I can finally say that the game is starting to shape up into something that looks done. However, there's still some polish that needs doing...
1) Resource-requiring buildings are currently way too weak.
I know that in the previous build, they were way too strong, but as they are now, they're worse in every other way compared to the free buildings:
- Antimatter Power Plants do basically nothing but give small adjacency bonuses to any building, but specialized buildings are better for this almost every time. Solar Power Plants are better for production, and those upgrade into even better Fusion Power Plants. Losing their +5 adjacency bonus effectively removed any reason to build them.
- Durantium Refineries now give less overall production than even a basic factory. Individually, they were actually fine before -- the problem with them was that you could build more than one per planet.
- Thulium Data Archives are just awful. They're worse than 1/3 of a basic Research Lab, and they cost 3 times as much in both maintenance and manufacturing. Their only advantage is that they have slightly more of an adjacency bonus, but this isn't worth a source of Thulium.
These buildings SHOULD be powerful! They cost a whole resource. I argue that they actually had the right amount of power before -- the problem was, they weren't limited to one per planet, so they could be spammed with impunity and turned into ridiculously huge bonuses by someone with enough resources. As a trade-off for their power, all these buildings should be limited to one per planet. Durantium Refineries should absolutely be put back at +5 raw production, as should Antimatter Power Plants be put back at +5 to all for adjacency, and Thulium Data Archives should be +5 Raw Research, similar to how Durantium Refineries offer Raw Production.
2) -50% total production on Adapted extreme worlds is too large a penalty.
I am of course referring to the Adaptable trait and the Extreme World Colonization research. -50% was a little steep even in GC2, but that was OK because you could normalize them all with research if you needed it, and the Super Adapter trait even gave you the first tier of the research. In GC3, you still have to research extreme world colonization either way (and for Adaptable races, the first tech does nothing) and you can only normalize one type of world unless you're Iconians and research their unique final tech. This effectively makes extreme worlds a huge liability, even if you are playing as an Adaptable race or the Iconians, and in many cases, it just becomes a better idea to turn extreme worlds off completely, because no one but the Iconians can ever make them not suck (and even they have to wait until endgame).
This penalty needs to be reduced to -25%, and the Extreme World Mastery specializations need to normalize the production ALL the extreme worlds in its tier, but only grant a bonus to the world type that your empire specializes in. Naturally, the Iconians are still the only ones who can acquire a specialization bonus for all worlds via their unique final tech in that branch.
3) Tier 2 Extreme Worlds are far too common, Tier 1 Extreme Worlds are far too rare
It's to the point that the Adaptable trait is useless, because the Tier 2 extreme worlds seem five times as common as any of the tier 1s, no matter what Extreme Worlds is set to. Seriously, the first extreme world anyone sees in this game is almost always a Toxic or Radioactive world, and many times, you won't see ANY tier 1 worlds, but dozens of Tier 2s. This also makes Extreme World Research so much more of an investment because of the opportunity costs involved -- if you don't go whole-hog and finish the branch in one go, you're not going to get anything worthwhile out of it. In GC2, while that whole section of the tech tree was huge and unwieldy, at least you could get everything you needed out of it right away. If you wanted Toxic worlds, you could get Toxic worlds right away. With Extreme Worlds being separated into tiers now, it makes sense that the tier 1 worlds be much more common, so that Extreme World research is less of an investment to get going, and Adaptable races actually have something decent going for them.
4) Starbases and Shipyards are too well-armed
I remember the previous betas where Starbases and Shipyards had basic armaments, so that they couldn't be killed for free by Tiny ships, but a decent-sized fleet of Small ships could stand a chance. Now, they're so strong that they can lay waste to entire Medium-ship fleets. There's barely a point to even upgrading their defenses, because they're so tough and so well-armed by default. Pirate Shipyards are even stronger than the defaults, too! This makes getting rid of Pirates a huge undertaking, much bigger than it needs to be. This also makes early wars completely pointless unless you have invasion tech and want to take their planets, because there's no way to harass your enemies' resources or production facilities until late game.
I really have no idea why Starbases and Shipyards were buffed at all. I argue that they were fine before, striking a perfect balance. They shouldn't be goddamn Fortresses before they even have any upgrades!
5) Out-of-Combat healing is way too slow
Pirates are supposed to be defeated by a single undamaged survey ship, and unlike earlier betas, you can now defeat them, and it's actually a close fight. I think it's a bit silly that the Survey Ship still has Armor when the Pirates use Lasers now, but that's not the main problem. Since ship healing is only 1hp per turn, and Pirates can do up to 70+ damage to your survey ship, you can basically only go after one ship graveyard every 50-70 turns. Even if you return the ship to your planets, it still takes 30+ turns to heal back to full after every encounter, which is just not worth it. Funnily enough, Iconian self-healing ships make pirates completely free, because the Pirates can't out-damage the in-combat healing rate, and it allows a nearly dead survey ship to shoot back up to 100% health in a single turn. Ironically, if you don't enter combat at all, it might take that same ship over 50 turns to return to full health.
Out of Combat healing needs to increase dramatically, maybe a factor of 5 to 10 or more, or at least work off of a percentage of the ship's max HP. Currently, it's so slow that it's making early game surveys far more difficult than it needs to be, and it makes late game post-combat extremely annoying.
There are other things I have in mind, but these are what I feel are the most pressing issues, and they're things which could be easily fixed. If anyone has anything else to add, please don't hesitate to list them.