Technology is a crucial part of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. It allows you superior fighting units, base infrastructure, terraforming options, and more. Any player that doesn't concentrate on researching new technologies will quickly be left behind.
Ways to gain technology
- Each faction begins with different technologies.
- Probe teams can steal technology from other teams.
- Technology can be given or traded between factions.
- Technology can be researched.
- If you allow it in the game settings, you can have supply pods randomly scattered across the map, which randomly provide various things when you find them, including technology.
- If you find an alien artifact and bring it back to a base with a network node, you can gain technology from it.
- The Data Angels faction automatically gains any technology known to any of the three other factions they have infiltrated with their probes. There is also a Secret Project anyone can attempt to build which does this, without needing to send probes to infiltrate enemy bases.
How to research technology
The Social Engineering menu is where you determine what percentage of your turn's excess energy goes to researching new technology in your labs. The default is 50%. The more energy you produce and allocate for labs, the faster things get researched.
Building certain base facilities will increase the amount of energy sent to your labs from the bases they are built in. Certain Secret Projects will help your lab output as well.
Different factions have various research bonuses or penalties.
Your Political, Economic, Value, and Society choices you make in the Social Engineering menu will also affect your research rating.
Which technologies appear when it's time to choose a research goal is determined by a complex and rather ridiculous system. At the start, the position of the seven factions on the start menu, affects which techs will appear. Then it is determined by what other technologies you have. Not just which ones you need to have before it though, but a complex system of groups either designed to make things as random as possible or just drive people insane. A fan made spreadsheet exists to help determine the path, but can only be used properly with Microsoft Excel to do all the macros. There is also a PDF file that lists all the possibilities.
- Network Node = Labs + 50%
- Research Hospital = Labs + 50%
- Biology Lab = +2 research
- Nanohospital = Labs + 50%
If you have 10 energy being produced at your base, 50% is 5. Having a Network Node, Research Hospital, and a Nanohospital would give you 15 points total.
- The Supercollider gives plus 100% to the labs at the base it is built at.
- Merchant Exchange allows for one more energy for each square worked at that base.
- Network Backbone gives you +1 to your labs for each energy credit you get from commerce at the base it is built at, plus a +1 bonus for every single network node built on the planet by any faction.
- Theory of Everything plus 100% for labs at the base its built at.
Ways to increase energy
Building solar arrays on energy bonuses and constructing bore holes everywhere, you will help you gain more energy. You can use supply crawlers to access it, even if they aren't in your base. It is best to choose one base to build all the secret projects that provide you with a lab bonus, and of course that base should also have all the base facilities to provide an even greater lab bonus. You can send supply crawlers to tap energy in the areas of other bases, or off in the wild. Drilling to the aquifer where a bore hole is will gain an extra energy point.
There are some technologies which provide you a free tech once you learn them. So even if you don't want them, you might as well do them, then get something else you were going to be researching instead.
- Secrets of the Human Brain
- Secrets of Creation
- Secrets of Alpha Centauri
Usually if you push your labs to 100% in your social engineering menu, you end up using more energy than you receive each turn. To make certain you don't run out, you can provoke the planet into sending native lifeforms for you to fight, you receiving ample energy credits for destroying them. Moving about fungus squares is a good way to attract addition early on. Once you are able to increase your mineral input enough, then you will have far more appear, and even in groups if your ecological damage is high enough. And large number of things arriving at once, will have most of them in one pile. Use any ground unit to kill just one of them, and it kills all of them that were stacked there, earning you hundreds of energy credits easily.