Research is done the same way most other commodity production is done. Research doesn't use up any resources, however, but cronos from its city's treasury, equal to 1000 cronos times the TL of the building doing the research (or, if researched at a university, the TL of the relevant industry with the highest TL in the city), and its running time is equal to that many seconds, cut by half if you have computers.
After a research task has been executed and run, the building produces a technology "object" of that industry. The TL of that object is equal to the building which researched tech, or if you're researching at a university, the lower of the university and the industry TL, as mentioned above. TL 1 technologies are automatically discarded, as they don't have a use. However, everytime a research task has been completed, there is a 1% chance that a "breakthrough" will happen, and instead produce a technology object of the next tech level.
At every "cycle", i.e. every time a city report is written and mailed to government officials in an empire, or every 13 minutes, buildings in a city that has technology "objects" of a higher TL than that of the building will try to consume these objects. This causes the building's TL to upgrade to that of the technology. A building can indeed jump several tech levels in a single step this way. Technology objects can be distributed to any other cities in the same solar system with a broker and a building that permits importing (i.e. airports), per the usual trading mechanics.
For example, say that you are researching Mine Technology at one of your mines. The mine you are researching at is tech level 3, and is thus producing TL3 technology items every time the research task is run. However, there is a 1% chance that the mine will produce a TL4 technology item instead, instantly upgrading said mine to TL4. It will then start researching TL4 technology items instead, with the same 1% chance to produce a TL5 item. However, this is not always the case, as other mines in the city can just as well eat this technology, which forces you to track it down and make that building research instead.
Researching at a university is almost always preferred. Granted, there are disadvantages with researching at an university:
- Researching at a university takes 25% more time.
- The tech level of the research is limited to the tech level of the school and it is further limited to the highest tech level of the relevant industry in the city, as if the research were being performed at that industry.
However, researching at a university has a lot more advantages:
- All your research is focused in one spot. This means you don't have to run around all over the city to research several things at once.
- Universities check the TL of the highest TL industry in the city, not the TL of itself (unless it is lower). This means that it doesn't matter which particular building consumes the breakthrough technology, as it can keep producing technology of that TL and make breakthroughs of the TL above that. This is very handy if you leave research on overnight, as it can grow several tech levels.
For example, say that you were researching your Mine technology at an university. The TL of the university is 4, and that of the mine is 3. Suddenly, you have a breakthrough! A mine consumes the technology and grows to TL 4. Now your university produces TL 4 mine technology, which soon upgrades all of the mines in your city to TL 4. Another breakthrough happens, and one of the mines is upgraded to TL 5. However, the university still produces TL 4 technology, as its own TL is lower than that of the mine.
The general rule is, buildings are 5% extra effective per tech level beyond the first. For example, TL6 apartments have 25% more homes than TL 1 apartments, or five homes per building level instead of four. A TL11 spacecraft is 50% faster than the same spacecraft at TL1; its weapons and shields are 50% more effective; its sensors have 50% more range, etc. Also, an industry which produces commodities will produce materials of that TL, unless the TL of the materials used in the process are of a lower TL, in which case that TL is used instead. "Harvesting" buildings (Mines, wells etc.) instantly produce materials of their own TL. (For example, a TL 6 Ore mine combined with a TL 4 smelter will produce TL 4 metal.)
Technology also plays a special role when it comes to spacecraft. All spacecraft designs also have a certain TL, as mentioned above. To construct a spaceship of a higher TL, the spaceship factory and every material that is used in the spacecraft's construction must be of the corresponding TL.
Research Calculation FormulaEdit
Since the chance of getting research is 1%, and the chance of not getting any research is 99% it's possible to calculate the chance of getting at least one research (all you need to tech up) of the wanted type every cycle. The formula is one, minus the chance of getting no research at all:
[1-(0.99^n)] where n is the number of production lines. The following table will have the chance of discovery per cycle.
If having 4 level 8 universities all working on the same research, the chance of teching up in 10 cycles is about 96%