MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

Misplaced Tension (of the 'voltage' variety...) -

The following is a tale about data backups, and how they're incalculably important - and can save a project like MINERVA from extinction. I do have backups, and nothing important has been lost. But here is my story...

So, back in Britain after a MINERVA-overriding, moderately boozy weekend celebrating both my father's sixtieth birthday and retirement.

Decide to get some work done on MINERVA, to placate the acolytes.

Can't find a continental-to-UK mains adaptor for my external, Steam-containing hard disk, but notice that the UK-plugged power adaptor from my backup hard disk has the same connector.

Cue quick check of pinouts and voltages:

  • Pin 1 on LaCie adaptor: 5VDC
  • Pin 1 on Toshiba adaptor: +5V
  • Pin 2 on LaCie adaptor: 12VDC
  • Pin 2 on Toshiba adaptor: +12V
  • Pin 3 and 4 on Lacie adaptor: GND
  • Pin 3 and 4 on Toshiba adaptor: GND

Looks fine. I mean, it would be really embarrassing to fry a hard disk by connecting up an incompatible adaptor, wouldn't it?

Connect up, switch on.

Nothing. No light, no whirring as the drive spins up, nothing.


Rummage around and eventually find a continental-to-UK adaptor, and try the original LaCie adaptor.

Light switches on, no spin-up.

Oh dear. No drive icons on desktop, unidentifiable Firewire device in properties.

Double-check pinout diagrams.

Oh, crap. They're bloody well mirrored - 5V is 12V, and vice versa - I just shitting well fried some electronics in an attempt to save a few minutes.

Okay, okay, don't panic...

Take hard disk out of enclosure. It's PATA, so can connect it up to my older desktop PC that's sat under my desk - if I'd been in Belgium, I'd have had to have borrowed an office machine...

Except it still doesn't spin up. The BIOS doesn't detect a drive. The disk is dead, despite trying different cables, different jumper settings, everything. It's dead, deceased, pining for the fjords.

I wonder if the enclosure still works, and find an old, 4GB disk lying around - I connect it up, hear it spin and chatter, and an icon appears on my desktop. It's most definitely just my 160GB Steam-and-photos disk that's dead - a Hitachi Deathstar to be precise.

Perhaps it was already dead, and the voltage problem was just a red herring? Who knows. But my Steam partition is gone.

I check my backup drive, and a recent, just-back-from-USA-trip copy of my iPhoto folder is all present and correct, all 35GB of it - and check a somewhat private nook of the MINERVA website, and its fairly recent backup of the current version of MINERVA is still present. All my up-to-the-minute VMFs are present on my laptop's undamaged internal hard disk, along with extra copies on both my phone and one of my camera's memory cards. I do make backups.

The hard disk enclosure definitely still works - I purchased a new, bare 250GB PATA drive from PC World earlier today, and have hooked that up instead. It's a Samsung, instead of a marginally cheaper Hitachi - I decided not to trust another Deathstar with my data again.

I've got a working copy of my iPhoto data again, and the only photos I've lost were the couple of Minerva bike efforts I took the other week. Everything else I've taken recently was still on memory cards.

So basically, all I need to do is wait forever for my games to download over Steam again, set my Source SDK stuff up, recreate a couple of new VMTs and perhaps a model or two I hadn't backed up, and then I'm back to work.

It's still all bloody annoying, and all because I'd tried to save a few minutes...

Release date? Oh, I don't know. But I do have excuses. Sorry about this all.

P.S.: Thanks for all the highly intelligent, probing and often still wrong plot analysis - it's really helped cheer me up regarding MINERVA. With a bit of luck, after this inopportune break I'll be refreshed, renewed and ready to work like crazy to finish it all off!

Edit 2007-07-08: Blog-goers may well be interested in my new Acolytes of Minerva Steam Community group thingy. Just try to behave yourselves, okay?

Article Comments (now closed)

Stil's gravatar

1. Owch

Posted by Stil at 7:30PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Bad luck with the hard drive. Hope it didn't hit the wallet too hard getting the replacements!

Baffled's gravatar

2. A somewhat private nook

Posted by Baffled at 7:40PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

I'm sure we are all *mightily* relieved that this wasn't a "my-bloody-well-mirrored-adaptor-destroyed-MINERVA" post, or the Deathstar wouldn't have been the only component introduced to some inappropriate voltages! ;-)

I see Terrapin has recieved his much deserved, and dishearteningly routine for us Acolytes, admonishment with minimum delay. :-D

Hang-on a mo' ,do you mean to say that this very website harbours that which we crave so madly? Oh so close and yet so far. Not since Tantalus have so many been so cruelly tormented by the proximity of something so desired!

Terrapin's gravatar

3. Back on track...

Posted by Terrapin at 7:58PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Well, as maddening as it is to know that it may well be a month or two before Minerva is released, it's nice to have an update. My condolences go out to Adam - I think we all know the pain of a broken hard drive, so I hope things go better in the future.

Still, we now know that work on Minerva should be back on track shortly, which is always good to hear. In any case, what will be will be, so, barring some catastrophic event, here's hoping Adam has tonnes of free time to keep up his work. It will just make M3 all the more awesome when it does arrive.

On a side note, happy belated birthday and retirement to Adam's father.

fuzz's gravatar

4. DeathStar

Posted by fuzz at 7:59PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Hitachi Deathstars; not as bad as they used to be, but I've had one go on me before as well.
Not fun :(

It might be worth picking up another of the same model (off eBay?) and swapping the logic boards, chances are you've just fried something...

Out of interest (and an open question to everyone else as well), which OS do you use most often?

U-Mu-La-Mah-Ri's gravatar

5. Uh Oh

Posted by U-Mu-La-Mah-Ri at 8:23PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

"I check my backup drive, and a recent, just-back-from-USA-trip copy of my iPhoto folder is all present and correct, all 35GB of it - and check a somewhat private nook of the MINERVA website, and its fairly recent backup of the current version of MINERVA is still present."



"Thanks for all the highly intelligent, probing and often still wrong plot analysis "

OFTEN wrong...so maybe we have guessed and dont even know

Baffled's gravatar

6. Often is not always

Posted by Baffled at 8:32PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

There are right bits and wrong bits, but which bits are which...*sob*

It's just more cruel torture, I tell you, cruel torture!

Terrapin's gravatar

7. Mapping a webpage...

Posted by Terrapin at 10:22PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

So, it would appear that the data we seek is, per say, right in front of us. That said, does anyone know of a way to list every single page of the hylobatidae domain? I'm going to try every trick I know, which isn't a lot, but I'm sure we can figure this out as a group.

Ace's gravatar

8. fjords

Posted by Ace at 10:48PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

pining for the fjords. Ha! Greatest line ever. But wasn't it actually an argument that the bird was still alive, not dead? (and Norwegian?)

Terrapin's gravatar

9. Dead or alive?

Posted by Terrapin at 11:07PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Ah, Monty Python references. They never get old.

Oddly enough, this reminds me of a message posted by MrHappy, specifically #46 in the previous update, regarding whether the character we use in Metastasis would live or die. Escape does seem unlikely at this point, as we're a long ways underground, so unless we hitch a ride on a rail line or a combine portal, or some such, I really can't see us fighting all the way back up the shaft, especially in a chapter called "depth charge". Of course, death would be a bit of an anticlimax, so we're back at square one.

Anyway, never mind the restlessness of my theories. I've just been racking my brain trying to determine what could be waiting for us in M3. About the only things I can think of are a portal, perhaps to Xen, or a massive doomsday device to wipe out humanity.

Ace's gravatar

10. hmm

Posted by Ace at 11:43PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Perhaps if we bring Adam a shrubbery he'll tell us what's "probing" and what's "still wrong"?

Ace's gravatar

11. or maybe..

Posted by Ace at 11:47PM, Tuesday August 7 2007

Or maybe he just needs some "peril"?

Cargo Cult's gravatar

12. Helping ourselves through helping others

Posted by Cargo Cult at 1:08AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Someone asked about a MINERVA self-help group on the new Steam Community?

Well, here you are:


No idea what benefits there are, but at least there's an official group if it does prove useful.

But, of course, the first rule about Minerva Club is ...

MrHappy's gravatar

13. True acoyltes

Posted by MrHappy at 1:59AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Are the first to join :)

I remember reading somewhere, an interview, an obscure reference, something that has imbued me with a sense of knowledge that their is in fact an under-sea-train between the deepest depths of island-prison-hell and the outside world.

Glad to head your up and running. Everytime I have some crucial digital device fail my heart sinks and I go into a sort of panicked frenzy about what to do next.

LocoYokel's gravatar

14. Just fried the board.

Posted by LocoYokel at 2:56AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Find a compatible one and replace it. Might have also fried the motor but the data on the platters is still good.


Browse around there, the site also contains a fairly decent tutorial on how to disassemble a drive and replace the head(s), motor, etc.

LocoYokel's gravatar

15. Just have to say it...

Posted by LocoYokel at 2:57AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

If Minerva had been released you would not have had to worry.....

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Sirc's gravatar

16. Given Likelyhood As Someone Should

Posted by Sirc at 4:32AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

By this example, I'm glad I am 'paranoid.' Unerringly keeping backups helps prevent disaster. You could almost say it's become an obsessive compulsive habit of mine...

Anyway, I'm glad prudence won this battle...

Now that the situation is under control, I wish to enter upon a previous subject I gave elsewhere. Even I admit to the possibility of it being wrong in this area. Whatever the true answer, I would like to know what the gallery thinks of it reworded thusly...

"Being the servant of that which we fear. And yet following a path that once was clear. Combine servant, renegade or simply a different lot. Keeping to the words of the Mistress who will trust naught. Upending the work of comrades so vile. Perhaps we'll be the hero or villain next mile..."

(I doubt anyone won't immediately recognize my second 'message', especially here, but if not... Fear my subtlety!)

Terrapin's gravatar

17. I think I get it...

Posted by Terrapin at 5:56AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Okay, I think I have your message decrypted.

Essentially, we're the servant of both Minerva and the Combine. We fear both, the former for fear of the unknown, and what they may or may not do, and the latter for obvious reasons; "genocide, indescribable evil". The protagonist's path was once clear - he did as he desired, for his own interests (becoming a combine soldier?), but now our path is obstructed. As mere tools of two undeniably greater powers, even we know longer know who, or what, we really are. The next sentence is obvious: are we a renegade, rebelling against the combine, or still their instrument in a new, terrifying way? Or are we just different? Then of course the ending - we keep to Minerva's words, for they are all we have left. Now we are forced to fight against those we once fought beside (again, assuming we are a wayward combine soldier). As for your very last sentence... I'm not sure here. Perhaps you imply that we may take the place of either the Combine, or Minerva, and become a true force in this tug of war, rather than a simple tool.

So, am I close?

Mercer's gravatar

18. Holy shite!

Posted by Mercer at 6:23AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Damn, HD failures always seem to terrify...

Thankfully your the thoughtful sort who backs up stuff!

Nightshade's gravatar

19. Auctioneer, anyone?

Posted by Nightshade at 7:51AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Perhaps the benevolent Adam would like to auction the unfortunate Hitachi Deathstar, causing a stir (and possibly several cardiac arrests) among us acolytes? I'm sure the funding would serve MINERVA well, as there is a chance that the precious data contained on that vessel is still retrievable...

Ace's gravatar

20. some probably mostly still wrong thoughts

Posted by Ace at 8:56AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

With all the theories being thrown about, I may as well add mine. From reading the text on the front page for minerva as well as the archive 4 and 5 pages, I got what I thought to be a somewhat literal picture of what minerva was. I wasn't trying to read into it too much, it didn't seem to me that I had to, but I suppose I'm quite likely way off. Anyway, here's my take on minerva:
I got the impression that she lived on another planet that was invaded by the combine, similar to earth. But before that happened, she realized what was going to happen, and tried to warn people but nobody listened to her. Perhaps it was something analogous to gman trying to prevent a resonance cascade from happening (if thats what gman was doing.) But nobody listened to her so the combine were able to come and ravage her planet. But she found someway to escape her, eh, dimension, perhaps transforming herself into (?) (I'll try to avoid too much speculation here.) Since then she's been trying to find a way to fight the combine. She eventually found her "adopted forefathers" which seems to be an extinct, highly advanced society whose technology she can use to fight the combine. (sort of like the forerunners from Halo.) Not sure what she's doing on earth, but she seems about ready to start her fight with the combine.
That's my thoughts, hopefully at least something correct in there.

Campaignjunkie's gravatar

21. And now, some blatant advertising...

Posted by Campaignjunkie at 11:21AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

I hope Adam doesn't mind my advertising on his giant Wizard of Oz-like talking head blog - let's hope he's a merciful deity - but I believe his (lovely, lovely) acolytes are just what we're looking for... and this is also a sly plea for Adam's possible participation. Possibly. Hopefully.

Anyway: <b>We (some level designers) are finishing up a big ol' single player map pack for Half-Life 1 called "Reissues" and are looking for some dedicated beta testers to help polish it up for final release.</b> For many of us, it's likely going to be our last work / swan song for our beloved HL1, and quite frankly I'm pretty amazed by what some of these people have managed to do with this aging engine.

Our website (work in progress): http://sethorian.kevin-foster.net/Reissues/index.html

Beta tester signup:

(A bit of trivia: this is actually going to be Project Quantum Leap 3. Adam participated in the first map pack, PQL1, with his eponymous Someplace Else.)

Campaignjunkie's gravatar

22. Uhh oops!

Posted by Campaignjunkie at 11:25AM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Hmm, I just realized "eponymous" doesn't fit in there at all. Well even if I don't impress you with big improperly used words, this is some quality level design.

Errant's gravatar

23. What I want to know is....

Posted by Errant at 3:12PM, Wednesday August 8 2007

WHY PC world????

Naurgul's gravatar

24. Group name

Posted by Naurgul at 3:38PM, Wednesday August 8 2007

Mmm... I understand the name of the group, but shouldn't the page it resides be something simpler, like just minerva... acolytes-of-minerva seems a bit too much to me.

PS: Yes, yes, I know. That was random.

Etalon's gravatar

25. Hitachi

Posted by Etalon at 7:54PM, Wednesday August 8 2007

The deathstar thing only applies to the old drives, where the bearing grease dried out and messed up the bearings. The new ones are fine.

Esvandiary's gravatar

26. Adam, you've just made an awful mistake...

Posted by Esvandiary at 8:48PM, Wednesday August 8 2007

... well, two... Apart from with the whole fried drive thing, you've also made a public Steam Community profile, allowing us to see EXACTLY how much time you're spending in the Source SDK making Minerva!

Only 10.1 hours this week... CRACK THE WHIP!! ;)

Terrapin's gravatar

27. Good things come to those who wait.

Posted by Terrapin at 2:17AM, Thursday August 9 2007

Well, as much as I'd like for Adam to spend every minute of his free time working on M3, that would be more than a little unfair. Remember, he's doing this for free, and besides, if he works at a comfortable pace, he's more likely to turn out the high quality work the first and second episodes demonstrated. That said, he mentioned before that M3 was in a playable state - I'm actually predicting a release this month. Overly optimistic? Maybe, but who knows? Adam has done amazing things before.

siman's gravatar

28. samy your kidding right...

Posted by siman at 2:46AM, Thursday August 9 2007

man western digital or a Fujitsu think man

Ace's gravatar

29. overwatch?

Posted by Ace at 7:21AM, Thursday August 9 2007

Does anyone else find it a little big-brother like that steam tracks your game-playing habits? Don't mean to sound paranoid here, maybe there's some way to turn that off? I've heard the offline mode doesn't work so good. (of course, Valve was started by former Microsoft employees after all.)

Naurgul's gravatar

30. overwatch?

Posted by Naurgul at 7:48AM, Thursday August 9 2007

Yeah, it's a bit like that. Hopefully, they will add some privacy options so you can select which stats show in your SteamID and which don't. With that said, I hardly think my gaming habits are personal data... at least until I start receiving ads based on that.

Ace's gravatar

31. overwatch

Posted by Ace at 8:11AM, Thursday August 9 2007

I guess you're right it seems a bit silly to complain about, but as Esvandiary has made clear, what's displayed in the community id can be annoying for some people. But they collect a lot of data too. Like I recall that episode 1 survey, where they had data on exactly how much people were playing it, where they died and how often, difficulty level, etc. I'm not normally a privacy freak, it just seems that people usually hoot and holler if they perceive an invasion of their privacy. It seems Valve is distracting people from what they're doing by showing them clearly what they're doing. Sneaky.
(or maybe that was a voluntary survey?)

Lord_Baz's gravatar

32. Honestly? Who cares.

Posted by Lord_Baz at 12:30PM, Thursday August 9 2007

Oh, so steam worries you with it's tracking but "oh Valve was formed by ex-microsoft" so yet again a tinfoil hat and blatantly stupid theory means that microsoft gets the blame again.

