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Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Alpha Centauri cover
Developer(s) Firaxis Games
Publisher(s) Aspyr (Mac OS)
Electronic Arts (Windows)
Loki Software (Linux)
Designer(s) Brian Reynolds
Sid Meier
Timothy Train
Douglas Kaufman
Bing Gordon
Engine JACKAL
Platform(s) Linux (DEC Alpha/PowerPC/x86), Mac OS, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) (Win)
NA February 12, 1999
EU February 17, 1999
(Mac)
NA February 2000
EU March 10, 2000
(Linux 2.2)
April, 2001
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy (4X)
Mode(s) Single player; multiplayer (over IPX, TCP/IP or modem)
Rating(s) ELSPA: 3+
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Media Compact Disc (1)
System requirements

Intel Pentium 133 MHz CPU, 16 Megabytes RAM, 600 MB Hard disk

Input methods Keyboard, mouse

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (sometimes abbreviated to SMAC or Alpha Centauri) is a turn-based strategy computer game created by Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier in 1999 for the company they created along with Jeff Briggs, Firaxis Games.[1] The story entails the colonization of a planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. It picks up where Meier and Reynolds' earlier titles, Civilization and Civilization II, left off. An expansion pack called Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire (aka SMACX or just SMAX) was also released.[1] Although being popular with gamers and critically acclaimed, the game never reached the heights of success of the Civilization games. Pre-patched versions of Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire were later bundled together in the Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack.[2] The game has also been released under the Sold-Out Software label.

Brendan Casey (scient) released Version 1.0 of the Unofficial SMAC/X Patch, which fixes some bugs in Alpha Centauri on May 7, 2010.[3] His project began in February 2009 at Apolyton's Alpha Centauri site[4] and moved in June 2009 to the Civilization Gaming Network,[5] where he will continue developing further versions of the patch.[6]

Storyline Edit

Unlike Civilization, where actual human history serves as a backstory, Alpha Centauri has its own distinct storyline about the establishment, advancement and ultimate fate of humanity on the planet Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system. The backstory is told in depth by Alpha Centauri multimedia producer Mike Ely and it begins where Civilization ends.

By the year 2060, human civilization on planet Earth has been ravaged by war, famine, pollution and poverty. In a final effort to give humanity a fresh start, the U.N. launches the Starship Unity. Ten thousand crew and colonists, under the leadership of Captain Garland and bearing nothing to signify their country of origin, are placed in cryogenic sleep. They depart on a decades long journey to colonize the planet "Chiron" in the Alpha Centauri system.

Forty years pass without incident to ship or crew. With the Unity only days away from planetfall, a core malfunction awakens the crew prematurely. As they attempt repairs, an unknown assailant kills the ship's captain. Panic and confusion follow in its wake. Seven leaders are able to restore order but it comes at the cost of the original mission. The colonists reorganize themselves into seven groups, each following one of the leaders. Aligned now not by nationality but by ideology, each faction takes control of a colony pod. The Unity, its operations neglected, breaks apart in high orbit around Chiron, now named "Planet." Colony pods, resources and supplies are scattered on the surface and humanity begins constructing civilization anew.

The main story is woven into the gameplay and is gradually revealed as the player discovers new technologies, builds new city facilities and completes secret projects. It reveals the true nature of Planet, its biological life and humanity's role in its development.

GameplayEdit

OverviewEdit

Alpha Centauri screenshot 2

Alpha Centauri Base management screenshot

Gameplay is structured into turns where the player must advance their faction's standing relative to their competitors. The player's tasks fall into 4 overlapping categories: technology research, map exploration (and control), infrastructure development and military conquest. These categories correspond with the available victory conditions: military conquest, technological transcendence, economic dominance or diplomatic agreement.[7] These options were an improvement to other games of its genre which limited the player to either military or economic victories. Each faction has its own personality, strengths and weakness. While this predisposes them to certain victory conditions, the game is flexible enough to allow the player to follow their own path.

Most of the player's turn-by-turn decisions involve managing bases and units. Other important ones include directing technological research and allocating excess income. Almost all involve a trade-off between competing priorities.

Bases are the building blocks of each faction. They establish the borders, collect resources and produce items. A base is limited to producing one item at a time: a unit, base facility or secret project.

