MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

Referencing City 44's Downfall, pt. 3 -

I've spent the last couple of days making new textures out of some of my photos taken in Warsaw. And to make sure they look appropriate in-game, and that I've got enough bits and pieces to recreate some real-world architecture, I've been creating some test buildings.

No snow or other inclement weather yet, and everything is still fairly undamaged - but I'm proud of how things are progressing. These aren't true Out of Time screenshots due to all this work-in-progress prototyping thing, so enjoy!

Other MINERVA news - firstly, thanks to everyone who voted for my mod in the ModDB Mod of the Year Awards. Fifth place! And number one single-player mod! ... Okay, so there weren't so many other big released single-player mods last year, but now with the mighty ModMatic to advise and cajole you all, there's no excuses for this year...

Also, the officially unofficial (or perhaps unofficially official?) MINERVA Wiki opens its doors. Plot dissection from the forum, tabulated, analysed and documented to extremes! You have the data, now draw some inferences.

Article Comments (now closed)

keightdee's gravatar

1. Screenshots create excitement

Posted by keightdee at 8:41AM, Thursday February 7 2008

and a bit of jealousy! Wish I knew how do these things. Looking very, very good. OoT may be more visually stunning than Metastatis, if that's possible!

Theory's gravatar

2. Epic

Posted by Theory at 9:27AM, Thursday February 7 2008

Screenshot three looks remarkably like Gears of War, only less shiny. So fantastic job there. :-)

The modmatic e-mail address is returning errors, so I'll use this comment instead:


A small but still lengthy map-pack from 2005. It might be from the same group as Coastline to Atmosphere, but its uses of 3D space and foreshadowing are exemplary. I think it may have pipped Minerva to the post when it comes to up, down, and all around routing!

Sortie's gravatar

3. The wonders shall never cease!

Posted by Sortie at 12:49PM, Thursday February 7 2008

Amazing to actually have a glance at media before the episode is released!

The fog in Screenshot 3, somehow makes the level much more realistic. If you had filled out the empty holes in your maps only leading to the skybox, you would have fooled me, making truly believe the level was complete!

It seems as everyone is using the same texture set for streets. Not every Eastern European street is made from bricks!
I recommend making the roads with other textures, there're a few good ones under floor/ which could be used instead.
For instance have a look my streets in my newest release. http://www.maxsi.dk/comics/?id=26&issue=36

The usage of Bumpmapping in the screenshots are really looking well! Only modelling it would outstand it.
I did notice some strange textures in the screenshots, such as in Screenshot 1, where the ceiling of the building interior is wooden.

The streets seem a litle.. empty. Some signs and wires would improve the visual style greatly! It'd love if the level was more curved, the level somehow still seems somewhat kubic.

Finally, the new custom textures look outstanding when compared to the few used HL2 textures!
I hope you keep this map, if it doesn't evolve into one in the game. Referrence maps are always interesting to browse around in Hammer. :D

Oh and I noticed a new ARCHIEVE button! I wonder what that does.

Berrie's gravatar

4. RE: The wonders shall never cease

Posted by Berrie at 2:21PM, Thursday February 7 2008

Sortie: You do know that this is just a texture showcase. This map will probably not be used in the game. So I wouldn't worry about the signs and layout.

Love the new textures, though they look a bit clean at the moment. It has a Eastern European look to it alright, but I do hope there are some barock arches in there.

Sortie's gravatar

5. Re: RE: The wonders shall never cease

Posted by Sortie at 3:13PM, Thursday February 7 2008

Of course I realize, but it's just as much a Visual Style Concept map, so the final maps will look somewhat like this. That's why I'm posting my opiniob on the design. ;-)

Pyro-Dude's gravatar

6. Wow

Posted by Pyro-Dude at 5:01PM, Thursday February 7 2008

Amazing architecture as usual. It's certainly somewhere I could imagine existing in real life, more so than City 17's bland-o-buildings

Mr. Bunny's gravatar

7. W00t

Posted by Mr. Bunny at 5:38PM, Thursday February 7 2008

Looks awesome! I can see why you want snow, that would make stronger atmosphere. I like the lamps.