And yet... Xfire's been doing it for years. Oops.Try thinking.

Naurgul's gravatar

33. overwatch

Posted by Naurgul at 12:37PM, Thursday August 9 2007

I don't think it's an invasion of privacy when they don't display per-user stats. What if they track how much time it took you to complete each level? As long as nobody is able to see that, you should be okay. The only thing one could complain about is that we don't get paid to provide them such information. We help them make better games and take nothing in return. Just saying, you know... not that I would want a reward to be of assistance in such a matter.

Still, people may want to hide how much time they spend in each game, for example. Privacy options are a must.

About hard drives... even though I'm a computer science student, I almost never deal with hardware; software is more than enough for me. I think I've never even opened my computer's case! If something breaks, though, I may be forced to get my hands dirty.

PS: No, Episode One getting your gameplay stats was not voluntary but it should had been, in my opinion.

MrHappy's gravatar

34. Privacy?

Posted by MrHappy at 1:20PM, Thursday August 9 2007

You don't need xfire to play certain games, so that's different.

I'm in much conflict over this. Normally I am the first to advocate privacy over everything else, but they are telling us what they are tracking, showing us the results, and using the information to make their great games even better.

And it's just games. If valve really wants to know that I have to try the Episode 1 antlion-guard battle ten times each time I play, or that I play a few games of geometry wars before Hammer-ing...well, who cares. It's not like they found my secret....pictures....

Nesretep's gravatar

35. Privacy

Posted by Nesretep at 4:02PM, Thursday August 9 2007

I guess it's kind of weird to have the number of hours spent playing games on Steam displayed for all to see. A side question regarding that is how is your rating determined? Even Adam was rated poorly and I won't tell you what I was rated you can see for yourself (Yes, it was that bad). Anyone know?

I did find it humorous that it also shows Adam's time in the Source SDK (He was in it yesterday while I was online). Now we can track his work on Minerva! :) [sarcasm] I'm sure he's excited about that prospect.[/sarcasm]

Sirc's gravatar

36. Go On But Let Everything Take

Posted by Sirc at 6:57PM, Thursday August 9 2007

Something I would like to say about the statistics. Over getting paid for them, I would more realistically believe that it somewhat prevents us having to pay for Steam...

Commendations to Terrapin for 'translating.' Looking at it, I realize I say things I didn't think could be interpreted in such a way. Overt message aside, my second messages still haven't been pointed out. Simply put, I'm trying to buy the maker extra time by creating simple interesting distractions. Even though the current one isn't that clever...

Straying from the current topic. On to statistics again...

For the statistics to be revealed, I do not believe it is too much of a problem. About the only thing I can see that could cause worry is when people begin to gloat and make the statistics a priority. Remember, as long as you don't care, they don't care...

Terrapin's gravatar

37. Privacy

Posted by Terrapin at 6:58PM, Thursday August 9 2007

I think that in this day and age, privacy is breathing it's final breaths. It seems that the more you try to stay "current" in the information age, the less privacy you are allowed. Want to register for something? You have to compromise the security of your email address. Everything you do can be tracked - one third of computer users have tracking cookies on their PCs and don't even know it. The government can read your email simply by going to your ISP and presenting a warrant. Anything you can encrypt, they can decrypt just as fast. And personal records? Hah. every day I hear some story about how "security was compromised", or a "technical error" made personal data available to all. Oh, and did I mention the cameras?

I could go on all day (literally - I once wrote a twelve-page essay entitled "The Death of Privacy in the Twenty-First Century). And to those that say I'm paranoid, remember that the first stage of any death is denial.

And kudos to Adam for keeping up his work in the source SDK. Keep us informed! :)

Naurgul's gravatar

38. Paranoia

Posted by Naurgul at 8:21PM, Thursday August 9 2007

Terrapin, you are a bit paranoid. Even if what you're saying is true, you're still paranoid. The denial argument is not really an argument as it could be applied to pretty much anything.

Terrapin's gravatar

39. Re: Paranoia

Posted by Terrapin at 9:20PM, Thursday August 9 2007

So, if what I'm saying is true, then how am I paranoid? I never said it was a bad thing - these technologies have made our lives easier in many ways. My point is, if you expect the same scale of privacy today that you did in past decades, you're going to be disappointed. Google searches, emails, virtually any program that uses a network, and anything else that a corporate or government entity could pry from your ISP are open to such prying eyes. Is this good or bad? I say, both. Every day in the United States, countless crimes or other questionable acts are detected through these "breaches of privacy". So if I receive notification that my email will be scanned for gang-related issues (there's a bit of a gang problem where I live), more power too them. But if men in suits show up at my door asking me why I haven't been playing Counter Strike Source as much as I used to, then I'm going to be worried. So am I paranoid? By most definitions of the word, no. I'm just cautious, and aware of the changing state of the information age.

Nesretep's gravatar

40. Loss of privacy

Posted by Nesretep at 9:35PM, Thursday August 9 2007

It's not just technology that has brought about this current lack of privacy in some facets of our lives. Lack of integrity among some causes security problems for all involved. Then those with integrity suffer inconvenience due to measures taken to stop those without integrity.

Yar Kramer's gravatar

41. Ow

Posted by Yar Kramer at 9:40PM, Thursday August 9 2007

I totally feel your pain, man. I've had a hard drive crash before, myself ... but, glad to see you're able to pick up the pieces.

Terrapin's gravatar

42. The effect of integrity (or lack thereof)

Posted by Terrapin at 9:48PM, Thursday August 9 2007

@ Nesretep: I absolutely agree, but technology has created another, very powerful, avenue for this misappropriated information. Ever hear of that AACS encryption key controversy? A few people got a hold of some top secret data. Within not days, but hours, the data was in over one thousand places. In a month, there were tens of thousands of places where that now almost sacred number was displayed. Again, this wasn't really a bad thing - stick it to the man and all, now I can rip my HD-DVD movies to my PC for hi-res viewing whenever I please. But still, the power the internet has to magnify the lack of integrity of a few to the nth power is disturbing, yet something we must now live with for better or worse.

Also, a quick reply to Sirc, whose post I missed while writing one of my own; thanks for the puzzle. Figuring out your "second messages" should keep me busy, hopefully until Adam finally finishes his sacred work, and reveals which parts of our theories were correct.

Ace's gravatar

43. Microsoft and friends

Posted by Ace at 10:41PM, Thursday August 9 2007

Sorry if I forgot to take my tinfoil hat off there, (it's scary out there!) maybe I can clarify a bit why I made the comparison to Microsoft. What I meant, more or less, is that we are somewhat at the whim of Valve and Microsoft. They have the power to (sort of) force things on us. Valve used half-life 2 to sneak a storefront and marketing tool (steam) onto our computers, sort of like Microsoft has caught flack for for internet explorer and windows media player. Steam was low-profile at first, I didn't even know what it was until after I'd already played through half-life 2. I don't think a smaller company would've been able to pull something like this off. In fairness, both companies are trying to provide a good product, and give people what they want, and they usually do. And Valve certainly hasn't been guilty of the unfair practices Microsoft has been. And I'm not even criticizing either company, it's just good business. My point was that it doesn't always work out the best for the consumer, especially when it comes to choice and freedoms, and a practical ability to do anything about, for example, privacy concerns. I knew this would get back in there somehow.
Anyhow, perhaps Terrapin you can admit to a bit of paranoia? But you know what they say, if you ain't paranoid you ain't paying attention. And you can borrow my tinfoil hat if you like!

kast's gravatar

44. blah

Posted by kast at 11:20PM, Thursday August 9 2007

I really couldn't care less (nor really comprehend any logical reason why I should) if Valve wants to track my game play habits and performance. Nor if they want to public display every little detail in a Battlefield style page. Which would actually be really cool.

It's just game data. Not like they're handing out my PayPal details or medical history. What are people gonna do? "Oooh, your accuracy is terrible! 17%?! Noob!!!" Pfft.

Ace's gravatar

45. Re: blah

Posted by Ace at 11:48PM, Thursday August 9 2007

Well I don't think anyone is saying you should care if Valve tracks playing habits, I'm certainly not. I don't care. The issue for me at least is more that we don't have any choice to provide that sort of data, or anything else Valve wants to collect. I'm sure somewhere in the user agreement we agreed to it gives Valve permission to do this though. For Valve's hardware surveys however they do ask permission to acquire the data. Again, this is hardly a major concern, just a bit of principle involved, if you choose to see it.

MrHappy's gravatar

46. srg

Posted by MrHappy at 1:01AM, Friday August 10 2007

You do have a choice wether or not they collect data.

If you dont want them too you can uninstall steam.

Ace's gravatar

47. Re: srg

Posted by Ace at 1:21AM, Friday August 10 2007

yes but then how would we play Minerva?
This is why I suggested a smaller company couldn't have pulled off this whole steam thing. If my copy of Prey started doing dubious things I would just delete it. Again, I don't mean to be critical of Valve or steam (well, okay just a tad), it's good business, but it is business.

Ace's gravatar

48. steam

Posted by Ace at 1:51AM, Friday August 10 2007

sorry if I'm going post crazy here, I just wanted to say that yes, Steam is a good product that lots of people choose to use and it has lots of good features and stuff. That's great, it's just that its initial introduction and permeation (?) into the gaming world was a big back-door. (a point I didn't set out to make, but seem to have arrived at anyway.)

Ace's gravatar

49. oops

Posted by Ace at 1:52AM, Friday August 10 2007

sorry again, that was supposed to be "a bit back door".

Terrapin's gravatar

50. Critical details/Conspiracy theories/More paranoia

Posted by Terrapin at 2:31AM, Friday August 10 2007

As you said, Ace, a smaller company could never get away with the things Valve, Microsucks - I mean, Micro$oft - and other major companies could. I shell out $120 for Vi$ta, and what do I get? Lower frame rates across the board, ridiculously slow boot times, and a constantly crashing OS that doesn't even deserve to be out of beta. Even Halo 2, a game that ONLY works on Vista, crashes more often than I care to discuss. As for Valve... Ep2 will be out around the same time Ep3 was originally supposed to be out, making it almost a year late. And here they are taking our information as they please. Sure, you can refuse some of their surveys, but they keep nagging, over and over, until you submit. That's the problem with commerce, and this whole capitalism charade - the people are dancing on the strings of corporations. Don't want to have hardware data from your computer sent to microsoft? No Windows for you, ergo, no gaming. Don't like Steam? Tough luck, you miss out on the best fps of all time. And lets not forget Google and Yahoo, the two empires that already control unfathomable amounts of the online world.

So yeah, I'm a bit paranoid. But only a bit. Mainly, I'm realistic. This is the way the world is now. Money, power and influence are the only things that really matter in the whole scheme of things, and they are what allow Valve and Microsoft to exert the kind of force they do. You can run, you can even hide, but as others have pointed out here, it isn't going to be pleasant.

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51. eegads

Posted by Ace at 3:11AM, Friday August 10 2007

Yikes, sorry Terrapin but I've gotta separate myself from that. You're on your own with that one. Maybe time for a change of subjects?

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52. RE: eegads

Posted by kast at 3:25AM, Friday August 10 2007

Indeed, something less... vitriolic?

mmmmm... err... cookies!

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53. Re: eegads

Posted by Terrapin at 5:02AM, Friday August 10 2007

Yeah, I really do get carried away sometimes. I'm actually on a professional debate/lecture team, so it's kind of what I do.

Anyway, I suggest we get back to why we're all really here - Minerva. That said... Adam never said our theories were wrong, just that they were often (i.e. partly) wrong... So what of our past topics?

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54. Computers and shatting.

Posted by M_Gargantua at 5:23AM, Friday August 10 2007

I recently had a Hard Drive fail on me too adam. That hard drive contained my map for reissues. I don't keep as good as backups as you do.

It made me sad.

But hearing that Minerva is still teasing us with its release is still good.

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55. Someplace Else

Posted by Nightshade at 7:20AM, Friday August 10 2007

On the subject of changing the subject, I'd love to hear where the map "Someplace Else" fits into the MINERVA storyline, and if Terrapin has a theory that links the current version of Minerva with her "past" form in Xen. (Been a watcher of the boards for quite a long time, and have finally decided to be an active acolyte! ;P)

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56. Re: Someplace Else

Posted by Terrapin at 7:38AM, Friday August 10 2007

I do have a theory about Someplace Else. It's not as solid as my one on Metastasis, but it works well enough. Essentially, we now that Minerva is there against her will... she also claims that her kleptomania (urge to steal things) didn't serve her well, which lends me to believe that she is there as punishment for stealing something. I believe she was also designed/employed/created at Black Mesa. This leads me to conclude she got herself into some data, research, or other sensitive material, and was confined to Xen to prevent future problems.

So, one day, along comes the SE protagonist, who ends up opening a portal back to earth. Yet Minerva helping someone out of sheer good will is about as likely as pigs not only flying, but doing choreographed acrobatics in mid flight. In other words, in isn't going to happen. Minerva, being imprisoned, used the SE guy to open a portal, which she somehow (I told you this theory wasn't airtight) transports herself through, to get into our "network", (http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/archive_5.shtml)
thus allowing her to make use of whatever it was she stole. The location of the island? Unlikely, as SE predated the Combine's arrival on earth. What's more likely was that is was some data on the Combine itself, perhaps a weakness. Breen, knowing the power the Combine would offer him, didn't want that little secret getting out, but hey, you try stopping Minerva - she wanted out. She had found something huge, but even free form Xen, lacked the capacity to use it. Enter our beloved bastard Perseus. And that is my theory.

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57. Addendum

Posted by Terrapin at 7:52AM, Friday August 10 2007

Sorry to post twice in a row, but I needed to correct a few things.

One, Minerva wanted the portal to earth opened so that she could get to earth and make use of what she stole. If returning to Earth was not in her best interests, she probably would have left the SE protagonist to rot. I'm not sure I worded that right, it seemed unclear when I re-read it.

Two, I meant to say that what she had stolen was not likely the location - i.e., coordinates - of the island in Metastasis, by the logic that the Combine were not on Earth during the events of SE. I kind of phrased that poorly.

Also, kind of obviously, I make the assumption that Minerva has freedom of motion within Xen, but either a) has no capacity for combat, or b) cannot interact with switches, electronics, physical objects, or some other critical component of what the SE guy is made to do by Minerva, preventing her from carrying out his tasks herself. My thoughts: an AI, or other non-physical entity with "wireless" access or movement. She transmitted her signal through the portal, or something like that.

That's all... really, this time. :)

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58. SE...

Posted by Errant at 11:16AM, Friday August 10 2007

I have to say I think your probably wrong there :( Mostly because that idea of Minerva doesn't really fit with the Minerva we know (Or rather you are making her fit into the SE story).

I rather think that we can assume Minerva is not human. When she talks about her adopted forefathers i always get this funny 'gman' ish feeling (although I think that is a 'red herring'). That is not to say Minerva couldn't originally have been a human creation / a human. I think she was definitely closely involved in scientific OR methodical people (that second one tends to hark back to the idea of a gman race as he has similar characteristics)

Im a bit intrigued by the idea of Vortigaunts... It would be a brave man to make Vortigaunts a 'secret' or twist in the story (considering their now obviously important role in the HL storyline), especially in relation to Minerva herself, but it would be a nice way to do it IMO :). I am sure her original race and her adopted forefathers ARE races / groups (they may be a group within a race for example) we have met before (IE nothing new).

Personally i think whatever Minerva was her kleptomania (and other faults) got too big for her peers (or race) and she was 'destroyed' (for want of a better word). Now existing simply as an intelligent entity or some such. This IMO stands up to the idea Adam suggests that she is not AI but that she can 'interface' with computers (see the website extracts) etc.

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59. Minerva's origins

Posted by Terrapin at 6:09PM, Friday August 10 2007

So really, the big question is this: where did Minerva originally come from?

My theory was Black Mesa, and that her "adopted forefathers" were some group on Xen, which gave her the limited freedom she needed to make use of a portal, were one opened. For example, we know the Vortigaunts use a hive-mind type consciousness. Perhaps they somehow added Minerva to this collective mind. Vortigaunts, being under the control of the Nihilanth , could not open the portal for Minerva, so they had to wait for some other human to arrive.

Your theory works too. An entirely extraterrestrial Minerva would explain a few key things, as you mentioned, such as who her "peers" are. But that does leave a rather large question unanswered: what is her interest in stopping the Combine? The Combine have taken countless worlds before, so why should she put a value on Earth? Again, Minerva simply wouldn't do this as a favor to humanity. She always, as we know, has her own agenda.

That's one thing that my theory does cover a bit better than yours (even though no theory I have heard is perfect); if she were from Earth, it would explain her desire to save her home. Black Mesa also fits; Minerva states repeatedly that she could have stopped all this, but her warnings went unheard - I interpreted this to mean she knew that the infamous experiment would lure the Combine to Earth, but no one cared. Helpless to stop them, having been imprisoned in Xen, she waited for the SE guys arrival so she could go back, and succeed where she had failed before.

