Chapter 963: Farmers Only

Things were going… rather slowly for a while. It had been more than three weeks since I heard that prayer on death’s door, meaning that we were now more than a quarter of the way to the next meeting. So far, I hadn’t heard back from Balu yet about the ‘protection service’ I had offered, but there was still plenty of time left. As she had said, that business was most suitable for near the end of the Standard Month.

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That left me with little to do but waiting for my world to progress and working on my training. While it was certainly possible for me to skip ahead to let new technologies develop, it felt like it would be best to wait for that until I had finished completing my Martial Intent for both my gun and fist. At present, I had only touched the threshold of the gun intent, and had not made much progress with my fist.

As I was thinking about that and deciding where I wanted to train next, Terra’s voice spoke up in my mind. Mind coming to the Admin Room? We have some new systems for you to look over.

I couldn’t help but blink when I heard that. We? I responded back as I got up, preparing to make my way to my office.

Ashley and I. Her team has made some advancements, and they’re ready to be shown now. There was an obvious smile in Terra’s tone, but I had to admit that I was curious. She had told me about some interesting systems that the programming team was working on.

Without delay, I ascended to the Admin Room as soon as I was back in my office. Sure enough, both Ashley and Terra were already waiting for me in the conference room, a stack of papers sitting in front of Ashley. “How many systems have they come up with?” I muttered to myself as I moved to sit down, signaling for the two of them to begin.

“Just a few. Some of them have rather detailed specifications, though.” Ashley reported with a faint chuckle, squaring up the papers in front of her. “First of all… Terra told me that you were interested in a farming system to use the system to revitalize fields?”

“That’s right. It’s probably not all that important, since you can get fertilizer from Digital Conversion, but it would help in the long run.” When I said that, Ashley blinked, shaking her head.

“Using fertilizer that way isn’t really cost effective. There might be some slight gains, but that is the increase provided by the farmer themselves, not the fertilizer. After all, the fertilizer has to be of considerably high quality to nourish high level crops.” I paused when Ashley said that, glancing over at Terra questioningly.

“That’s why I didn’t list that as one of the feasible options… you were just so sure about it at the time that I wasn’t allowed to talk you out of it until someone did the research.” Terra gave a helpless shrug as she said that. “While the Digital Conversion system is undeniably one of the most powerful systems at your disposal, it is far from omnipotent.”

“Right… sorry about that. So, they finished the farming system?” I looked over at Ashley, who nodded her head.

“That’s right. It took a little while to finish because the code kept mutating based on different changes, making us go through and patch things in the weirdest places.” Ashley let out a long sigh as she explained. “The system’s code isn’t a single fixed programming language. Instead, it’s more… organic? The language of the code changes based on how it is used. The command to replenish essential minerals and nutrients in the soil on its own, when connected to the Class system to determine Farmer level, instead creates a vacuum and spawns killer rabbits.”

“Because of that, the code has to essentially be rewritten every time the language mutates, taking into account the known mutations. I’m fairly certain that the problem could be resolved with a better integrated development environment, but I don’t know enough about the mechanics behind the mutating code to create one.”

“The worst part is when we face a mutation we haven’t encountered yet, and the team has to try to learn the code from the ground up to figure out how to make it work. That’s the main reason why these systems take so long to complete, even now that I have a team working on it.”

“Doesn’t that mean that the rest of the systems will mutate as well, once you add this stuff in?” I asked in concern, though Ashley shook her head.

“Thankfully, that won’t happen. That’s because we already split the different systems into individual modules. Each one is its own file, they just reference each other. If there’s something to be happy about, it is that programming mutations won’t make the language themselves incompatible, and the system handles the translation. But if this was before we rewrote the system code, then yes… that would be a big problem.”

“But I digress, we did finish the farming system. According to the new design, a farmer can designate a plot of land as their field, and that field will always have nutrients capable of growing crops of a level based on the level of the farmer. Every ten levels the farmer gains, the field gains the nutrients to grow crops of one additional ‘ring’.”

My brows furrowed, already finding a small problem with this, but Ashley simply smiled. “This will also help farmers level up. Currently, the highest level of Farmer in the world is only just over three hundred. This means that they have a field with nutrients to grow a thirty ring food source. On the other hand, the most commonly sold crop ever since the last update hovers around forty rings. They will need to make up the difference with their own effort, additional fertilizer, and special techniques.”

“Next, farmers can expand their fields in the same way people expand their inventory, by paying a certain sum directly to the system. We expect that the most common use of this will be to buy an area around the main farm to plant ‘defensive crops’ to fight back any monsters aiming for their goods.”

“The growth rate of the crops can be accelerated in one of two ways. First, if there are more nutrients in the soil than necessary, the growth rate will increase accordingly. Secondly, if multiple farmers register the same plot of land, the nutrients provided will be linked to the highest level farmer, but the speed of the crop growth will increase based on the number of assistant farmers.”

“Lastly, there is an ‘auto-seeding’ option that can be purchased by the farmer. For a one-time cost per plot of land, any crops they harvest from that plot in the future will automatically be re-planted. That one is really just quality of life to help save the farmers some trouble.”

I gave a small nod, impressed with the system that they had designed. “And, this one has already been tested and confirmed to work without any world breaking bugs?”