Units are of two types: military and worker. Like their Civilization counterparts, military units are used exclusively for attack and defense and workers are exclusively used to improve the map tiles allowing a nearby base to gather more resources. Unlike their Civilization counterparts, they are fully customizable.

Facilities improve a Base's ability to gather resources or produce items.

A base can forgo unit or facility production in favor of producing a Secret Project. While facilities directly impact only the base that builds it, Secret Projects (usually) confers a faction-wide benefit.

Each faction can research one technology at a time. Research takes several turns to complete but can be affected by micromanaging bases to yield additional income (at the cost of base growth or production) or by forgoing deposits into the faction's treasury. Once a technology has been fully researched, it unlocks new base facilities or unit improvements.

Bases Edit

Bases are the cornerstone of a Faction. Analogous to Cities in Civilization, they build units, collect resources, can be captured or destroyed. Bases are built from units equipped with a Colony Pod and can be built, with few restrictions, on both land and water. Its primary elements are its resource squares, Citizens and Production Queue.

A base collects resources from the surrounding resource squares by assigning one Citizen to a square. Thus the more Citizens a base has, the more squares it can work and the more resources it can gather. Each square can produce three types of resources, Nutrients, Minerals and Energy, and may be improved to increase its yield.

Nutrients support the existing Citizens (each Citizen deducts one unit of harvested Nutrients); any surplus at the end of each turn is added to existing stockpile, and once you have enough, an additional citizen is made. If you have a shortfall, then citizens will begin leaving. Minerals are used to build Units, Facilities and Secret Projects. The more minerals a base harvests, the fewer turns it takes to complete its production. Units require mineral support and will deduct a single mineral from its home Base. Energy is used to support base facilities. Any surplus is automatically converted into a combination of Psych points, Lab points and Energy credits.

Psych points improve the Citizens, turning Drones into Citizens and Citizens into Talents. Lab points feed into the faction's accumulated technology research. The more lab points are generated, the faster new technologies are discovered. Energy credits are banked and can be spent to hurry a Base's production item, upgrade military units or fund their activities.

A Base's inhabitants are one of three types: Drone, Citizen or Talent. The amount of Psych points a Base produces determines the types of inhabitants it has. Citizens, an only Citizens, can be used to harvest resources from the surrounding squares. Talents and Drones stay within the base. Talents (of which there are several types) confer bonuses to the base's production: a Talent may produce extra energy credits, Psych or Lab points or extra minerals. There is only one type of Drone. They cannot be used to harvest resource squares, do not produce bonus resources and will shut down a base's output (production, energy credits, lab and psych points) if they exceed the number of Talents. The more Psych points it produces, the more Talents and fewer Drones in a Base's citizenry.

New citizens are produced when a base accumulates excess nutrients. The amount of nutrients needed to create growth becomes higher as the population multiplies. Social engineering choices or facilities can help reduce this required amount during each stage of growth. If the base's population reaches 127 (i.e. 127000+) the next increase incorrectly rolls over to -128 as the base population size is stored in a signed 8-bit value.

Lab points from all bases are "banked" at the end of each turn. When the accumulated points reaches a threshold set by the current technology being research, the technology is discovered.

A Base can build units, facilities and secret projects. Facilities, analogous Buildings in Civilization, improve some aspect of the base it is built in: increased lab points, faster production time, stronger unties, etc. Secret Projects, comparable to the Great Wonders in Civilization, confer faction-wide benefits but are expensive and can only be built once; once built, no other faction may build it and if destroyed it cannot be rebuilt.

Units and combat Edit

A unit is made up from different components such as chassis, weapon, armor, reactor, and special ability slots. Unlike the Civilization series proper, units come in default designs but can also be customized by the player. As new technologies become available, old designs may be brought up to date and existing units upgraded. The first of a new type of unit is considered a prototype and generally cost 50% more than the normal production model will.[8]

Generally, only friendly units (the player's own or those of a pact ally) can occupy the same square. Enemy units must be eliminated (or, in some cases, forced to withdraw) in order to move into their square. Combat is usually initiated when a unit belonging to one faction attempts to enter a square occupied by a unit/units of a hostile faction. Many factors affect the outcome of combat, including:

  • The attacking unit's weapon rating;
  • The defending unit's armor rating;
  • The hit points of both units, capped by the type of reactor used;
  • The morale status of both units;
  • Any attack or defense modifiers brought about by base facilities, Secret Projects, faction abilities, unit special abilities and terrain effects.