Carl's gravatar

8. Freakin' sweet

Posted by Carl at 12:58AM, Friday February 8 2008

Very nice. This illustrates just how important references are. I don't think anyone could get that much detail right without research.

I like the bas-reliefs but I worry about how they look in motion. Being flat textures, do they look alright at eye level? Modeling or parallax mapping might be needed.

Nesretep's gravatar

9. Looks great so far!

Posted by Nesretep at 1:48PM, Friday February 8 2008

Adam, if you keep this level of work up, M:OOT will blow M:M away! And that's saying something!

rb_lestr's gravatar

10. uh

Posted by rb_lestr at 5:14PM, Friday February 8 2008


Just.... wow.

kast's gravatar

11. 0.0

Posted by kast at 11:35PM, Friday February 8 2008

colour me flabbergasted

pox's gravatar

12. response

Posted by pox at 12:10AM, Saturday February 9 2008

absolutely awestruck.

Bravo on imagining a city with such level of beauty, even if its only a small sample. I can't wait to topple it.

cypher543's gravatar

13. Wow...

Posted by cypher543 at 12:25AM, Saturday February 9 2008

That looks absolutely fantastic!

Very nice work :D

KungFuSquirrel's gravatar

14. fancy!

Posted by KungFuSquirrel at 4:44AM, Saturday February 9 2008

This is actually shockingly similar to something ol' Ken Banks was working on a while back, but I mean that in a very good way. Love it!

Yar Kramer's gravatar

15. Whoa ...

Posted by Yar Kramer at 6:14AM, Saturday February 9 2008

Just glancing at the thumbnails, I those *were* photos at first. Awesome!

Sirc's gravatar

16. Ardent Witty Expletive!

Posted by Sirc at 9:54AM, Saturday February 9 2008

What everyone has said about the pictures is true. However, instead of merely architecturally, I'm trying to see what game play could be put in that street. Although I know it is way too soon for any sort of work on that department, it is still fun to speculate. Truthfully, I think bouncing around ideas is a great step for any creative process.

Now for this section, it is actually extremely flexible. One thing I like about it, it's not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical and viable for most game play. With these shots alone, I'd say you could have anything from a sniper in the fourth floor of the first picture, to a zombie gang in the second picture, the third could easily have a strider round the corner moments later, and the fourth would work perfectly with some jaunty comment of MINERVA's on humanity and art.

(Just trying to keep the train of thought moving instead of mired in worthy awe.)

Campaignjunkie's gravatar

17. Well...

Posted by Campaignjunkie at 2:15AM, Tuesday February 12 2008

... They aren't untextured weapon model renders, but they'll have to do, I guess.

Sortie's gravatar

18. Rampage of Custom Content!

Posted by Sortie at 12:23PM, Tuesday February 12 2008

With this constant rampage of custom models, custom textures and custom maps, will MINERVA ever contain custom binaries?

Sortie's gravatar

19. Why do all good things cease? NOT!

Posted by Sortie at 11:59PM, Tuesday February 12 2008

So I met this guy online (Angel) and we talked about some stuff and I mentioned the lost-in-the-fog mod - p a r a l l a x - , and once upon a time one playable map was downloadable.


Therefore I did some poking at this web log and came across some outdated Hangar16 site featuring 1000's of popups and an exclusive interview with Adam Foster about Parallax. ( http://web.archive.org/web/20041027124038/http://www.hangar16.com/Features/Interviews/int_Afoster.htm )
There is even a picture of Adam made with Beeb2PGM stored as a GIF.


And so after hours (30 minutes) of poking, I found the glorious - p a r a l l a x - website! Almost functionally!


It also has some now-not-that-good-looking-that-sometimes-work screenshots from the mod in question.


Using some information about birthdays, I actually calculated that Adam may be attached to the date 27 Oct 1979. (Thank god it's after the Unix epoch!)

Anyways, the issue is the download link for the one released nuclear silo entrance map for Parallax has simple disappeared. Would it be possible to get it back up?
In addition, the old compsoc homepage mentioned a lot of maps were finished and custom content made. Would it be possible to have a look at that stuff too? (Or did it not pass through the spoiler censure?)

