MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

High Dynamic Range -

An updated version of the Source SDK was released on Friday. So, I spent the weekend converting MINERVA to HDR, with a skybox liberated from Day of Defeat: Source...

It's not yet finished (neither is it available for download), but here are some screenshots nevertheless:

It's currently running as a mod of Episode One, which could be very useful in many ways - there's lots of extra content which might prove beneficial, along with basic things like proper HDR support, materials fixed for HDR and the like. Also, the Combine AI is much better. Seriously. I'm going to have to tone down the beefed-up MINERVA skill.cfg to compensate. All this will get released with the third and final part of Metastasis, which is scheduled to happen at some vague point in the distant future. Honest.

Complaints about the unavailability of Episode One will no doubt be found in the comments for this article. Any thoughts either way?

Incidentally, many thanks to Tom Edwards for getting me up to, erm, steam on the new SDK stuff. He's like a merry little bug-finding, issue-resolving micro-acolyte!

Update 2006-08-09: Also thanks to acolyte Al3xand3r, who pointed out the CVG/PC Zone interview I did a while ago, but which hadn't been published until now. Annoyingly, they 'corrected' my spelling of Dogme. How am I supposed to be a pretentious auteur now? ;-)

Article Comments (now closed)

dutchmega's gravatar

1. Very nice

Posted by dutchmega at 5:27PM, Monday August 7 2006

Looks good. Are you going to convert your current maps only or are you also working on Metastasis 3?

Naurgul's gravatar

2. My wish came true

Posted by Naurgul at 5:35PM, Monday August 7 2006

Yay! I'm downloading as fast as I can to give it a try. I'm sure it's going to be very good. Thanks, Adam!

Tom Edwards's gravatar

3. Source SDK Base

Posted by Tom Edwards at 5:37PM, Monday August 7 2006

I wouldn't worry about needing Episode One. When Source SDK Base (which everyone should have under Tools) is fixed up to expose the Ep1 assets, Adam will be able to move Minerva's AppId over without any of the nasty material problems we're getting when using it today.

If he doesn't, I'll goddamn _make him_.

Naurgul's gravatar

4. Noooo?

Posted by Naurgul at 5:38PM, Monday August 7 2006

Ahem, didn't notice you were going to release this with part 3. Oh well, no excitement for me, then. I'll be looking forward to it, though.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

5. Angular Velocity

Posted by Cargo Cult at 5:46PM, Monday August 7 2006

... As a slight side-effect of the angle of the lighting in the HDR skyboxes I've 'borrowed', all the Metastasis maps are being rotated through 90 degrees.

This, coupled with some slightly different behaviour from Episode One's updated entities, results in some entertaining little bugs to fix.

(Also, even if I do get to change MINERVA to being a mod of Source SDK Base instead, won't potential players still need Episode One in order for me to borrow that game's content? There's a lot of stuff in there that's of use, and sadly I can't really detail *what* it is without revealing plot details... ;-) )

Tom Edwards's gravatar

6. Assets

Posted by Tom Edwards at 5:50PM, Monday August 7 2006

All of the Ep1 assets are in a shared cache, episode 1 shared.gcf, so at worst people will have to download some stuff from Steam during map load. Only the maps are private.

Naurgul's gravatar

7. Moving to Episode One content

Posted by Naurgul at 5:56PM, Monday August 7 2006

Allow me to present my line of though:

Total Half-Life sales: 16 million
Half-Life sales: 8 million
Half-Life 2 sales: 4 million

This means that Episode One sold about 4 more million copies. Wouldn't that suggest that, considering that most people who bought Half-Life 2 would want to see the continuation, that you're not really cutting a whole lot people out of this enterprise.

Holy Socks's gravatar

8. Sales

Posted by Holy Socks at 6:11PM, Monday August 7 2006

Naurgul, wouldnt you have to take the HL1 expansion sales into account or would they be included in the "Total Half-Life sales"?