Researching certain new technologies unlocks progressively better equipment. Possessing certain support infrastructure (such as Command Centers), creating units with certain special abilities (such as High Morale), and having a positive morale rating in social engineering will all confer morale bonuses to new units, effectively enhancing their strength multiplier; conversely, a negative morale rating will incur morale penalties on new units. Also, gaining access to the mysterious alien monoliths that dot the planet, or defeating enough enemies to gain experience, will upgrade an existing unit's morale.[9]

Psionic combat ignores conventional components and circumstances, focusing instead on morale, and gives a bonus to the attacker if the combat takes place on land. It is resolved normally. Native life forms fight psionically, and some components enhance a unit's psionic ability or permit it to make psionic attacks. It is also possible to cultivate native life forms under a player's control. Here the equivalent of morale is determined by ecological status and breeding techniques, rather than infrastructure. Psi combat also takes priority over regular combat, so that if either attacker or defender is psi-capable then psi combat occurs in place of regular combat. Attacks that occur from a distance, such as missile strikes and artillery or naval bombardments, are an exception to this priority.[9]

There are a number of different unit types on land, sea and air, each with specific special properties and movement speeds. Air units are not initially available and require considerable technical development. Conventional missiles are a special type of single-use unit. Planetbuster missiles blast holes in continents, but provoke extreme global warming, a frenzied assault from native life, and causing all other human factions to declare vendetta upon you.[8]

The Datalinks Edit

The Datalinks, similar to Civilization's Civilopedia, contain information crucial to playing the game. Most important is the tech tree, which shows a complete system of all technologies available in the game, along with prerequisite technologies and all benefits the technology gives (new chassis, weapon, armor, reactor, or special ability types, along with new terraformer abilities, base facilities and secret projects, bonuses to xenofungus squares, social engineering choices, etc.) In all technology trades the game allows consulting the Datalinks to find exactly what is being offered (or demanded).[8]

In addition, the Datalinks store the quotes involved with all technologies and secret projects. Many Alpha Centauri fans enjoy the quotes in particular and the thought behind them. The game's creators developed the personality and ideology of all the faction leaders through these quotes, as well as thoughts on human psychology. For instance, the Virtual World secret project is accompanied by Chairman Yang's view that reality is only what one perceives it to be, while Provost Zakharov denounces the general simplistic views on genetics when such technologies are discovered.[9]

Tying the imaginary technology of the Datalinks into real intellectual history are quotes from Plato, Machiavelli, Immanuel Kant, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Sir Thomas More, Albert Einstein, Saint Augustine, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sun Tzu, Lao Tzu, Herman Melville, Jules Verne, John Milton, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Søren Kierkegaard interspersed among those from the game's characters, as well as references to traditional songs and sayings from Earth.[10]

Terrain Edit

The game is represented on an isometric map of the planet surface, upon which bases are built and units deployed. Local features of the terrain influence the amount of resources a base harvests from any particular square. For example, rocky squares yield minerals but no food unless cleared, while river squares produce extra energy. The altitude of terrain influences how much energy can be harvested there, can create rain shadows downwind, etc. Terrain can be enhanced and altered (including raising and lowering altitude) by units equipped with a terraformer module. The terrain also affects combat. For example, defending units receive a +50% bonus in rocky squares, while artillery units receive bonuses when attacking from higher elevation.[8]

There are also several "landmarks" that are featured on the standard maps and generated on the random maps. These landmarks include The Garland Crater, Mount Planet, Pholus Ridge, The New Sargasso, and The Ruins. Many of these are good locations to build bases at due to their resource output, but others, such as the New Sargasso (Sea) result in negative effects, as it is filled with native life. Additionally there are numerous features named on the standard maps such as Eurytion Bay which improve the feel of the maps but have no effect on gameplay.

