Solution for Garbage=
1) Bigger systems, less stars. I usually go 15x15 1000 stars, unfortunately not everybody has the necessary rig for it.
2) Putting everyone on harsh and trying homeworlds, maybe some AI in normal if you want specific races to be more powerful or more accurate to their description (like the gizurean)=> less early colonization, less mess (because less money for everybody)
3) tuning down all the reproduction rate, like 10% less for everybody, except some races that just reproduce quickly (rodents + insects) I usually go: insects>rodents>reptilian>ursidian>machine>humanoid>amphibian (with some exception of course)
4) Reducing colonization range, I usually don't do it and even tend to augment it since I put occasional colonies (minimal is really not enough)
5) Modding the costs for colonization and research for colonization for every race=> this is actually quite tedious to do and I still didn't achieve a nice balance (procrastinating modding lol), example: putting 300% colonization research costs for atuuks to colonize volcanic planets, or gizurean for ice and so on...=> less early colonization
6) Always play on expert, that way you simply can't lose track of anything ... Also take time to really design all your ships and stations efficiently. You'll save yourself much pain late game.
7) Don't spam stations everywhere (you really can't actually if you're playing in harsh or it would be instant economic crisis haha), only in chokepoints and key systems. Also, do a manual design for each of your most important stations (Combine Research/mining stations in one design when needed, or even resort base/mining) I usually have a special design for a station mining only luxury resources (and a station which mines only metals/gases, or some hybrids)(goes well with all that ice colonies that have vodkol/terallion, since tyderios isn't that much needed) I usually wait until my peeps want a specific resource before constructing any bases. Also check where you're mining ships and freighters are going, that way you can quickly know what resources are most needed. Don't actually try to be self sufficient though, try to profit a maximum of the bases the AI has built so you can actually trade with them without paying maintenance for your own station. Plus, you gain a relation bonus so you can't really go wrong there ...
That way you'll see that everyone will expand slowly, only in their natural systems for a long time (especially if you put drastic costs for systems not matching the race + high research costs), less fleet spamming, less stations, more fun globally.
I'll probably give away my designs and modifications some day soon in the modding section if anyone is interested ...
< Message edited by Star_Eraser -- 1/24/2013 3:50:59 PM >