Anyone else have this desire?
Yeah. Very much (so relax, much peace).
Having "peaceful" mode is a double boon. First, it allows me to enjoy building/shaping process without (b)locking enemy first in games which are not exactly a "builder" genre, like old Sins of a Solar Empire, where we could play without opponents and do any form of stupid things. Not that I don't like "builder" genre (hmm, I wonder if it affected my choice of occupation?), but sometimes I want something else, when Caesar, Zeus, Pharaoh, Cities, Banished, Gnomoria (grr, year 15 saves are corrupted) or you name it, because I could be tired of those and wanting for something else.
Second, I do enjoy contemplation and exploration in games. I do not mean games which complete themselves without your input and/or put a tonnes gigabytes of scripts just for show (exploding helicopters and alike). Doh-va-kin? Sorry, not interested - I want to know what I could see from top of that hill. And the next. And the next after that. I don't mind to see how game "simulate life" (Space Rangers are still best, IMHO), or how mechanic is works - whether on it's own, or how what I've built functions. Just like X-series (except X-Rebirth, which is, well, "reborn" and need to learn how to talk, walk and do the potty) - getting into busy sector, or, better, building one and seeing how your freighters move around. Or seeing how they crash into stations, making you facepalm and relocating that Cahoona bakery placed wrong. Part of three things people can look at endlessly - how fire burns, how water flows, and how other people working.
So yeah, I'd gladly welcome such "endless" mode in Galactic Civilizations, Fallen Enchantress, and its return to Sins of a Solar Empire. Make stuff not war. Dixi.