MINERVA: Episodic, Single-Player Half-Life 2

Yeah, so you've looked behind the curtain, only to discover the whole world is a carefully manufactured lie. But to what ends?

Well, I'm Adam Foster, and these are my experiments in Half-Life 2 mapping!

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Development Log

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Mapper's Block -

Still no new map. Been suffering slightly from mapper's block, so I've taken the rather interesting decision of working on the third map instead of the second. Things are moving again...

I think I'm going to wait until completing the three Metastasis maps (one released already, don't worry) before making one final, spectacularly giant MINERVA: Metastasis release. It'll take a bit longer, but it'll provide a nice resolution to one particular plotline. As well as raising yet more questions, but I think you'll have got the hang of it by now.

Other news: visitors to Moddb.com voted MINERVA as the eleventh best mod of 2005 - if you voted for me, many thanks! I was also really happy to see Mistake of Pythagoras in there as well, a gloriously eccentric single-player episode by the equally eccentric Koumei Satou. If you haven't played it yet, do so immediately!

Also, there's an interview with me in the February edition of Computer Gaming World magazine, page 34 to be precise. Contains Exclusive Screenshots of the next map! Also contains an overly optimistic release date! I've got a PDF copy which I'll post a version of after the magazine has left shop shelves - I've no idea when that might be, so I'll wait an extra month or so just in case. You really don't expect promptness around here, do you?

Finally, I've received quite a few emails from people saying that if MINERVA were to charge some small amount per episode, they'd be more than happy to pay. I really do appreciate the enthusiasm, but this project is entirely for my enjoyment. If you do have a few quid burning a hole in your pocket, there are some infinitely more worthy causes for your money to go to. Some suggestions follow.

I'll probably get flamed along the lines of "Ooh, look at him, being all pretentious with his links to charities!" Well, my response: look upon your own measly website infested with banner ads and contextual Google adverts and despair. ;-)

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Found in Translation -

Sadly, there's no new map yet. But there is a special treat for the Francophones of this world - a full French translation of MINERVA graciously provided by the Sarmatia project. Simply download the French patch file and follow the (fully localised!) instructions contained within.

For English-speakers, there's an interview posted by Halflife[2].nu from the beginning of December - I hadn't got round to posting a link to it yet so it may well be new to you. May contain ranting about certain modern games engines *cough* Doom 3 *cough* and subtle hints as to what awaits in the next MINERVA map. Which I hope to finish, ooh, eventually... ;-)

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Interview and Reviews -

Wow. I started this news item on Friday evening, and now it's late on a Monday. The good news is that I've been busy, and over the weekend Metastasis 2 actually gained some gameplay. Most of the geometry's done on the first section, and now I'm making it playable...

In other news, there's been lots of interest regarding my MINERVA project. Firstly, have an interview at IdleThumbs.net, containing Big Revelations about my Mapping Methodology (!); and next have some reviews courtesy of Ten Four Maps and 3D Gamers Edge, complete with Gold Awards:

Also good for the ego-boosting: Metastasis 1 has appeared on numerous magazine cover discs! I was very kindly sent a free copy of the December issue of PC Zone, in which there are a couple of screenshots and a mini-review in the magazine itself. I've lost count of how many emails I've sent agreeing to magazine distribution, so if you see it in print, let me know! Scans would be greatly appreciated.

I shall now get back to responding to some of the deluge of emails I've received - huge apologies if you've been kept waiting. Yes, I'm a bit slow! To make up for it, there's a tiny new plot fragment on the site...

Finally, to give you an idea of how big this project has grown: Das FileGoatMatic(R) reports 101,780 downloads. Bloody hell!

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Lack of Updates -

So much for the 'updates every Friday', eh?

Anyway, some news from the past few weeks. The missing-text-messages bug has officially been fixed (let Steam update Half-Life 2 for you), but some new MINERVA-crashing-on-startup bugs have appeared. It would appear some aspects of Steam are currently undergoing major work, and there have been updates just about every day of the past week - if you're having problems running the first map, quit Steam, restart and see if it updates.

MINERVA doesn't contain any new code, so it should ideally be impossible for it to crash Half-Life 2, but it seems it's exposed some nasty bug for certain people. But it is known about by Valve, and it is definitely being worked on!

In lighter news, there's now a MINERVA page in the new 'Browse Games' section of Steam. I noticed this because there have been around 10,000 extra downloads in the past few days - which I think just about makes up for the dozens of emailed reports of crashing. Thanks, Valve!

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Developments and Reviews -

Quiet developments. Work continues on Metastasis 2 and 3; plot is written and more concrete ideas for subsequent chapters are finalised. This is going to be quite a trip!

Some people have taken up the task of reviewing Metastasis 1, beyond the usual favourable comments in web forums or by email. This has the effect of encouraging the growth of my ego yet further, but I shall link to some reviews anyway.

  • Gamers With Jobs - no score, but describes my map as a 'genuinely compelling gaming experience' and a 'fresh slice of Half-Life 2 gameplay'. There's also the possibility of an interview there at some point as well. Watch this space...
  • The Mod Resource - 4/5, 'What a way to start' the MINERVA series, and 'you'll have a great time'. Criticises the lack of custom content, but hey, I'm one person!
  • Amped DX - 3.5/5, 'Minerva is a absolute blast from start to finish. This mod has excellent level design, along with some real neat effects and plenty of firefights to keep you busy through your journey.' Complains about length and lack of replayability, but I must confess I've played my map scores of times without getting (too) bored. Try taking different routes... ;-)
  • HLFallout forums - 9.5/10. Okay, it's a forum post, but someone wrote a nice little mini-review. Go me!

Of course, there's also reviews written in other languages. I assume they're favourable, notable quotations include 'Отличный мод, рекомендуемый к прохождению всем любителям модов Half-Life 2', '새로만든건 음악뿐이고 아주 기본적인 소스만 사용되었더군요' and 'Mohu jen doporučit!'

I really do need to organise some proper MINERVA translations - I'll be looking through the offers I've received already this weekend.

Oh, and the Friday mini-media release? Yeah, there's something up. A bit unexpected; I trawled the archives again... ;-)

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