Then again, having Minerva be a non-human, Gman-like entity makes sense too. Gman tried to stop the resonance cascade in HL1 (I think, I have theories on that too), so maybe Minerva is his... assistant? Rival? Apprentice? Crazed secretary? So many questions, and only 3 maps to answer them with.

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60. SE

Posted by Ace at 6:16PM, Friday August 10 2007

One thing that always wondered me about Someplace Else is the date. If you're going to go to the trouble to put an exact date and time on things, why use April 1? Adam is clearly aware of the date, he played a fairly elaborate April fool's day prank with this site last year. Perhaps Minerva is playing with our character? or Adam is playing with us?

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61. April fools

Posted by Terrapin at 6:44PM, Friday August 10 2007

Out of curiosity, what prank did he play last year?

As for SE, I doubt that has anything to do with the plot line. SE/Metastasis seem to be very deep and thought provoking - to have one-third (thus far) of it explained away as a joke doesn't fit for me. What would the joke be? A colleague decides to throw someone through a portal, into known hostile territory, just for a little fun?

And as for Adam playing with us, that's always been how he operates - giving us little clues, but never quite giving us anything concrete regarding the plot line. The main Minerva page is proof of that. He doesn't need a specific date to give his acolytes something to think about until the next installment arrives. Which is, in the end, why most, if not all, of us are here.

In summary: April first was just a convenient date. Given the general atmosphere of SE, I just can't see it as any more than a coincidence.

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62. homework

Posted by Ace at 7:07PM, Friday August 10 2007

You know Terrapin all the blog posts and comments back to the beginning are still on this site, you can go check for yourself what went on last April. (of 2006 I was referring to). You can also search for stuff, which will reveal things like the meaning of cargo cult which has been discussed a couple times before. I even just discovered that that Latin phrase Dulce et... was also translated just a couple weeks ago! (props to fuzz and Evan for that one).
Yeah April 1 could be a coincidence, but at least it's one thing that doesn't require such extensive extrapolation. (I'm assuming 4/1/2002 means Apr. 1, not Jan. 4, I know some countries use different orders for these, not sure how it's done in the UK.)

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63. April 1

Posted by Ace at 7:38PM, Friday August 10 2007

Actually I just took my own advice and checked the blog post from Apr. 1 2006 and Adam released a steam version of Someplace Else on that date, making me think perhaps there is something significant to April 1 in SE.

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64. April 1

Posted by Ace at 7:48PM, Friday August 10 2007

Or maybe our character's buddies played April fool's day joke on him by sending him to Xen? (thus explaining how he got there.)

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65. Minerva again

Posted by Errant at 8:38PM, Friday August 10 2007

Terr - your assuming she wants to save earth. Her anger could be with the combine, with someone else or she could just be after something.

So far all we know (correct em if I am wrong here) is that she is sorry for what her forefathers did to earth and that she is trying to make amends for pas wrongs (not necessarily earth saving related :))

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66. The big question(s)

Posted by Terrapin at 9:05PM, Friday August 10 2007

What we need to determine here is what Minerva is, what her goal is, and what her motives are for achieving this goal.

Looking back, it seems we missed a critical piece of data: this is not a war, nor even a personal vendetta. This is an experiment. Minerva even scolds us for putting violence before progress with our experiment.

I've compiled a list of known facts about Minerva, things we are absolutely certain of:
* Black Mesa is involved somehow
* Metastasis is Minerva's experiment
* Minerva doesn't like the Combine, at both a personal and professional level
* Minerva puts the completion of her experiment at a higher priority level than almost anything
* Minerva is not working alone

Thus, I present to my fellow acolytes a revised theory based on these facts: humanity is being tested, and the Combine is being probed. Be it by Minerva's original people/creators, or her adopted forefathers, Minerva has been sent to kill two birds with one stone. First, she is to test humanity, with our bastard Perseus being the unlucky rat chosen from the test cage. Are we suitable weapons for use against the combine/other foes? What drives us to survive against nigh impossible odds? The second purpose is to gather data on the combine. The way I see it, Minerva's higher-ups want two reports from her: one, what is going on at the island, and two, are humans all the Black Mesa Incident made them out to be. Being who she is, Minerva decided to create both reports at once, sending a lone human in against the overpowering force of the Combine military.

Naturally, I could easily be wrong. Her experiment may only be one of the above; exploring the island may be her true intent, with testing humanity being an interesting side effect, or vice versa. Since she didn't tell us about the heavily armed guard tower in M1, even though she knew about it, she seems to be testing us. Yet what lies bellow the island's surface seems truly important to her. Is she merely attempting to satisfy her own curiosity? Is either experiment motivated by revenge or reconciliation? So very many questions, so very few concrete answers.

Feel free to add to my list of things we know, but only include things we can be absolutely, 100% certain of.

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67. "... ignored by long-absent angels ..."

Posted by Cargo Cult at 11:04PM, Friday August 10 2007

I can't actually remember why I chose April 1st 2002 as the date - apart from it being close to when I was writing the original messages for Someplace Else. And, in keeping with the slightly anarchic nature of Project Quantum Leap, the mad, multi-map extravaganza which surrounded my lone map, I must have thought using April Fool's Day was HILARIOUS.

Please note also that the timestamps start at 13:37. 1337. l33t. Oh dear.


Not sure if you've seen it, but there's a timeline on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MINERVA_%28mod%29#Timeline

Looking up other names could be useful!

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68. Angels

Posted by Yar Kramer at 11:27PM, Friday August 10 2007

So, does that make us Adam's Angels?

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69. Timeline

Posted by Terrapin at 12:54AM, Saturday August 11 2007

Well, whether we're angels, acolytes, or some other term, the time line Adam pointed out is useful, but it doesn't really tell us anything. Time for more puzzle solving!

I'm going to guess that the "seismic event" was some experiment gone awry. We know it had something to do with transportation experiments, e.g. teleportation. Humanity's first voyages beyond this dimension, and into Xen? Perhaps. Read this line form SE:

"You know, I once met someone who almost realised what was going on. A soldier, believe it or not. Way before your time.

Surprisingly, he seemed to understand. While the actual physics were beyond him (plus that awkward word 'classified' made book learning
unlikely), his childlike curiosity quite endeared him to me.

It's a shame nobody learned from that incident."

The seismic incident and the incident Minerva describes are likely one and the same - the time line ("Way before your time") fits, as this first event was in the 70s. The conclusion is that some scientists screwed up, and wound up sending a soldier to Xen, where he met with Minerva.

As for names? Harvey and Daniel (Dan) are all I came up with, but I'll keep looking

One more thing - we know that Minerva had some contact with humanity before the 70s event. Quoth Minerva (when referring to a portal):

"I played a large part in mankind's discovery of this, although few would like to admit it."

But Minerva is obviously not human herself. The bottom line: Metastasis 3 had better give us some answers... I don't know how much longer I can keep analyzing the same data.

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70. Not working alone?

Posted by MrHappy at 6:58AM, Saturday August 11 2007

I forgot which line indicates she is not working alone, but I remember interpreting it a different way. Tenses and whatnot leading to the opposite conclusion

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71. Re: Not working alone?

Posted by Terrapin at 7:48AM, Saturday August 11 2007

From http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/phosphenes.shtml

Experiment shall continue; further data sought. Upon completion, peer review followed by publishing; discoveries communicated to a greater audience. Infiltrate. Observe. Reveal. Destroy.

Speaks for itself; peer review, publishing, and greater audience all suggest some kind of group, to which Minerva belongs.

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72. Hello

Posted by milky tea at 9:24AM, Saturday August 11 2007

Is there a Minerva walkthrough anywhere? I've tried searching Google with no success. Thanks.

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73. walkthrough?

Posted by kast at 10:57AM, Saturday August 11 2007

hmm... would a walkthrough be ethical in this case? It would certainly skew the experiment's results if the subject had all the answers to hand.

In short: No, I don't believe that a walkthrough exists. Though I can provide some hints:

* Infiltrate.
* Observe.
* Reveal.
* Destroy.

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74. OK

Posted by milky tea at 12:14PM, Saturday August 11 2007

That seemed to help as I figured it out now!

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75. The Fourth Wall

Posted by Baffled at 3:12PM, Saturday August 11 2007

I think the Phosphenes page lies outside the narrative, Terrapin, and that sentence relates to the mod rather than to the storyline. It might be an instance of "breaking the fourth wall":

"Upon completion, peer review" probably refers to playtesting by Adam's developer friends, and "publishing" to "a greater audience" refers to us.


So it doesn't necessarily point to Minerva not acting alone. But, She does sign one communication "friend of a friend", unless of course that wasn't written by Minerva at all, but someone else???!!! :


But I think Adam signed some of his Forum posts "a friend of a friend"....

Adam has used that line about looking up names being useful before, perhaps more than once before. I think he wants us to be aware that they all relate to real people, myths, or objects rather than being things he has made up. So we are to search Wikipedia for the following:

Hylobatidae ( relevant?)
Phosphenes ( was to be the title of the first chapter )
Metastasis ( the process of cancer spreading, The Combine perhaps?)

Any others?

We are being led to believe that researching these names will shed some light on the murky goings on in MINERVA!

On the subject of names, can I just close by asking what it was about the name "Deathstar" that Hitachi felt represented a safe harbour for your data? It conjures up a number of images for me, none of which inspire confidence and peace of mind ;-).

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76. Cassandra

Posted by kast at 3:32PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Didn't Adam once say that the design of (at least the first episode of) Chronoclasm is going to draw inspiration from certain scenes in Twelve Monkeys? Yes, he did - I remember writing as such in the wikipedia article on MINERVA.

In Twelve Monkeys (Great film by the way. See it, then compare Pitt's tirade in the institution's common room with his rant against commercialism and modern society in Fight Club, in the bar. There are more than a few similarities.) In Twelve Monkeys, the female lead describes the 'Cassandra Complex' - a fictional psychological condition defined as "the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it. "

Cassandra, in Greek myth, was a beautiful princess gifted with a power of prophecy by Apollo as a mark of his love for her. When she did not return his love, he twisted the gift into a curse. From then on, Cassandra would be cursed to see the future but never to be believed.

"While Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy (she warned the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon, and her own demise), she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies. Her family believed she was mad, and according to some versions, kept her locked up. In versions where she was incarcerated, this was typically portrayed as driving her truly insane, although in versions where she was not, she is usually viewed as remaining simply misunderstood." - Wikipedia article

I think I'll leave that to Terrapin and Baffled to interpret and they seem so adept at the task. Or at the very least ambitious.

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77. An interesting little trinket

Posted by Baffled at 4:15PM, Saturday August 11 2007

"There I was, a proper little Cassandra crying out for attention with simulations which PROVED the imminent downfall of all we held dear, and it all became an interesting little trinket, a toy which could be investigated some irrelevant afternoon..."

What if ( wait for it, the next step is a doosie ) , what if the interesting little trinket that was in fact a simulation that proved the imminent downfall of everything....was.....and is ..... HalfLife!!!

The game, a trinket, a toy, you see?

That would mean that Minerva is none other than...Gabe Newell!!!

"I believe I've correctly interfaced myself with this god-forsaken network; it seems to have grown a little since I last saw it. Still nothing like what I've come to appreciate (now THAT would be telling!)"

She/He's talking about STEAM! You see?

You see, Kast's confidence in my powers of deduction was entirely justified :-D .

On a more sober/sane note, why did Adam entitle his last post with that quote about long-absent angels? In a post about the narrative's timeline? Hmmm?

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78. hahahahahaha

Posted by kast at 4:39PM, Saturday August 11 2007

*Calms down long enough to say* Thanks for that, Baffled :P Haven't had a good laugh in a while, that was well needed.

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79. On a completely different note...

Posted by Nesretep at 5:21PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Did anyone else notice that the Icon for the Acolyes of Minerva Steam group had changed from the "green" version of the logo we saw before to the "red" upside down version? Didn't these symbols signify open and locked doors in Someplace Else or something? Hmmm...let the speculation begin!

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80. Analysis

Posted by Terrapin at 7:22PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Well, it seems I have a few things to catch up on.

First, the phosphenes page may well be outside of the story, but it could also be Minerva's summary of each "chapter" of her report. Until we know for sure, let's just make some assumptions, because there really is no other evidence either way (working alone/ cooperatively).

As for names... if I recall correctly, according to mythology, Athena/Minerva was born from the head of Zeus. Thus, we can determine that Minerva was likely created from some other entity, before leaving to be with her adopted forefathers.

The Cassandra reference is obviously a reference to the Combine/Black Mesa Incident. She saw it all coming, but everyone ignored her warnings. Troy is either Earth or humanity, and the Trojan Horse was the Combine, said by Breen to be our salvation, our path to greater things as a species. Of course, we all know how that turned out. In summary, Minerva is Cassandra, gifted with great knowledge of things to come, yet her warnings are dismissed as madness.

Hypatia was, as is mentioned, murdered for her beliefs. Perhaps Minerva believed something, and was imprisoned in Xen for it. My guess: she believed that for human scientists to use the science she had helped them develop for exploitative purposes (mining, study, imprisonment). Thus, they sort of swept her aside, sending her to Xen.

Joyeuse was a sword wielded by a tyrant unworthy of such power. The tyrant: humanity. The power: teleportation, bestowed upon us by Minerva. She gives us great power, but we mess it up, fail to hear even a single warning of hers, and wind up being invaded by inter-dimensional aliens.

Hylobatidae is the family name for gibbons. Can't see any relevance here, besides the fact that we're all apes, barely evolved creatures building ever more complex, ever more dangerous tools to fuel our own budding intelligence. Is this relevant? Perhaps. After all, we know Minerva isn't human.

Phosphenes could be a reference to Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, an art book for HL2. One page shows a script, describing Gordon waking up to the "cold touch of phosphenes" (very beginning of the game. It is also the "sensation of seeing light" (from wikipedia), perhaps representing our bastard Perseus opening his eyes, or rather, having them opened for him, and "seeing the light", i.e. reality.

Metastasis could be the spread of the Combine, but my theory is that it is instead the spread of Minerva. She's already in our network. Now she's in our world, and in our people. Could also be a fourth-wall reference to us, the player: the mystery of Minerva is spreading, the intrigue spreading from acolyte to acolyte. Carcinogenisis, the first ep, was when it all began.

Pegasus was, of course, a flying horse, used by Perseus to fly to Medusa's lair (Minerva says the island is our Medusa), so it could be a reference to the Combine helicopter. Not really sure what else it could be.

That's all for now, let me know if I missed anything.

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81. I wonder...

Posted by Nesretep at 8:17PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Have you ever wondered if Adam really gives us vague answers to our storyline inquiries because there is no definite storyline to start with! Think of it like this: Adam has a rough outline that he gives us hints about. Then he combs through our speculation for the best stuff to fill out the details. So in essence, WE create the story as we go!

I know, ridiculous, right? But it makes us seem so much more important than what we likely are so I like it!

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82. many hints

Posted by Ace at 9:28PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Ah yes, that 13:37 puts things in context nicely. Unfortunately for me I'd never heard of l33t speak, I had to google l33t to figure it out. But glad that I know, that clears up a few other things.
And yes it does seem that Charlie, er, Adam has given us a some hints here. (ooh, ooh, can I be the blond one?) I did some homework, and to underscore their significance, he made essentially the same hints before in the discussion after the "trip to Vavle:Episode one" blog post:
in posts 50 (timeline) and 83 and 92 (names). (though I'm sure those of you involved remember the discussion. And at least he's consistent in this Nesretep!) As to the timeline, he seems to be suggesting that there is something to be learned from looking at the juxtaposition of dates, not just analyzing the specific events. As to the names, Baffled has a good list. I think I'd just stick to the ones directly from Minerva's lips: Hypatia, Joyeuse, Athena (/perseus/medusa), and Cassandra. (since they seem to me at least to all have some metaphorical meaning.) As for the hard facts (I'll try this again, I think Terrapin may muddle speculation with historical fact), Kast just covered Cassandra nicely, and Joyeuse was discussed before, though I may like to add a bit.
Yes many of us have probably looked these up, but at least if we get them out in the open Adam can't say we haven't tried. Ahem, relevant facts as I see them:
Joyeuse was the sword of Charlemagne. Charlemagne (800AD) conquered a large empire; essentially reconquered most of the western roman empire after its fall, and was in fact named roman emperor by the pope. (apparently to piss off the eastern roman empire (THE roman empire at the time)). Though not too literate himself, he supported intellectualism and a mini-renaissance occurred in his empire, once conquered and peaceful. (Carolingian renaissance).
Hypatia (Greek circa 400AD), first notable woman in math/astronomy/philosophy, she was pagan, and was killed by a Christian mob. No one entirely sure why, though there's lots of theories. (which I won't get into, though "murdered for her beliefs" seems to fit most of them.)
Athena (/perseus/medusa): potentially lots to say about Athena, but at least one relevant point is that she used Perseus to kill Medusa. (more or less).
Ah, I can jump on the fire and start speculating, but not at the moment..
Oh, and I'm sure the subject line of his previous message means something too..

