I wrote this for another post, but I'll post them here again, as I think it's the proper place, anyway.
- Research Times and Choices: I feel the research tree is very small for a game of this size, but this is nothing new, I know. Many people have stated that before, but I would like to add my own ideas to what could be improved. One of the main problems, as I see it, is that there are too few technologies and it's very easy to research them, either by lab research or by reverse engineering of abandoned or pirate ships. Taking, for example, the reverse engineering process, I feel that dismantling alien technology should not give an instant knowledge of that technology. Maybe the newly acquired and more advanced ship parts could lead a scientist or group of scientists to open new research projects that were not present in the current technology tree. Maybe some event could be triggered to choose from a range of new research lines that could lead to success or failure, but that would take a big amount of time. Maybe during the research of one of those lines an accident would occur, killing a scientist or even destroying a whole research centre. These lines of research would take so much time to be completed that researching every tech in the tree would be not possible at all unless you played a super long game. That would lead to different empires with distinct technology, and would make the game much more strategically interesting.
- Cost of Production: my ideas are not very complex on this, so I will just say that the costs of building should be increased to discourage building like if there were no tomorrow.
- Building Speed: as it is now, the game lets you produce 5, 10 or 100 survey stations in 5 minutes if you have 5, 10 or 100 constructors available, making each of those bases a simple and forgettable anecdote. I would love to reverse this and make each of those bases a huge, long and worthy investment, so that losing one of them would be something that hurt. Building speed is too fast for a game of galactic size. I have so many bases that I have either built or captured that I can not keep track of all of them. I just forget about them and they only help my with the logistics when refuelling/repairing or retrofitting/retiring. Pirates should try to take stations back. Building times for ships should escalate exponentially. A scout, for example, could be assembled in a reasonable amount of time, but a capital ship should be a day in history for your empire, not just Capital Ship 0027.
- Exploration: I've read about this in another thread and I will just repeat it here, because it made so much sense for me. Ruins should not give an instant result by just approaching them. Maybe, a nice idea would be to have to send a scientist or intelligence agent or an agent of different kind to investigate the ruins, with random outcomes affected by agent quality and other factors. Each ruin would be either an investment, a disaster or just an anecdote.
- Social Interaction: I will divide this in two ideas. Different tongues and more xenophobia. I think that being able to speak with any space creature you find in the galaxy since the start is not immersing. I would like to feel fear of some races simply because I don't understand what they are saying. Languages could be a different line of research, opening new possibilities while you encounter new species throughout the galaxy. Maybe some of those languages would just be impossible to research in one game, leaving some empires isolated from you just because of the impossibility of understanding each other. The other part of this point, the xenophobia part, would imply empires being much more aggressive when invading their borders, even with exploration ships and spicing it a little with language complications. Friendly relations would be something to really take care of.