Great pics, especially the one from underneath the jetty. I hope the bug fixing doesnt stop you from meeting your tough deadline of "at some vague point in the distant future" :)

Naurgul's gravatar

9. Mistake?

Posted by Naurgul at 6:29PM, Monday August 7 2006

Holy Socks, I didn't think about that. Wouldn't they exclude all non-Valve, non-canon games?

Evan's gravatar

10. Question?

Posted by Evan at 3:02AM, Tuesday August 8 2006

One question: is the Episode One 'unavailability' mean those without it can't play the HDR versions of previous things, or are you saying E1 will be required for Metastasis 3?

xbskid's gravatar

11. SDK Base for everyone?

Posted by xbskid at 4:04AM, Tuesday August 8 2006

If the SDK Base is available to every HL2 owner, or even to any Steam user, then you probably wouldn't need to own Episode One to play HDRified Metastasis. Though I wouldn't know; I preordered Episode One and have no idea if just-HL2 owners have access to the SDK Base.

Naurgul's gravatar

12. SDK Base for HL2 owners

Posted by Naurgul at 11:05AM, Tuesday August 8 2006

I think only HL2 owners get the SDK Base. However, as Adam mentioned, he can't just put zombines in the mix without the players having Episode One. So, both EpOne and HL2 will be required for that version of Minerva.

Source: http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Source_SDK_Release_Notes#General_new_features

Tom Edwards's gravatar

13. re: SDK Base for HL2 owners

Posted by Tom Edwards at 11:27AM, Tuesday August 8 2006

As I have already explained, that is not the case. All Ep1 content and code is available from Source SDK Base.

vecima's gravatar

14. re: SDK Base for HL2 owners

Posted by vecima at 2:23PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

i noticed that the new sdk gives you all the entities (meaning code) used in episode 1, but the models show up as the red ERROR signs, are you saying, Tom Edwards, that eventually valve will be giving us all their new models & textures as well (even to non EP1 owners)?

Boff's gravatar

15. New: re: SDK Base for HL2 owners

Posted by Boff at 2:32PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

Awesome pics, you are quite the man Mr. Foster.

Tom Edwards's gravatar

16. re: SDK Base for HL2 owners

Posted by Tom Edwards at 2:33PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

The tools can't see the new content yet, but if you compile the map (assuming it is a map) all will slot into place.

Dracko's gravatar

17. Downhill Struggle?

Posted by Dracko at 3:44PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

Certainly very interesting. I just hope it won't mean it will be difficult to run on my laptop.

Do you intend to do the same for the second map?

Off topic, is it me, or was Episode One rushed? My copy seems to get buggier as I play it, with all kinds of bizarre crashes happening, and a friend of mine can't even run due to a data error of some sort. Don't know what has happened there, but Half-Life 2 I can run no problem. Episode One is like a game of chance every time a new map loads. And there seems to be little in the way of updates on Valve's part either.

kast's gravatar

18. HDR - yay!

Posted by kast at 4:56PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

The title says it all, really. :)

*Returns to twiddling thumbs*

vecima's gravatar

19. new content & such

Posted by vecima at 5:42PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

the tools see new things (like zombine), but if you're using a custom server.dll and client.dll, you have to recompile, right?

you think its best to do this now, or wait a couple weeks for updates?

Tom Edwards's gravatar

20. re: new content & such

Posted by Tom Edwards at 6:05PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

I'm no coder, but from my understanding you may as well do it now. It's not like large chunks of code are suddenly going to change.

vecima's gravatar

21. thanks Tom

Posted by vecima at 6:27PM, Tuesday August 8 2006

if it weren't for my mod director's insistance on those blasted extra weapons, we'd be fine!
oh well

Naurgul's gravatar

22. Let me read a letter I recently received

Posted by Naurgul at 9:32AM, Wednesday August 9 2006

"Hi All-

So the answer from Valve is: you must own Episode One in order to mount
either 'episode 1 shared.gcf' or 'half-life 2 episode one.gcf'.


