Beta adds per-planet Approval bonuses. To a micromanager like me, this is just one more step in the descent into click-hell.
I detest losing any excess production. I abhor knowing that the AI doesn't lose excess production. So I try to optimize every planet, every turn, to exactly finish one thing that's "completable", with as close to zero waste.
The UI provides zero support for this. You must perform binary-search down to 1-pixel increments, constantly checking whether you crossed a threshold. e.g. click, Done, Technology => still 2 turns? Done, Govern, click. That's 1 lap. Repeat until convergence.
Some basic improvements:
1. Instant update, manuf queue. When I click Manage, Govern, and click in the wheel, I want to see all of the Manage window's "turns to complete" update instantly. (Currently, you must click Done (exit Govern), "<" (to switch planet), ">" (to switch back) just to force the planet's manuf queue to redisplay.)
2. Instant update, tech bar. Similarly, Govern + clicks can't tell you when you cross a Tech turns-until-done threshold, because you must exit the Govern window and click Technology, Tech Tree to force it to recompute. (The upper-right Technology bar, and the Technology screen, cache the previous turns-until-done result, and don't update with new research settings until you drill down to the Tech Tree page to actually force it to show you how much total tech you're spending.) Better: Add "turns until done" in the upper-right tech bar itself, and update it on every single Govern click, as needed.
3. Randomly, a queue (manuf, starport/shipyard, or tech) tells me "1 turn to complete", and then next turn ... it's still not done. But you can rush it for 0 bc and 0.1 additional work. So the game engine just robs 1 queue-turn from you. Is this a game feature, or just a roundoff error? Assure me that the AIs are suffering from exactly the same frequency of lost queue-turns of production, and I won't grumble as much. Improvement: Ensure that this never happens.
Some grandiose suggestions:
4. Isolines. Lock one of the 3 axes (mp, rp, or bc) to a fixed value, which establishes a Constraint. Thereafter, mouse clicks / drags in the wheel satisfy that constraint (and vary the other 2 axes). This would simplify the dreaded 3-axis click hell. (It's actually a circular arc, as any geometer with a compass + straight edge knows.)
5. Solver. Suppose my planet is "1 turn completable" for its current manuf queue item. Next to it, a padlock icon appears. I click that padlock, and its mps to ensure 1-turn completion (which shall overcome #3 above) is auto-calculated, and appears in the production wheel as an isoline. Then I can click that isoline in the wheel to toggle its constraint On or Off. When Off, it's ignored. When On, it behaves as #4. This would replace click-hell to hunt for the correct setting with two clicks + 1 drag.
6. Multi-planet solver. As above, but generalized to multiple planets, e.g. all planets feeding 1 shipyard, or all planets doing research.
7. Stack of wheels. An alternative visual idiom (GC4, maybe would be: multiple wheels, stacked like a Tower of Hanoi. Suppose you want to lock 13.1 mp to something. It locks and becomes a pizza crust, labeled "13.1 mp". All the rest of your production capability becomes a 2nd smaller wheel floating "above" it, like a giant pepperoni. You can click around the 2nd tier wheel exactly the same way we do now, and it distributes only the remainder of your capability.
8. Buoy. The Beta planetary approval bonuses muck this up even further ... which suggest even better UI tools. Note that bonus thresholds are sharp and steep, e.g. 85.2% = +10% growth/prod/"influance" (haha -- it is a Beta), but 85.3% = +25%. One pixel can be +/- 15% difference!! In early game, the only approval-mods are: + for wealth, - for population. But as your population grows, you need proportionally more devoted to wealth to maintain "constant approval" (and stay at the lower bound for whatever tier of bonus you're targeting). Equivalently: without any adjustments, your approval bonus tier will staircase downward. What UI could let you auto-pilot that away? Whimsical (this may blow your poor designers' minds): visualize approval as a histogram (3D surface) over a 2D space. (Then it would literally be a 3D staircase, right?) So depict "approval setting" as a buoy, which you set to "float" at a fixed value, e.g. 85.x% (to get the +25% bonus). Thereafter, as your pop + maintenance grow, your wealth setting automatically rises by just enough to maintain that approval rating.
I accept that I am an atypical GC2/GC3 player, and not many players would bother with these things. From watching the Dev Streams, I see Paul clicking Turn about once every 20 seconds(!!!), which means he's just bleeding away ~5% or so of his empire's total production (if we estimate that each queue roughly finishes 1 item every 10 turns, and on average wastes 0.5 turn of production on each turn-of-completion). I don't have that reflex yet. So I'll agitate for UI tools to make it unnecessary.
As a fringe benefit, these UI tools would look elegant, and convey informed control with power at fingertips. That's not a coincidence: compact representations of critical information are elegant, because it takes cleverness to compress them down.