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83. Heretical nihilistic narcissism

Posted by Baffled at 9:49PM, Saturday August 11 2007

That's what I charge Acolyte Nesretep with!

Shame on him, the rats *do not* run the laboratory, so there.

There was, and is, a clearly defined story arc underlying this mod, which is what makes it so compelling.

@Terrapin & Ace: The importance of the name Minerva to the story and the concepts behind it, probably cannot be overstated. Adam once said in an interview that he was inspired or influenced by the depiction and analysis af the goddess Athena in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

There do appear to be some echoes of that analysis in MINERVA. Do read the page below to the end, it's a bit long, and full of typos, but it may well prove rewarding.


Do you see any parallels or have I overstated this ( again )?

"...I must create my own system, or be enslaved by another."

"...technology and violence are a girl's best friends; power is eternal delight. "

Finally, I'd forgotten about Adam's other hint:

"In my avoiding of a deus ex machina, you *might* have heard of some vital political constructs already..." ???

It would seem that we are primed and ready for the next installment, strike while the acolytes are hot, eh Adam?

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84. Aww...C'mon guys...

Posted by Nesretep at 9:59PM, Saturday August 11 2007

@Baffled: Slow down turbo! I was just looking for a little reaction and it was my way of joking about all the hard work we are putting in trying to solve this enigma of a storyline. Trying to keep things light, ya know?

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85. Warning: Long Analysis Ahead

Posted by Terrapin at 11:46PM, Saturday August 11 2007

Well, after an hour or so of reading, and a further forty-five minutes of analysis, I’ve come up with a few critical ideas. Firstly, as Ace pointed out, I do tend to mix speculation with historical fact. However, this is necessary when concrete data is not available. Since there is so little that we really know, sometimes we have to use real-world references to glean new data, from which we can amplify the scope and accuracy of further speculation.

I did some reading on Minerva (the goddess), and found some interesting facts. One, she taught men many things. This is clearly a reference to how Minerva (claims to have) played a major role in humanity’s discovery of teleportation technology. Minerva also claims that she is “always out of reach”; a further reference to the god, as the Roman gods dwelled on Olympus, which no mortal man could clime.

However, to quote the Cryptonomicon: the Athena that you honor … isn't a supernatural being … who lives on a mountain in Greece, et cetera, but rather whatever entity, pattern, trend, what-have-you that, when perceived by ancient Greek people, and filtered through their perceptual machinery and their pagan worldview, produced the internal mental representation that they dubbed Athena. The distinction being important because Athena-the supernatural-chick-with-the-helmet is of course nonexistent, but 'Athena' the external-generator-of-the-internal-representation-dubbed-Athena-by-the-ancient-Greeks must have existed back then, or if she existed back then, the chances are excellent that she exists now, and if all that is the case, then whatever ideas the ancient Greeks (who, though utter shitheads in many ways, were terrifyingly intelligent people) had about her are probably quite valid." So, what does that mean? Well, if Adam’s Minerva (henceforth, A-Minerva) is based on this description, then A-Minerva is not so much a being a concept, observed by people to be real, being personified into some metaphysical form. Ergo, A-Minerva is simply the product of some other culture’s imagination. She is, then, perhaps some kind of AI, technological being, psychic force, post-human entity, or something else on non-natural origin, but created by something of natural origin. Minerva did not arise on her own; she is not something evolved or born, she was created. And, as a matter of principal, just as a painter must have a reason to paint, some group, human or otherwise must have created A-Minerva with a purpose. This is all speculation, but if you read the passage of the Cryptonomicon, you’ll see it makes perfect sense.

Now, (re-)read this passage: "in many other mythologies you can find gods that have parallels with Athena. The Sumerian had Enki, the Norse had Loki. Loki was an inventor-god, but psychologically he had more in common with Ares; he was not only the god of technology but also the god of evil too,the closest thing they had to the devil. Native Americans had tricksters - creatures full of cunning - like Coyote and Raven in their mythologies, but they didn't have technology yet, and so they hadn't coupled the Trickster with Crafts to generate this hybrid Technolgist-god. [sic]" Let me re-emphasize that last part: Technologist-god. A god, who creates technology. A god who helps humanity create technology, for better or for worse. Minerva (the god, henceforth G-Minerva) gave humanity many technologies, arts, and practices, which were used for myriad purposes by the lesser beings, humanity. A-Minerva did the same thing, giving humanity teleportation, and watching as we used it, both for personal gain, societal advancement, and, eventually, our own self-destruction. So, in the end, A-Minerva and G-Minerva were the same being in a different age, advancing humanity as a test, a sort of pseudo-artificial-selection.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, G-Minerva was also a great warrior, but was forbidden to fight directly in human wars (e.g. Troy). G-Minerva could only sit idly by, using her divine influence to give her favored side a push in the right direction. Liken this to A-Minerva. She cannot, it seems, do much herself. She cannot operate most technology (though she manipulated a few electronics in SE), and is by no means the one-person army that Gordon Freeman, bastard Perseus, Alyx Vance, etc. are. She can’t even directly fight, not that we’ve seen. So again, A-Minerva and G-Minerva share the same role in a different time period – caught in a war, yet relegated to a voice in the ear of those who will hear her.

Of course, this begs the question, why does A-Minerva care at all? Well, in the Trojan war, G-Minerva (who we now know, through my proof, parallels A-Minerva in almost all aspects) had a grudge, of sorts, a decision gone awry (look up Paris, the historical person, for more on this) that lead to her taking sides in the coming war. Remember that A-Minerva is a kleptomaniac, and was imprisoned on Xen. Something she stole, and/or her subsequent imprisonment (and who was responsible for it), could easily lead her to value humanity at some level, or to despise the Combine at some equal level, or both. Hence, when she was given the opportunity to undertake an experiment which would help humanity and injure the Combine (we can determine later what/who facilitated this opportunity), she jumped at the chance.

Well, that’s all for now really. My head is still full of thoughts, theories, and possibilities, but I think this is enough for my fellow acolytes to read an critique for now. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Yar Kramer's gravatar

86. Ow

Posted by Yar Kramer at 12:41AM, Sunday August 12 2007

My brain hurts after reading that. :(

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87. The true method of knowledge is experiment

Posted by Baffled at 1:54AM, Sunday August 12 2007

I think, Terrapin, that you may be over-egging that experiment angle. She seems to use that word only once, above, in regard to exploring the island. I think She is just expressing Her fundamental nature and approach to things, rather than revealing some attempt to intervene in the future evolutionary progress of Humanity.

Minerva represents the supremacy of the practical application of intelligence, embodied in the Scientific Method, over the base cruelty and brute force of the followers of Ares, here represented by the Combine. Minerva opposes the Combine because they are the antithesis of what She represents, rather than there being some specific goal that the Combine happen to be obstructing.

As the Cryptonomicon has it:

"...if Ares-worhippers aren't going to end up running the whole world, someone needs to do violence to them. That isn't very nice, but it's a fact: civilization requires an Aegis. And the only way to fight the bastards off in the end is through intelligence. Cunning. Metis."

Minerva requires that the Combine abandon their whole philosophy and convert to Hers:

"..remember, the forgiveness of enemies comes only upon their repentence."

She doesn't much care for humanity but opposing the further growth of the Combine entails saving humanity:

"...consider me as your future saviour, your salvation and your only hope. A messiah complex? Hardly - I'm FAR more powerful than that!"

Perhaps She *is* more than a messiah, or an A.I....perhaps She is an IDEA become sentient!

Oh dear, as Yar Kramer indicates, perhaps Adam needs to intervene before we hurt ourselves!

Apologies to Nesretep also ;-).

A more down-to earth question: What DO we make of the signature "A friend of a friend" on Archive 4? Is it written by an associate of Minerva's or is it Minerva telling us that we have someone in common?

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88. So many theories...

Posted by Terrapin at 2:20AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Well, your point works, like you said, because it represents Minerva at her most basic - countering force with intellect, and never ceasing until that force has been subverted for some intellectual purpose. I won't bother to re-state what you, via the Cryptonomicon, have put so nicely, but I will agree with it, up to one caveat: why help humanity develop their technology, when Minerva should already have known what we would do with it. When we got a hold of nuclear weapons technology, we killed millions, blew two cities apart in three days, and started an economically consuming arms-race that has ignited political and economic tensions the world over. Minerva must have known that whatever she gave us would eventually be used for evil, so if she does value intellect (further development and mental evolution) over force (humans finding ever more efficient ways to kill each other), why advance our technology at all? Is the earth the perfect battleground for attacking the Combine? Perhaps, as, relatively speaking, they had only just settled in to Earth.

Yet destruction is a vital part of Minerva's MO, right along side infiltrate and reveal. So she does value war on some level, but why, and what does it mean about her, and her relationship with the goddess Minerva (if you haven't already, read my above post; while it is a wall of text, I think it's fairly well written, and informative)?

Only Adam knows the answers. Only he can stage the intervention that could save us thousands of wasted words. All that anyone can really do at this point, rampant but informed speculation aside, is pose this question: Where and when is Metastasis 3?

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89. Experiment?

Posted by MrHappy at 2:44AM, Sunday August 12 2007

The references to peer review, publishing, etc. seem to me to be simply a cliche of sorts. After an experiment scientists do these things. Since minerva isn't using the term experiment seriously.

I think that comment is simply a natural extrension of the fancifull language we know and love.

After all, she is "all alone in [this] forsaken machine"

As I recall, minerva/athena gave perseus the shield he used to view medusa and thus be able to attack and kill her.

Pegasus was then born of her blood and he flew away on pegasus (yay!). Persues actually used a boat, not pegasus, to get to the island

When taking this into account,, we see the true meaning of minerva as it applies to us As you may recall, we are the "bastard persues" and the final chapter of metastasis is "Pegasus."

We also expect to find something horrible at the bottom of the pit......

I know you touched on thie briefly Terrapin but I think it's far more important, and you missed some of the eye-opening details...

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90. cryptonorolodoremefasola, um, icon

Posted by Ace at 2:56AM, Sunday August 12 2007

That was a very interesting find there Baffled. I can very much believe that was an influence on Minerva. In fact I'd say it should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand it. (unless, in fact, it was not an influence, then never mind.) I doubt we'll get much literal information out of it, but it's a nice, eh, spiritual guide. (we've already got plenty to debate and figure out.) It sounded very much like a Socratic dialogue. Though I always thought Socrates could've used some brighter cohorts to reign him in when he gets too far out there. Same for this guy. Maybe our Minerva is supposed to have the same "..internal-representation-dubbed-Athena-by-the-ancient-Greeks"?
Anyway, yes you're right I did neglect to mention the name Minerva itself.
And I've got nothing and no leads on that "political constructs" hint so I chose not to worry myself with it. (though there was that hint about there still being things on this website to be found, though I may have an idea there..)
As for a "friend of a friend"? Erg, far down the list of figuroutable things at the moment I'd say.
One question I have, trying to figure out the timeline, is whether the events of Half-life 1 happened before or after Someplace Else. Is it accepted canon within the Minerva world that it was before Someplace Else? Maybe only Adam can say which he meant?

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91. Ominous interlude

Posted by Terrapin at 3:23AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Oh dear.

From http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/archive_4.shtml :

"Sometimes it can be hard to realize the truth. When so much information has been hidden, destroyed, or otherwise made unavailable; when so much of what you see and hear is disinformation, distortions of the truth - it can be easy to get lost in the void."
(Note: Text has been edited for ease of reading.)

Being the words of Adam, presumably as Minerva, we can take these words to be true. And if they are true, then anything and everything must be subject to the closest of scrutiny. If some "of what [we] see and hear is disinformation, distortions of the truth", then everything, absolutely everything must be taken with a grain of salt. Is this a reasonable analysis, however grim, or am I being to exacting? Adam has signed some blog posts as "a friend of a friend", which is exactly how the "email" is signed, then perhaps this is Adam speaking not as Minerva, but as himself? This could present a real problem...

To fuel the fire, there seem to be many contradictions withing the Minerva storyline. Minerva is both alone, and with peers. We are both a "bastard warrior", and an "ill-begotten laboratory specimen". This is both an experiment, and yet not, both evidenced by separate views of the same data.

You have all made excellent observations, and supplied good evidence, but in light of this newfound unreliability, and the ever-present web of half-truths, propaganda, conditioning, and outright lies, not to mention all the new information that lies ahead, or right under our noses, can we even arrive at the correct answer through sheer rationale?

Paradoxes, oxymorons, superjacent data... how long before we drive ourselves insane?

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92. Adams Interests

Posted by FinalWarning at 3:32AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Just to throw a couple of things into the mix. Adam is a Sci-Fi movie fan.

Archive 5
I believe I've correctly interfaced myself with this god-forsaken network; it seems to have grown a little since I last saw it. Still nothing like what I've come to appreciate (now THAT would be telling!) but it should still be sufficient for at least basic communication.
The movies Lawnmower Man 1 and 2

There I was, a proper little Cassandra crying out for attention with simulations which PROVED the imminent downfall of all we held dear.
The movie War Games

Also, remember that Archive 5 is being addressed to the " bastard Perseus"- the phosphenes are probably a reference to " A pretty little box of lights, a window on to a whole separate world. I suppose that's one way of describing me - but I'd rather you didn't."

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93. Steam chat

Posted by cypher543 at 3:54AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Are you all aware that you can discuss these plot theories in real-time in the Acolytes of Minerva group chat?

I only mentioned that because at the time of writing this, there are 27 members online, but ZERO in the chatroom. I just figured that would be much more convenient.

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94. Re: Steam chat / Science Fiction

Posted by Terrapin at 4:10AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Well, my Steam user name is a bit literal. Having had no idea what Steam was when I was forced to install it, I just used my real name (since I couldn't forget or misspell it), much like one would do when installing windows. So unless there's a way to change my user name, I doubt I'll be on Steam chat. In any case, I prefer the deliberate order of a blog - it makes structured discussion easier.

As for movies, FinalWarning makes a very good point - those movies seem to fit very well with the text. However, they could also be attributed to many other science fiction works.

As an avid Sci-Fi reader, the works of William Gibson seem to fit for me (and Adam probably reads Sci-Fi if he indeed watches it). The first part could represent William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, where Minerva is the Wintermute/Neuromancer combination - a powerful entity interfacing seamlessly with the human network. As for the second part, I think Gibson's Bridge trilogy works the best, with Minerva Being Colin Laney; she knows something is going to happen, something that will change human nature as we know it, but only a precious few listen long enough to avoid writing her off as an insane rambler. If you haven't read both of William Gibson's trilogies, do so, or at least read a summary (try Wikipedia) until you can get to a book store - they're worth a read.

And as for War Games... if this is all a simulation and it ends with Minerva playing tic-tac-toe against herself until everything shuts down, I might hurt someone.

MrHappy's gravatar

95. Spook Country

Posted by MrHappy at 6:18AM, Sunday August 12 2007

As an aside but one I am compelled to write, tommorow I am pre-ordering spook country :)

Gibson is probably my favorite author of all time and I am glad to see another big fan here! Everyone love neuromancer, but I've met few people that have read his other works.

Still, shame on me for reading them all out of order. I finnally got my hands on a copy of mona lisa overdrive and am excitedly working my way though it now.

I think this is the most inishgtfull discussion I've ever seen on these boards, if only I had time to read and not just skim everything.

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96. Re: Spook Country

Posted by Terrapin at 7:25AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Spook Country is awesome. End of story. You'll love it; I'm about three-quarters through, and seriously, I haven't read anything this good since... well, since Pattern Recognition, Gibson's last book.

Anyway, speaking of sci-fi relations to Minerva, try reading these (just focus on the italicized parts): http://unscleric.com/Cortana.html . They're called the Cortana Letters, and they preceded the game Halo (which all of you should have heard of, if not played), as a sort of Viral Marketing scheme. Compare the writing style of the italicized parts to the writing style of Minerva, and I'm sure you'll see some similarities. If these inspired Adam in making up Minerva's character, things could get very interesting.

Of course, we could draw parallels to countless science fiction works, so this is kind of pointless. Until Adam gives us a few more hints as to what inspired him, we really don't have much to go on. The Cryptonomicon is one thing we know is concrete - making connections between the Athena/Minerva discussed there are probably our best bets, as any thing Minerva says in-game could be a lie, half-truth, or somehow misleading information. Or perhaps she's insane - I don't think we've ever covered that possibility - in which case we must disregard all her dialog.