There is also the Unique ability to allow a player to name areas on the map. However, like a few of the random features on the map, these names have no real ingame impact.

Native life Edit

Main article: Native life (SMAC)

Adding to the trouble of the human factions is a pinkish-red indigenous semi-sentient fungus (xenofungus) that spans the planet. Concentrations of it can spawn more aggressive native life forms, the most basic of which are known as mind worms. Mind worms and other native life act as the planet's immune system, reacting to heavy industrial pollution by attacking offending cities and installations. On the flip side, mind worms can be captured by factions with a deep understanding of Planet's fragile ecology and used as instruments of war and police.[9]

Also, in addition to native life there are certain structures dotted across the map called monoliths. These monoliths will upgrade any attack-based unit by one level only once. Every other time they are landed on, they merely heal the unit, making them good places to fight or skirmish if they are controlled. Within many maps there is a ring of monoliths that fills all the squares in a 3x3 section of the map except the middle square with monoliths. These are called The Ruins by the game. This is a key point, as monoliths give the base an even "2" of every resource (nutrient, minerals, and energy). However, in most games this area is covered in xenofungus, so in order to build a base there (bases cannot be built in xenofungus) a player will need to have a former come down and clear it off. But beware: clearing too much fungus is considered polluting, and Planet may become angry and send mindworms to attack offending formers.[9]

  • Note* even if the land that The Ruins was on submerges, the monoliths will be there. They cannot ever be destroyed unless a random event makes them "disappear" as happens on rare occasions when a unit attempts to use them.

Once in a while, what appears as a drop pod from the Unity turns out to be a purple "alien artifact." These immensely valuable items may be used to finish prototypes or secret projects more quickly, or to reveal a new technology when combined with the Network Node base facility or the Network Backbone secret project.[8]

In the course of the storyline, it is discovered that all xenofungus collectively forms a massive neural network, making the entire ecosystem a colossal group mind. It grows increasingly intelligent as the game progresses, even beginning communications with faction leaders in cut-scenes from time to time. The "Planetmind" is suspicious of humans and will defend itself if necessary. Faction leader quotes scattered throughout the game reveal that all of them, with the notable exception of Lady Deirdre—the first leader to have a conversation with the Planetmind—consider the emerging mind to be highly dangerous. This is due to the fact that the final growth stage is self-destructive, and will take humanity with it. However, the Transcendence victory condition allows the player to unite human consciousness with the Planetmind, helping it avoid self-destruction and propelling humanity to a new plane of existence.

DiplomacyEdit

When two factions have established contact, they can engage in a variety of diplomatic actions. New technology, energy credits and bases can be bargained for, given away or demanded with the threat of force. Factions can sign treaties and pacts, declare war or ask for a temporary cessation of hostilities. Treaties lead to commerce between faction bases and an increase in income for both factions. Pacts allow units to enter allied-held territory and bases, and double the commerce modifier between the two factions. Computer controlled factions will remember past dealings, betrayals and atrocities, and will base their reactions (modified by the leader's personality) to the player's diplomatic overtures accordingly.[9]

Once one human faction has made contact with all other human factions, it can choose to convene the Planetary Council and elect a Planetary Governor. Thereafter, factions can periodically convene the council (at most once every 20 years (turns) for each faction; the Planetary Governor only has to wait 10 years) to make proposals such as electing a new governor, salvaging the Unity fusion reactor core to gain a large amount of energy credits for each faction, lower sea levels via satellite shades or raise them by melting the polar ice caps, eliminate the ban on atrocities like weapons of mass destruction, killing civilians with gas or punishing rioters by nerve-stapling, or creating or repealing a global trade pact. With the exception of the Planetary Governor or Supreme Leader elections, each faction has one vote, with the governor holding veto power. In Planetary Governor or Supreme Leader elections, each faction casts a number of votes based on its total population and modifiers from faction ability and secret projects.[8]

SocietyEdit

Despite being set in the future, the problems of human society still plague the inhabitants of Chiron. Reflecting this are the existence of drones in the population. Drones represent the undereducated, discontent segments of society. When the number of drones overwhelms the number of well educated citizens, called Talents, a drone riot occurs. During a drone riot all productive activity within the base is suspended. If not stopped, prolonged drone riots will eventually escalate in severity until facilities are destroyed or, in extreme cases, the entire city defects to another faction.[8]