In times like this, I would like to think that maybe I was right in the first place: EpOne content is not available to all citizens.

Al3xand3r's gravatar

23. CVG

Posted by Al3xand3r at 10:10AM, Wednesday August 9 2006

Post about your CVG interview as well :)

Tom Edwards's gravatar

24. re: Let me read a letter I recently received

Posted by Tom Edwards at 11:35AM, Wednesday August 9 2006

Huh, how illogical. And embarrasing. Sort of makes you wonder what the 'single unfied AppId' is for if you can't get *shared* content from other games.

vecima's gravatar

25. re: Let me blah blah blah....

Posted by vecima at 2:11PM, Wednesday August 9 2006

i'm still happy to have it...(app 215)

we get hdr and other engine features, just not content. no big deal, really, i didn't expect valve would allow content between games... afterall that would mean i could make my own DOD:S, and play it without paying for it.

i had similar trouble with episode one from about a week after it was released... all of a sudden last night i start it up and played from intro to half way through "lowlife" no problem, even using quicksaves that were crashing the game before. i have no idea what happened, but maybe give the game a shot again... perhaps there was an unspoken update?

vecima's gravatar

26. oh yeah one more thing...

Posted by vecima at 2:16PM, Wednesday August 9 2006

just a thought Mr Foster,

perhaps you could make Metastasis 3 (retrofitting 1 & 2) as an episode one mod, but also have a version for those of us un-lucky enough to only own hl2?

...i'd probably download both just to check out the differences! :)

Cargo Cult's gravatar


Posted by Cargo Cult at 4:40PM, Wednesday August 9 2006


Oh dear.

Tom Edwards's gravatar

28. EA Shock

Posted by Tom Edwards at 8:42PM, Wednesday August 9 2006

Ignore it. We must all just look away. There's no need to acknowledge its existence, unless by some miracle it isn't terrible.

M_Gargantua's gravatar

29. [Vader]Nooooooooooooooooooooo

Posted by M_Gargantua at 10:55PM, Wednesday August 9 2006

awe, this is going to turn out horrible, with the way EA does development

kast's gravatar

30. Hope

Posted by kast at 12:42AM, Thursday August 10 2006

Well, we still have Bioshock. We know that's going to be just fine. It's only a bonus if Shock3 is half-way decent. If it isn't, we ignore it's very existance.

Like Trekkies do with the awful prequal series, Enterprise. Or Tomb Raider fans with Angel of Darkness.

kapowaz's gravatar

31. Ben Darlow

Posted by kapowaz at 12:43AM, Thursday August 10 2006

"...the team responsible for The Godfather". Strange how even that reads like an accusation. I've never played the System Shock series but I hold it in high regard on the strength of the opinions of people I trust who loved it. EA are once again humping the corpse labeled 'money whore' and hoping for the best.

Incidentally, Adam - where did the music in Minerva: Metastasis come from? I'm talking about the solitary MP3 which isn't from the HL2 game itself, the long sombre piece that unfolds as you explore deeper and deeper. It's utterly fantastic and I'm wondering if it was your own creation, or if somebody else made it (and thus there is more of the same)?

I eagerly look forward to Part 3.

kapowaz's gravatar

32. okay, so that was dumb

Posted by kapowaz at 12:44AM, Thursday August 10 2006

For some reason my nightmares at the hands of my 'doctor' were repeating on me and so when I was prompted for the Subject name I assumed that meant my name itself. Sigh.

Holy Socks's gravatar

33. Music

Posted by Holy Socks at 1:43AM, Thursday August 10 2006

Kapowaz, i think that the music was done by Joseph Toscano, my question is; will we be getting any new music to accompany Metastasis 3.

