devs want to remove the per-planet production wheel, others want to make improvements.
Currently the planetary wheel is a must-have because it's the way we specialize our planets. You can't just remove it without crippling the game. However, the key word here is "currently". The important issue is to be able to specialize your planets and to extract the benefits from that specialization. The tool for this doesn't have to be the planetary wheel. It could be something else, too.
The main point is: If you don't provide an alternative to do the same job, don't remove it.
Which also means that, yes, if you can come up with a better solution for specialization strategies that includes less micro-management, then do it. But only if it really does the same job and if it is better. What I don't want is a replacement that offers a "dumbed down" version making poor optimizations.
A good place to start thinking about a possible replacement would be to list the things how we currently use the planetary wheel and why we are doing them. I'm not a hard-core optimizer and a bit lazy, too, so am not trying to squeeze every last drop out of the system. Basically, I switch between these alternatives for the different planets:
Economy planets are set to
a) "100% eco" : Nothing to build or I don't want it to build anything
b ) "50% eco + 50% man" : I want it to build something but my empire has not yet reached the overflowing cash coffer phase
c) "100% man" : I want it to build something and I have reached the "more cash than I can spend" phase.
Research planets are set to:
a) "100% res" : Not building anything.
b ) "50% res + 50% man" : Building something else than the very first research enhancing improvements.
c) "100% man" : Building research improvements when the planet is not yet putting out very much research.
Manufacturing planets are set to:
"100% man" always
The slider settings are:
Economy and Research planets: Not supporting a yard so doesn't matter.
a) "100% military" : Not building anything or I want to prioritize ship building
b ) "50% military + 50% social" : Building something
(No need for "100% social" setting because you get that by simply shutting down the yard. "100% social" in manufacturing planets implies that you don't want ships just now. Many times I simply leave the setting "100% military" and alternate between improvements and ships by simply opening and closing the yard which is quicker.)
Looking at the above it's quite clear that you could automate or make easier a lot of what I'm currently doing manually. The desired functionality can be broken down to:
1) There's a planet classification system that divides them into manufacturing planets, research planets, and economy planets. Let's label this as "Focus". (Yes, yes, there's culture, too, but I tend to usually go for the more militaristic victory types in my games... )
2) There are three production options: "Prioritize Focus", "Half/Half", and "Prioritize Manufacturing". If the focus is manufacturing then this option would be rather meaningless but we could also interpret it as the ship building slider and have a nice generic three option system for them all.
3) There are situational triggers that make me always pick the same standard choice for the planetary settings.
4) There are unseen and unexpected cases where I want to pick some other choice than what the "standard" choice would have been by 3).
The above four requirements could be fulfilled, for example, with a straight-forward specialization+governor type solution:
- Add the possibility to set a planetary Focus: Manufacturing, Research, or Economy.
- Add the possibility to set a shipyard to a war footing (or constructor/colony spam or whatever for you need ships...) by setting it to "mobilize".
- Add the possibility to turn on a "planetary governor" that would automatically switch between:
a) Focus = "100% specialization" if there's nothing to build.
b ) Focus = "50% specialization + 50% manufacturing" if the improvement to build is a non-Focus improvement OR specialization amount is greater than manufacturing amount.
c) Focus = "100% manufacturing" if the improvement to build is a Focus improvement AND specialization amount is less than manufacturing amount.
a) Obviously always keep 100% manufacturing.
b ) If there's nothing to build and supported shipyard is open then route 100% to the shipyard.
c) If the supported shipyard is open and set to "mobilize" then route 100% to the shipyard even if there's something in the build queue.
d) If there's something to build and supported shipyard is open but not set to "mobilize" then route 50% to building the improvement and 50% to the shipyard.
e) If the supported shipyard is closed then route 100% to planetary improvements (like it does now).
- The governor can, of course, be turned off allowing you to handle it manually. This is for those unforeseen cases where you need to do something different. Or just want to do it yourself.
Now, the above is just me, but I'm sure it could be modified to support other ideas or generalized to cover more strategical options in the specializing game. A really nice solution would allow you to configure the governor to have different values for the settings and different parameter values for the triggering situations. Or even configure whole new planetary categories and what their specialization Focus means.