This is a great post, unfortunately a lot of these issues are being caused by a bug, at its heart GC3 is using the same math as GC2 to do its placement, the problems people are seeing are for the most part in the data, (IE still needs balance) There are still some bugs however that we are working on, but there are several things that are currently exaggerating this issue, all of which our on our list to fix.
1. There was a bug in the star system definition (This was all my fault), that made none some empty orbit lanes get included in the buffer, this was adding sometimes as many as 3 empty rows. What this caused was the galaxy to think it was fuller than it was, and start to reject stars way too early. When you reduce the distance between stars with that the Def mentioned above what you are doing is kind of band aiding this issue. The good news is those changes should not be needed after the next patch.
2. Star systems tend to be a bit larger in GC3, this is because of several things, the hex layout, and the addition of resources. We are going to tighten up these a bit, but as a role the new star systems will always be a bit larger, and we don’t want star systems overlapping.
3. Black holes and nebulas take up space, this is the part we still need to balance, and can greatly though off the way the map looks at a glance. Currently black holes show up as a star, but they do not necessarily fallow the same roles as the other stars, so they tend to show up in empty space, this makes the empty areas look like they have stars when in fact they do not. What we are trying to avoid is a galaxy that is all stars in one area, and all black holes and nebula in the other.
We are working on all this and hope to have some major tweaks in for the next beta that will hopefully address everyone’s concerns.