Oh and Adam, on your "spelling mistake" didn't you just use correct British and some would say "classic"
version of the word.

kapowaz's gravatar

34. Dogme

Posted by kapowaz at 8:15AM, Thursday August 10 2006

Holy Socks; I think Dogma is the English translation of 'Dogme' (which I'm assuming is Danish, given the description of the Dogme movement), but all the same it would make more sense to keep it in the original form, in the same way we don't talk of black cinema or new wave/vanguard culture; we talk of film noir or avant-garde. Translating it diminishes the term by trying to dissassemble the meaning.

Thanks for the info on the music, I'll see what I can find out about that guy...

kapowaz's gravatar

35. More music

Posted by kapowaz at 8:41AM, Thursday August 10 2006

There is a second Minerva song on Jospeh Toscano's website! I definitely didn't hear this in the version of Minerva: Metastasis I played... is this going to be in the final installment, I wonder? It has some reminscent themes from Absconditus, but it's also a lot faster in pace and more urgent sounding... I picture our unnamed protaganist making an urgent escape to the surface (although wouldn't something more akin to Rock Anthem for Saving the World be more appropriate for your exit from the catacombs beneath the island?)

Naurgul's gravatar

36. Dogmatic

Posted by Naurgul at 10:22AM, Thursday August 10 2006

As far as this game is concerned, I'll be honest and say that I don't know what it is although I recall having heard the name numerous times. It's a situation you have here that reminds me of the fact that Fallout 3 is under development by Bethesda. Oh well...

Furthermore, I hardly imagine Metastasis's ending including your escape. More like a whimper, I would say.

Now, I hope that the vague point in the distant future you are referring to is indeed the end of August. Right, Mr Foster?

PS: I was about to include a paragraph explaining what happened concerning the "dogme" and "dogma" but I realised that it was not needed. This would be the core of the post, hence the title.

kapowaz's gravatar

37. second guess

Posted by kapowaz at 10:53AM, Thursday August 10 2006

Ah, but to ponder on the fate of our faithful test subject would be but to spin around 180 degrees and ask 'What was that?' to some perceived sound, whilst meanwhile an elderly jedi sneaks past behind.

I don't doubt we will be surprised, whatever that end might be.

vecima's gravatar

38. no end in sight

Posted by vecima at 6:01PM, Thursday August 10 2006

"ramblings of a rat in an airlock"

no end is ever in sight. i've happily learned this the hard way. Though it must only be a moment since the door shut tight behind me, it seems like it's been months. It seems like forever since her last cynical transmission, though it was at most a few minutes ago.

something, a smell, faint sound, or perhaps the cold steel floor reminds me of the before days. in those days people referred to me as doctor, though most who knew what i actually did for a living called me monster. The once great United States had no patience for my practices, so i embarked upon my calling journey, to an island nation more aligned morally to my studies. Oh, that's right, it was this island that reminded me. My own experiments involved no headcrabs, nor the replacement of vital parts with machinery, but in my time my countrymen detested me. "You can't do that to people," they said. "You have no right to take life in the process of research." how little they knew. how little they realized the saving potential - a chance against the Universal Union. how dearly they paid.

once, in those before times, i looked upon a contract drawn up by my new friend the dictator. "Add a zero just to the left of the decimal, and you have yourself a deal. I'll need funding for equipment too, and i understand you are providing the specimens?" i had left home in a hurry. my wonderful homeland concocted a warrant for my arrest once they deemed my work 'unconstitutional'. bigots. anyway it wasn't long before my freind the, uh, glorious leader contacted me with a proposition i was in no position to ignore. he said he thought there was potential in my work. i reassured him. "give me a lab, and the needed resources, and your country will go from isle of poverty to superpower within the decade." then the combine showed up, and mucked up all my plans. i couldn't help but grin when i saw on tv the american president step before the nation and make his speech. i actually laughed out loud when he bleated the phrase 'interstellar terrorists'. that nation abhored me. i loved it. more than one high ranking official referred to me as a 'traitor'. i wish i could see them today, but i doubt they are among the living.

what is a traitor to a dying breed?

