MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

I never could get the hang of Thursdays -

So, in some alternate universe, our dear Perseus is just about ready to take his first steps on to the cold, uninviting shores of a particular island located somewhere in the Baltic Sea.

Alas, we can't be there to see him (at least, not in a non-virtual manner), but a faint echo from a long-forgotten bureaucratic system has unearthed another piece of an alternative, impossible history. Fortunately for us all, I've converted it into a more accessible format.


If anyone were to take a photo of themselves while standing on a windswept Baltic shore today, I'd be very impressed. Especially if a helicopter has dropped them there. Just remember: get up on the beach, turn right, and RUN!

Article Comments (now closed)

BenA's gravatar

1. Minerva switch

Posted by BenA at 8:40AM, Thursday October 15 2009

This must be what my Minerva test switch was for!

BenA's gravatar

2. Minerva switch

Posted by BenA at 8:45AM, Thursday October 15 2009

No, I still haven't pushed it.

What's it worth for me not to...?


fuzz's gravatar

3. What's in a name?

Posted by fuzz at 12:43PM, Thursday October 15 2009

Magnetically Induced Non-linear Resonance of VAcuum eh?

so that's what the cool kids are calling it nowadays.

Zero's gravatar

4. Acronym

Posted by Zero at 3:23PM, Thursday October 15 2009

That has to be one of the flimsiest acronyms I've ever seen.

And given that Black Mesa is a US government contractor, and what I know about the US government from having worked as a researcher aide, said acronym is absolutely realistic.

Incidentally: my speculation hat is on but I'm not making any guesses yet.

Nightshade's gravatar

5. Hmm...

Posted by Nightshade at 4:27PM, Thursday October 15 2009

I've so many thoughts on this latest development I can't mention them at all...

Glad to see the old girl is still alive though!

Magnetically Induced Non-linear Resonance of VAcuum indeed...

locworks's gravatar

6. Incriminating...

Posted by locworks at 4:59PM, Thursday October 15 2009

...papers tend to turn up at the worst moments, don't they?
Happy anniversary, Mr Creator!

Sortie's gravatar

7. SPECULATION! Also hi.

Posted by Sortie at 5:06PM, Thursday October 15 2009

Happy MINERVA: METASTASIS day! I totally forgot it was today.

That said, SPECTULATION! (Specially Produced External Central To Undermine Los Angeles' Transportation Initiative Of Non-sense). From what I can tell, the only girls name on that classified document is Anne Hauschild. Would that be the real name of you-know-who?

Personally, I think a better name for this paper would be "Resonance Cascade for Newbies" or "How to cause an Alien Invasion of Earth in ten days".

While I'm a Physics, Math and Chemistry major, I'm unfamiliar with some of the physics mentioned in this document. Would a better-knowing Acolyte please explain in great detail the physics mentioned? As far as I can tell, it regards how a Xen-Sample doesn't follow the Newtonian laws and how exposure to this apparatus can cause it locally bend the laws of the universe, possibly causing a species of Alien Overlords to carve into a particular island in the middle of the Baltic sea.

Zero's gravatar

8. Particles Just Got Real (?)

Posted by Zero at 7:42PM, Thursday October 15 2009

I'm no theoretical physicist, but the notion of a magnetic field in excess of 1e25 Gauss is *insane* -- the field at the surface of a neutron star is on the order of 1e12. Considering the Trans-Planckian problem refers to emission of particles at arbitrarily high frequencies (and conversely, arbitrarily low wavelengths, smaller than the Planck length), it's pretty much stating that standard laws of physics break down dramatically in teeny-tiny pockets in this sample.

via Wikipedia: "The trans-Planckian problem can be conveniently considered in the framework of sonic black holes, condensed matter systems which can be described in a similar way as real black holes. In these systems, the analogue of the Planck scale is the interatomic scale, where the continuum description loses its validity."

Again, I'm no theoretical physicist, but that bit about continuums losing validity sounds very, *very* dangerous.

chiasaur11's gravatar

9. Hoo boy.

Posted by chiasaur11 at 2:59AM, Friday October 16 2009

Well, I saw Zombieland, so I'm set on the headcrab plan front.

The bulk of the invasion, though...

