From: Vermont, USA
Another update on this.
We're pretty happy with the first official update (188.8.131.52) and the 184.108.40.206 public beta. We feel these both put the game in a pretty good place as far as addressing the vast majority of significant concerns since the release. There are still bugs to fix and tweaks to make to gameplay and balance, but we want the second official update to also include some improvements.
We've discussed some of the ship design improvements aimed at making manual ship design and a mix of manual and automated ship design much easier to manage, including being able to set ship classes to manual or automated control and to set some designs to not retrofit automatically, etc.. We're also planning to make a set of recommended designs external for each of the races, so that we can provide the ship design AI (which currently works from a combination of templates and complex rules that are internal) some optimized designs to use as well for each race. These will also be accessible to the player (and the modder) so that you can encourage the AI to use particular ship designs whenever its technology and resources allow.
These improvements will take a bit longer than planned though and with the loss of a week to the holidays, we are now targeting early January for the first build with these improvements.
In general, there will be a pause in the rapid release of builds as focus is put on making those improvements for the second official update and as the various team members start their holiday vacations. There may be one more public beta this week, after that I would expect the next build in early January with some of the discussed improvements.