(minerva fanficiton by vecima, set just between downhill struggle and depth charge)

Cargo Cult's gravatar

39. Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?

Posted by Cargo Cult at 8:02PM, Thursday August 10 2006

When the Combine is finally ousted from this planet, certain collaborators might easily get cushy jobs applying their forbidden technological knowledge to more ... trivial matters.

Why, it's happened before!


But still. Behold the Blog-Beast - it now has new features. Including marginally less stupid login and logout links, and more importantly, a search system. It was a great way to learn about sub-queries and MySQL's fulltext search system, anyway - I shall now apply this knowledge to slightly less entertaining projects.

Because I like your comments so much, the search system includes them. Because I like my writing more, articles are weighted as much more important. Previously, they'd come near the bottom of the list for perfectly sane searches. It was a bit embarrassing. I won't mention the preferential treatment given to admin-posted comments, either. Because that would be unfair.

Acolytes must know their place in this hierarchy!

Cargo Cult's gravatar

40. Also, 'kumquat'

Posted by Cargo Cult at 10:15AM, Friday August 11 2006

This word is here so that cez can search for it. Aren't I helpful?

Holy Socks's gravatar

41. Hierachy

Posted by Holy Socks at 2:15PM, Friday August 11 2006

Most dictators/cult leaders try to instill loyalty in their subjects by giving them evidence of some promised land/object/event.

mmmm... maybe some screenshots and a countdown to the release of a certain mod will have the same effect.

Nesretep's gravatar

42. Sorry...

Posted by Nesretep at 5:33PM, Saturday August 12 2006

Adam had already stated in various interviews (including the one that is linked to in this thread) that he doesn't release any screenshots until it is finished. He hasn't said anything about no countdowns, but I don't see it likely judging by what I have seen previously. He's more of a "it's done when it's done" guy if I were to guess. However, Adam, feel free to correct me on that one.

Holy Socks's gravatar

43. Previous Post

Posted by Holy Socks at 6:02PM, Saturday August 12 2006

Sorry if my previous post implied that Adam is some kind of evil despot, I was simply trying to link a previoius comment about heirachy with a request for some screenshots... a request that I didnt really expect to be met, but hey it was worth a try.

Oh and im not sure but didnt Adam release a single screenshot of Depth Charge a week before it was released?

Cargo Cult's gravatar

44. Implications

Posted by Cargo Cult at 8:33PM, Sunday August 13 2006

You *implied* that I am some kind of evil despot?

No need to hide it, I certainly am a tyrranous, evil despot intent on many unwholesome things!

But anyhow. You asked for screenshots, and so you shall receive.


Not my mod, but looks rather lovely. If the gameplay's anything like the visuals, then I'll be very happy indeed.

vecima's gravatar

45. gah!

Posted by vecima at 2:22AM, Monday August 14 2006

the video looks cool... looks like some excellent mapping, and voice acting by that girl.

but, maybe it's just me, but the story on the 'about' section just seems kind of dumb.

also, no fair! why does this mod pop up out of nowhere, and people flock to it to work... while i've been searching for people for the past year, to absolutely no avail!

Cargo Cult's gravatar

46. Five Degrees of Separation

Posted by Cargo Cult at 12:27PM, Monday August 14 2006

Well, why not link to your mod? Go on, you know you want to!

Au-heppa's gravatar

47. yes, no unnecessary media

Posted by Au-heppa at 2:44PM, Monday August 14 2006

I agree with the no screenshot, no unnecessary media thing. So many mods out there have lots of fancy looking concept art in their media pages, and you know that the mods wont ever look as good as that. Or screenshots of maps with nothing more interesting than a good lightning.

Right now it looks like, except for Black Mesa, Minerva is the only SP mod worth waiting. As for myself I have been trying to learn how to model (I want to create new npcs) but I am stuck in the ragdol phase.

