I prefer using autoplay to test research before I dive into a test game or take over a minor. However, auto play crashes with Twilight of the Arnor when wars break out but I've figured out a way around this that's easy to set up.
To auto play without crashing do the following:
- Make a custom race with the universal translator
- Pick a map. I prefer the 4-astroids map for consistency.
- Pick the race you want to test and set relations to Team.
- Start the game and surrender to your ally.
- Select your homeworld (if needed).
- Hit CTRL-SHIFT-Z and click on your old homeworld. This should switch you to the remaining race.
- Hit CTRL-S for a quick save
- Hit CTRL-Z and click turn
The AI will now colonize the map and do its thing. The game won't crash because the AI cannot go to war. The ONLY thing you're not testing is defence research because there AI doesn't encounter anyone using weapons.
When you're done reload the quicksave and hit CTRL-Z again and click turn for another round. You can manually select the first technology to research to gauge its effect on AI research.
When you want to change something simply exit the game, edit the data and reload. You don't need to setup the game again it's all stored. Simply boot up, surrender, save and retest.
Another way of getting the AI to do solo research is to destroy your homeworld but this leaves your ships in the game and for some odd reason doesn't actually remove you from the game, so wars can still break out. Also, when you surrender your homeworld is in the middle of your screen so its easy to find.