In any case, connecting Minerva the god with Minerva of Metastasis has given us a few clues, which have all been stated in the above posts. I would make a list, but since we really haven't hammered out anything concrete (give it a few days to sit in our heads), it's likely to change anyway. Ah, speculation - the surogate ambrosia of acolytes.

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97. timeline thoughts

Posted by Ace at 9:44AM, Sunday August 12 2007

Gaa, can't get minerva off my mind. Just a couple of timeline comments: first off, it seems to me that the dates March 28, 2002 (archive 4) and April 1, 2002 (someplace else) must be intended to be before half-life 1. At the end of Opposing force, which was concurrent with the main game, Black Mesa goes kablooey, so anytime after half-life 1 Black Mesa wouldn't have been around to receive the message in archive 4. Sound reasonable? I think I'd seen people assume the opposite, and the wikipedia article has the events of half-life 1 written above, implying before to me.
Also, Minerva makes a comment in SE about it taking mankind 60 years from relativity to "this kind of physics", so 1915+60 is pretty close to our 1974 date.
Finally, it doesn't seem to me the 2 July 1974 dates can be too significant, they were just dates of letters. So all we're left with is June 13, 1974, and then 2 dates 3 days apart in 2002 (and from Adam's previous post we know the exact date didn't have much thought put into it), and then another 7 years later. The only thing I can imagine is that there is some relation between the archive 4 letter, and someplace else 3 days later. Not sure what else could be made of the timeline.

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98. rampancy

Posted by kast at 11:22AM, Sunday August 12 2007

we talked at length on the forums about rampancy. I would speculate that our own meta-consciousness has achieved that same distinction.

Not that I have any understanding of those concepts - the idea sprang to me fully formed and I cannot pick it apart with my meager faculties.

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99. AoM Chat

Posted by kast at 12:04PM, Sunday August 12 2007

As a second thought - I plan on sitting in AoM steam chat when I'm online from now on.

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100. Occam's Razor

Posted by Cargo Cult at 12:22PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Or something like that, anyway.

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101. translation

Posted by kast at 12:24PM, Sunday August 12 2007

"Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity."

Implication: The simplest answer is usually correct.

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102. Post-Singularity

Posted by fuzz at 2:23PM, Sunday August 12 2007

I've always felt that there's at least several interpretations of who/what Minerva is, but personally some form of AI is my favourite. And almost by definition AI is not fully understandable.

(Those who enjoy Gibson and Stephenson might enjoy checking out Charles Stross as well.)

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103. Translation 101

Posted by Baffled at 3:13PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Perhaps a more faithful translation of Adam's comment would be one of the following:

"Shut up fools!"
"What's wrong with you people anyways?"
"Oh dear God, what have I spawned here?"
"What in the heck is superjacent data?!"

...or something like that, anyway ;-).

As for William Gibson, I haven't read any of his works and I found both trilogies, that you mentioned, at the bottom of the page below, but must confess that I couldn't read it all off of a computer screen, or be bothered to print it, so I'm off to the bookshop/library like a good boy. I cannot see this e-book malarkey, legal or otherwise, taking off, I have to say:

Scroll down to the *bottom of the page* for the English editions of Gibson's work:


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104. pi

Posted by rb_lestr at 4:58PM, Sunday August 12 2007


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105. Pie?

Posted by Divals at 5:43PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Mmm, pie.

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106. Pie? Oh my!

Posted by Baffled at 6:17PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Well, Adam *did* suggest we get back to basics, and you can't get much more basic than pie ;-).

Some words of wisdom fromTerrapin's Cortana link:

"I would suggest not drawing conclusions too strongly. They could throw you way off the path of where the [Halo] story is going, and screw up the story for you if you're focusing strongly on stuff that has no meaning in the actual games."

Wisdom and pie, all in one post, now that's what I call value!

I noticed Adam's icon displaying "in game" without the accompanying "SDK Source", could this be some playtesting?

We are getting closer and closer, but, oh, what would we give for a "join" to click. Oh, just four little letters, and yet such ecstasy.

Mind you, I'm not sure how MINERVA co-op would play, but still...

Speaking of "join", I followed Kast, indirectly via The Acolytes group and Game-Monitor ( as I haven't joined this beta thingy yet), into a DOD game earlier, only to be unceremoniously tommied to death thrice in a row by the aforementioned, and leaving, dignity in tatters :-( .

The joys of community living ,eh?

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107. maybeh

Posted by rb_lestr at 6:30PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Is everyone sure that Minerva was actually intended to be a self aware AI and wasn't brought about by some programming done by the Combine using the Golden Spiral, causing Minerva (A perfectly normal combine computer) to become rampant and self aware?


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108. Marathon

Posted by Moholinth at 6:39PM, Sunday August 12 2007

The Marathon Story Archives could be worth a visit.

MrHappy's gravatar

109. Definitely not.

Posted by MrHappy at 6:48PM, Sunday August 12 2007

We know that Minerva is not an AI.

rb_lestr's gravatar

110. oh i know

Posted by rb_lestr at 6:50PM, Sunday August 12 2007

I know i'm wrong.

I was just watching Pi and wanted to go on a bit of a rant.

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111. Spira Mirabilis, Theoria Horribilis

Posted by Baffled at 7:05PM, Sunday August 12 2007

I'm not sure we *know* anything :-( .

From Moholinth's link:

"There are obviously many things which we do not understand, and may never be able to."

Da truth hurts, don't it?

PI? Fantasitc film, and we happen to have photographic evidence that Adam has the DVD.

Read into that what you dare.

rb_lestr's gravatar

112. well

Posted by rb_lestr at 7:07PM, Sunday August 12 2007

The only reason i got it is because i saw Adam had the DVD, and after months of not bothering to watch it i got around to it today.

Brilliant film.

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113. 100 Comments in 5 Days

Posted by Terrapin at 7:08PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Just a though: we've made 100 comments here in just five days - not even a week and we're halfway to a new record (for comments under one news post).

As for the eternal AI argument, who knows what Adam meant when he gave the infamous reply, "Who said anything about AI?". It could be just to throw us off. There was an argument brought up a while ago that Minerva was a Combine Advisor - not of natural origin, able to seamlessly interface with technology, yet not able to fight directly. A Combine civil war? Humanity has been torn by war countless times - political instability within the Combine is a very real possibility.

Now, let's go a little further. If Minerva was some kind of AI / technological being (e.g. a Combine Advisor), rampancy (a la Marathon / Halo) is a very real possibility. What form of technology, be it programing, physical augmentation, or something else entirely, brought Minerva to consciousness is irrelevant, as is whether her existence was intended. If she is as smart as she has lead us to believe, then she could have the capacity to become insane, or rampant.

But, take Adam / Cargo Cult's last message, entitled "Occam's Razor", and new possibilities are opened. It means, as was already stated, that the simplest solution is often the correct solution. Then, what is more simple than a machine, or some work of programing, gone insane, achieving both intelligence and contempt, perhaps for its creators. Certainly works better than cross referencing gods and AIs from other game franchises to try get some vague outline of who we're dealing with.

So, our ideas of Minerva so far are:
* Sentient, rampant AI of Combine design
* Sentient AI of human design
* A group of people working and acting as one - a group idea brought to life
* Some other non-physical entity
* Rogue Combine Advisor
* Human/Combine/Vortigaunt/other mind trapped in a machine

All of these are simple solutions (summed up in one line), and some have more evidence than others. Looks like another fun day in Minerva-Land.

Lewk's gravatar

114. I dunno about this Cargo Cult character

Posted by Lewk at 7:12PM, Sunday August 12 2007

So here I am in the new chatroom thingy, and hear pops in adam. I say g'day and he says "Begone, foul acolytes!" then he says "Or I shall taunt you by starting metastasis_4b without any of you being invited... ;-)"

How cruel! but i guess then, he made amends by saying it should be out this week!!

The conversations not all that bad i guess, he did say something about chronoclasm.... but i guess you had to be there.... he he he

rb_lestr's gravatar

115. whut?

Posted by rb_lestr at 7:14PM, Sunday August 12 2007

New chatroom thingy?

Have i missed something?

Lewk's gravatar

116. What is whut?

Posted by Lewk at 7:18PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Yeah, the new steam community. The groups you join have chatrooms.

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117. indeed!

Posted by kast at 7:18PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Steam Community (Beta) Group Chat.

Join the group here:


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118. Amends

Posted by Cargo Cult at 7:21PM, Sunday August 12 2007

The 'out this week' is the slightly-delayed release candidate, not the full thing. Sorry.

rb_lestr's gravatar

119. y

Posted by rb_lestr at 7:23PM, Sunday August 12 2007


I'm a member now, joined the community just for it.

Lewk's gravatar

120. Amends

Posted by Lewk at 7:34PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Disapointment all around.

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121. going ons

Posted by LNL(coldshock) at 7:38PM, Sunday August 12 2007

well lets see i havent checked up in like two weeks, so, anything new, wats been happening while i've been gone

Baffled's gravatar

122. You must be mad

Posted by Baffled at 8:56PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Why, Terrapin, are you so attracted to the idea that Minerva is insane? You've mentioned that twice now, but I don't detect any hint of madness, or instability, or inconsistency from Her so far, barring a touch of megalomania, that is ( and surely we can forgive Her that? ).

It seems perfectly sane to me, to want to oppose the Combine and express moral revulsion at their machinations. She seems to be in absolute control of Herself and Her faculties and to have a definite purpose.

And are we confident we can exclude the possibilty that Minerva may be a member of a race invented by Adam, and not part of HL canon? This ties into Ace's comment#20, something that I'd like to christen "The Guinan Theory" after the character in STNG. I always felt that there was something Borg-like about the Combine, afterall.

The Combine traitor theory has quite grabbed me, I must admit, but doesn't seem to fit with Archive 5 and its tale of Minerva vainly warning of the loss of everything that "we"( they?) hold dear. For Her to be an Advisor-like being, within the Combine, She would have to have been warning the Combine about their loss of everything, something that She seems intent upon realising Herself rather than something She would be trying to warn against.

I'm not sure about this new-fangled Acolyte's Chatroom thingymajig, especially as you have to display your hitherto furtive gaming habits to all and sundry, to gain access *shudder*.

I think I may stay an old-fashioned acolyte, until it all becomes compulsory anyway.

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123. Insanity Theory

Posted by Terrapin at 9:36PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Well, the insanity theory was something I'd been toying around with for the longest time. There was little hard evidence beyond a few hints (which are now up for debate themselves), but since Minerva has given us so little to go on, far-fetched theories might work just as well as what ever else we have. Besides, insanity is a relative definition anyway.

Let me reiterate that we have very little clear, solid evidence for any yet proposed theory. There are little bits and pieces here and there, but there is still so much we don't know that to make any conclusion about Minerva's identity or motives at this point is simple hubris.

Oh, and Adam... what are the chances of the release candidate you spoke of being a PUBLIC release candidate? A lot of developers release public betas - Dystopia had a public beta out for over a year, with intermittent updates, and Insurgency is in it's public beta phase right now. Both were great mods - Dystopia is arguably the best multiplayer, non-beta HL2 mod out there, and Insurgency is receiving tons of great suggestions. By going public - Metastasis 3 0.1 - you could get feed back from everyone, and make a final release of Metastasis in a month or two, with all our feedback factored in. Public betas are the "in" thing for mods these days - even if you just give us a taste, the first map or something, it could help make the remaining maps all the more awesome.

Just a suggestion, no pressure. :)

kast's gravatar

124. No public beta, please

Posted by kast at 9:53PM, Sunday August 12 2007

I know you're not going to listen to either request and just do it your way but please, Adam, no public beta.

MINERVA is a story, a finely crafted work of art in both style and gameplay. Would Valve release a public beta? They're for on-going works, specifically multiplayer games.

I wouldn't want to see the dailys from a movie shoot and consider them part of the finished project. I wouldn't even want to see the final cut without the colouring done. It would spoil seeing it premier night as all I'd be able to think about is how rough it used to be.

Art is not made by committee. Art is not shown in the Tate while the artist is still in his overalls, brush in hand. And art is not released as a public beta.

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125. Umm...

Posted by Lord_Terminus at 10:12PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Just wondering, but has anyone considered the idea that Minerva is a Black Mesa AI? Or at Least an AI? The reference to no hacking being required to access Combine systems, and "But what would I know, all alone in this forsaken machine?". It always seemed obvious to me that she must be an AI. She never speaks, because she has no voice.

And if She is a Black Mesa AI, it would be supported by: "I must forgive my colleagues; their actions have brought on more constructed suffering than your world has ever previously known."
An AI with a seemingly large Ego (referencing the Messiah complex bit in the Archive) would certainly view the Black Mesa scientists as her colleagues, rather than her creators. And it is rather their fault that the Combine is destroying Humanity.

And Dog is evidence that there is a basis for a functioning AI in the HL universe, and he comes from the work of a Black Mesa Scientist besides. >_>

Ace's gravatar

126. actress for Minerva?

Posted by Ace at 10:33PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Well, I'm still sticking the with Guinan theory. Interesting name, (in fact the theory is honored to have a name!), but Whoopi Goldberg as Minerva? Eck. I think I'd go for Julianne Moore, or maybe Lucy Liu. (anybody see Lucy Liu in Payback? goodness.)
And hate to contribute to another extreme bout of speculation, but I was never crazy about the AI theory. It doesn't seem to quite do justice to Minerva in my opinion, at least not man-made. And I know Adam was influenced by Halo, but I'd like to think he's got a little more imagination than that. (another female AI with a 'tude?) The only thing that seemed to fit to me is something Alien, tangible or not (perhaps even diety-like?), though I'll acknowledge that perhaps her past colleagues were Combine?
(she did say that she was involved somehow in mankind's discovery of "this kind of physics" in SE, which seems to be around 1975, I'd think long before at least human computer technology would have been advanced enough for AI.)

weirwood's gravatar

127. Occam's Razor

Posted by weirwood at 10:34PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Wild speculation can be fun, but isn't really necessary. The simplest interpretation is that the 'adopted forefathers' are the Greco-Roman gods. Why? Because, unless you believe someone else gave her her name, Minerva chose it for herself, and she very much follows the model of messing with mortals for her own amusement and their incidental edification.

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128. In the doghouse

Posted by Baffled at 10:47PM, Sunday August 12 2007

Oh, Lord_Terminus, are you really suggesting that Minerva is a relative of Dog?! I think that She might well have a bone or rather a whole skeleton (yours) to pick with you on that one!

She clearly has a very high opinion of Herself that would not sit at all well with this, rather unflattering, assertion!

I'd hide if I were you ;-).

Oh and Kast, your impassioned plea for the preservation of Adam's artistic integrity was both impressive and spot on.

@weirwood: I'm not so sure about that. That line about the "scattered, discarded playthings" of Her adopted forefathers tends to suggest technology rather than mythologies. Unless you're implying that The Gods are real...?

I think you can over-simplify as much as over-embellish. We seem drawn to either extreme as a moth to a flame ;-).

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129. RE:Occam's Razor

Posted by Nightshade at 12:16AM, Monday August 13 2007

In the scientific world of fact, Occam's Razor tends to fall short... for instance, it only works if a simpler but less correct theory is ignored over a more complex but correct theory. As in Wikipedia's example, "classical physics is simpler than our subsequent theories, yet it is demonstrably wrong in some respects." So, in effect, our wonderful postulating is just that, postulating. However, it makes for a good read, and Adam never said we were ALWAYS wrong... if we stick to the facts contained inside Metastatis, we'll get closer to the truth. Something on my mind: if the power-source inside the island is more than a citadel makes, why is it being pumped into the Geosynchronous satellite above? What purpose does it fufill?

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130. AI

Posted by Nightshade at 12:30AM, Monday August 13 2007

Hate to double post, but on the argument of whether or not Minerva is artificial intelligence, she states that "technology and violence are a GIRL'S best friends; power is eternal delight." How could AI have a gender?

Moholinth's gravatar

131. Re: AI

Posted by Moholinth at 1:25AM, Monday August 13 2007

If we assume Minerva didn't pick her own name; Minerva is a female god and thus a girl.

Anschluss's gravatar

132. Power flow and discussion re-purposing

Posted by Anschluss at 1:58AM, Monday August 13 2007

I thought that the satellite was pumping energy into the island from geosynchronous orbit. I'm also pretty sure it's futile to speculate on what/who Minerva is. This AI bit came out of nowhere and has as much supporting it. It may be more rewarding to discuss what the true purpose of the combine presence and machinery on the island is.

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133. The Island

Posted by Terrapin at 2:28AM, Monday August 13 2007

Well, so far we know that the headcrab facility is just a minor add-on, something placed out of convenience, not the ultimate objective. So what is the ultimate objective? We know it needs a crapload of power to start up - terrawats - and that its power needs are on the level of a Citadel. So what needs that much power?