Let's hope we get somebody with a Durandalian sense of humor soon, or else we're all in trouble.

PACE's gravatar

10. Ah, good old Fischer. Always getting himself in trouble.

Posted by PACE at 3:45AM, Friday October 16 2009

This stuff is great. All scifi should be written by physics majors. If only we had some reason to think it may still be going somewhere ..??

-Patiently Awaiting Complete Enlightenment.

Sortie's gravatar

11. echo '

Posted by Sortie at 3:53PM, Friday October 16 2009

Also, one of the co-authors of the classified paper happens to be named Seth Tischer. In addition to this, later in the document, his name is mentioned and two question marks are next to it. Now, why is these two question marks there? I see two reasons.

1) It is part of the document's story, where someone who previously read the document wondered who this guy is. Possibly Minerva.

2) It is Adam giving us some sort of hint. Perhaps that this guy is Minerva.

I tried googling all the co-authors of the classified document, and the only person who did not give results were Seth Tischer. Most of the other people seemed to be real-life persons, companies, biochemists, generals and so on.';

Nightshade's gravatar

12. Boom!

Posted by Nightshade at 3:56PM, Friday October 16 2009

Given Adam's position within VALVe, is there any possibility that this might be... *le gasp*... canon?

I can very weakly justify this by considering that the document is seemingly trying to link the name MINERVA to the Resonance Cascade, more solidly than any other material we've had before us.

I can't help but wonder if this is an attempt to legitimize MINERVA for the Half-Life series, so that Her inclusion makes sense for those non-acolytes...

Baffled's gravatar

13. A degenerate form of creative thinking

Posted by Baffled at 6:29PM, Friday October 16 2009

I'm tempted to agree with Sortie in suspecting Anne Hauschild as being our dear Minerva. We must remember that She complained of being plagiarised and Her ideas being stolen ...


...and it seems to me that Mr Tischler is one such culprit and that Minerva has ringed his name and added accusing question marks in outrage at such injustice!

I've also found "Anne Hauschild" to be an anagram of "a channel hid us" which could well mean ... no no I musn't start all that again ... although I do miss all that theorisng!

In response to Pace's belief that all Sci-Fi should be written by Physics majors, I would suggest that they are indeed naturally this way inclined. Check out this wonderfully off-the-wall theory that the Hadron collider is being sabotaged by a time travelling God Particle that does not want us to discover it! (Sounds strangely Minervian,no?):


The theory has been angrily denounced as "a degenerate form of creative thinking" which seems to me to be a good definition of Science Fiction!

There's an interview with the Physicist in question here, and he sounds hilarious. I propose a law that all Physicists *must* sound like this or they simply cannot be taken seriously!


P.S. note to Adam, there's a new Iain Banks novel out called Transition featuring "a nameless, faceless state-sponsored torturer known only as the Philosopher, who moves between time zones with sinister ease." ... sounds like a must for Xmas, no?

Pace's gravatar

14. Ms. Hauschild

Posted by Pace at 11:47PM, Saturday October 17 2009

I'm with Baffled (BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAFFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLED!!!!!1) on the meaning of the circled name. If someone was just indicating the person in general you'd think they'd highlight the first mention of his name, where it's given in full. (and it's Fischer dammit.)

As to the matter of 'canon', we can always consider this stuff 'canon', though it seems unlikely to me that Valve would come out and say what is and what isn't 'canon'. (At the very least it's hard to imagine anything directly contradictory coming out.) It'd definitely to be fun to see Ms. M put in an appearance somehow in ep3.

"..their machine did in fact break down when they first switched it on last year, but that they say was due to a problem with wiring, not the universe."

Ah yes, that's another possibility.

Sortie's gravatar

15. Re: Ms. Hauschild

Posted by Sortie at 12:48AM, Sunday October 18 2009

I think his name is Tischer, not Fischer, although the font is indeed hard to read. Also, Pace, where did you get that quote from?

Pace's gravatar

16. pressing issue at hand

Posted by Pace at 2:22AM, Sunday October 18 2009

Well, whether that's a T or an F what's most important is that we establish right off who it is that's most wrong. Clearly Baffled and his attempt of 'Tischler' shall go on the books as erring most greatly.

