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Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri cover
Developers
Firaxis Games
Mac OS (Classic) Aspyr Media
Linux Loki Software
Publishers
Electronic Arts
Re-release Sold Out Software
Mac OS Aspyr Media
Linux Loki Software
Release dates
Windows February 9, 1999
Mac OS (Classic) February 2000
Linux August 2000
macOS (OS X) September 25, 2003[Note 1]
macOS (OS X) January 24, 2013[Note 2]
Reception
Metacritic 92
Taxonomy
Monetization One-time game purchase, Expansion pack
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Turn-based
Perspectives Bird's-eye view, Isometric
Controls Point and select
Genres 4X, TBS
Themes Sci-fi
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on HowLongToBeat
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on IGDB
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri guide on StrategyWiki
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on MobyGames
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on Wikipedia

Warnings

The macOS (OS X) version of this game does not work on macOS Catalina (version 10.15) or later due to the removal of support for 32-bit-only apps.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a singleplayer and multiplayer bird's-eye view and isometric 4X and TBS game.

The game received the Alien Crossfire expansion in October 1999, and the two were bundled in the Planetary Pack compilation in April 2000.

On modern systems, the game suffers from compatibility issues, which can be alleviated by using PRACX for stable rendering and widescreen/windowed mode support. The unofficial patches also bring numerous fixes for gameplay itself.

General information

Throughout the article, the common abbreviations are used to differentiate the base game from the expansion: SMAC denotes Alpha Centauri, SMAX denotes Alien Crossfire.
alphacentauri2.info - Active Alpha Centauri modding, patching and multiplayer community.
Civilization Wiki - A detailed wiki for all Civilization games and their spin offs
Apolyton Civilization Site's Alpha Centauri section - A huge forum dedicated to all Civilization games and their spin offs.
GOG.com Community Discussions
GOG.com Support Page
Steam Community Discussions

Availability

Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Retail
DRM-free
The game will run without the CD if you have performed a full install. SecuROM DRM otherwise.
Windows
Mac OS
Linux
GOG.com
DRM-free
Planetary Pack.
Windows
macOS (OS X)
Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store
Origin
Included exclusively with Xbox Game Pass for PC as part of its version of EA Play.
Windows
Origin
Origin
Planetary Pack. Included in EA Play.
Manual link for EA App purchase.
Windows
Steam
Icon overlay.png
Planetary Pack. Included in EA Play (Steam).
Windows
A free demo version is available from GameFront: Windows, Mac OS.

Version differences

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack includes the base game and the Alien Crossfire expansion.

Monetization

Type Notes
Expansion pack The expansion pack includes 7 new factions, 2 of which are alien which bring their own gameplay differences, as well as new units, structures, technologies and a faction editor.
One-time game purchase The game requires an upfront purchase to access.

DLC and expansion packs

Name Notes
Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire
Windows
Mac OS
Linux

Essential improvements

In-game general settings.
In-game general settings.
In-game advanced settings.
In-game advanced settings.

Patches

For the original Alpha Centauri release, install the Alpha Centauri v4.0 update and then the XP Compatibility patch.
For the original Alien Crossfire release, install the Alien Crossfire v2.0 update (English, French, German) and then the XP Compatibility patch.
For the Planetary Pack or EA's Laptop Pack, just install the XP Compatibility patch.
For the Japanese version, install the Japanese 1.01 patch.

Unofficial patches

The unmodified game is filled with exploits and prone to crashing. The patches below will fix the vast majority of crashes and bugs.
Yitzi's patch (SMAX only) - built on kyrub's SMAX patch and scient's patch (see below), and contains even more fixes as it was developed for a longer time. The correct download order is v3.5 and then v3.5d.
kyrub's patch (SMAC, SMAX version not recommended) - aimed primarily at improving AI performance but also fixing some bugs. The SMAX version has only minor AI improvements and is superseded by Yitzi's patch.
scient's patch (SMAC and SMAX) - fixes bugs, crashes and exploits and includes text file improvements.

Recommendation
Install Yitzi's patch for SMAX and either kyrub's or scient's for SMAC.

Notes

Yitzi's patch breaks backwards compatibility for alphax.txt. Old scenarios that require a custom version of that file require manual changes. This will not be a concern for most users. Some newer scenarios make use of Yitzi's patch, however.
The patches' AI improvements do not make the AI too hard for new players, and instead aim for a reasonable level of challenge at "Librarian" difficulty. Tweaks mostly involve teaching the AI how to perform sufficiently well without cheating.

PRACX

PRACX is an open-source modified graphics renderer for Alpha Centauri with a number of stability improvements and features. For Alien Crossfire, it is intended to be used with Yitzi's patch.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\Alpha Centauri.ini[Note 3]
macOS (OS X)
Mac OS (Classic)
Linux
Steam Play (Linux) <SteamLibrary-folder>/steamapps/compatdata/2204130/pfx/[Note 4]
It's unknown whether this game follows the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux. Please fill in this information.

