Ok tech idea. What if Techs were divided up into two major categories:
1. Tech Fields - The theory - Tech Fields don't actually unlock specific technologies (except maybe accidentally but I don't know if I'd like that entirely. Research into tech fields is more or general knowledge. It represents your scientists/philosophers/smart guys gathering and recording information, having philosophical discussions, analyzing recorded data on a certain subject, possibly even just teaching people. Researching a tech field is more akin to raising the general knowledge and education level of your society than what research is in most strategy games. Examples of fields of research might be physics, chemistry, alchemy, architecture, social sciences, mathematics, etc.
2. Projects - The application - Projects would be the actual application of the knowledge of tech fields. This represents the actual time required to work out the problems with a new design. These are engineering problems often. Projects could also be social in nature implementing a new form of governance or tactical training method. While tech fields would have little real application projects would be all about real application. Examples of projects might be, horse domestication, iron smelting, aquduct construction, recurve bow, javalin, dragon language. (The number of projects could be endless)
1. Tech fields are realatively few in number and can be researched ad infinitium
2. Each project has a minimum level in a field (or fields) of research that you must aquire before that project becomes availible for research.
3. Projects can also have other projects as prequisites but this should not be extensive (not all lines need to connect even many advanced projects should simply require high level in a field)
4. The time it takes to research a specific project decreases as your knowledge of it's prerequisite fields increases
5. Projects can be copied from a higher tech kingdom however it will take time to duplicate the captured or stolen technology and it may simply be imporrible for your people to duplicate if the tech feild is far too low. On the other hand this does not advance you up the tech tree because your knowledge in a field of technology is not advanced.
Why this system is cool:
Even low level tech cultures can access relatively powerful technologies but they have to work harder for them. But that's ok if they just want powerful military technology while sacrificing their production (think like the mongols and their recurve bows and advanced horsemanship). On the other hand advanced civilizations may have many advanced technologies but the investment in tech fields may have limited the size of their empire. Thus with proper balancing you might see smaller but highly advanced kingdoms and large primitive kingdoms. An advanced kingdom could give a primitive kingdom some advanced technologies (projects) but this does not make the other kingdom advanced merely a primitive kingdom with some advanced artifacts. I also think it fits in well with the post-apocalyptic idea most technology is being rediscovered so research is more in education so the population can use higher tech and implementation of known ideas.
Possible variations that may make this even cooler:
1. Make it so that a larger kingdom requires a proportionate investment to raise it's level in a tech field (you have more people? Well it takes more time and money to get them educated and trained and equipped to use new technologies) thus smaller kingdoms can go reasearch heavy and become more advanced than larger kingdoms that have to spend more in defense and city development etc.
2. For infinite techs when a field advances enough (alternatively when you have had a technology in circulation for long enough) you are offered a new project that is a refinement of the previous project giving it some bonuses.
3. Make the kinds of projects you have researched 'color' or 'taint' your research tree. So if you research alot of weapons over time your society will become more attuned to how knowledge can be used in war making those techs easier to research and may miss how a piece of knowledge could be used economically or socially making those techs appear later in the field and harder to research and visa versa.
What do you think of that Frogboy? Not linear. Infinite tech. Open to random and situational techs. Bigger is not always more advanced. Variation in how you tech up meaning many potential ways to build an empire tech wise.
Anyone more ideas? Thoughts? Problems? Weaknesses? Adulation?