The quote is from the interview in Baffled's last link. A bit surrealist I thought.

Sortie's gravatar

17. Re: A degenerate form of creative thinking

Posted by Sortie at 2:42AM, Sunday October 18 2009

Pace, I think we can safely assert that Baffled is most wrong here. Yep. ;)

I checked out Baffled's Interview too. Wow, I am a Dane, and I know that we have a really funny English accent, but wow, that guy's outstanding in how he butchers the English language.

What's worse is that I happened to pick up one of this dude's books when I was to the library the other day. Suddenly, I cannot take that book seriously any longer. Of course, his face on the front cover looks just as funny as he speaks in that interview, so I guess I should've seen it coming. Personally, I think that book will be an interesting read.

Also, I replayed Metastasis. Although not on Hard, I didn't have time for that and Normal is challenging enough. Brilliant mod. Although the plot twist in the end of map three gets a bit boring the third time you see it.

I also managed to use the RPG to blow up the helicopter in the last map and still use the trigger to end the mod. Thinking about it, that makes the mod's ending much more sad, seeing the camera fade away while the poor labrat is stranded on the island.

Baffled's gravatar

18. Fischy (sic) business

Posted by Baffled at 1:15PM, Sunday October 18 2009

I'm starting to think we may be dealing with a very dangerous character with this Mr Tischer/Fischer! He reminds me of the spy in the last TF2 video, he is clearly a master of disguise and is spreading confusion amongst the Acolytes with alarming ease. I seem to be the most susceptible so far to his malign influence, (I'm now starting to see "Pischer") clearly we must be on our guard!

We already suspect Mr ?ischer (that'll fox him!) of intellectual theft ( it wasn't his conjecture the paper is outlining but possibly one proposed by whoever annotated this copy ... Minerva?) and there is no telling of what else he is capable!

Some other observations:

*What does the title "TS4" mean? Could it be "Top secret 4"? This would imply the existance of other such documents that may yet come to light.

*The phrase "obtained sample" is intriguing. A sample of what and obtained from where? The document is already classified as Top secret so why the need to be coy about the nature of the sample, refering to it by a code "349-a"? This would suggest that it is something exotic, perhaps even extraterrestrial? But this paper predates such contact or is this a hint that it does not? ( I see Sortie has already assumed it to be from Xen, but how did they get that before building the apparatus to contact Xen ... another Grandfather paradox ... or have I forgotten/missed somethng ... again? :-( )

I'm itching to add a further heading in that contents table right under "Expected Observations" .. "Unintended Consequences"!

As for questions of what is Canon, I would suggest that Adam's induction into the Inner Sanctum has changed matters significantly. He now presumably knows e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about the HL2 story arc, and as he has previously stated his desire for Minerva to at least be consistent with that arc whilst not being a part of it, he may unwittingly provide some insights into what is to come! We must be vigilant!

Sortie's gravatar

19. TISCHLER® Inc. "Because we can."

Posted by Sortie at 2:33PM, Sunday October 18 2009

Baffled, remember the last part of Half-Life 1: Blue Shift? While the canon-ness of this expansion is questioned by some, it appears that the scientists have been experimenting with teleportation for decades and that they've been to Xen before. Also, in the chapter of Half-Life 1 "Questionable Ethics" (or whatever it's called) you see that they have indeed been experimenting on the aliens prior to the resonance cascade in Half-Life 1. Therefore it is safe to assume they have been to Xen before.

Anyone familiar with the MINERVA storyline will know there have been three incidents. The third incident was Half-Life 1, as seen in Someplace

Sortie's gravatar

20. TISCHLER® Inc. "Because we can." [Continued]

Posted by Sortie at 2:45PM, Sunday October 18 2009

[...] Else. And "Incident Two was going to be a mini-map-pack for Opposing Force, but that too grew out of control. Set in the mid-nineties, and was what Someplace Else was babbling about!". (Proof: http://www.hylobatidae.org/minerva/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=242 )

And incident one? Some of you might remember a long-forgotten Single Player mod made by Adam Foster. Appears to be set back in 1974 showing what happened during the first incident. As lucky as I am, I have a copy of an old 'DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE' beta copy of Parallax that I got permission by Adam to redistribute. Unfortunately, it is only one playable map. (Although it is indeed very playable, although not Someplace Else-quality, it's pretty good anyhow). You can download it from here: http://www.maxsi.dk/upload/data/sortie/parallax-test4-redist.zip

As this seems to be long-forgotten and hard to find, you are lucky to even see a download link. ;)

So if the first incident was set in 1974, any previous interaction with Xen must have been on purpose. Or at least, without aliens invading Earth. Therefore, Baffled, BMMR must have had access to Xen samples back in 1973.

