From Modder to Valve Employee; the MINERVA Story
MINERVA has undoubtedly inspired many modders over the years, and Foster, himself, has drawn inspiration from the works of other modders. One of his favorites includes Hell in a Can, a single-player mod for the original Quake, set in a faintly Alien-style starship. “You’re some kind of maintenance operative, being woken up at intervals to sort out various problems,” Foster described. “Suspense keeps building until the inevitable happens…”
Another Quake mod, Zerstörer: Testament of the Destroyer, features a map that “helped inspire the overall gameplay structure in MINERVA.” Quake 2′s modding scene saw an interconnected single-player map called Small Pile of Gibs. “If people thought the maps in MINERVA wrapped around themselves with overlapping spaces, they’re nothing compared to that Quake 2 map,” said Foster.
From the Half-Life era, Foster highlighted USS: Darkstar. “I remember it taking ages to download over expensive 14.4kb/s dialup. Splendid use of the original Half-Life’s assets to create a completely different environment. And then the later Poke646 gave everyone a taste of Half-Life 2 before anyone had the faintest idea what Half-Life 2 was.” For Half-Life 2, Foster heartily endorsed Research and Development. “Visual and puzzle design that made my jaw drop, then stay dropped. Fantastic.”
Foster forged his path to success by combining a passion for the craft, an awareness of the classics, and an understanding of how to work around his own limitations. MINERVA helped land him a job at Valve, and now Valve has helped land MINERVA on Steam — the circle is complete.
While Foster’s idea for a second chapter to MINERVA, which would have been titled Out of Time, now “lies dead but dreaming,” the mod’s director’s cut release on Steam has ensured that this classic won’t soon be forgotten.