Ashley nodded quickly at that. “Right. All of these systems have passed rigorous testing to ensure that there won’t be any problems with their use. We’ve tested all known plants, and even created some of our own hybrid crops for testing, and none of them had any problems. If anything does arrive, we can quickly release a hotfix to patch it.”

“In that case, I think this system would work really nicely. I’m sure that Tsubaki and Aznod will both be working on their own farms in Olympus, as well. The farming system is approved.”

After I said that, Ashley set aside two of the pages from the pile, before moving on to the next one. “Terra told me that she already informed you about the resource seed system?”

I nodded my head in confirmation. “That’s right. Given what you just told me about the farming system, I expect the two would have quite a lot of synergy?”

Ashley chuckled, her shoulders sagging slightly. “Oh… yeah. They do, alright. Once we were able to narrow down the definition of ‘natural resource’, so farmers weren’t able to grow already processed items. Now that was an interesting bug, when we found out that divine currency could be turned into seeds. Before you ask, yes we patched it. Only items that have not gone through any artificial processing can be used. And no pure, solidified energies.”

“So they won’t be able to plant Mage Heart or Blood Heart, then.” I nodded, relieved at that. If they did, it would remove the trade significance of those resources, and also negate the point of them respawning in the first place.

“Quite.” Ashley added. “I had the Inventory system modified to include tags for items, denoting them as weapons, armor, utility equipment, miscellaneous goods, natural resources, etcetera. Only items with the ‘natural resource’ tag can be used to create a seed. Additionally, the items are automatically rated based on their ‘level’. Basic iron from Earth is rated as a two ring resource, whereas iron taken from the fiftieth floor of Fyor is a fifty-five ring resource.”

My eyes went wide when I heard that comparison. I knew that the iron at that level was more dense, but it is hard for it to really set in just how much it has been compacted. If not for the system doing some shenanigans, it was likely that iron at the final floor would cause small-scale gravity distortions when brought to other worlds.

“I believe that this system will encourage more citizens to take up farming, as it will provide an alternative to obtain raw resources, aside from manual mining and Digital Conversion.”

After she said that, Ashley placed her hands on the stack of paper, looking at me to wait for my opinion. This system was… a bit strange, to be honest. I wouldn’t say that it was bad, per se. However, I also wouldn’t say that it was something urgently required. Closing my eyes, I thought about it for a moment. “I’ll approve this system, but only for Lorek and Spica.”

“…Interesting choice, mind if I ask why?” Ashley asked with an arched brow.

“Lorek and Spica already have less naturally than other worlds. For instance, they can’t use runic magic, familiars, or the natural divinity progression. Their only way to grow is through cultivation, unless they are willing to leave their world and get their advancements elsewhere.”

“Additionally, Spica has the full adaptation trait. This trait should heavily synergize with the farming, allowing crops to grow with less nutrients. While the crop might have some defects if the nutrients were insufficient, it wouldn’t be a problem for them to grow in the first place. At the same time, Lorek has vastly more space to cultivate crops.”

“Most importantly, it’s the time difference. At present, Lorek and Spica are moving twenty times faster than the other worlds. That means that the crops will mature twenty times faster than in any other world, allowing them to hit the market more easily.”

“If we limit the resource seed system to these two worlds, I think it will help bring Lorek and Spica back into a good economic position with the other realms.”

Looking around, Ashley seemed convinced by my explanation, while Terra had a strangely proud expression on her face. Ashley set aside the next batch of papers, ready to move on. “This last one is a sort of two-in-one mod for the Digital Conversion system. Two of my team members were each working on their own mods, until they noticed each other and started working together to combine them.”

“The first aspect of the mod is Digital Repair. If you have a broken item, and you possess the file for the complete item, you can use this system to repair it, rather than paying the cost for the replacement. For instance, say you have an iron sword, but it snaps in half. Rather than paying for a brand new sword, you offer up the pieces you have, and pay for any missing materials with a small bonus fee. After that, the item is restored to the saved file version.”

“The second aspect is Material Conversion. This requires two files, and allows you to edit details of those files with materials from another file. So, with that iron sword, you could use the file of an orichalcum ingot to create an orichalcum sword. This doesn’t work with any files containing living material, though. So no combining a slime with a numbasic ingot to create a numbasic slime… Aurivy tried to fight for that one. However, it just has too much room for horrific abuse.”

I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. A fusion system like that had too many ways that it could go wrong if it wasn’t properly managed. “I’ll approve of this one. However… before these systems go live, I want you to write a small patch to the Digital Conversion system.”

Ashley’s eyes widened slightly as I spoke, leaning forward to listen. “I want you to include a ‘copyright’ system for files. Crafters can register their creations with the system, and the system will not allow that specific item to have new files created. So, using your iron sword example. Someone makes an iron sword, they register it with the system. That one sword is then protected. Someone else can make their own sword and register it, but that is a different item.”

“This makes the original file more valuable, as the craftsman has control over the ownership of it. They can choose to give a copy of the file together with the weapon, but that file can’t then be copied again by the one who purchased it. If they later sell the weapon, they can either keep the file to make another one, possibly selling it again, or they trade over the file as well.”

“Once this copyright system is in, the price of these items will increase considerably as long as the original file is included. Meanwhile, an item without a file will drop in price to below what you would need to spend to produce it with Digital Conversion.”

Ashley pursed her lips, thinking about the request. “Give me a couple days. As long as the code doesn’t mutate heavily, my team should be able to get this done. It’s just a small tweak to the scanning function.”

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