Jerry's gravatar

48. Farewell, Mr. Foster!

Posted by Jerry at 3:13PM, Monday August 14 2006

Great work! The new skybox looks much better than the old one... it fits perfectly into the whole setting! And in addition to HDR it looks - just great!! Really!

What a great luck for me, that I now own an HDR capable graphic card - otherwise it would be really sad!

Keep up that good work!

vecima's gravatar

49. media unnecessary

Posted by vecima at 5:34PM, Monday August 14 2006

i sort of agree with the whole media unnecessary thing too, but then that puts me in a catch 22...

i don't want to accidentally give off a screenshot that makes it look better than it is, but at the same time, this is a bigger project than i could handle solo (well, theres been 2 of us for about a year now), and no one wants to join up to help a mod if they have nothing to show for it...

this leads me to my final conclusion... i'll provide a few screens of our mod, or perhaps a video of gameplay so you can get a real feel for it, sometime aftter i can get an error free compile of the few maps that are nearly finished.

i'll link to it then, right now would be somewhat pointless unless anyone wants to see the story.

M_Gargantua's gravatar

50. Eh, Remember the old days?

Posted by M_Gargantua at 5:30PM, Tuesday August 15 2006

I agree that media isn't really required, the next events should be secret. And you don't need anything but the game the public now sees to get more people to love it.

now to a completely different and more important topic.

im on the reissues team, and been searching for the work of my predecessors for a while. I found issues, but every mirror for Project Quantum leap is 4 years out dated.

Then I remembered Someplace else, what adam had submitted for it for those of you clueless people.

So Mr. Cargo cult, still have pql.zip anywhere for the world?

Cargo Cult's gravatar

51. X-Google-Keywords: project quantum leap, pql, half-life, mod, download

Posted by Cargo Cult at 6:27PM, Tuesday August 15 2006

You asked?


Found it on 'Filecloud' or some other advert-riddled, bandwidth-humping, registration-required monstrosity. So, in the interest of Sticking It To The Man, here's an entirely free link.

I think I've got a terabyte a month on this 'ere ├╝ber-shite Dreamhost plan (uptime? pah!), so download away...

For people wondering what the *beep* we're talking about, another link!


Naurgul's gravatar

52. End of August

Posted by Naurgul at 8:33PM, Tuesday August 15 2006

I can't but ask if the "end of August" timeframe for the release of the third (and final) part of Metastasis is still accurate. Please, Mr. Foster, please?

The June-exams were lost in my university and we're having double-exams this September (starting August 28th) so I really hope I'll get a piece of MINERVA before venturing forth in the dark caverns of forcing myself to study.

Au-heppa's gravatar

53. Couldn't open file fonts.wad

Posted by Au-heppa at 11:32AM, Wednesday August 16 2006

Thanks for the file, Cargo, I had not played the other QL maps before. There are some nice tricks in them, but some of them don't make any sense. But there's problem, in the end of third area it gave me the error message "Couldn't open file fonts.wad" and quit hl.exe. I have heard about this problem before, but I can't remember what it was.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

54. fonts.wad - solution?

Posted by Cargo Cult at 12:06PM, Wednesday August 16 2006

Google turned up some stuff at the PQL forum:


I haven't played it for many a year, so to be honest I've no idea what to do, or how to fix the problem.

As for a release date for Metastasis 3? Oh dear. Let's just say, when it's ready, you'll know - but don't hold your breath too long... ;-)

Jumbles's gravatar

55. Crate & Barrel!

Posted by Jumbles at 12:33PM, Wednesday August 16 2006

I just got it!

kast's gravatar

56. many and varied

Posted by kast at 3:51PM, Friday August 18 2006

Adam - What, like Duke Nukem Forever? Say it ain't sorry!!

*Pats the Jumbled-One* Yes, congratulations.

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