Drone riots can be suppressed through the use of in-base military units as police. The amount of suppression allowed depends on the degree of tolerance the society, under current social engineering models, has for policing and on special police training the units may have. There also exists the temporary and more extreme solution of nerve stapling. This directly suppresses the violent tendencies of the population, preventing drone riots for a short period of time, but carrying it out is considered an atrocity and will negatively impact diplomatic interactions. Also, the base facility called Punishment Sphere, among other effects, eliminates all drones from a base's population; the secret project named The Telepathic Matrix, among other effects, does not eliminate drones but means they will never riot in any base of the player who controls it.[9]

Social Engineering Edit

Social engineering is another decisive game element reflecting human nature. Political, economic, social and future society models may be chosen. Each choice has its benefits and drawbacks, shown in a technical manner in-game by altering listed values which reflect how a faction operates overall. For instance, a good "INDUSTRY" rating improves build speeds and a good "ECONOMY" rating increases a faction's wealth.[8]

Social engineering plays an important role in game diplomacy with computer players. Players that presently utilize the social engineering preference of a particular faction may have improved diplomatic relations with that faction. However, if a player has made a different social engineering ideal in whatever area of society (government, economy, values, or future society) a computer player's social choice lies, diplomatic relations will become strained, sometimes leading to outright vendetta.

At the beginning of each game, each faction is designated a particular social engineering preference and a particular social engineering aversion. Computer players must use their social engineering preference as soon as it is available, while all players (regardless of whether they are human or computer) may not use their social engineering aversion. Normally, the preference and aversion reflect the apparent ideologies of the faction (e.g. the Gaians favor Green economics and abhor Free Market economics). However, the player has the option to randomize the social agendas of all computer players. If this option is selected, the social engineering aversion of the faction remains the same. Consequently, it is possible for any faction to have the same social engineering choice as a preference and an aversion. In such a case, the player will still support that particular social engineering choice in diplomatic relations but cannot use that particular choice.[8][9]

Factions Edit

Main article: factions (SMAC)

The original game had seven factions. The Alien Crossfire expansion adds seven more.

Victory conditions Edit

There are several victory methods available in Alpha Centauri. As well, it is possible to have a cooperative victory, allowing multiple pact-bonded factions to win the game if one of the factions achieves one of the following methods.

Conquest
A victory by conquest occurs when all factions are annihilated or have surrendered to one player. If cooperative victory is enabled then there may be up to three pact siblings who can share the victory (excluding those who have surrendered).
Economic
When a player has enough energy reserves (roughly equal to what it would take to mind-control all the remaining cities on Planet), he or she can win the game through economic victory by cornering the global energy market. This takes 20 turns to achieve, and can be prevented if during this time the faction's headquarters falls to an enemy.
Diplomatic
A player achieves diplomatic victory by uniting the Planetary Council behind him or her. To do this, the player must get 75% of the votes, by population, at Planetary Council. If the vote succeeds but remaining factions oppose the decision, they must be eliminated by force to achieve a victory by conquest.
Transcendence
The transcendence victory is achieved by building the Ascent to Transcendence secret project, which becomes available after the Voice of Planet secret project has been built (by any faction). This concept of a post-human era is very closely related to the idea of the technological singularity. After this project is built the human inhabitants of Chiron leave their material bodies to merge with the emerged planet intelligence.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Inspirations Edit

According to the game's designer, much inspiration for the game came from "classic works of science fiction".[8] Reynolds cites Frank Herbert's novel The Jesus Incident as a clear inspiration.[11] The native life and singular planet mind of the game draws heavily from this book. The concept of presenting quotes with every achievement also comes from The Jesus Incident.

Chiron (the name of the planet) is the name of the only non-barbaric centaur in Greek mythology and an important lore-giver and teacher for humanity. It also is an homage to James P. Hogan's 1982 space opera novel Voyage from Yesteryear, where a human colony is artificially created at Alpha Centauri by automatic probe on a planet later named by colonists as Chiron. Chiron in the game has two moons, named after the centaurs Nessus and Pholus, with the combined tidal force of Earth's Moon, and is the second planet out from Alpha Centauri A, the innermost planet being the Mercury-like planet named after the centaur Eurytion. Alpha Centauri B is also dubbed Hercules, a reference to him killing several centaurs in mythology, and the second star preventing the formation of larger planets.

