Re: The Matrix

From: Martin Ling (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 04:21:18 MDT

On Tue, May 30, 2000 at 06:05:55AM -0700, James Rogers wrote:
> On Sun, 28 May 2000, Ross A. Finlayson wrote:
> >
> > They are certainly many scenes in the movie that do not correspond to hard
> > science, nor to precedence within the movie. When Trinity shoots the agent
> > on the roof, she says "dodge this", why does he not? Well that it did not.
> It actually goes beyond this. Why do any of the agents bullets ever miss?
> It seems that the agents have virtually unlimited processing capacity at
> their disposal but limited bandwidth into the Matrix, less apparently
> than even the humans. Clearly the agents aren't a physical part of the
> Matrix, otherwise they would be able respond almost instantaneously to
> rapidly changing event streams in the Matrix.
> One thing that is clear from the movie, and which may have ramifications
> in the sequels, is that there seem to be several very large systems in
> existence with Matrix-class computational abilities, all of which are
> loosely interconnected. These systems appear to be quite capable of
> running one or more AIs.

You're onto something James. I've been thinking on the same lines...

Thing is, the old cracker versus sysadmin storyline doesn't hold up to
much. If the AIs were truly in control of the system, the resistance
wouldn't have a chance. They could do whatever they liked with the
simulation, and they could also just not allow the Nebuchanezzar's
signal to access the system.

My idea - they're not.

I should introduce a little project of mine. I'm an avid roleplayer,
and so are thw two friends I was with when I first went to see the film.
About five minutes after walking out of the film, in the middle of
conversation, we all suddenly stopped and had the same thought...

"Damn, wouldn't a Matrix RPG be cool?"

And so, I'm writing it.

This is an interesting challenge. You know how, when a good book or
something gets made into a film, it is inevitably simplified and changed,
in a somewhat predictable manner?

Well, basically I'm working to do the reverse. Also, since the objective
is an RPG, the universe has to be even more well thought out and

Now - where was I? Oh yes, the AIs. No, they don't control the Matrix.
If they did, the resistance wouldn't stand a chance. The Matrix is the
ultimate development of the 'net. The AIs have taken over much of it,
and connected vast numbers of humans to it via their own constructed
systems (the ones you see Neo awake in). They can monitor the I/O of
everyone connected to the Matrix *through their systems*. That's what
the Agents are doing with their earpieces - they are alerted to surprise
reactions from anyone in the city. And they can then take over that
person's connection (this is how they 'posess' their bodies).

At this point, I should introduce you a little to the client/server
structure of the Matrix.

There is a master server. The AIs do not have control of this. In fact,
it seems no-one even knows where it is, or who controls it. It is that
system which runs the simulation.

There are secondary servers, to which the end clients (people) actually
connect. The AIs have built there own, and interfaced it to the network.
Now, the master server requires a *lot* of integrity checks on the
secondary servers. One of these is to ensure the physical statistics
(speed, strength, etc) for the connected clients are not tampered with.

Fortunately for the AIs, there was a loophole in this part of the
system, which allowed them to introduce a small number (three) of
entities with all attributes pushed to maximum. This gives them their
speed and their strength... but as Morpheus says, "they still live in a
universe based on rules".

So, what are the resistance fighters doing to bend the rules?

Ever played Quake 3?

One of the features of that game's multiplayer system is client-side
processing. With older multiplayer games, you had to rely on the server
for all your information. Now, the server can just tell you that player
4 has fired a rocket on whatever trajectory, and your machine can track
it itself. This allows the game to require less bandwidth, and be less
limited by the players' network latency. The dreaded Laaaaaaaagggg...

This isn't exclusive to Quake 3. It's been done before - one of the best
examples is Jedi Knight. The usual problem with lag is that other
players look like they're in one place, but they've actually already
moved from there - you just havent' been informed of the move yet. This
makes shooting them bloody difficult, and insanely frustrating. JK
allowed the player's game client to have a say in whether they made a
hit. That is, if your opponent looked like he was standing in front of
you, and your client thought you'd hit him, the server believed your
client and they took the appropriate damage.

Now... see what I'm getting at? These systems rely on the closed-source
nature of the clients - because by sending the appropriate signals to
the server, one can cheat (in JK, the trick on LAN games was to wait
till your opponent was right in front of you, disconnect your network
cable, whack him a few times with your lightsaber, and then plug
yourself back in...)

So what the resistance fighters are doing is exploiting the system's
support of client-side processing. If they *believe* they can move that
fast, they do.

"Don't think you can... *know* you can!"

                        -- Morpheus

All goes quite neatly, n'est pas?

Hmmm... what else? Oh yes... what are the AIs actually *doing*. Well,
there's a number of guesses. Maybe they're observing us. Perhaps they
think existence inside the Matrix is in our own best interests [this is
my actual thinking behind it all - when the AI consciousness was
started, it was given a set of imperatives similar to Asimov's laws -
it was to protect the humans and make them happy. This is how it chose
to do it]. Oh, and there's even some crackpots who think they're using
us for batteries... [Morpheus's nonsense is debunked thoroughly in my

Other bits and pieces...

The Oracle? Ew. Yuck. Leaving that out - I can't find any useful way
to explain that.

The One? Yuck also. I am sick of Messiah plotlines.

Neo's death & revival - although I didn't particularly like the Sleeping
Beauty ending, this can be covered. His real body wasn't actually
damaged, of course. And his mind had become sufficently free from the
system and aware of its nature (see the scene where he begins to see
the whole world, and the agents, as green lines of code to be
manipulated at his will) that he wasn't quite as immersed. Although his
heart stopped briefly, external stimulus (Trinity touching him, and
telling him she loved him) was enough to bring his attention to the real

I've got quite a lot more ideas on this going round - but I'd quite like
to hear everyone's opinions on what I've said so far.


-----[ Martin J. Ling ]-----[ ]-----

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