I have a few ideas:
(1) Some kind of temporal interference device, designed to move someone or something foreword or backward through time, much like the G-Man does, or the slow teleport in HL2. The biggest evidence of this is that the second episode is "Chronoclasm", chrono meaning time. There are hundreds of ways that time travel/alteration/etc could benefit the Combine, so it works.

(2) A massive doomsday weapon which would wipe out humanity, Minerva, and anything else standing in the Combine's way. A rather boring climax, but it works, especially given the intellect vs. force argument above.

(3) A portal to some other location, perhaps a place beyond Xen.

(4) Something to do with Combine Advisors. More instinct than anything, but it's said that the Combine need their technology just to stay alive - this could be an Advisor birth chamber, or some experiment in further augmentation.

(5) Some kind of human experiment. We know they have rail lines in the island, and that their trains can transport people, so it works. Perhaps they want to take advantage of human intelligence through some horrible experiment.

Anyway, these are just ideas. We have almost nothing to go on here, so anything anyone except Adam says is a total shot in the dark. This should be fun.

Yar Kramer's gravatar

134. Occam's Razor

Posted by Yar Kramer at 5:23AM, Monday August 13 2007

The thing people delight in getting wrong about Occam's Razor is that it DOESN'T mean "the unequivocably simplest explanation is usually likeliest" -- it means that the simplest explanation *which fits the available evidence*. It's probably more popular than misinterpreting Nietzche's "God is dead" as a nihilistic statement.

Of course, us Acolytes love depating endlessly on what constitutes "available evidence" as well ...

pox's gravatar

135. Minerva's gender

Posted by pox at 6:03AM, Monday August 13 2007

"How could AI have a gender?"


the immediate thought of Cortanna's "physical" form from Halo comes to mind on this subject, but I guess that doesn't stand all too well with the fact that Minerva exists in an altoghether different story universe with an altogether different agenda and purpose.

*shrugs shoulders*

Ace's gravatar

136. anti-occam

Posted by Ace at 6:06AM, Monday August 13 2007

Just found this gem, at the bottom of the wikipedia article, called Crabtree's Bludgeon, or as I dub it, Terrapin's Terror: "No set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated."

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137. RE: Minerva's gender

Posted by Nightshade at 8:38AM, Monday August 13 2007

@pox: Good point about Cortanna, but seeing as Minerva Herself is supposedly talking, I found it irrational for a (supposed, trying to disprove) program to be this creative. Then again, there is the insane possibility, and with Ace's discovery, anythings possible... odds are against us it appears :P

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138. That time machine

Posted by Sortie at 8:51AM, Monday August 13 2007

That's a good idea; esspeically since Chronoclasm maybe will be called Out of time. ;)

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139. Just one less grain of sand on the beach...

Posted by Esvandiary at 12:35PM, Monday August 13 2007

... the "Hylobatidae" domain name is unrelated... From an (age-old) email from Adam back in the Metastasis 1 days...

"Oh, it's easy. 'hylobatidae'. It's got wired into my fingers - unfortunately, try reading it out so someone over the phone. (What does it mean? Genus comprising gibbons. An in-joke which outstayed its welcome years ago... ;-) )"

... unless it's actually still related and he was just trying to taunt me. This is the problem - you can never quite tell......

kast's gravatar

140. power requirements

Posted by kast at 12:55PM, Monday August 13 2007

Think about the apparent power running through this place. It's far beyond the needs for a simple portal (though maybe suits a time portal?). I think the razor tren we see in Chapter 2 is merely for transport zombies in and out and for troop transport, not raw materials for whatever's going on further underground. We've gone a long way down after seeing the train.

Combine seem to have deemed us worthy for nothing more than front-line regular troops. They're mainly here for our planet. I don't think they'd be experimenting on something so small as the intelligence or physical capabilities of humans.

I don't think they'd place something so important as a Combine Advisor birthing/implantation centre in such a lightly defended area, so far underground. In fact, I doubt they'd place it anything like that on Earth at all. It'd make sense to only station fully grown, fully capable Advisors on a front-line planet.

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141. Back to the beginnings

Posted by SkUrRiEr at 2:22PM, Monday August 13 2007

This is a post in two parts.

One: Minerva and her origins

Let's assume that:
1. Someplace Else is canon and we are communicating with Minerva, in some form.
2. There are no other major actors in the story apart from the humans, Xen and the Combine.

Every time I play / read through Something Else, and read the archives on the website, I get this feeling that Minerva is:
1. A "hitch-hiker" in whatever system she is a part of.
2. Very smart and cunning. =)

So, let's piece together a rough timeline from what we have:
1. 1974 sizemic event from Black Mesa
2. The Portal incident at Black Mesa (events of Half-Life 1)
3. The events of Someplace Else
4. Events of Half-Life 2
5. Events of the mod Metastasis

From the events in Someplace else, I get the constant feeling that our benefactor (Minerva) is:
1. Of human origin
2. A human intelligence

My theory, (which is only vaguely supported) is that Minerva is a Human consciousness which has (through a mechanism unknown) become an hitch-hiker in the computer systems of Black Mesa / human influences on Xen.

Ok, so fitting the previous parts of the story around this my theories are:
1. The 1974 incident was *caused* by the entity now known as Minerva, as part of a research experiment whilst (s)he was performing research at Black Mesa.
2. (S)he was transformed into her current form as part of this incident.
3. At the time of the Half-Life 1 Black Mesa incident she was transported to Xen, and at least one other person went along with her. I'm guessing a scientist who was quickly destroyed by the Xen creatures before being able to completely repair / understand the alien (yes alien) technology which is part of the structure there.
4. An (unknown) soldier was also transported there at some point, but was able to get most of it working before being destroyed.
5. Our character in Someplace Else was *another* soldier transported there through some random portal.
6. She travelled back through the portal we opened and was able to find a safe haven back on Earth.

Ok, so further analysis:
Evidence from Someplace Else:
- Mostly alien technology - I assume that this is either old combine or *other* technology which was broken and inactive when Minerva and her first companion came to inhabit it.
- Earth style technology in the vent / control room - This is what the scientist did in an attempt to get back. However he was most likely ambushed before he could activate it all, and without military training died.
- "Product of the third" - Ok, so we have Minerva: the first. The scientist: the second. The soldier who followed him - the third. Us, being what I assume to be a lowly grunt - the product of the third. - I'm guessing that the first soldier fought valiantly to get everything online, hence needing to be remembered. The scientist, whilst being intelligent was probably a coward.
- Closing titles - Implying that the "aliens" are simply in another "dimension", not another world. - fits in with the entire Half-Life canon.

I'm guessing that Minerva was transferred to Xen in a computer going through a portal, and Minerva quickly determined that the structure we arrive near to be suitable to get her back to Earth, then found a scientist inside it, and was able to direct him towards other useful supplies. (the equipment in the vent / control room)

After transporting back to Earth, Minerva took up residence in the computer systems of what remained of Black Mesa and did what she likes best: toyed with people. (see the 2002 and last archived message)

Ok, so at point #4, the events of the half life 2 story.

I'm going to go out on a limb at this point and assume that Black Mesa was mostly destroyed at this point, and Minerva had spread / migrated herself to other (scattered) systems, ensuring multiple redundancy, (oh, and this is the forsaken machine) and once the Combine had started their march onto Earth, she had hacked into their systems, and gleaned what she could before her connection was shut off.

1. The location of our island
2. A fair amount of information about it.

So just before the events of Metastasis she:
1. Has gleaned this information
2. Is unable to hack further into high level Combine systems without considerable effort.
3. Has hijacked someone destined to be a stalker and enabled them to steal / obtain a hazard suit.
4. Taken over a hunter chopper and directed it appropriately.

All of this implies to me that she is still a part of the remaining Black Mesa / Earth computer systems, as she clearly cannot (easily) get into the combine systems of the island, because if she could, our entire existence would be futile.

I'm guessing that the stolen hazard suit was dragged out of the remains of black mesa by persons unknown after she'd located it's radio signals. This person was then unable to complete her tasks, so we were "recruited".

1. Her knowledge of the island implies that she has seen combine records.
2. Her unhelpfulness and curiosity implies that she is no longer connected to them
3. Her troubles talking to you as you get deeper imply that she is well distant from the island.

Further analysis will be carried out later. =)

Ok, now for part two: the purpose of our little island.

What we know:
1. World war 2 bunker
2. Superficial headcrab experimentation lab / production equipment.
3. Huge power requirements
4. Not a citadel.
5. Secrecy

I'm guessing that this is simply and purely a skunk works. Overseen by an advisor, and operated at the pinnacle of secrecy. I'm guessing that simply going near the records of this place is what got Minerva kicked out of the combine systems. Hell, pulling up the satellite view of the place probably triggered enough alarms to get her sufficiently noticed.

1. Razor trains: transport of materials into and head crabs out of this place.
2. Power requirements: For the feckloads of stuff going on down below.
3. What we've currently seen: not even the beginnings of the tip of the iceberg.

Oh, and I'm guessing the headcrab factory is simply to keep idle transgressors (us) occupied until they can be eliminated.

However: the architecture does not entirely imply this: Why have a huge steel door to your decoy? and practically no guards at all towards the lift to the continuation of the plant? I guess that the combine wish to direct attention to the headcrab factory, and away from the rest of the plant. But that doesn't make sense, they seem to always have huge defences around anything important. I'm guessing that they're further down.

Ok, so what's further down? A doomsday device, an instrument of suppression, of power, more military might than we can possibly imagine, the factory for the mini-striders in ep2, a buried citadel, a huge combine portal, the centre of the earth? We can only imagine.

Ok, so I'm currently clocking into the high digits of post lengths, so I'm going to leave it at that.

Feel free to pick over it at will.

(and Adam, I hope I'm wrong =) )

Nesretep's gravatar

142. A small nit to pick...

Posted by Nesretep at 4:43PM, Monday August 13 2007

The time line you give has one small error. Metastasis takes place between the events of HL1 and HL2. You can confirm this by checking the date stamp of the transmissions that Minerva makes in-game.

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143. Not AI

Posted by Anschluss at 6:46PM, Monday August 13 2007

In SE, Minerva chides your character for being too combat-oriented (much like in MM2). She says something on the lines of "how the hell do you think I get around here?". If she were an AI, she wouldn't say this as she wouldn't need or use physical stealth.

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144. Re: Not AI

Posted by Nesretep at 7:25PM, Monday August 13 2007

Although she may not use physical stealth, stealth in general could be being referred to there. Without the actual line spoken by Minerva, it is hard to say. But going by your paraphrase, it does not make an exclusive reference to physical stealth. Stealth when moving through a computer network or system could just as easily fit.

Ace's gravatar

145. Re:Back to the beginnings

Posted by Ace at 7:31PM, Monday August 13 2007

Your Minerva-o-genesis theory seems like a new one to me. Very super-hero like. May I be so bold as to name it the Spiderman Theory? (ordinary human transformed into Minerva in 1974 event.)
But as I tried to point out before, didn't Someplace Else have to happen before half-life 1? Black Mesa was destroyed by a nuclear warhead (opposing force) just after half-life 1, so how could a computer have been there to receive the message in archive 4, which we know was just 3 days before Someplace Else? My understanding is that half-life canon only states that half-life 1 took place sometime between 2000 and 2009. (and yes metastasis must take place between half-life 1 and 2.)

As to the island; my only thought was terraforming equipment, Total Recall style.

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146. More Theories

Posted by Terrapin at 7:55PM, Monday August 13 2007

Well, given this information, I have to agree with SkUrRiEr's post. Despite a minor error in the timeline, his analysis correctly states everything we do know without falling victim to apophenia. His theory of Minerva's origins (the Superhero Theory) works; Minerva has hinted that she is no longer restrained, and that she sees herself as a messiah figure. Perhaps she, in her mind, represents the ideal form of humanity, some new form of artificial evolution. Maybe her "previous, abortive attempts at reconciliation" refer to all she tried to do as a mere human - knowing, somehow (stolen data, perhaps) the ruin the Black Mesa experiments would bring.

As a human, she could have helped humanity discover teleportation, as a scientist, but realized that Breen would use it to sell out the entire species. Minerva was then, through her own actions, or the actions of others, transformed, re-made as what we know her as today. This fits with all the evidence, and while it is a bit extreme (and perhaps unlikely), it does make a lot of sense. She refers to humanity as "hairless apes", perhaps deriding our less evolved states, limited by our corporeal existence. Therefore, until further data is made available which fits with all evidence and statements (e.g. "Who said anything about AI"), I'm going to declare myself a proponent of the Superhero Theory - that Minerva was once like us, but only now is she able to finish what she started.

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147. The Story of Black Mesa and the Hydrogen Bomb

Posted by Nesretep at 8:08PM, Monday August 13 2007

What effect would a hydrogen bomb have on a largely underground structure? Would a standard hydrogen bomb have enough "bunker busting" capability to completely wipe out the facility? Could there still be systems on the lower levels that could function (theoretically) even after such a blast?

Making the assumption that systems residing on a lower level of the complex could withstand such an explosion, there could easily be quite complex computer systems and programs (like AIs) still functioning at Black Mesa around the time that Metastasis occurs.

Wow, for me, that was a long post. I usually post in short bursts of thought rather than the epic posts like we've seen lately.

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148. Re: More Theories

Posted by Nesretep at 8:50PM, Monday August 13 2007

Looks like Terrapin beat me to the punch with his post, so forgive the double post while a make a brief reply.

Being as that we're dealing with the realms of the imagined, the possibilities for explaining who or what Minerva is, or was, are nearly limitless. Very few possibilties can be completely discarded. I don't know that I buy into the Superhero Theory as of yet. Maybe I just like the idea of Minerva being an AI better in my own mind regardless of whether she turns out to be or not. Just to play devil's advocate, nothing the even Adam has said gives us a definitive Yes or No or Minerva being an AI. Not even the quote: "Who said anything about AI?" could play both ways especially where all we have is text to interpret meaning from. We each read it and apply a different tone of voice, emphasis in different places, etc. So that comment of Adam's is inconclusive at best. even the Superhero theory ends up with its protagonist human inside a computer. Would it make more sense for a human to end up inside a computer, or for the intelligence to have been in a computer all along? Occam's Razor remember? Especially when the creator of the story has said that the Marathon series of games was a huge influence ( a game with an AI as a main character).

Ace's gravatar

149. Re:Re: More Theories

Posted by Ace at 9:48PM, Monday August 13 2007

Yes, certainly the AI theory is still in play, perhaps you'd like to give it a name? (unless AI theory is sufficient?) (and whatever happened to spiderman theory? oh alright, I guess super hero theory it is.) And it's an excellent point about just preferring one idea over another. I still just like the Guinan theory best, and in fact I'm going to go ahead and continue believing that our character from Someplace Else was sent there as an April Fool's Day gag, even though Adam said that wasn't the case. Unless, of course it comes into conflict with some other facts. I just find it amusing. (I can just imagine his reaction: "what the..., oh son of a ..., those bastards!")

Anyway, that being said, I don't think we have too many ideas out there, and some are even acquiring names..

And could computers in black mesa have survived the blast? Well, maybe it's possible (trying, trying to avoid the phrase "electromagnetic pulse") but at least for ordering Someplace Else and Half-life 1, I'd prefer not to rely on it.

Nesretep's gravatar

150. EMP

Posted by Nesretep at 10:29PM, Monday August 13 2007

Can someone with either some better knowledge of Hydrogen bombs and their EMP generating capability speak up on that topic? I would be interested to know a little more. I'd do some research from here, but the internet is extremely restriced from my location (work) and I'm surprised I can even get on this blog!

Terrapin's gravatar

151. Enumeration of Theories

Posted by Terrapin at 10:38PM, Monday August 13 2007

So, it seems we have three theories regarding Minerva's origins:

The Superhero Theory: Minerva was human, but "evolved" into a technologically assisted form, something like an AI, via the Black Mesa Incident. This lead to her present, non-corporeal form.
Evidence: Minerva makes several references to being unable to accomplish her goals in the past, but that now she can. She sees herself as a messiah for the human species, and believes she is now unrestrained, and unrestrainable.

The AI Theory: Minerva was a human-designed AI, created to aid the development of technology at Black Mesa. She warned them of the ramifications of their work (the Combine), but they didn't listen.
Evidence: She makes references to being inside a machine, to potentially being described as "a pretty little box of lights" (a computer), and is limited to using certain technology, such as satellites and terrestrial radio.

The Extraterrestrial Theory: Minerva is an intelligence of non-human origin. She is here for her own purposes, which are at this point unknown. Why she values humanity and fights the Combine are not known either.
Evidence: First contact with her was on Xen, she speaks of "adopted forefathers", which may be humanity, her original race having abandoned her. She also seems contemptuous of humanity, calling us "hairless apes" (although this could work with any theory), and has impressive knowledge of Xen, far beyond most humans.

I hope I didn't miss any.

The only real common ground here is that Minerva is not human. She may well have been human at one point, or of human origin, but is not human in her present state.

