Manhack Revolution

28th April 2006


This is a story for Half-Life 2. It is a specific story written to provide a background for a mod. I have no plans to make this mod; I just enjoy creating stories and concepts that could make mods. I will tell the story first and then describe the background and gameplay features.

The Story

As the name suggested there were many other cities beside City 17. Each were controlled centrally by the administrator but also had a degree of autonomy. Within certain limits they were allowed to administer the city as they saw fit and also to perform any research and development they felt useful. One such city was City 29. This was one of the last cities to be created and was a little smaller that the rest. It was also in a rich mineral and metallic deposit area and as such contained a large automated manufacturing facility that provided all the other cities with Manhacks.

The city also had chosen to do research on Earth’s insect life and analyse how any new knowledge could be incorporated into the Combine’s structure, organisation and operations. Whilst the Combine had contempt for human life they always took the opportunity to try and learn something from a planet’s other living beings. A good example is the Strider and Helicopter. These were modelled on real animals from other planets. The Combine’s philosophy was to examine the creatures it found and then adapt it to their needs and requirements. You only need to think about their name carefully to see that: The Combine. Combining the best of one species or animal with another to produce something better than both!

Although artificial Intelligence had never been a goal of the Combine (Much better to adapt living beings than create something new) the scientist in City 29 decided to upgrade the Manhack manufacturing facility with increase processing power. They modelled the plant on a hive. The controlling computer was considered the Queen, the robotic units that made the Manhacks were considered the workers and the Manhacks themselves were considered the ultimate goal. They continued to create as many as possible.

This system worked well for a long time when suddenly the scientists noticed that the system (Queen) began producing different Manhacks. They were specialised, some, larger and more powerful, others, smaller and more agile. However it wasn’t just a matter of size and strength, there were different abilities and functions. Some were more like soldiers and others were repair units. No longer was a Manhack left on the field of battle. Each was treated like a living being and brought back to the system.

At first the Combine’s scientists were delighted. This could prove a valuable contribution to the Combine’s plans and as such they would be rewarded. Slowly but surely the Manhacks became harder to control, the soldier who used them complained they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. It was as if they were taking their orders from somewhere else.

It soon became clear that the scientists had lost control over the system. Any attempt to enter the manufacturing plant was easily resisted. The manhacks never started active aggression against the Combine but neither did they tolerate any attempt to interfere with them. Production continued but supplies to other cities stopped. Of course City 29’s controller did his best to hide the truth and used a different excuse each week but he knew time was running out. The Administrator, Dr Breen, was due to visit the city next week to find out exactly what had happened.
Then suddenly contact was lost with City 17 and eventually the truth came out. A scientist from the original Black Mesa had caused a huge explosion and things were no longer in the Combine’s control. Since City 29 was quite small there were only a few rebels to worry about and no loss of order, things seem better. With the Administrator off his back City 29’s controller could retake control of the manufacturing plant and things would be back to normal.

That was until he realised that the Manhacks were attacking Combine soldiers and rebels alike. Little did he know that the explosion had been carefully monitored by the System and she (remember she is a Queen) had decided that all human were a threat to her hive and the best way to deal with this threat was to eradicate them. The Queen started a revolution!
You task is to get into the system and either kill the Queen or re-programme her to ignore rebels.

The Background

I have wanted to make a map that contained a huge dome and set within the roof area of the dome were little compartments for a long time. In each compartment waited a Manhack. The dome was more of a sphere and running through the centre was a suspended walkway, similar to the Cerebrum in X-Men. AS the player began to run across this walkway he would hear drone in the distance. This drone became louder and louder, suddenly the Manhacks would emerge from their compartments like angry bees looking to defend its hive. I imagined many variations of this theme, one for example started with the player running into a dark corridor and hearing the droning. The door shuts behind him and all he can hear is the noise getting louder and louder. Just before the Manhacks attack the lights go on.
I knew that on it’s own it would simply be an interesting map but need more details, that was when I started think about a story to go with it. I felt that with the Manhacks attacking both the rebels and Combine this could provide some interesting situations. The manufacturing plant could also provide a useful set of locations with the hive built secretly underneath. The system (Queen) would of course be the final boss. Although I hadn’t thought what form she would take there seem plenty of options.

There is also the possibility of the player being a Combine soldier instead of a rebel, but this is a minor detail. The mod would provide enough background to give the actions meaning and also allow for interesting locations and a different type of gameplay.

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