each chapter - if so I did follow the Wikkipedia guidlines on sourcing and copyright but I will add a sourced from section at the bottom to make sure, cheers.

Naurgul's gravatar

13. more info!

Posted by Naurgul at 1:27AM, Tuesday May 2 2006

Don't forget to include information about minerva:metastasis 3 and minerva:chronoclasm that Adam himself provided a while back
( http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/blogsheep.php?action=articleinfo&id=15#comments )

PS: You can include that "thingy" that says the information is for a future product and are subject to change...;)

xbskid's gravatar

14. Return of the Milkcows

Posted by xbskid at 5:33AM, Tuesday May 2 2006

For the final release of Metastasis, will it simply be called "MINERVA: Metastasis"? Or will there be an ugly number behind it signifying it's the Nth release?

Also, something else I've been wondering. Will the events in Metastasis coincide with Chronoclasm, or will they be mutually exclusive events, as are Metastasis to Someplace Else?

And that brings me to yet another question. Since Someplace Else takes place in a Xen environment, and assuming that it was written without HL2 in mind, I'm inclined to believe that Minerva was affiliated with the Combine before the invasion of Earth, therefore there's a lovely chance that Minerva isn't even human. Then again, I could be wrong and Someplace Else could take place during or just prior to Metastasis!

Adam: Could you shed some light on any of this and explain how Someplace Else, Metastasis, and Chronoclasm all fit into a timeline? Or is that part of the mystery?

Kast's gravatar

15. Rabid Acolytes

Posted by Kast at 6:40AM, Tuesday May 2 2006

Oh, how I love Wiki material. I made my own little edit - including the level titles in the appropriate headings.

All these questions, so very few answers. But do we really want to know? The instinctual answer might be 'yes, of course'. But truthfully we are more fascinated by the mystery than we would be satisfied by the knowledge. Could we over be satisfied?

Kast's gravatar

16. Wikid

Posted by Kast at 8:31AM, Tuesday May 2 2006

I thought I should mention that I've made some additions to the Gameplay section and written a 'Design' section of the Wiki article. So, should I have made any blistering errors and someone wish to rip me a new one, I'm all ears.

I've only just stumbled upon last November's Idle Thumbs interview and as I found your theories on game design quite fascinating. Having just had a conversation about possible making a survival mod' for HL2, your ideas have really helped. Thanks a bunch :)

vecima's gravatar

17. thanks

Posted by vecima at 6:00AM, Wednesday May 3 2006

... so much for the cookie help! I haven't had time to dissect and assimilate to my own needs, but will surely do so soon, as the website is my final project for "web programming" class, and the presentation date is drawing nigh.

The Battle of Philadelphia
if your interested... feedback much appreciated


TomboCombo's gravatar

18. Episode One and Minerva

Posted by TomboCombo at 12:17PM, Wednesday May 3 2006

Well, we're finally able to preload Episode One twenty-four hours behind schedule. As I was preloading it, I thought of something: will future Minerva installments utilize the new content in the Half-Life Episodes?

vecima's gravatar

19. work around

Posted by vecima at 11:52PM, Wednesday May 3 2006

(do they call it a work about in uk? -haha)

thanks again Mr. Foster for the cookie help, however due to having registered users, i decided to acomplish the "new since your last visit" feature with some dates from the db and 2 lines of php.

by the way, since this is only my third post here, kudos on metastasis...

the combat, adventure, message, and general ambiance are all very well executed, leaving the levels continually fun to replay.