Remember, while this may not be canon with the official Half-Life story, it is very much indeed with the MINERVA storyline. And that's what matters, right? ;)

Sortie's gravatar

21. TISCHLER® Inc. "Because we can." [Continued]

Posted by Sortie at 2:46PM, Sunday October 18 2009

Also Adam, I remember you promising to "find some extra Parallax (and even Nightwatch) titbits in a bit, anyhow." Are you still going to do this? ;)

Nightshade's gravatar

22. Parallax!

Posted by Nightshade at 5:42AM, Monday October 19 2009

Cheers for the link Sortie, you've no idea... :D

As for TS4, I've been unable to find anything relevant on that or the date of May 8th, 1973.Still searching though...

I'm with Baffled on the possibility that Adam knows far more than we could ever imagine, so here's for keeping an eye out for some accidental breadcrumbs...

Baffled's gravatar

23. Xen and the Art of MINERVA Maintenance

Posted by Baffled at 3:10PM, Monday October 19 2009

Well done Sortie for helping to keep the MINERVA flame burning with your Parallax archive!

Keep up the good work Nightshade, the more we respond to Adam's ARG-like postings the more time and effort he may invest in keeping the spirit of Minerva alive in the future!

Now, Sortie I must take issue with your "must"s! You musn't use "must" when "may" might be a must! Now this is not a criticism of your English which seems faultless, but of your logic!

Your helpful reminder of the MINERVA timeline states that the First incident occured in 1974, and from this you deduce that any earlier contact must not have been very dramatic at all ( no alien invasion or other memorable episodes ) and therefore not qualifying as an "Incident". I would argue that any initial contact with an extraterrestrial/dimensional realm which a few years later becomes the platform for a catastrophic invasion by a malignant alien civilisation might well become regarded as a noteworthy event, indeed a fully fledged "Incident", however lacking in drama it might have been at the time!

If the opening of a Portal to Xen requires the utilisation of some substance found only on Xen, then initial contact must ( there's that word again ) have been initiated from the Xen side. In any case your conclusion should have been that BMMR *may* have had access to Xen samples prior to 1974, but we have no evidence to support even this watered down conclusion. We as always remain in the dark.

Now I've got a headache.

P.S. Anyone watching FlashForward? I don't know whether I'll stick with it, but it occured to me that we might go and ask that imprisoned Nazi Kabbalah expert about the meaning of "349-a"! ;-)

Sortie's gravatar

24. Re: Xen and the Art of MINERVA Maintenance

Posted by Sortie at 6:30PM, Monday October 19 2009

Baffled, I counted, and it turns out that the word 'must' is used 14 times in these comments, excluding this one. And I only used it twice. What are the odds that both my uses of must are incorrect?

I'm not sure what your point is about the drama of incidents or whatever you are trying to say. I am, in fact, confused.

And as far as I understood, teleporting to Xen doesn't require a Xen sample. In fact, it is very easy to teleport to Xen. What's hard is teleporting to another place on Earth. That's why the scientists set up a Xen Relay, so that they can teleport to Xen and back and end up someplace else on Earth. That is mentioned during Blue Shift's last part and the Black Mesa East chapter in HL2.

And FlashForward? Yep. Watching it!

Baffled's gravatar

25. Confusion Reigns

Posted by Baffled at 9:24PM, Monday October 19 2009

All Acolytes of Minerva are required to be in a constant and unending state of confusion. To not be in such a state means that you cannot possibly call yourself a true Acolyte!

Please ignore the "must" thing, I was trying (and failing) to be funny AND I completely misunderstood what you had said! :-(

I was trying to argue that there cannot have been any contact between Earth and Xen predating "The First Incident" in 1974. Otherwise that earlier contact itself would be known as "The First Incident" no matter how undramatic that contact may have seemed at the time (no alien hordes materialising etc).

