The Farmcraft Matrix

Hello, Neo.

No, there’s no white rabbit. You’re here because you have reached a certain level of competence in your gaming. You excel at those games requiring the management of multiple resources in strategic ways to overcome an opponent’s management strategies. Every choice, every decision, every instant makes a difference in the outcome. But you already know this.

You have played. It is time to live. We assume you want the red pill. Water?

We have a new challenge for you to try. Consider…farming. Listen carefully.

You have used programs to build up, stockpile, upgrade, coordinate, and respond decisively to changing circumstances. You have depended upon these programs to operate exactly as you tell them, consistently until you change them, and relentlessly until you stop or redirect them. Your new tools will not be as…consistent.

You will have at your disposal your wife and children. They are unpredictable, distractible, emotional, and vulnerable to many things that will affect you far less than they. They require varying amounts of supervision and appreciation to carry out the tasks your farm will require. They will need to be taught each task and made to practice it repeatedly under your supervision until they can do it to your satisfaction…and even then, they won’t be perfect. Neither will you.  Also, there is no way to click on a group and get all of them to do the same task at once or to go the same direction at once…unless food is involved. Are you up to these challenges?

Next, your supplies. Some of them will be found on the land you choose to occupy, especially wood and dirt. You may also find piles of trash, which sometimes have hidden treasures, so don’t avoid them. Dive in. Most supplies, however, must be bought, made, or borrowed. Make friends with your neighbors, and they may let you borrow some of their tools for special projects, but don’t abuse them or their trust in you. Take care of their tools and return them promptly for increased access in the future.

Balance the credits you earn from your jobs with the short-term and long-term needs of the farm and other parts of your life. But you’ve done this before. Upgrades take time, remember? But this time, there won’t be any bars slowly filling up to tell you it’s nearly time to reroute resources, or make a decision. You have to make your own indicators. I hope the Oracle had good news for you.

In addition, you must get acquainted with new opponents.

The smallest ones will be nearly invisible until they attack. You will hear them first, or feel them wiggling in your hair. They are nicknamed “bugs” because they bug you until you deal with them. They must not be underestimated. Preventative steps must be taken; many products are on the market. Find the one that works.

There are some larger small enemies, more dangerous and cunning, that will require traps, poisons, and tight defenses, even to the point of a dining room sweep, a dish washing, and a counter-wiping nightly to discourage their invasion. They are furry and cute, or additional bugs, but don’t let that fool you. They are dangerous and destructive; destroy on sight. Sons with BB guns might come in handy.

I said earlier there was no white rabbit. Your rabbits are camouflaged, but usually harmless. Opossums and raccoons, however, will break into sheds and garages to steal catfood, leftovers, or live ducks and chickens. Arm yourself accordingly. We suggest a low-caliber rifle, live traps, and secure doors. Yes, you get to kill the bad guys with a real gun. It will produce real blood, so get your stomach ready. And then you have to either burn or bury the body so other predators won’t start sniffing around.

Coyotes and hawks have proven to be rare inconveniences, but be prepared. You may also have to deal with bobcats, mountain lions, and bears, depending on your location. Eat neatly, and clean up carefully, and they will usually move on to easier food sources. Just don’t get careless.

Local humans can be both helpful and difficult. They are not competitors, so watch your tone and attitude towards them. They speak their own slang, so plan to learn the “country talk” that will help you get help from them when you need it. Just like you learn to ignore the programmed responses from digital characters in your game, you can learn to get along with the unusual responses from your country neighbors. Don’t expect them to do what is best for your goals; they have different goals of their own. They also have different experiences, so listen when they tell their stories. But take them with a grain of salt; many stories are exaggerated for emotional effect. Don’t try to top them.

And then, there’s the weather. It may not affect a digital world, but it has major impact on the real one, especially a farm, especially in Oklahoma, where every kind of weather on the planet likes to visit at least once a year. No one coordinates these visits into any kind of order or progression. You will have to prepare for all of them as much as you can, realizing that the only constant, dependable thing about the weather is its inconsistency. This might make for some interesting stories to share with the neighbors, and some unplanned community activities, such as redistribution of limited resources. Plan on doing lots of paperwork, making lots of phone calls, and forgetting passwords online in order to recover from these events. Yes, you must talk to people from a foreign country about the subtleties of a contract drawn up by lawyers regarding laws made by politicians about the land you live on that’s regulated by private companies just so you can see your way to the bathroom. Real life is more complicated than even the most engrossing video game imaginable. And then unpredictable people change it…again. Welcome to the desert of the Real.

What blue pill? You’re not giving up so easily, are you? I thought your courage was legendary; aren’t you the one who’s known for bold, unexpected maneuvers in the heat of battle? Aren’t you the one who’s tenacity is willing to forego food, sleep, and social interaction just to conquer and overcome? Aren’t you the gamer so devoted to a story that you forget about birthdays, holidays, daylight, mealtimes, and people’s names?

Well, if you see that gamer, let him know the Game of Life thinks it can chew him up and spit him out in many small pieces. Also let him know that God thinks otherwise, and has some really cool upgrades waiting for him, and that the ending is SO worth finishing the game.

Yeah, I thought you might be interested.

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