Brad, I hope you & Paul will learn a lot from reading all these posts, and try to determine why these things weren't in the original design. After 1.1, you two can also check out the mods site to see what other people think should be in the game but isn't. That said, thanks for giving us the opportunity to help you make the game better. I've already seen a lot of very good ideas here (and a few flaky ones). Here are my 5 wish items...
1. Tiered Colonization. You already have some planets that can't be colonized until era 3. You should have the same for era 2 as well. Era 2 planets should not be quite as valuable as era 3 planets (say 10-14).
2. Allow AI to specialize planets. This should be tied to difficulty level. At the lower difficulty levels there might be partial specialization (say 5 tiles) or limited specialization (say planet size 11 or higher).
3. Better AI Fleet Construction. Especially regarding 'fleet' speed. I'd also like to see some fleets be 'task oriented' for efficiency, and optimized for the weaknesses of specific/current opponents.
4. More Ideology Triggers. Paul has already said that this is in the works. Decisions & actions should effect ideology. If a player is engaging in early wars, this should be pushing him/her towards malevolent. Ideology could be effected by such things as excessive colonization, excessive starbases, excessive mining, relations with minor races, etc.
5. Improve Metaverse Scoring. I don't know of a single player who is happy with the current metaverse scoring system. It should be reflective of the player's entire game experience, not just tied to quick victories. Sometimes longer games indicate more intense struggles and more obstacles overcome. Different types of victories should be weighted differently. Higher difficulties should count more. Closer games should count more. There should be a formula that equalizes each type of victory with a starting score of, say 70, and adds pluses and subtracts minuses to reach a final score. Games where some players score 4,000 pts while the majority of players score 12-15 pts is simply a travesty.
6. Bonus design request. One of the most irritating UI elements for me is when moving the map view, the selected ship somehow becomes unselected, and I have to wrap-around until it becomes selected again. Suggestion 1: stop this from happening. Suggestion 2: Allow the 'C' command to center the screen on the selected unit.
Thanks again for offering me the opportunity to make these suggestions.