What is the Matrix?
The Matrix is the vast information infrastructure of Cybersphere and likewise the Cyberpunk genre. In Gibson's works oft named The Nexus, the matrix closely if not exactly resembles our tangible world save for limitations defined only by the technology and the minds running it.
The basic concept of the matrix is that a decker, through a cybernetic implant called a Digital Neural Interface (DNI), connects into a 3d environment. Complete perception of all the senses remain untouched, save of course for enhancement; such as movement, cognitive augmentation and other like benefits of the hardware being used. Essentially the brain interfaces with the cyberdeck and thus expands its general functionality as far as technology can take it. Being so, things on the matrix often seem fantastical or other-worldly due to the ability to manipulate the coded systems presented using the increases. Much like a hacker could manipulate a website or system in our time, a decker could tamper with comparable systems on the matrix.
The Makeup of the 'Trix
The matrix consists of grids sectioned into specifics; the New Carthage Corporate Matrix and the Central New Carthage Matrix. This being said one can put together that the Corporate grid is a more guarded and more difficult intellectual accomplishment to conquer. The grids consist of nodes or systems constructed by various corporations and organizations. These nodes are connected to the grid and the grid acts like our connections to the internet act. Deckers traverse the grid using various softs or by moving along the grid and gain access to the nodes the same way we access web pages. Likewise each system has a specific address that can be accessed by certain softs to avoid the menial task of moving.
The makeup of each system is simple, an entrance node allows you to log in or gain basic access to a series of connected nodes. Much like physical rooms, each node can only be accessed by entering it from another through an exit much like a door. These doors are often protected by security systems called ICE and HICE. Certain software is used to move unconventionally or bypass such security.
Getting To The Highlines
The basic components to enter the matrix are as follows.
An eager, curious, and intelligent mind A DNI implant A cyberdeck and an active data connection to the matrix
As to obtaining the mind to conquer the matrix, you are alone on that one. However, the rest is easily found.
The DNI like all implants is found with any Cyberdoc.
The Cyberdeck is a trickier endeavor. There are NPC run stores that stock them, however, the vastness of the matrix makes it hard to explore with the likes of the low-end decks sold by NPCs. However, for starters Crazy Edo's has the basics. Also to note is the Acme Electronics Eastside. However, for the higher end decks and hardware player to player trades and sales are a must.
The only place to activate your datajack is at Edo's. However, due to socio-economic forces, some real estate locations are not eligible for access to the Matrix.
The difference between a deck and computer is the tactile interface. The majority of the deck's I/O is neurally interfaced; save for a small readout of tasks and other operations run directly through or into your machine (i.e. logging in and out of a system, running a soft or being hit by offensive software along with a myriad of other relatively inconsequential data.)
The workings of a deck are simple.
CPU determines the speed of your deck and therefore your overall performance. This includes soft efficiency and combat. Note that CPU is not needed to run a deck but plays a huge factor in the calculations of skill, intelligence and hardware versus soft execution etc. Without it, one depends on raw intelligence alone. RAM determines the amount of softs you can run in tandem. There are a wide variety of decks that sway on the pendulum of brand and function. Unlike CPU, RAM is essential for a deck to run. Without softs you are stuck on the grid or at best have very minimal system access. Lastly, Storage is likewise essential to running a deck. It's self-explanatory.
ROM, Coprocessors and RAM cards are all aftermarket addons that can enhance your decking experience greatly.
Some notable brands of cyberdecks and hardware are:
Gothix Industries New World Enterprises Green Knight The Black Obsidian Meht-Neuport Fuchi Epoch
Software on the matrix is like air on the meatside. Even with the most powerful of decks without software you can be rendered useless. There are many different specified soft categories. Here they are with an example some softs.
ICEB (Ice Breakers): They are used to break the security inside of systems to gain access to more vital regions. There are a wide variety of ICEBs. Some of mention; Enkian Borg, Gothix Krunch, Dotanuki, Echo. ICEBs can be player made using the Programming skill. ICEK (Ice Killers): Some systems resort to using an added feature to their security called HICE. These are Hostile ICE that will use offensive directly against you or your deck. ICEKs are used to destroy these constructs. The most widely used used ICEK is Hand Of God. DFNS (Shields): These are used to defend against HICE or other deckers. The value and rating of your shield is dependent on decking skill, hardware. Each hit will drop a numerical representation of your rating. After 0 it's bad news. Gothix Fractal Armor, and Crusader are mainly used shield softs. OFNS (Offensive): These are self-explanatory softs. Used solely against other deckers. Some will disconnect them from the system or if hit twice without shields the matrix, some burn the DNI, halt softs from being run and some go as far as to kill the decker. Spam, Scythe, NetWatch Glue, and NetWatch Blade are classic examples of offense softs. UTILS (Utilities): These are anything from a soft to change your identity on the matrix to searching a node for software to download. There are two many to list but some crucial ones are: Icescanners, dialers, telnet, search softs of any kind, copying software, virus shields and the likes. There may be hundreds of Utilities out there. WARD (Wardialers): These softs assist in matrix travel. Using a basic Cartesian system one can access a specific location on the grid they are on. An example would be travelling to "The DDS Mansion" one would use Gothix WarDialer and travel to address 13 13 1 (x, y, z) on the Central New Carthage Matrix. This form of transport is in lieu of walking using classic directions. It exists because some nodes do not attach to a grid's data line; which act as a type of street to the matrix. Keep in mind Wardialers are used to travel outside of nodes.
Note that there are a variety of other softs ranging from virii to communication softs.