The arrival on Chiron is referred to as "Planetfall", which is a term used in many science fiction novels, including Robert A. Heinlein's Future History series, and Infocom's celebrated comic interactive fiction adventure Planetfall. Vernor Vinge's concept of technological singularity is the origin of the Transcendence concept.

The game's cutscenes use montages of live-action video, CGI, or both; most of the former is from the 1992 experimental documentary Baraka.

TechnologyEdit

Alpha Centauri employed isometric 3-D rendering for both the terrain and units. This was made possible by the "Caviar" voxel library by AnimaTek International (now Digital Element), which renders the voxel models and terrain geometry using self-modifying assembly language routines.

The AI features adaptability and behavioral subtlety.[12]

ReceptionEdit

The magazine PC Gamer US awarded Alpha Centauri a score of 98%, which was the highest score ever given by that magazine—Civilization II being the previous holder of this record with 97%. Later, PC Gamer also gave Half-Life 2 and Crysis scores of 98% in 2004 and 2007, respectively, tying each with Alpha Centauri. The magazine also gave Alpha Centauri Editor's choice and Turn-based strategy game of the year awards in 1999.

Alpha Centauri has also won several Game of the Year awards, including those from The Denver Post and Toronto Sun. It won Turn-based Strategy Game of the year award from GameSpot as well. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences named Alpha Centauri best strategy game of the year. In 2000 Alpha Centauri won the Origins Award for Best Strategy Computer Game of 1999.

The video game review aggregator websites Game Rankings and Metacritic, which collect data from numerous review websites, gave it scores of 92%[13] and 89%.[14]

AwardsEdit

  • GameSpot 1999 Turn-Based Game of the Year
  • Highest rated game ever - PC Gamer
  • Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences "PC Strategy Game of the Year"
  • PC Gamer "Editors' Choice"
  • Maximum PC "KICK ASS" Award
  • UGO "E3 Best of Show"
  • CGW "Strategy Game of the Year" Nominee
  • GameSpy "Strategy Game of the Year" Nominee
  • GamePower "Game of the Year" Hon. Mention
  • ImaginaryLife.com "Best of the Best"
  • Denver Post - Best Game of 1999
  • Toronto Sun - "Best Games of 1999"
  • Game Industry News - Best Game Soundtrack 1999[15]

Expansion and other mediaEdit

Alien CrossfireEdit

Main article: Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire

Alien Crossfire was the expansion for Alpha Centauri, featuring seven new factions (two of which are non-human), new technologies, new facilities, new secret projects, new alien life forms, new unit special abilities, new victory conditions (including the new Progenitor Victory) and several additional new concepts and strategies.[1] Alien Crossfire introduced an alien race called the Progenitors, who created Planet (which they call Manifold Six). The Progenitors have split into two groups (Usurpers and Caretakers), whilst the human factions have been undergoing internal struggle and split into the rest of the new factions.

Fiction Edit

Main article: The Alpha Centauri story

The original story of the journey and splintering of the colonization space ship from Earth to Alpha Centauri was detailed in multiple installments that were released periodically by Michael Ely of Firaxis on the web, immediately prior to the release of the game, for marketing purposes. During the course of the installments, the names of regular forum members on the official Firaxis forums were incorporated into the story in cameos. The resulting short story Journey to Centauri can be downloaded from the official website.[16] A second short story, Centauri: Arrival, introducing the Alien Crossfire factions, is also downloadable from that site.

For further reading, game story developer Michael Ely has also written a trilogy of novels based on the game. Each of these novels is loosely based on one of the three "Faction vs. Faction" scenarios included with the game: Peacekeepers vs. Spartans, Gaians vs. Morganites, and Believers vs. University, respectively.

There is also a graphic novel Alpha Centauri: Power of the Mindworms written by Steve Darnell and illustrated by Rafael Kayanan.