So. Thanks to Not Pron for teaching me how to poke successfully! :D

Sortie's gravatar

20. She said it!

Posted by Sortie at 7:17PM, Wednesday February 13 2008

Retrieved from Someplace Else.

"***INCOMING MESSAGE*** 04/01/2002-13:37:01 ...

I see, another visitor.

I'm under the impression that you don't particularly want to be
here. That makes two of us.

If you're lucky, my experience and insatiable kleptomania might
help you, but I doubt it. It hasn't improved my situation much.

I'm just around the corner, always out of reach...


"The real aliens were closer than you ever thought - just around
the corner, but out of reach, caught by a quirk of twentieth
century physics. Half the universe, inaccessible to all but the
highest energies.

But such a boundary could never remain unbreached."

So Minerva is a real alien, but is that the same as just being an alien?

Pace's gravatar

21. poking for fun

Posted by Pace at 7:53AM, Thursday February 14 2008

Good, um, probing poking there Sortie. Certainly some deep poking into Adam's ..., wait never mind, I'm not going there.

I'd seen that hanger 16 interview before, someone must've linked to it here before, though it seemed to have been lost to the depths of time. I did remember that remark about "..just what happened in 1974, where Xen really is.." and was wondering where I'd read it. Never seen the parallax page though. Made me think a good project for the new Minerva wiki would be to put together a list of Adam's interviews, there always seems to be an interestingly cryptic comment in them. I googled "Adam Foster minerva interview" and got several. One interesting one was from halflife2.net

He talks about parallax there also and how the Minerva character originated with that project. There's also this MINERVA/Minerva capitalization distinction made quite clear there. I know this has been discussed before, but it really seems pretty clear that he means something by the distinction. Thinking about it now I can't help but theorize a bit: I doubt a spelling and grammar aficionado like Adam would capitalize MINERVA if he didn't mean it to be an acronym. There's also this quote from that interview "I'd kept a certain liking for the name, and now it's in use for an entirely different reason in my Half-Life 2 mod". That is, the capitalized version. So, ahem, seems to me that our Minerva has then named herself, or been named, after this entity? Perhaps having to do with whatever happened to her? (perhaps in 1974?) Would go along with her slightly off-kilter personality and love of Greek/Roman mythology references. Or something. Ahem, excuse me then.

Sortie's gravatar

22. Re: poking for fun

Posted by Sortie at 2:36PM, Thursday February 14 2008

Yeah, I found that Hanger16 interview on this very blog.
I think MINERVA is the name of the mod; Minerva is the name of the 'entity'.

In Someplace Else the nameless Minerva mentioned the player was of the third accident. Where the one in 1974 would either be the first or second.
As mentioned here ( http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/archive_1.shtml ) something happened at the 13 June 1974. And in Archieve 3 ( http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/archive_3.shtml ) (signature) mentions a catastrophic failure involving transportation technologies. It is not mentioned that it happened before, so the 1974 incident might be the first.

In Archive 4, the Uninterruptible Power Supply drains meaning that something is terrible wrong.
"{kernel interrupt - 00:45:41 03/29/2002 - UPS power drained}
--{shutdown in 30 seconds} "
Notice the date, it's 3 days before the events of Someplace Else (April 1st 2002). This date is between 2000 and 2009, therefore it probably is the Black Mesa Incident we know and love from Half-Life 1.

vecima's gravatar

23. 1974 was unexplained event #2

Posted by vecima at 6:48PM, Thursday February 14 2008

the first?

one "Philadelphia Experiment".

Pace's gravatar

24. poke poke

Posted by Pace at 9:43PM, Thursday February 14 2008

The second incident is actually one of the few unambiguous pieces of information we have:
I'd guess that was what that now defunct url that pops up on the screen in the 'secret' of Someplace Else was. It certainly seems a reasonable guess to me that whatever happened in 1974 was the first.

Anyway what I meant by the 'MINERVA' entity was some sort of research program or machine or company or something with that acronym for a title that the character Minerva took her name after. Again, perhaps involved in the 1974 incident somehow. And so then, the mod itself shares that name, not the character Minerva. (not all caps. different.) But, then, I speculate wildly. Flailingly, one could even, more figuratively, say.

Sortie's gravatar

25. [Subject Name] is Providing Excellence Pokenly!