You then post a clear and concise reply demolishing any need for my rambling nonsense and displaying a depth of knowledge of the Half-Life Story that dwarfs my own! How dare you! ;-)

In my current state of befuddlement I stand no chance of comprehending tonight's episode of FlashForward!

...and my headache's back ... unsuprisingly.

Actaeon's gravatar

26. Me neither

Posted by Actaeon at 11:45PM, Monday October 19 2009

Epic reference righ there. It warms my heart to see that our dear Foster has such great knowledge of such unimportant things.

And remember: if you aren't responsible with that Infinite Improbability Drive, the Black Mesa Incident could happen!

Freakoftheuniverse's gravatar

27. Yay! Science!

Posted by Freakoftheuniverse at 4:30AM, Tuesday October 20 2009

Dang. Just when I thought I was getting over Physics, the talented Mr. Foster draws me right back in.

If you reckon that the chronological problems with Black Mesa will do your head in, try Quantum Field Theory (which leads me to the related point!), and experiments where you make virtual photons real(http://focus.aps.org/story/v17/st19).
Vacuum Resonance is considered by some folks to be strong evidence of higher, currently unobservable, dimensions. It also has evidence of the aforementioned *insane* magnetic field strengths, which (prepare for "OH NOES") could allow for an entry point to higher dimensions (and Headcrabs for All).
As some of you would know, there are 4 fundamental forces in our universe. Gravity, Electromagnetic Force, Weak Nuclear and Strong Nuclear. The best known example of a breakdown of the laws of physics is a black hole, which is a gravitational anomaly. You get a black hole when an object is squished smaller than it's Schwartzchild radius. So, if we can alter the laws of physics using the WEAKEST force, Gravity, who says we can't use any of the (far stronger) others for similar mischief?

So yeah, the paper is basically hyping up a way to tunnel through to another universe, and yeah, we've got the precursor to a little resonance cascade 27-36 years down the line in the year 200X.

Anyway, enough madness, more rapture.

Nightshade's gravatar

28. Still scrutinizing...

Posted by Nightshade at 5:24AM, Tuesday October 20 2009

You got me very excited there Fotu, only to make me be let down by a stern "Page not found." I guess there are just some things we're not supposed to play with, eh?

I must admit, I was surprised by being given such an auspicious piece of information without having to dust off a hex editor or something equally obtuse. It's for this reason I feel so compelled that there's something... else.

Going off the fact that the excited "??" and TS4 is in the same marker pen and handwriting style, coupled with the only sensible acronym I could find was Top Secret, I've been led to the conclusion that a single individual is pouring over a collection of these documents, annotating them. However, our mystery entity has a bit of redundancy in their notes - the paper already clearly spells out the classification as TS-4. Perhaps for easy archiving, nothing more? I suppose then the only thing of interest is the four. Does it mark this document out as the fourth of a set, or is it merely it's 'level' of secrecy?

As for the date, I feel it's merely there to give us a sense of chronology, so I'm with Sortie here - the good folk at BMMR had access to Xen circa 1973. (Provided Chronoclasm [it just sounds cooler than Out of Time, honest!] doesn't blow the concept of time and space out of the water :P)

I'm now turning my attention towards the document itself - those orange coloured lines I thought were from 'old-age' or a coffee stain look mighty like they divide the page into boxes. Looks a bit like invisible ink, so go go gadget imaging software!

As for Parallax - I don't know enough about the early storyline of Minerva to garner any extra tidbits. Considering the abundance of exit signs, I assume our soldier is trying to escape the complex? Any thoughts? Perpetually confused, I like that...

Pace's gravatar

29. flashforward

Posted by Pace at 5:38AM, Tuesday October 20 2009

I'd never seen FlashForward (or even heard of it), so I checked it out, followed up on the novel it's based on, and sure enough it was not written by a physics major. This explains why one of the effects of the Large Hadron Collider is the entire human race becoming unconscious for 2 minutes. Are these the sorts of things English majors think? Sorry, this guy was apparently a "Radio and Television Arts" major. I don't know what that means but I doubt it involved actual work. We need people capable of thinking "hey, now if we could generate a magnetic field of 10^23 Gauss, I bet some pretty cool shit would happen."

also; ts4. I just took it to mean 4th level classified. (top secret 4) (also note the top right where it says Classification: TS-4, and what a capital T looks like in that font.) (and how not f-ish it looks.) (also note how smart Pace is.) (and handsome.)