Save game data location

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\saves[Note 3]
macOS (OS X) $HOME/Library/Application Support/GOG.com/Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri/saves
Mac OS (Classic)
Linux
Steam Play (Linux) <SteamLibrary-folder>/steamapps/compatdata/2204130/pfx/[Note 4]

Save game cloud syncing

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy
Origin
Steam Cloud
Xbox Cloud

Video

In-game audio/video settings.
In-game audio/video settings.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
See Widescreen resolution.
Multi-monitor
Ultra-widescreen
See Widescreen resolution.
4K Ultra HD
See Widescreen resolution.
Field of view (FOV)
Windowed
See PRACX.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
60 FPS and 120+ FPS
High dynamic range display (HDR)
Color blind mode
An official separate color palette adapted for color-blind players was released. Mirror available here. Included in the GOG.com release.

Widescreen resolution

Use PRACX
Edit configuration file[citation needed]
  1. Go to the installation folder.
  2. Open Alpha Centauri.ini.
  3. Add DirectDraw=0 under [Alpha Centauri]
  4. The game will now run at the desktop's resolution

Input

Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Remapping
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller
Controller support

Audio

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Subtitles
All voiced dialogue except advisor clips is subtitled in the interface.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
EAX support was added with 2.0 update[2]
Royalty free audio

Localizations

Language UI Audio Sub Notes
English
French
Retail only.
German
Retail only. German text/audio/video files have to be copied over from the retail version. Due to game values and display texts being in the same file, many unofficial patches will overwrite German retail files.
Italian
Retail only.
Japanese
Retail only.
Spanish
Retail only, download

Network

Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
Local play
Hot seat
Requires the v2.0 update or later.[3]
LAN play
7
Online play
Asynchronous multiplayer
Playing by email (PBEM) supported.

Connection types

Issues fixed

The game hangs

Install the latest versions of Yitzi or kyrub's patches.

AMD/ATI compatibility

The GOG.com store page recommends using Catalyst 13.4 or earlier, but the game also works with 14.x.[citation needed]

Alt-Tab not functioning

Applies to the GOG.com distribution only.
Disable compatibility shim[4]
  1. Open a command prompt as administrator.
  2. cd <path-to-game>
  3. sdbinst -u goggame.sdb

Notes

  • If problems occur by removing the shim, it can be restored with sdbinst goggame.sdb using the similar process.

Other information

API

Technical specs Supported Notes
DirectDraw 6
ExecutablePPC16-bit 32-bit 64-bit Notes
Windows
macOS (OS X)
Intel support only available in the 2013 GOG release.
Linux
Alpha workstation support is also included.
Mac OS (Classic)

Modifications

Using SMAC/X Mod Manager[citation needed]

Allows the installations of mods for the game.

Source code of the mod manager can be found here
  1. Download the latest non-Python version of the program here.
  2. Extract the content of the archive to an easily accessible folder (not to the <path-to-game>)
  3. Run SMACXLauncher.exe.
  4. Go to options tab and <path-to-game>. Allow the mod manager to make a backup.
  5. Put mods into the mods directory. Make sure to follow the instructions located in the text file in the mods directory
  6. Enable them with the launcher by moving them to the right and clicking Apply.
  7. If multiple mods are enabled, mods further down the list override any files that are also shared by mods earlier in the list.

To remove mods:

  1. Launch SMACXLauncher.exe.
  2. Move unwanted mods to the left.
  3. Click Apply, then force.

smac-in-smax

Allows the content of the original game to be played in the SMAX engine.
Source code for the latest version can be found here
Allows SMAC to take advantage of the bugfixes and unofficial patches for the SMAX engines
Allows the use of mods that are designed for the SMAX engine.

SMACX Thinker Mod

An actively developed AI improvement mod for Alien Crossfire.
The developer of the mod recommends the use of PRACX and smac-in-smax with this mod.
Increases challenges in singleplayer due with AI improvements and many gameplay enhancements.
Includes the Scient patch v2.0, as well as other fixes exclusive to this mod.
Network multiplayer is supported.[5] though less stable than singleplayer.
Some custom scenario rules in "Edit Scenario Rules" menus are not fully supported.

SMACX AI Growth mod

Overhauls many game mechanics.
Last archived forum thread can be found here.
Includes AI improvements, rebalanced factions, additional map sizes (80x160 and 128x256), and other tweaks.
Compatible with the Scient unofficial binary patch v2.0 and higher, and expected to work with the PRACX unofficial binary patch.

OpenSMACX

Open-source engine recreation for Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire.
Source code can be found here
Project still in alpha.

System requirements

Windows
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 95, 98
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 133 MHz
System memory (RAM) 16 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 60 MB
Video card (GPU) 2 MB of VRAM
Mac OS
Minimum
Operating system (OS) 7.6
Processor (CPU) PowerPC 603 180MHz
System memory (RAM) 32 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD)
macOS (OS X)
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 10.6.8
Processor (CPU) 1.8 GHz
System memory (RAM) 512 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 2 GB


Notes

  1. Original Carbonized release.
  2. Second digital release for Intel processors.[1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Notes regarding Steam Play (Linux) data:

References