I would also love to see an expanded pre-warp phase at some point. While it's true there's an element of paint-drying, I also never play DW1 without starting in pre-warp. It's one of the more unique phases of the game, and the contrast makes the tech advances feel more meaningful.
A big issues in DW1 was that you only could move STL in the pre-warp phase, so most of the places in your own system were not realy exploitable - or defendable. Especailly not against fully FTL capable pirates.
In DW2 we will have the "skip drive" as a very early FTL. Basically a Hyperdrive that only works within the System. This would be a requirement to make a extended interplanetary phase viable.
Maybe they could add the "Skip Drive Age" between Pre-FTL and Interstellar Civilisation?
Meh. I wouldn't want my "first contact" to be too early.
What could be good though would be a "unite your empire" early storyline where your starting empire would be made of different factions getting their hands on different assets of your system, and you would have to convince or force them to join. Though a bit tricky if you can only start with a single starport.
Pirates can build spaceports without needing a colony.
I like the assumption that when your civilization starts, its people think they are alone in the galaxy, or at least that they don't know. If you have another species in the system or some close by or even space monsters within sensor range, that breaks it. Since you just met the requirements for sustained space travel, having established pirates somewhere in the system already doesn't make sense either - I suppose by a stretch of the imagination, they might have done it "secretly"...
Most species in DW1 are fully aware there are other species. It is strongly indicated that civilisation follows a circle:
1. Planets aquire the space age roughly at the same time
2. Planets become interstellar empires
3. Galactic Civilsiation collapses, leaving only scattered colony worlds
4. Return to 1
In DW1 you usually have 3 habitable planets (just add technology) in your home System. And 1-2 derilict ships.
Stellaris actually cares quite a bit for "having encountered another species". It is a requirement for the Faction System to become enabeled, among other things. And the space fauna/sentient geology/sentient gasclouds do not count.
The early signs of intelligence (the mining drones) are just remanents. Not any more interesting then ruin to show "there is other life now".
Maybe this was a pirate station in hibernation, crew in stasis, on the far side of a gas giant. And scanners/early FTL activity activated it.
Maybe it was a "nest" of mining drones or cosmozeans, activated by your scanners.
Maybe this is a splinter faction, that had infiltrated your military and created a hidden spaceport and build some ships in secret.
There are many ways to probide a early challenge, without saying "there is alien life active right now!"
< Message edited by zgrssd -- 2/3/2021 1:34:08 PM >