(Nightshade; remove the ). from the end of the url.)

chiasaur11's gravatar

30. I just thought of a possible problem.

Posted by chiasaur11 at 6:43AM, Tuesday October 20 2009

Minerva's a tiny bit like Durandal, and Foster loves the terminal style dialog. Bit similar to Marathon in that respect.

On the upside, this might mean part 2 will be excellent.

On the downside, it means, as confusing as Out of Time and Metastasis could be, the third one will probably generate brain aneurysm.

fuzz's gravatar

31. Durandal

Posted by fuzz at 11:21AM, Sunday October 25 2009

@chiasaur11 You're not wrong there, and if you look closely at some of the symbols in M:M (and on the forum) you might spot something familiar...

chiasaur11's gravatar

32. Well, I had a hunch...

Posted by chiasaur11 at 5:04AM, Monday October 26 2009

But the ad for Durandal-Be-Gone on the April fools day page sealed it.

Man. Durandal was awesome.

Mikel_S's gravatar

33. TS-4

Posted by Mikel_S at 11:01PM, Monday October 26 2009

Through the simple magic of MS Paint-fail, I think that those lines you can see separating the paper are fold-marks. Still looking into it, working my way up the ladder of imaging programs. Always start with paint.

Nightshade's gravatar

34. Re: TS-4

Posted by Nightshade at 5:46AM, Tuesday October 27 2009

Unfortunately I've arrived at the same conclusion, with no other results.

Looking forward to seeing whether you'll succeed, as I've ran out of ideas...

Mikel_S's gravatar

35. TS-4 cont'd

Posted by Mikel_S at 5:49PM, Tuesday October 27 2009

Anybody else find the hole-punch locations odd? Or is that just in the style of old ringed-binders? Still working on that image though, searching for ANYTHING. There's a group of crypto-freaks around here, they should have fun with it. That's actually a good idea... I'll see if I can get it to them.

Offtopic: I think your "Are you human?" checker is a fortune teller. I was just finishing cramming for a test I have in ten minutes. The human-checker words are "112 cram". The course number is 112. Freaky. well, now I'm logged in, so it went away, but it was still kinda creepy.

LuaPineapple's gravatar

36. TS-4

Posted by LuaPineapple at 2:47AM, Saturday October 31 2009

Seeing as TS-4 is repeated under 'Classification: TS-4', I think it's safe to say for now that it stands for 'Top Secret, Level 4', or something close to that.

LuaPineapple's gravatar

37. Photocopy?

Posted by LuaPineapple at 2:39AM, Sunday November 1 2009

It's a photocopy, but where's the original.

And if it's TS-4, how did they walk out with a photocopy? Who authorised that photocopy? Did they even have authorisation?

Izmo's gravatar

38. Numbers

Posted by Izmo at 7:32PM, Saturday November 7 2009

I was just wondering, what does those small numbers mean next to five words in that first chapter of the document.

#349-a(1) gradients(2) levels(3) emissions(4) direction(5)

Could it be a some sort of anagram?
(It has enough letters to produce at least "minerva". The numbers probably don't need to be included, just the "a")

I might be going nowhere with this, but when those words are put together, this is what it produces:


cypher543's gravatar

39. Re: Numbers

Posted by cypher543 at 12:58AM, Monday November 9 2009

Generally, superscript numbers point to footnotes. I'm going to guess that they're on another page or have been covered up.

fuzz's gravatar

40. Re: Numbers

Posted by fuzz at 6:45PM, Thursday December 17 2009

The -a in 349-a looks to me like it's referring to an appendix of the main document

Pyro's gravatar

41. Re: Numbers.

Posted by Pyro at 3:31AM, Friday December 18 2009

It's probably just a subsection, like a certain heading on that page.
I've also looked pretty closely, and I'm almost positive our mystery person's name is "Fischer".

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