Posted by Sortie at 12:18AM, Friday February 15 2008

Excellent, seems as we are building a timeline of the past!

In Someplace Else Minerva mentions a few things about the Second Incident.

"You know, I once met someone who almost realised what was going on.
A soldier, believe it or not. Way before your time."
Here we get some information about a person involved in the second incident. (See below!)
We also get a relative date! "Way before your time". As now is 2002, roughly 25 years ago would fit.

In Archive 3 ( http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/archive_3.shtml ), (signature) assigns a soldier to oversee the research.

"I have assigned Lieutenant M. Weinberg to oversee the security review, and assure you that no further breaches, however small, will occur. "
Here Adam talks about some mysterious soldier, wouldn’t it be obvious if they were the same guy? As Pace quote below, Adam said the second incident would be an OpFor mod about the second incident. This Lieutenant M. Weinberg would strongly fit as the player of that mod.
And the time too fits; it is way before the player of Someplace Else’s time.

“Aren't you trying to get home? Such enthusiasm towards this world
reminds me of someone. Remember that soldier, the bloodthirsty poet?

His predicament had to be recorded somewhere, even someplace
away from prying eyes. Such an incident, the second of its kind,
had to be remembered.

Second? You're the product of the third. Don't forget that.”
Here Minerva confirms the Soldier is of the second incident, and the well-known Black Mesa failure is the third.

About what happened in 1974, I somehow suspect ‘Minerva’ was the product of the first incident. Otherwise she shouldn’t know about it, the “awkward word 'classified'”. On the other hand, Minerva seems to know everything she shouldn’t.

Maybe the question is, who is the player in the unreleased and dead mod Parallax (not to be confused with Someplace Else!). This mod tells about what happened in 1974.
From a now unknown source previously mentioned somewhere on this site, I gained a lone playable map of Parallax. Aliens are present in it, just as in Half-Life 1.

Is the player Minerva? Somehow I suddenly doubt it, “There I was, a proper little Cassandra crying out for attention with simulations which PROVED the imminent downfall of all we held dear,” hints Minerva knew this could happen. But if Minerva were trapped within the facility it could be possible…

I guess Adam is the only guy to confirm/deny these theories. But now that the speculation has begun, Adam won’t. A little more information about this would be nice though! :D

Diserian's gravatar

26. Re: pokeing

Posted by Diserian at 1:06AM, Friday February 15 2008

"Using some information about birthdays, I actually calculated that Adam may be attached to the date 27 Oct 1979. (Thank god it's after the Unix epoch!)"

From the post on (http://web.archive.org/web/20041013130334/www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~afoster/parallax/about.html) it seems that his birthday is actually on the 25 not the 27 ( the 27 is just when he got around to posting he leveled up ) hmm, at least a day to recover from your 21st birthday seems about right ;)

Sortie's gravatar

27. Re: Re: pokeing

Posted by Sortie at 1:53AM, Friday February 15 2008

Oh! I calculated to that day too, but somehow I wrote the wrong here instead. ;-)

I guess my Stalker XP just leveled up.

Boff's gravatar

28. pretty

Posted by Boff at 8:41PM, Sunday February 17 2008

I just popped on to see if minerva was moving from source 2006 (ep1) to source 2007 (ep2) but i see Adam is working on something else, which is dammned pretty.

Just gutted, at parallax shaders aren't "there" in source, (well the code was there but turn off, and there was a mod semi worked on, Garfields stuff was fantastick before he dissapeared).

As I can't help but cry knowing that these scenes (and a lot of original c17 stuff) would benefit to visually, with bump/bevel/parallax out some "features" to pull away from the flatness of it all.

But aside from engine gripes, Adam great job as usual!

Sortie's gravatar

29. Re: pretty

Posted by Sortie at 10:41PM, Sunday February 17 2008

Don't worry; MINVERVA has moved to the Source 2007 engine! Just check the new trailer, or face the fact Adam mentioned that OoT = "Hunters.. IN THE SNOW" :D

vecima's gravatar

30. source 2007

Posted by vecima at 9:11PM, Monday February 18 2008

trailer? where? i can download MINERVA as an orangebox mod? why was i not informed!!!!. and where?