Oh, and Nesretep, regarding the Superhero theory and Occam's razor, what is simpler: humanity, having just barely discovered computer processing (remember the days when 200 MHz was awesome?) somehow creating an extremely intelligent, sentient AI, or an experiment with unstable technology having bizarre, but not impossible, effects on the state of a human being? The creation of Minerva as an AI was impossible back then.

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152. H-bomb thought

Posted by kast at 11:34PM, Monday August 13 2007

So a H-bomb takes out roughly one large open city. Black Mesa is HUGE, easily the size of a large city. It extends far and wide and deep within the earth. Many areas are heavily shielded against all sorts of interference. Black Mesa has outposts on Xen and likely to have network connections to other distant research centres.

Given all the possibilities, I think it's practically certain that a significant computer system could survive a H-bomb striking the surface of the centre of Black Mesa.

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153. Far-flung theories

Posted by Nightshade at 11:52PM, Monday August 13 2007

As much as I hate to defend the AI theory, the Aperture Science timestamp (www.aperturescience.com) is stated at 1982. If the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device was created at this point, it is a possibility that Minerva could have been created, or possibly helped, by the G-man? He's had his hand in Black Mesa before, including the bombing of it... so he was protecting Minerva and making sure no one would enter the site, or was he trying to end Her?

Baffled's gravatar

154. Between a rock and a hard place

Posted by Baffled at 11:57PM, Monday August 13 2007

Check out this partially relevant, and really rather alarming, primer on destroying buried installations:


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155. Black Mesa

Posted by Terrapin at 12:20AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

So the question we are left to answer is: was Black Mesa destroyed to the extent required to render all networked electronics, e.g. computers, useless to Minerva and others?

We know the bomb was detonated from within the facility, as we see it first hand in Opposing Force. However, this bomb alone could not likely destroy the entire facility, unless it started a chain-reaction of sorts, causing several key structures to collapse. However, just because we only saw one bomb does not mean this is all there was. Remember that the black-ops units were all over the facility. Also note that the G-Man seemed satisfied with the destruction of Black Mesa. This hints that either the circumstances, be it multiple bombs, or subsequent damage, "took care of" the facility - nothing that could harm the G-Man was left in any usable state. Therefore, I conclude that Black Mesa was in fact destroyed, or at least rendered useless to Minerva. Furthermore, the EMP of a nuclear weapon would have devastating effects on whatever machine Minerva was in at that particular time.

Errant's gravatar

156. Of cargino-ness-ness

Posted by Errant at 1:47AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

A little but possibly important thought occurred to me. Adam did say go back to the names - maybe he meant it literally..

The names of the mod / sections talk or suggest a cancer. Carcinogenesis is literally the start of a cancerous growth. In this context I hardly think the title is referring to the combine. Rather perhaps it is a reference to the player - the start of a cancer in THEIR machine..

Something to think on.

Metastasis is an interesting word. Also could be related to the cancerous idea - but literally (in a medical context) is the transference of disease carrying bodies from one area to another via the immune system [sic]. Similar to how we are progressing down this shaft....

Another literal meaning is: "a change in position or orbit of an elementary particle". In the case of this mod adding us (the player) into the mix - shifting us... (I think of the g-man's words here: "the right person in the wrong place makes all the difference in the world")

Finally lets talk about chronoclasm. A couple of things here. This article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrono_(series) has some interesting parallels to the HL universe and MINERVA.

But the most interesting thing I have dug up is this: http://www.ciao.co.uk/The_Seeds_of_Time_John_Wyndham__Review_5588181 a short story actually entitled chronoclasm (it is in the test there - just one line. Ok it is a romance story apparently but I did some digging and many sc-fi books reference or talk about chronoclasm. In the story (and the run of stories) it seems to deal with a time slip: "an alleged paranormal phenomenon in which a person, or group of people, travel through time through supernatural (rather than technological) means." Wyndehams story deals with the people being VISITED not the visitors per se.

This throws up a few theories. Is MINERVA a visitor from the past making use of her prior knowledge (those simulations). It is a cool idea, explains some of the odd timelines etc. I personally like this idea!

It even leads to the possibility of her doing it to save someone she loves... (although unlikely)

As to MINERVA herself - I think reading too much into her exact words is a bit dangerous. She uses a lot of irony (her whole thing of peer review is- I am sure - ironic and doesn't mean she isnt alone, other evidence suggests strongly she is)

As fun as all this is I dont think any of this stuff is 100% accurate and I expect most of it is tosh - but it always to throw even the silliest theories out there. As Adam said: Occam's Razor, but what do we know for 100% certainty - actually very little.......

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157. Occam's Razor again

Posted by Errant at 1:53AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Going back to this again.

"All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one."

The simplest explanation (IMO) is that MINERVA is a bitter and ostracised black mesa employee with a god complex and a desire to save herself from something she has for knowledge (or what she believes is for knowledge) of.

After all everything in the mods and website seem to contradict and misdirect. Maybe the 'story' is just the clever makings of a deranged mind set to bend ALL of us to her will - and to survive.

But where's the fun and mysticism in that!!!!!

kast's gravatar

158. thinking = overthinking

Posted by kast at 1:58AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

I don't think that even Adam's thought about this in anything like the detail everyone here's all thinking and talking about the plot and Minerva.

Errant's gravatar

159. From Occam to Holmes

Posted by Errant at 1:58AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Somethign else occured to me on the same vein as Occam's Razor...

Sherlock Holmes infamous statement:

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

We have a few theories and ideas now - many may be wrong. We must amass the evidence, work up a list of full theories and dismiss the impossible.

It SHOULD work...


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160. Deus ex machina

Posted by Baffled at 2:24AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

There is one small, but damning, piece of evidence to throw in the path of the Superhero(ine) theory, I'm afraid.

Adam once said the following, in an earlier post entitled Occam's Razor ( he just won't let up with that thing ;-) ):

"In my avoiding of a deus ex machina, you *might* have heard of some vital political constructs already..."

I think that what we are describing in the Superhero Theory is exactly that, a godlike sentience formed by an accident with a Portal Transportation machine - A goddess out of a machine:

"The phrase deus ex machina ['de.ʊs eks 'maːkʰi.naː] (literally "god out of a machine") describes an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot (e.g. the rope that binds the hero's hands is luckily chewed off by a rat, or an angel suddenly appearing to solve problems)"

As compelling as the theory is, in its resolving of the many seemingly incompatible claims that Minerva makes ( by allowing Her to be two incompatible things at different points in the narrative) it fails the plausibility test. It doesn't seem like Adam's style to have a character magically transformed in this way.

Sentient A.I.'s can be believable in Science Fiction, but not if they are miraculously created out of an accident in a completely unrelated experiment.

Any thoughts on how we might get around this problem and salvage what is otherwise a powerful explanatory device?

Nice work, in any case SkUrRiEr, very thorough. You are clearly one of the Acolytes' foremost Minervarologists ;-) .

Oh and Nesretep, I would have thought that this blog was most definitely NSFW ;-).

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161. Re: Deus ex machina

Posted by Terrapin at 4:25AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

There is one way to salvage the Superhero theory; deus ex machina would refer to some random, abruptly introduced element of a plot line. If Minerva's transformation was part of the story the entire time, then it is not deus ex machina, but instead, simply a revelation which ties all preceding events together, and makes sense of the inconsistencies.

Or, one could look at it this way: everything within the Minerva universe was written by Adam. So even if, against any common definition, you determine the Superhero Theory to be deus ex machina, you disregard several plot holes - Minerva apparently being in two very different states, albeit at different times. So you either disregard Adam's singular statement regarding deus ex machina, or disregard several glaring plot holes. However, seeing as I proved above that the Superhero theory is not dues ex machina, but is, in fact, a yet-unrevealed part of the plot, none of this is necessary.

In response to Errant, see my post entitled "Enumeration of Theories" (#151), which lists the tree major ones. Here they are again, in brief:

Superhero Theory
AI Theory
Extraterrestrial Theory

Every theory regarding Minerva's origins and state of being can be, so far as I can tell, divided into one of those three categories.

I am currently compiling a huge list of all theories on all aspects of Minerva - Minerva herself, the bastard Perseus, the island - and evidence for and against each. Should be done later tonight or tomorrow, I have a few other things to do.

Happy theorizing!

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162. lull?

Posted by Ace at 5:58AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

What's this, nearly two hours and no theorizing? I could point to a previous blog post
especially the line
"Who am I?
Perhaps the real question you should be asking is *where* am I. And perhaps even *when* am I. No, forget that last one, it would only confuse you."
Goodness, there's no limit...

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163. New Theory

Posted by Terrapin at 6:50AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

So Minerva could very well be anything, physical or not, in a separate time, past or future, and communicating with us via technology? Wow.

Wait a minute... a new theory just unraveled itself in my mind. Here we go...

We know that in HL2, Gordon and Alyx effectively "time traveled" one week foreword. The events of this week passed in seconds, having absolutely no impact on them. But that was a very small teleport, relatively speaking. Consider Breen's portal - exponentially more powerful, but several stories tall.

Now, let's go with the theory of Minerva at one point being human. On 13th June 1974, she is set to go on a teleport experiment. But something goes wrong. The teleport explodes (a la Nova Prospect). If a NP sized teleport could level a prison complex, a Black Mesa sized one could indeed create the "seismic event" Wikipedia's timeline shows.

Minerva, still human, winds up decades, even centuries, in the future, and takes advantage of local technology to upload herself into a computer system (read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_transfer for details). However, since there is such technology, we, humanity, obviously beat the Combine somehow. A quick check of an online history book (Minerva is an AI now) reveals what happened. She goes back in time (again, futuristic technology) and tries to warn the Black Mesa staff of the horrors their experiments will unleash upon humanity, but they write it off as a crazed employee, or some other hollow words.

Fast foreword a few decades, and the Combine arrive, Minerva’s repeated attempts to prevent the Incident having failed. However, she has an advantage now: the portal opened in SE allowed her to transmit herself, via WiFi (or some such technology) to our network, present day Earth. Determined to write the wrongs she helped bring about, she hacks into the Combine database and finds records of a wayward Combine soldier: our bastard Perseus. She also knows, from her time in the future, that The Island is instrumental to the fall of the Combine.

Now, let’s examine the evidence for what I call The Time Travel Theory (T4 for short).
One, this explains the “two faces of Minerva” argument, in the same way the Superhero Theory does.
Two, the explosion of the BM teleport in 1974 explains the seismic event Harvey and Dan investigated (and indeed pinpointed to have come from BM).
It also explains why an immediate halt was called – the explosion, in addition to blasting Minerva into the future, easily could have killed hundreds, even thousands, and could cost billions to repair.
It explains how she got to Xen, how she became an AI, and how she traveled back in time; I assume many, many years would have passed since the fall of the Combine, and we would have reverse-engineered much of their technology, so inter-dimensional travel, uploading human consciousness to a computer system (read William Gibson’s short story, “The Winter Market” for an example), and even time travel could be possible.
Lastly, it explains Minerva’s attitude. Having long ago abandoned her physical shell of flash and bone for a purely digital existence, she could quickly become quite cynical and jaded, indeed viewing humans as mere apes compared to what she has become. It also explains her god complex: she, armed with knowledge – and thus earning her name, Minerva – knows that she alone can save humanity (think about it).

This is not dues ex machine, she IS, literally, a god, made from machines. Her “restraint” however, is her location in the future. So she backtracks to Xen, uses the portal from SE, and, armed with programs decades more advanced than 20th century computers, she easily takes over our entire primitive version of cyberspace (Gibson fans, think Wintermute). Now, armed with both knowledge, power, and a physical avatar (Perseus), she is more than a messiah. And she’s got a bone to pick with the Combine.

Therefore, unless any gaping holes can be found that I or my fellow acolytes cannot reasonably explain, I hereby propose T4: The Time Travel Theory.

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164. Really?

Posted by Nesretep at 7:00AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

To quote Terrapin:
"Oh, and Nesretep, regarding the Superhero theory and Occam's razor, what is simpler: humanity, having just barely discovered computer processing (remember the days when 200 MHz was awesome?) somehow creating an extremely intelligent, sentient AI, or an experiment with unstable technology having bizarre, but not impossible, effects on the state of a human being? The creation of Minerva as an AI was impossible back then."

Which is more likely humans figuring out how to cross dimensions and teleport or a once average artificial intelligence going rampant due to the unexplainable effects of an experiment gone wrong? See, it goes both ways.

PS: Even HL1 still theorically could take place in the near future in real time. So 200mhz would NOT be awesome even during that timeframe. Just like it isn't now. :)

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165. Re: Really?

Posted by Terrapin at 7:35AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Who said this was cross-dimensional teleporting? The Superhero Theory doesn't state what turned Minerva into her present, post-human state. It may not even have been the doing of Black Mesa, or even humanity. G-Man, or some other force, may have implanted Minerva into a machine before the teleportation experiments began.

Your theory has merit, I don't question that. I was simply putting it out there that Occam's Razor doesn't really work for either of our theories, or perhaps any theory yet propose. All current theories draw evidence from multiple sources, draw shaky connections, and potentially take certain data out of context. In the world of Minerva, simplicity is not an option. :)

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166. Occam's Razor

Posted by greven at 10:48AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Just thought it should be said that Occam's Razor is less saying the most simple theory is the often correct but rather that the theory that makes the least assumptions is the "better" theory.


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167. Occam's Razor

Posted by SkUrRiEr at 11:16AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

I have this awful feeling that we're all missing the point here, overlooking the blazingly obvious. (not that I claim to see it either =) )

So I'm going to continue to blindly flail around in the darkness and hope that at least one of us finds some light.

Ok, Superhero theory: (Thanks for coining that)

Timeline irregularities which were commented on:
1. Adam's statement that the times in Someplace Else are false.
2. Inaccuracies in using a list based method to display various concurrent events.

My method in coming up with that theory, was to throw away 90% of the words of what Minerva said, the dates of Someplace Else as they may not be canon and look at everything else.

I believe that the events of Someplace Else occurred at the same time as the events of HL1: Roughly:
1. Gordon causes the original portal incident in the test chamber.
2. Minerva, her scientist and possibly the first soldier are teleported to Xen.
3. Minerva scouts around for co-operative systems, discovers the scientist and attempts to get him working on the teleportation facility she had taken up residence in.
4. Scientist is killed by aliens, Minerva continues scouting for useful materiel / personnel.
5. Minerva recruits the first soldier transported there, uses him until he dies / runs out of skill.
6. We are recruited, we assist her in getting back to Earth.
7. Minerva arrives at Earth, assesses the current situation, "backs herself up" onto the internet or another facility.
8. The G-Man destroys part of the facility to his satisfaction, after evacuating all his assets. Most likely, the most "secure" / "secret" parts of it are destroyed. (remember all the industrial parts? - they probably survived in some form.)

and yes, I *know* this doesn't match up to official timelines, it just makes more sense to me if it fits in like this. (And yeah, this is all very convenient, I didn't say it was perfect.)

As for her transformation. My romantic notion is that (s)he was the first human test subject, probably after an exchange somewhat along the lines of "You say it doesn't work? Look, I'll show you: it does." Got trapped in the "buffer" between portals when the lights went out due to the power surge from teleportation taking out one of the generators, (the 1974 seismic event) and somehow realised that she was still around, in a digital form in the computer system containing the buffer. A dead body falls out of the teleport after they get the system back up. I'm guessing that smaller mammals passed through without incident.

Her knowledge of Xen: she most likely has scouted around for many days, and given her digital form, probably has been in every computer system she could reach, hoarding knowledge. As for more practical data, she probably pulled what she could out of Black Mesa before the balloon went up.

Ok, so back to the timeline: Half-Life 2 and Metastasis
I'm again guessing that the events of Metastasis occurred around / near the Gordon story, however we're sufficiently distant to not be caught up in whatever's going on out there. (hence no real reference points) but as we're not facing a swarm of elites, I'm guessing that the resistance is hurting the combine's troop supply.

I apologise for my inaccuracies with that part. I didn't actually look any of it up. =)

Oh, and a huge pat on the back to Errant on the names analysis. Good work there.

I, regretfully, have not read any of the stories or played any of the games that everyone is mentioning as plot references, so I cannot comment on similarities or other such stuff.

SkUrRiEr's gravatar

168. Re: Occam's Razor

Posted by SkUrRiEr at 11:17AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

(sorry for the double post)

Good point greven!

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169. T4

Posted by Nightshade at 11:32AM, Tuesday August 14 2007

As far flung as Terrapin's "T4" theory sounds, I find myself quite liking it. Time travel is possible, G-man has stopped time (so it can be meddled with) and the title "chronoclasm" is suggestive of a time theme. While we assume many things with the T4 theory, I've always felt that Occam's Razor isn't that accurate. Once again, who'd believe Quantum Physics or the unseen gravitons of our world if there wasn't logical, scientific assumptions that led to their discoveries? To make my point clearer, we assume LOTS daily, and half the time our assumptions are simpler than the actual scenario!