Baffled's gravatar

20. My compliments

Posted by Baffled at 8:32AM, Thursday May 4 2006

I've never actually posted on a forum before, but felt that I had to congratulate the author on the marvel that is Metastasis 2. There was something about that disembodied voice that nagged at me and it was only when I spotted a reference to the great Iain Banks in an interview you did for something called "Idle Thumbs", that I realised that it reminded me of the hilarious Familiar from the barbarian dream sequences in The Bridge, or one of those woundingly sarcastic drones from his SF work. It never ceases to amaze me how far Banks' influence spreads. I'm an avid fan of Banks and God knows we could all do with some escapism with current events the way they are. Incidently, if you haven't already, read David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" its steeped in Banksian themes and wit.
I must say that I completely agree with your evolution-not-revolution ethos concerning mods ,expressed in that interview. Far too many people with the skills to embark on modification, waste their energies faffing about with their often wonky custom content at the expense of narrative or purpose. You have mirrored nature in efficiently adapting what already exists and evolving it into something that is *whisper it* better than the source material.
I was finally driven to work out a way to resurrect my old copy of HL1, which Steam has always turned its nose up at, and have a bash at "Someplace Else". I'm playing it at maximum difficulty and have to report that its putting up some pretty stiff resistance, so progress is slow. I got into a right mess with the first of those switch-activated doors, I was opening and closing it rapidly, using it as cover, when one of those electrical buggers got jammed in the doorway. The door had some kind of fit and would only close half of itself at a time whilst the door at the other end joined in. I got through though, and had just negotiated that hi-tech trampoline thingy, when I thought I would send my compliments to the Chef. I hope this is the right place to post, and that I'm not breaking some rule,or erm..record, on length.
I have just preorderd Episode One but suspect that I'll get more of a kick out of Metastasis 3. The HLDM:Source that is activated by the preload is rather shockingly lazy, with only partial rerenders of the water and some very dodgy "ragdolls", they even forgot to include a disconnect button for leaving a server! Valve can be a bit slapdash at times, a bit worrying that.
Anyhoo, please keep up your wonderful efforts, I'm dying to get to the other side of that bloody door.

Yours, in admiration


P.S. I was disconcerted to see that you've had some dealings with the EU, I cannot help but see some similarities between that Franco-Belgian monstrosity and the Combine.....

BopNiblets's gravatar

21. Praise

Posted by BopNiblets at 7:18AM, Saturday May 6 2006

MINERVA is great, but not just regular great, it's some kind of super great, it's like a fast headcrab who zombified an Antlion Gaurd and then a poison headcrab who zombified a Combine Chopper, and then the two zombified beasts got together (in the dirty way) and made a Super Duper Zombified Fast Poison Combine Gunship Antlion Monster... and then put it on the internet for free! :D

THAT's how awesome Minerva is, great level design, even if I did get lost a few times I still had fun, plenty of Combine baddies. The only thing missing would be a sexy voiced lady to speak out your mission communications... maybe in the closing chapter? :p

You should work for Valve or be hired by the Gman of modding to hire you out to the highest bidder.
You could probably even make my stupid mod idea! *taps email* :p

Kast's gravatar

22. Not a pretty picture

Posted by Kast at 9:25PM, Saturday May 6 2006

Niblets - EEEEEW! Juwst plain, EWWW! Sick... and... wrong. Though perfectly accurate. ;)

I wonder if Adam's head doesn't explode with all this praise. Though I can't believe that Valve making an offer would be that extraordinary - I mean, they've hired the creators of Counter Strike and a few other mods. Why not the creator of Metastasis? :)

xbskid's gravatar

23. Milkcows Rise Again

Posted by xbskid at 10:04PM, Saturday May 6 2006

I don't even know if Adam -wants- a job at Valve. Besides. MINERVA is far from over, and I'd rather Adam finish it before moving on to something like that.

F-Ish's gravatar

24. Valve keep rocking, please

Posted by F-Ish at 10:29PM, Monday May 8 2006

It would be a great move from Valve if the offer Adam a job. He is an excellent mapper/modder/writer and more stuff like that. He shows his excellence in all things... (reference to the vortigaunt)

Cargo Cult's gravatar

25. Odds and Ends

Posted by Cargo Cult at 12:59AM, Tuesday May 9 2006

As described in the latest post, Valve's manner of building maps is a huge team-effort, and gloriously different from (and fundamentally incompatible with) my downright barking mad technique of game design. But they seem to like it anyway...

The EU? I had a sudden epiphany a few years ago while in Brussels, in which I suddenly realised that the Half-Life 2 plot seemed to completely mirror the whole EU in Brussels thing. Big citadel in the centre, slowly consuming all it surrounds with bureaucracy and stagnation? Absolutely!

Except they (indirectly) pay my bills, so I can't complain too much...


I haven't read Cloud Atlas, but from a quick look at reviews I shall definitely add it to the heap of books in my TO-READ pile. Unfortunately, that pile is getting quite large. I need to catch up. ;-)

(With some regret, I must admit I've already caught up with the output of Mr. Banks - I'm currently debating buying the versions of his books with the new covers. They're great - unlike the versions I saw in a bookshop in Seattle, which were singularly awful. No, you can't judge a book by its cover, but book covers can still be ugly...)

DarkPrimus's gravatar

26. Lucky You...

Posted by DarkPrimus at 6:31AM, Tuesday May 9 2006

It's nigh impossible for me to find Culture novels where I live.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

27. Cultured Britain

Posted by Cargo Cult at 8:01PM, Wednesday May 10 2006

Hah. The not-that-large bookshop near where I currently live must carry the full selection of Iain Banks novels, 'M' or no 'M'.

