Up until now, research has been pretty much a chore. I'm not sure there's a better way to say it. It didn't really matter what path you followed, and you just ended up in the same place as everyone else anyways. Even the timing wasn't terribly important... researching casually with just one or two researchers, most players finished within a month.
And that was that.
For this realm, we're trying something quite a bit different.
- Higher base silver and recruitment speeds. This means a quicker start, and it also means that the effects of research are proportionately greater later on.
- Rebalanced research options. Less essential structures get a bigger bang for your research buck.
- It's over 9000. OK, not quite. But the research bonuses keep going... and going... up to 150% or more.
What does this all mean? Well, it means that your technology choices now matter. While for the first month or two you'll be mostly picking what everyone else does, the order you choose will impact your gameplay. More significantly, after the initial wave of technologies you'll find that you just don't have time to get everything you want. You can't get all the advanced techs. You can't even get half.
You'll have to choose, and those choices will help define the capabilities of your empire. Specialize into silver and you'll have an economic edge and more governors to expand with, but players who focused on farmlands and stables techs may overrun your armies, etc...
This.... is a pretty big experiment. We don't really know what combinations players are going to use most, or which combinations are going to prove most effective. (We do know that bonus villages are going to be pretty flipping awesome now, since all of their benefits stack with your research bonuses. Mwahahaaa.)
Fire away with any questions! Tomorrow, I'll be posting about how all this craziness will interact with the Age of Cities... and talking about the kinds of ideas we're working on for the Cities themselves. Check back then. :-)