The RTSC Guide to Startopia
The easiest way to obtain your vital supplies is to just grow them on the Bio-Deck. Apart from the cost of opening new segments, hiring Karmaramans and waiting for the first crops to grow, this is requires little or no effort from you. Resident Karmaramans wander the landscape, planting shrubs and trees. To get the supplies you want, you create the right environments that will produce the right trees. When the plants have matured, you can "harvest" them by right clicking on them, and they'll transform into the Supply crates you need. If the plant isn't mature yet, you'll see a clock symbol appear over it to show it will be marked for harvesting the moment it matures. Your Scuzzers will automatically pick up any crates and stash them in the nearest available Cargo Bay. More on this in the Bio-Deck page.
Ultimately, Factories are the best way to build all your crates, if you don't mind some micromanagement. They can build anything that comes in crate form, and for the cheapest cost. However, at the beginning of a game you can only build a few Supply crates and a piece of furniture or two. However, when you first go to make anything in a Factory, you will quickly find the selection of crates is very, very limited. If you want to expand your build list both in the factory and on the deck, you will either have to pay through the nose buying those green Technology Crates, or invest in a working Laboratory filled with equipment and staffed by Turrakken scientists to reverse engineer all the techs you require in the game. More on research below.
Factories, like Recyclers, need a gang of four Salt Hogs to operate them and are built exclusively on the Engineering Deck. The speed at which factories can produce goods is directly related to the number of workers and their employee ratings inside them. You'll need to have a sufficient pool of Salt Hogs to get the most out of these buildings, and sufficient Cargo bays and Scuzzers to collect and store stuff. Otherwise it all tends to go putrid outside the Factory unless you can use it promptly.
Unfortunately, only nine items can be queued up at a Factory at a time. For expensive and slow to build big buildings, its definitely worth the effort, but for small items, nine slots gets far too fiddly. You may find its not worth your while manufacturing tons of small items just to get bargain basement prices (although cost savings can certainly stack up) simply due to the huge amount of micro management involved. Although I suppose you could build your own industrial district and mass produce stuff - the only problem here is that long queues of Scuzzers will build up outside your Cargo Bays. While being carted, crates seem to be taken out of circulation for trading or consumption.
Even with cheaper manufacturing costs, you will only get the benefit of the cheaper prices if you built them from the Factory - and then open the Hard Plan or Furniture Crate item that was built using the Build Menu. Building raw from the deck with the standard build menu will still cost you the full amount and just create another copy of the crate. With Furniture Items its a little different: editing a room or placing stuff on the deck will cost you, but thankfully the game will automatically use any pre-existing furniture crates at no cost if they happen to be around. You'll know when you've run out of a type of crate when the cash register starts ringing up those full prices again.
There's a tech tree to negotiate, accessible by by right clicking on the Analyzer dais in one of your Labs. There are several streams of research, and each stream usually starts by analysing a Supply Crate. e.g. Researching Luxury Goods allows your Factory to manufacture it, and also opens up the next item to be researched. You work your way from left to right, using a crate of the previous tech to be analysed to unlock the next. The illuminated light globe shows you which item is about to be discovered. With the easy going style of this game, its unlikely you'll be hunting down specific items in a hurry.
If left to their own devices, Labs will "improve" existing techs, but all this means is that the items they study only become cheaper and faster to manufacture, and nothing else. You can't actually improve the stats or abilities of any item or room. Research is little more than just a money saving exercise that needs a substantial investment of time and e up front, but can pay off handsomely once its all established.
To research something, plonk the object or crate in question onto the Analyzer in the lab. Labs are like Sick Bays: you fill them full of equipment and other odds and ends, hire some researchers and then sit back with your executive mug of cocoa and watch the lads buckle down and do everything for you automatically. Labs with more expensive equipment tend to attract more researchers and get things studied more quickly than labs without. Other than that, there's no real difference between the bits of equipment other than "higher" tech items like Microscopes and Replicators are "better" than plain of Workbenches and Workstations. Really, its just fun to arrange labs with lots of different stuff. Don't forget, your researchers will appreciate pot plants and other niceties.
Know your Techs
Placing one of these items on the Analyzer researches it and then makes available the item to the right of the researched item. Some techs branch, requiring you to study those items several times to unlock all the streams.
To read the tech tree, start from the left and work right. Each line represents a different thread of research for your Turrakken to pursue. For example, placing a Food Supply crate on the Analyzer will eventually reward you with the Dine-O-Mat tech. Stick a Dine-O-Mat crate on the plate and you'll be rewarded with the Rough Bar tech (and all of its extra furniture items).
Where a tech branches off into multiple streams, you'll need to repeat your research at the junction in the tech tree.. For example, You'll need to research a Hardware Supply crate three times to get each of the Comsensor, Slumber Pod and Port techs in turn.
You don't get to pick with one of these branching techs is next, either. Take note of the lit light bulb icon in the tech tree in the game; it'll flag the item you'll score next in the line of research you're currently pursing.
If you want to follow up several lines of research simultaneously,
you'll need more Laboratories.
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Last polished Mon, Dec 6 2003 by Lindsay Fleay.