Pace's gravatar

31. re: source 2007

Posted by Pace at 7:18AM, Tuesday February 19 2008

Check the comments from the previous blog post for the trailer, and we're still waiting for word on the engine update. Haven't heard anything official, but the trailer is run on as an ep2 mod, and it's been hinted that we may get an upgrade patch.

kast's gravatar

32. source 2007 patch

Posted by kast at 8:37AM, Tuesday February 19 2008

Flat-out stated on RockPaperShotgun, in the ModDB Mod of the Year 2007 thread comments.


Cargo Cult - "A fairly small patch should be available in the next week or two - possibly along with some no-need-for-Ep2 foreign language localisation patch-packs.", January 29th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

It has of course already been a 'week or two' so clearly things are running a little behind schedule.

Nesretep's gravatar

33. Adam and deadlines

Posted by Nesretep at 4:23PM, Tuesday February 19 2008

Adam seems to have a problem projecting accurate deadlines sometimes. So this is not unexpected. Don't forget that the orginal deadline for M:M was in March not October! :) We appreciate him anyway, though. It has always been worth the wait...

Mman's gravatar

34. Parallax

Posted by Mman at 4:51PM, Thursday February 21 2008

Someone asked about a Parallax download link, Planetphillip has it: http://www.planetphillip.com/posts/parallax-half-life/

It is only a beta, ends at a dead-end (you are just stuck in the maps, unless I missed something) and has no story details, but it's a nice curio to have anyway :) .

pox's gravatar

35. provoking the blog beast

Posted by pox at 10:55PM, Monday February 25 2008

Has anyone here taken up adam on his previous offers and tried to create something out of the 'Someplace Else' or 'Metastasis' maps?

Sortie's gravatar

36. Re: provoking the blog beast

Posted by Sortie at 11:24PM, Monday February 25 2008

Actually not. When people protect their maps from decompiling and lots of other stuff, it's silly compared to the guy whom made the maps open source and nobody bothered doing anything with it.
I considered making a portal version of it though, wouldn't that be awesome! Just a shame I'm already busy doing some demo 5.. gah. 1 month deadli-..

OoT should have some awesome textures, maybe it could be fun modding for it, if the artwork is under an appropriate license. cough. gnu-esque.

Pace's gravatar

37. map files?

Posted by Pace at 12:13AM, Tuesday February 26 2008

Are they up somewhere? I don't know how to use the source SDK but if anything could get me up to try it out again, it would be a good Minerva satire bit. Actually doing something with Someplace Else might be easier, though I suppose that would involve a different SDK? (yes, I know nothing about such matters.)

Actually we could have some fun just by creating all new transmissions from Minerva, all that would take is modifying the titles.txt file. We could make a whole new story! Preferably one involving badgers. Or something.

Campaignjunkie's gravatar

38. Working with source files...

Posted by Campaignjunkie at 12:41AM, Tuesday February 26 2008

I toyed with trying to port Someplace Else to Sven Co-Op. I got a functional version working, but: (a) it was a pain to port all the text messages into game_text entities (b) multiplayer kind of broke the pacing of the thing (c) I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to add some co-op puzzles.

Cargo Cult's gravatar

39. Why does everyone get scared of my maps?

Posted by Cargo Cult at 11:54AM, Tuesday February 26 2008

Yes, they're huge, malignant horrors that'll break your compiling tools (and your brain) if you fail to understand the optimisations inherent in their design, but to be *afraid* of them?


Anyway, regarding City 44 - testers have received an unexpected, semi-playable texture-test map. If you're supposed to be on the mailing list but aren't (my memory is hopeless), let me know - and I'll sign you up for more glimpses of the future.

No impostors, however!

Pyro-Dude's gravatar

40. No impostors?

Posted by Pyro-Dude at 7:18PM, Tuesday February 26 2008

My plan's scuppered then :D

Sortie's gravatar

41. Re: Why does everyone get scared of my maps?

Posted by Sortie at 8:48PM, Tuesday February 26 2008

Impostor ≈ A person claiming to be another. (Damn you're better than my teacher to use words I don't know and have to look up!)