Oh, and don't forget - there's Feersum Endjinn, Against a Dark Background and the Algebraist as well - most definitely not Culture novels!

DarkPrimus's gravatar

28. Fearsum Endjinn isn't a Culture novel? I didn't know.

Posted by DarkPrimus at 3:11PM, Thursday May 11 2006

I've only been able to find Excession and Look to Windward, although I did borrow Use of Weapons from the local library.

Baffled's gravatar

29. Banks

Posted by Baffled at 12:54AM, Friday May 12 2006

You must read Player of Games, DarkPrimus, its probably my favourite SF novel. His non SF novels are every bit as good. Check out Walking on Glass, its got a fantastically twisted take on time travel,...mental illness and...erm, incest. He plays with dark themes in a blackly comic way. Not all his SF work is Culture based as has been mentioned and one, Inversions, is a disguised Culture novel..although that was my least favourite. The Ship humour in Excession is just great. Also, it hasn't been mentioned here but HALO was inspired ,I think, by the ring world in Consider Phlebus. It was funny to see how all the Banksian character names were snapped up on gamespy back then...someone even changed his name by deed poll to Cheradenine Zakalwe. Banks himself noted that in an interview, expressing concern as that character was something of a psycho...

I see what you meant, Adam, about the new book covers, a huge improvement on the old rather drab artwork designs...

DarkPrimus's gravatar

30. Actually...

Posted by DarkPrimus at 11:30AM, Friday May 12 2006

Halo was inspired by "Ringworld", by Larry Niven.

Omnivore's gravatar

31. Indeed

Posted by Omnivore at 3:09PM, Friday May 12 2006

Imagine a circular ribbon, 600 million miles long, with a radius of one Earth orbit...spin it for gravity; you'll need walls a thousand miles high at the rim to keep the air in...it's a suspension bridge with no endpoints.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

32. Consider Phlebas

Posted by Cargo Cult at 7:38PM, Friday May 12 2006

Halo's just a baby version of a Culture Orbital, anyway - compare this: http://www.futurehi.net/phlebas/images/concovl.gif with this: http://sacredicon.com/images/halo1panoramas/xlnc/SCPan.jpg - any similarities?

Note the absence of a star in the middle.

Let's see... The imminent destruction of a huge, ring-like artefact, a war between two civilisations, a loose collective of alien species motivated by religious fervour on one side, humanoids motivated by complete cultural survival on the other...

Yup, it's Consider Phlebas alright!

Culture ship names are great, too - and I've just remembered I'm using one now. Oops.


Cargo Cult's gravatar

33. Justification

Posted by Cargo Cult at 7:38PM, Friday May 12 2006

Hmm. Long URLs plus justification looks 'orrible.

Baffled's gravatar

34. HALO influence

Posted by Baffled at 10:30PM, Friday May 12 2006

There's a mention of this subject here:


There's a mention of Ringworld near the end. Its probably a case of more than one source, but I'd be the first to admit that I'm no expert on HALO.

Baffled's gravatar

35. Lucid Nonsense or Germane Riposte

Posted by Baffled at 11:57PM, Friday May 12 2006

As it turns out, Vavatch orbital wasn't a Culture structure, I'd forgotten that.


The distinction between Ringworlds and Orbitals, as you've mentioned, is in the name. Ringworlds encircle a star, whereas Orbitals orbit one.

Those names relate not so much to the ship but to the Mind inhabiting the ship. My favourite would have to be Eschatologist(Temporary name)..ha!

Cargo Cult's gravatar

36. Vavatch - and is this the official books thread?

Posted by Cargo Cult at 7:45AM, Saturday May 13 2006

Hadn't realised that Orbital was of non-Culture origin - I guess I'll have to reread the book again.

Although the Player of Games is probably closer on the list for re-reading, as I don't actually recall reading it more than once. Which is annoying, since I really liked it - but not as much as Use of Weapons, which reached the dip-in-at-random stage a few years ago.

I've just 'got' the 'temporary name' bit of the 'Eschatologist' ship name. Took me a while, but makes perfect sense. If you're going to study such things, then you'd better be prepared for them to occur, after all... ;-)

Anyway, I have other books to read. Starting with Stanisław Lem - who I'm ashamed to admit I've never actually read anything by. It took a trip to a bookshop in Seattle to actually *find* any books by him, for a start.

I'm not very good at buying books online, before anyone asks.

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