Guide to the Matrix
What Is the Matrix on AE?
The Matrix of the 24th century can be closely compared to the World Wide Web of our modern, real life time. The differences between our Internet and the AE Matrix lie mainly in its scope and in the scale of its immersion. Whereas people today connect to and look at the Internet from the outside, people in AE's timeline can connect and view the Matrix from the inside, interacting with data in virtual reality. (Similar to the 'Matrix' systems from the same-named series of films or the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.)
The Matrix has absorbed the modern functions of WiFi, GPS, and mobile cellular data and most if not all devices such as datapads (future Ipads/Chromebooks/laptops), holovids (Matrix connected 'smart TVs'), and digital book readers (Kindles) are assumed to be capable of connecting to and making use of the Matrix. Communicators and their auto-translators make use of the same connections, as do ship StarNav systems and countless other vital electronics that help to maintain some semblance of a functional society across the vast reaches of Sol. Devices are, for the most part, linked to the Matrix in the same way humans can be, and can be used to access corners of it's function without decking in completely.
In short, it would be strange to find a person who doesn't deck in at least occasionally, be it for online shopping or to catch up with friends. Occupying a personae to connect to the Matrix fully is about as common as using a Reddit or Facebook account is in our time. Some use it constantly, some only on rare occasion. The majority dabble without making it a lifestyle. The dedicated few who do make it their lifestyle are dubbed deckers, slicers, or hackers, depending on who you're talking to. They don't dabble or dip their toes into the Matrix, they know the tricks to wield it against their enemies and can manipulate it to do their bidding.
The scope of the Matrix versus the Internet is also worth touching on, as the increased scope of the former was the most significant motivator behind its development. The Internet was officially "retired" from use in 2052, by which time it was already a tired and clunky dinosaur struggling to accomplish all of what humanity needed. The launch of the Matrix was revolutionary for many reasons, but at the forefront of its achievements lay the ease with which it stabilized the literal and figurative connections used by mankind; from one edge of the Solar System to the other, communication became quick, easy, and smooth. Signal strength and dead sectors became a thing of the past. Whereas the Internet required wires, routers, and a certain proximity to some physical source, the Matrix is simply everywhere.
Cool, But How Do I Use It?
Though people interact with the Matrix's wireless capabilities day to day through phone calls and texts, a separate piece of equipment known as a "deck" is required to connect with one's personae to enter the virtual reality functions of the Matrix. Decks come in many shapes, sizes, and complexities. However, a basic deck (a common HAL-IV deck running WinTin OS alpha) can be purchased from the Z-Mart electronics department in Sector 7. For most users this is probably all they will ever need.
Once you have your deck, you will need to travel somewhere that has a physical matrix access point commonly referred to as a "node". Access points can be purchased for player homes (help phome) , but are also available in many public places. While it's unlikely for most public access points, some may be encrypted and must be decoded In-Character before they can be connected to. Dark nodes exist, but they are more complicated and difficult to detect.
This Shine Cyber Cafe in Sector 7 (Earth) is a good starting point for most beginning deckers as it is an unencrypted access point and connected to the entirety of the Sector 7 network. Travel Spire and then Travel Shine from almost anywhere on the Sector 7 grid to find it.
- Remember: "Decking in" leaves the body of your character vulnerable in "meatspace" when your consciousness is transferred into the Matrix.
Step by Step Guides to the Matrix
Matrix Connection Guide
- Get yourself a deck. You can find them for sale in the electronics aisle of Z-Mart, though player made ones will be considerably cheaper.
- Find yourself a wifi to connect to. Either set up your own one at home (SEE HELP PHOME) or locate one of the public ones (SEE HELP WIFI).
- With your deck in your inventory, type: deck deck in This will connect you to your deck, and put you 'inside' of it. This is your own personal space. But you need to link it to the Matrix to enter it...
- To view a list of available connections, type: connect. It will then display the name of the connections available and whether they are Open (no password required) or ENCRYPTED (password required).
- Type connect [connection name] or connect [connection name] [password]. It will go through a routine, and if successful it will create a link that you will be able to see if you type look: A data link to the [connection name] wifi node is here.
- Lastly, to enter the Matrix, type: Enter link.You will be able to explore around the Matrix and when you're done, either make your way back to the link to your deck and enter it again, or type: Return.
- Additional Notes: As you move around the Matrix, you will see: A data file hovers here. Knowledge about hacks, and decking skills can be learned from these files by typing: gather.
Compiling Your First Program or Persona Guide
- Firstly, buy your persona or program by entering into the Matrix, and buying one from one of the shops in the Shopping Network section. Within the Matrix, you need to target your phone to make the purchase, so: buy communicator 10.
- Once you have made your purchase, it will be delivered to you in meatspace by upex approximately an hour later. Once it has been, hold the chip and type: use chip. If you meet the decking requirements to learn it, it will be added to your compile list. If you do not, it'll tell you what you need to improve on.
- Deck into the Matrix and type: compile This will give you a list of programs that you can compile, their minimum deck quality and skill levels.
- To compile, type: compile [persona name|program name]. For example: compile witch.
- Before you can execute the program, you need to hack it, which brings us to the next guide...
Hacking Your First Compiled Program
After compiling your program, you will see the focus display, which consists of a number of triangles or values representing each of the five focuses: Firewall, Complexity, Security, Force, Caution.
The aim is to get each of these values to 0. Once they get to 0, they cannot be altered further. You can view this at any time by typing: focus. This is an example of how it may look:
| | | | | | | X | | | | | | XOX | | X | | | | XOOOX | | XOX | | | | FIREWALL | COMPLEXITY | SECURITY | FORCE | CAUTION | | | XOX | | | XOOXOOX | | | X | | | XOOOX | | | | | | XOX | | | | | | X | |Firewall: 3|Complex: -2|Security: 2|Force: 0|Caution: -4|
You can view your list of hacks by typing: hack. You can gain more hacks by gathering files that you find around the Matrix, or purchasing them from another Decker.
In the above example, firewall is at +3, so applying the hack titled '180Search Assistant' which does -3 to Firewall would bring it to 0, and Complexity to -1.
180Search Assistant (Spyware) F: -3 C: 1
This can be done by typing: hack 180search and would result in the following change in the example used:
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | X | | | | | | XOX | | | | FIREWALL | COMPLEXITY | SECURITY | FORCE | CAUTION | | | X | | | XOOXOOX | | | | | | XOOOX | | | | | | XOX | | | | | | X | |Firewall: 0|Complex: -1|Security: 2|Force: 0|Caution: -4|
If Firewall was at -3, you can invert the hack by typing: hack invert 180search. This will then mean instead of applying -3, it'd apply +3. A highlighted value will bring it closer to zero by the amount indicated.
You are limited on how many hacks you can use to compile and get the focuses to 0 by your decking skill.
Once the persona is compiled, you can use it with the execute command or launch. If it is a program, the command to start may vary. View that program's individual help file for more detail.
- Additional Notes: It can take a while to get the hang of compiling and hacking. And sometimes it can even take an experienced decker several times to hack it successfully and execute. Keep in mind that if you can't hack it, it may backlash and cause you minor injuries in meatspace. You can view your slicing skill with the: purchase command.