LegacyEdit

While not being a direct sequel of Civilization II, Alpha Centauri was considered a spiritual successor of that much-acclaimed game, because it had the same general principles and was made by many of the original developers. At the time, the future of the Civilization franchise was in dispute since Sid Meier and Brian Reynolds had left Microprose to found Firaxis. Unable to make Civilization III, the two made Alpha Centauri instead, beginning the game where the storyline had left off in Civilization, with mankind leaving Earth to travel to Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri was also built on the Civilization II engine modified for voxel graphics.

In the community of Civilization players, many quotations from Alpha Centauri, which are shown at different points in the gameplay, are also quite popular. Some players have gone so far as to create "Planetfall", a mod for Civilization IV that replaces its countries and artwork with factions and artwork from Alpha Centauri.[17] Civilization III was considered by some gamers to be inferior to Alpha Centauri.[18]

The game has also sparked a trilogy of novels and a strategy guide by Chris Hartpence ("Velociryx"), which was later printed and published. Steve Jackson Games also published GURPS Alpha Centauri, a sourcebook for the GURPS role-playing game set in the Alpha Centauri universe.

Many gameplay features which made their debut in Alpha Centauri would be implemented in later games in the Civilization series, such as enhanced diplomatic options (including the ability to loan money to other players and to make other players become vassals), an election-based UN-like system for enacting laws affecting all players, and the ability to fine-tune a faction's governmental structures by varying separate aspects of their governance.

Availability Edit

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and its expansion pack are both now available at many online retailers very cheaply. A digital download including both the base game and Alien Crossfire expansion may be purchased on GOG.com for $5.99.

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
  2. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack
  3. Casey, Brendan (scient, 2010) "Unofficial SMAC/X Patches Version 1.0", Civilization Gaming Networks Forums, May 7, 2010.
  4. Casey, Brendan (scient, 2009) "Fixing SMACX Bugs", Apolyton Civilizations Site Forums, February 13, 2009.
  5. "Orientation and Moderation", Civilization Gaming Networks Forums, June 19, 2009.
  6. WePlayCiv "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri / Alien Crossfire Unofficial Patch released!", WePlayCiv, May 14, 2010.
  7. McCubbin, p. 143-144
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 McCubbin, Chris (1999). Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (Game Manual). Firaxis Games. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri:Prima's Official Strategy Guide. 
  10. Generation Terrorists. http://www.generationterrorists.com/quotes/smac.html
  11. McCubbin, p. 228
  12. Scheisel, Seth (June 7, 2005). "Redefining the Power of the Gamer". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/07/arts/07arti.html. Retrieved November 2009. 
  13. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri for PC
  14. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri for Windows
  15. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: The Game
  16. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: The Story
  17. Planetfall - Civilization Fanatics' Forums
  18. The New Season Video Games; Going to War in the Matrix, Middle Earth, or the Bronx

References Edit

Further readingEdit

External links Edit

Sid Meier's Civilization

Official series:
Civilization (MicroProse, 1991)
Civilization II (MicroProse, 1996) + Conflicts in Civilization (1996)
+ Fantastic Worlds (1997) + Test of Time (1999)

Civilization III (Firaxis, 2001) + Play the World (2002) + Conquests (2003)
Civilization IV (Firaxis, 2005) + Warlords (2006) + Beyond the Sword (2007)
Civilization V (2010) + Gods & Kings (2012) + Brave New World (2013)
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Firaxis, 2014)


Official related games:
Sid Meier's Colonization (MicroProse, 1994)
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (Firaxis, 1999) + Alien Crossfire (1999)
Civilization Revolution (2008) (not for PCs)
CivWorld (2011) (on Facebook; discontinued as of May 29, 2013)
Civilization Revolution 2 (2014)(mobile)


Other games:
Freeciv (The Freeciv developers, 1996-2014)
Imperialism (Frog City Software, 1997)
Civilization: Call To Power (Activision, licensed from Hasbro, 1999)
Call to Power II (Activision, 2000)
FreeCol (The FreeCol developers, 2003-2014)
CivCity: Rome (Firefly Studios, 2006)
C-evo (Steffen Gerlach, 2006-2014)
NewCol (Frederic Vernier and associates, 2007-2011)

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