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170. For occam's sake ;) :P

Posted by Errant at 12:38PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

"Just thought it should be said that Occam's Razor is less saying the most simple theory is the often correct but rather that the theory that makes the least assumptions is the "better" theory."

My point earlier on was that there is no theory so far that does not make millions of assumptions. Cold hard facts anyone?

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171. Minerva

Posted by Moholinth at 12:59PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

I quite like the theory of timetravelling, and if a scientist did indeed become this digital god (s)he would most certainly use the name Minerva, because she is the god of wisdom.

However if we would like to uncover Adams vision, and spoil our game experience, try to think of what possible background stories he could come up with.

Honestly I don't believe that Adam would come up with the "Superhero theory". The most likely theory is the AI one in some kind of form, considering one of the main inspirations are the Marathon games.

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172. Is it just me or...

Posted by MrHappy at 3:30PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Was not the button-avatar on the steam community group in the green position before?

Nesretep's gravatar

173. Re: Is it just me or...

Posted by Nesretep at 4:08PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Yes, it was. I had made a comment about it in post number 79, but I was pretty much ignored. I wonder if Adam just wanted a different avatar for the group than his own or if there was some other reason for the change?

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174. woah

Posted by rb_lestr at 5:23PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Is Metastasis 3 & 4 really, really long or something?

I expected a release at the start of summer.

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175. AI Theory

Posted by Terrapin at 6:12PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

The only problems with the AI theory are the now infamous "Who said anything about AI?" quote, and the method by which she interfaced with a system in Xen.

Remember that an AI that powerful would need a very powerful, very advanced, and likely very large network to exist within - a supercomputer, for example. While it is plausible that such a network could exist in Black Mesa, the odds of Minerva finding a large enough system, compatible with her (human) programing are slim to none. Unless Minerva packed up her supercomputer and took it to Xen with her, or the Xen aliens, despite having to fight to survive, decided to bring such a computer system with them just in case a human AI decided to stop in, I can't see it working.

As for the other three theories; the Superhero Theory works on the basis that we aren't sure what kind of entity Minerva actually became - perhaps just a bodiless human mind, who can interface with some computer systems when needed. The Extraterrestrial Theory still works because an alien AI could indeed run on whatever alien technology was in Xen. And T4 still works because Minerva could have brought suitable equipment with her from future Earth to Xen, and then survived using distributed computing on HL2-era Earth.

But a human AI being able to work at full capacity requires far, far to many assumptions. Take that, Occam's Razor supporters! :)

Oh, and rb_lestr... good things come to those who wait. In the meantime, why not join our discussion?

Baffled's gravatar

176. Time for some misgivings

Posted by Baffled at 6:26PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

First off, I take the point concerning the deus ex machina concept being, necessarily, a last-minute fix, rather than a central feature of the plot.

The new Time-travel theory does have the power to account for a lot of the awkward detail, but then again, there isn't much this approach could fail to account for, with "The Future" being an unlimited store of gadgets and knowledge with which to resolve any difficulty.

I find myself a little uncomfortable with the glibness of it all, having Minerva pinballing around the space-time continuum on an a all-inclusive sight-seeing package to Xen, the future, perhaps with a weekend in Ancient Greece to mug up on mythology and then transforming into an AI to dish out some just desserts to the Combine.

But having said all that, I find myself, temporarily, at least, unable to shoot down this brash new-theory-on-the-blog. Afterall, Minerva does make a number of comments that point to Her having a future perspective on events:

"...covertly guiding long-dead warriors for my quiet purposes."

"...Times have changed, moved on..."

"...ignored by long-absent angels, I studied their downfall."

"...released from an uncertain, unwelcome future where my previous, abortive attempts at reconciliation may go forgotten."

There is on glimer of hope for me in comment#10 on the page linked to by Ace:


Locworks is this mod's official translator and has inside knowledge with regards to the plot. I'm not, however, able to see what he meant, nor am I sure that the absence of time paradoxes rules out time-travel itself.

I haven't time right now ( a most welcome excuse to hide behind ;-) ) to tackle this, or SkUrRiEr's taking liberties with time-line consistency ( bad Acolyte! ), and so must put up with my discomfort.

One final thought, brought to mind whilst imagining Minerva studying our present from a far-flung future; what if an archive of this blog is being surveyed by person(s) centuries from now, studying the mindset, culture and memes of the early 21st Century?

*hello there*

fuzz's gravatar

177. Nukes

Posted by fuzz at 6:39PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

In HL1 (or possibly one of the official mods) the player must sneak through a warehouse full of crates of explosives, nukes, and lots of laser tripmines.
Even if the nuke in Opposing Force was singular, it might well have set off other explosions, nuclear or otherwise.

That said, a secret underground military base is presumably nuclear hardened, so who knows what might have survived?
(although whether a hypothetical computer system would still be physically/electronically accessible as well as intact is another question entirely).

Oh, and another vote for the AI theory here too (I feel that an upload would be sufficiently different from human consciousness to be classified separately)

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178. Definition of theories

Posted by Terrapin at 7:59PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Technically speaking fuzz, if you do in fact support the theory of a human consciousness being uploaded to a computer system, becoming an AI, then you are more technically a supporter of the Superhero theory. The AI theory, as far as I know, states that Minerva always was an AI, and never had any other form or state of being. The Superhero Theory states that Minerva was once human, but became an AI or other form of non-human entity via some technological means.

As for the survival of Black Mesa, who knows? G-Man seemed satisfied with it's destruction, so it's possible there were multiple bombs, utterly destroying any electronic or scientific equipment, or any evidence. Also, the first portal storms may have helped to tear the facility apart from the inside. Of course, we have no idea what G-Man's motives were, so let's mutually agree to end such discussions there to avoid disregarding Occam's Razor entirely.

Baffled seems to have collected a pretty good bibliography of my T4, which saves me some work in the long run. If anyone can find any major holes with it, let me know. I want to try make this theory as airtight as we can hope to get.

Errant's gravatar

179. Most of all though

Posted by Errant at 9:08PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

I want to play p3................

Nesretep's gravatar

180. So the division begins...Who's side are you on?

Posted by Nesretep at 9:53PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

I see the lines forming now. Where will you stand in this mighty sorting of acolytes? Which such a dearth of real (by that I mean solid) information can one even make an "informed" decision?

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181. Fast paced blog

Posted by Sortie at 10:10PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

Never I've seen so many comments a day.

Nesretep's gravatar

182. Sorry for the double post...

Posted by Nesretep at 10:14PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

The AI theory ,such as it is, has never been nailed down to the same extent as the others. I stated that I thought Minerva was an AI, but never spoke regarding her origins. I just think that since before SE sometime she has been an AI. How she got that way is of little consequence in my opinion. We aren't dealing with Minerva before she became what she is now, nor are we trying to reverse her condition. So the question that really is important is not what WAS Minerva but what IS Minerva.

What we really need though is someone to take a trip to Brussels with truth serum and interrogate Adam. Or maybe just buy him enough beers to get him really drunk so he'll talk openly about this stuff... ;)

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183. Vagueness of the AI Theory

Posted by Terrapin at 10:58PM, Tuesday August 14 2007

The AI Theory is intrinsically vague, and is perhaps not a theory in itself, but a set of theories. The Superhero Theory, T4, and the Extraterrestrial Theory (henceforth, the ET Theory) all state that Minerva is some sort of non-physical entity. In fact, I have yet to see a well reasoned theory proffered that gives Minerva's present state as anything other that a non-corporeal entity.

With that established, the AI Theory simply states what kind of NPE (non-physical entity) Minerva is - a computer based artificial intelligence, which has either achieved, or always had, sentience.

I must also state my disagreement with Nesretep. Minerva's past is important to further theories because it clearly lays out her motives, experiences, goals, abilities, and future actions. One's past is a map of one's future; if we know what she did and where she came from, we will have a better idea of what she will do and where she is going. Minerva's origins, once understood, will also help us to see current and future evidence in a clearer light.

Minerva is the main character here, and we are but her tool. We must understand her to understand ourselves.

In any case, the only theory without some potential hole is the T4 theory. I do hate to be my own cheer-leading section, but a few acolytes, such as Baffled, have lent T4 much credibility. I recommend reading posts 163 and 176 - I truly think I may be on to something here. But then again, that's what Nostradamus said.

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184. Sentience vs. Sapience

Posted by Evan at 12:35AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

// With that established, the AI Theory simply states what kind of NPE (non-physical entity) Minerva is - a computer based artificial intelligence, which has either achieved, or always had, sentience. //

Sentience signifies the conscious use of senses, a low level of awareness to recognize feelings, be it physical or emotional.

Sapience signifies true intelligence, true emotions, wisdom, judgment, etc., along with sentient behavior. Our own species is, after all, known as homo sapien.

sentience, adj.
- Having the power of perception by the senses; conscious.

sapience, adj.
- Having or showing great wisdom or sound judgment.

A pet peeve of mine.

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185. Re: Sentience vs. Sapience

Posted by Terrapin at 12:45AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

I always though it was the other way around. Good save, this could have caused much confusion later on.

Baffled's gravatar

186. Averted Confusion

Posted by Baffled at 1:38AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

Confucius say:

When in ocean of confusion, a drop less make no difference. :-(

Lewk's gravatar

187. Confucius

Posted by Lewk at 1:49AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

Confucius says:

Man who live in glass house, should get dressed in basement.

Yar Kramer's gravatar

188. Another comment on Occam's Razor

Posted by Yar Kramer at 4:13AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

The problem with "not making assumptions" is that we have very few "solid facts", some of which are so vague we have to make "assumptions" about what they *mean.*

And Nesretep: what we REALLY need to do is wait for the damn last chapter of Metastasis to get finished. How's THAT for obeying Occam's Razor? :P

greven's gravatar

189. What is Minerva?

Posted by greven at 6:49AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

Personally I think you're all stuck on a pointless topic. What Minerva is doesn't matter so much as what Minerva wants. What's important is why you are on this island, what Minerva wants you to do, who you are and is what Minerva wants what you want?

Has no one else seen the similarities between G-man and Minerva?

Personally if I could have my way it would be Minerva as some part of the Combine Empire fighting underground against it, some alien who survived and escaped being controlled or even a member of the Combine betraying them for their own interests.

Terrapin's gravatar

190. Pointless Topic?

Posted by Terrapin at 8:14AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

Well, the bottom line is this: all the theorization in the world makes no difference whatsoever. The only person who knows whether we're right or wrong is Adam, and a select few others (Valve, playtesters), and no one's saying a word. We could be right, and we'd never know. The reason we're all here is to relax, have some fun, and think about where the story could go from here. So really, seeing as nothing we say will ultimately change the outcome, all theorization and speculation is "a pointless topic". But since it is entertaining, and a surprisingly good source of intellectual discussion, let's keep the ball rolling.

The Rebel Combine Theory has been proposed once or twice. It does have merit, but there's really nothing to support it. In fact, since we know the Combine were never on Xen, and perhaps even, given its unique properties, cannot travel to Xen, it seems unlikely that Minerva could be there, if she were a Combine. However, a civil war within the Combine would be very cool, albeit having already been done (Halo 2 and 3), so I'm sure Adam could find a way to make it work.

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191. Observations

Posted by Ace at 10:01AM, Wednesday August 15 2007

Well whether or not this is pointless, I for one hate unsolved puzzles. Clearly we can't solve this one totally, but Adam has given some hints, meaning that at least some things are solvable, and I'd suggest he'd even like to see them solved and may give us further help if we make progress. (eh, cough, cough, nudge, nudge). (that is, of course, if he didn't already throw up his hands at the whole affair 100 posts ago.) So, one thing that seems limited in scope is the timeline. I mentioned before that all I can get out of it is the dates which indicate archive 4 and Someplace Else may be related. That is, they're only 3 days apart. I also coincidentally happened to notice that Adam himself made a correction to the timeline in the wikipedia article, which originally mistakenly had the April 1 date written as March 1. So, what of archive 4? To me that seemed like the most densely obfuscated and cryptic piece of them all. But, upon investigation, a few things popped up. So, for my contribution for the day:

Archive 4:
There are a series of kernel interrupts into a computer in Black Mesa. The first one contains no data. The second one comes 37 seconds later, and contains some fairly garbled, and apparently unformatted text. "no future no past no present ...". The third comes at the same time signature, indicating it came less than one second later, and contains only slightly garbled text. (the main body of text.) After that, there's a message an hour and a half later saying that the UPS has drained.
So? Well looks like the power went out, either at the same time as the original message or sometime shortly before. And it stayed out for at least that hour and a half. Presumably there's some connection to the messages and the power outage? Also, the series of interrupts to me look like some sort of awakening. Of something fast, the second and third interrupts, which both contained messages, were almost simultaneous. Looks AIish to me. But who is a friend of a friend? Maybe it's not Minerva? Gaaa, I've really, really gotta get back to bed.

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192. Worlds End Theory

Posted by Sortie at 5:10PM, Wednesday August 15 2007

After some decoding of Archieve 4, I came up with this, "no future no past no present no life no deaht no worldddddddddd".

Seems to me the end don't exist ,

And here's some comments on some parts of archieve 5.

"I used to answer questions - questions which nobody had asked, usually. It's often said that the most important process in science is in asking the right questions. Still, I also came up with answers"
Seems to me that Minerva just said she's a scientist, a good one too.

" - answers which weren't exactly welcome. Stolen, plagiarised and cited throughout a tiny circle of friends, yes, but the warnings heeded?"
Her research wasn't welcome...

"You must be bloody joking."
... as people wasn't believing her.

" There I was, a proper little Cassandra crying out for attention with simulations which PROVED the imminent downfall of all we held dear,"
Compared to the first statement, no nothing, this could mean the world is coming to an end, or she predicted the invasion.

"and it all became an interesting little trinket, a toy which could be investigated some irrelevant afternoon... "
I don't get that? Anyone can help me?

kast's gravatar

193. trinket

Posted by kast at 5:18PM, Wednesday August 15 2007

The implication seems to be that, while the scientists accepted that the interesting new piece of technology could cause an end of the world scenario. They were more interested in the fact it worked and how than the dangerous consequences. Hmmm... this sounds familiar.

"I never thought I would SEE a resonance cascade, let alone create on."

Ace's gravatar

194. Events

Posted by Ace at 5:53PM, Wednesday August 15 2007

First off, Sortie and kast, yeah those sorts of things were why I thought Minerva was somewhere that was invaded by the combine, and she saw the invasion coming, (or at least a resonance cascade or some such?) but no one would listen to her. (would also explain her vendetta against the Combine.)

And back to Archive 4, I'm recalling the statement from Someplace Else about this being the product of the third event of its kind. Adam said in some post somewhere that the second event was about some short map pack that was never released. And there's the interview with Adam that Baffled linked to before (I can't find the link at the moment) where he talked about Parallax and how it would reveal what happened in 1974. Perhaps that's the first event? Seems to support the suggestion that the archive 4 entry and Someplace Else are related (the third event), as there was some sort of incident at Black Mesa there killing the power. If I stick with the idea that Someplace Else came before Half-life 1, then after Half-life 1 perhaps 'events' aren't necessary (i.e. after the resonance cascade) and things can transport easily back and forth from earth to Xen.

Sortie's gravatar

195. Parralax?

Posted by Sortie at 8:00PM, Thursday August 16 2007

I actually have one of the maps laying around at my computer I remember. Maybe a litle replay can reveal something interesting. :D
( Another map than Someplace Else, I mean it's made my adam. )

Sortie's gravatar

196. Forbidden Website

Posted by Sortie at 8:04PM, Thursday August 16 2007

Yeah. I got that Mod I talked about, the website is: http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~afoster/parallax/ but it's forbidden. D:

Ace's gravatar

197. just.....a....bit.....more....

Posted by Ace at 9:44PM, Thursday August 16 2007

Well, I seem to recall someone saying that whatever existed of parallax didn't reveal anything plot wise, but give it a go if you can find it.

Anyhow, perhaps over here on this thread we can continue to make preposterous suggestions and crazy theories, out of sight of polite society? Hope so, because I had one more thing I had to get off my chest: Maybe the "ancient machine" (from the Someplace Else download page, referring to the teleport installation the game is set around) is one of the "discarded playthings" of Minerva's "adopted forefathers"? Ookay, I've said my piece now.

Also, I sort of like my timeline conclusion that the power outage at the time of the messages in archive 4 is related to the "third incident of its kind" in Someplace Else. (meaning presumably some sort of accident at Black Mesa.) Adam hinted about something to be learned from the timeline a couple of times, so perhaps he'd, ehem, be so kind as to offer a simple "no, yer wrong" or something of the sort, if he makes his way back over to this thread???

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