So how do one know if he is supposed to be on the mailing list? A: If you successfully received the release candidate(s) of MINERVA before and didn't it/leak them within seconds.


@Pace, all source files are available in the installs cleverly hidden within the MapSrc folders. Note, you *can* edit HL1 maps with the Source SDK, however you need to configure it correctly which I never succeeded in. I however, managed to open the map with a lot of broken custom textures.
It's far easier to use the MINERVA source files, they should work on all Source SDK platforms, to play them you just need a few custom scripts and files found in the Metastasis folder.

I think the MINERVA map sources should be brilliant for the average mapper, just to see how things are done, but I think the general theory behind would be even more beneficial.

Also for the tremendous compile times, Adam, didn't your mother taught you how to increase light map scales greatly on all surfaces with very little contrast?


In a desperate attempt to gain the critically acclaimed immortality, I did receive the RC2 before the official launch. In fact, minutes before the filthy hoards of the Group Chat did.

Sortie's gravatar

42. Re: me

Posted by Sortie at 8:54PM, Tuesday February 26 2008

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Hi! I like your mod very much, can I please try your unexpected, semi-playable texture-test map?

Yar Kramer's gravatar

43. Heh

Posted by Yar Kramer at 10:33PM, Tuesday February 26 2008

I once had an idea for making "Half-Life 2: Raving Rabbids", and I suppose I could test the concept out with Metastasis. Unfortunately, this would involve actually getting off my posterior and making Raving Rabbids models for the Source engine. :( ;)

Pace's gravatar

44. The Citizen

Posted by Pace at 10:17PM, Wednesday February 27 2008

Well ModMatic hasn't moved in awhile, so, .. I came across a newish mod for HL2 which I liked, for those who haven't seen it, called "The Citizen".

Planet Phillip gets a little over excited about it, claiming "better than Minerva"! As long as you ignore that, and go in with reasonable expectations, it's quite fun I thought. One of the very few HL2 mods I've played that gives a sense of immersion, and direction and purpose. There's a lot of custom voice acting, which actually isn't terrible. Not great, mind, and irritating in parts, but on the whole it helps with the story telling. Oh yeah, there's actually a story! It's not terribly interesting in and of itself, but it's fairly detailed and helps a lot with the sense of immersion. It looks great and I thought it was pretty original.

pox's gravatar

45. inquery

Posted by pox at 4:53PM, Sunday March 2 2008

Where and when did the description,

"high energy double mirror twins of dead rampant A.I."

become applied to Minerva?

i find it rather foreboding, and I like it.

: )

locworks's gravatar

46. high energy

Posted by locworks at 10:12PM, Monday March 3 2008


Sirc's gravatar

47. Citizens And No Escape

Posted by Sirc at 9:59AM, Tuesday March 4 2008

While interesting in its own respects, Citizen is most certainly not a 'MINERVA KILLER' so to speak.

Compared to MINERVA, I felt like I only went a couple of feet before tripping over a load screen. There was also significantly more lag spikes than ever has occurred to me on MINERVA. (That might be my computer's fault though...)

Puzzle wise, there are a few that give no training. There is a button puzzle that give you no indication that you need to enter a specific sequence. Most of MINERVA's puzzles were easy and gratifying.

I must complement Citizen's stealth section and Easter Egg system for a more original spin on the Half Life Formula. But overall it seems to stick at a slightly above average mod.

It's not horrible, so I will say take a look at it, if only to kill time till the next MINERVA.

Maybe it'll give some of our more... Creative Proponents ideas of future implementations or avoidances...

Kasperg's gravatar

48. the citizen

Posted by Kasperg at 2:28PM, Thursday March 6 2008

Hi, I'm one of the authors of that mod, and I'd like to say it's not a "Minerva killer" and it was never meant to be one. The fact that Phillip @PlanetPhillip said he found things to like that no other mod had offered him is just his personal opinion, as we all have our own in terms of what we expect from what we play.
So my advice to all who haven't played is to forget about comparisons and enjoy it for what it is and the little things it offers (which was our focus, really). The problems we had (some have just been mentioned by Sirc) have helped us a lot and you'll surely find some improvement in the next installment (What you've seen so far are only the first two chapters of the story).
Thanks again to those who have given it a try.

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