Oh, let's just drop the 'it'll reduce mico' rubbish, because it won't. You can bet that if we're stuck with just the global wheel, we'll be microing it every turn to make sure we're not wasting any more production on econ or research than is absolutely needed, rather than just setting worlds to 100% whatever-they-do and leaving them alone. Every time I build a new ship or building, I'll need to adjust GLOBAL outputs to cover the maintenance increase; as population grows, I'll need to adjust it downward to avoid surplus cash. This does not strike me as less micro-intensive than setting a planet's wheel to 90% econ and then forgetting it exists.
And we can ditch the 'it's against the spirit of the game' crap, too; if we're using a pop=prod model then the ability to direct population is a fundamental part of that model. It wasn't in previous GC games because the pop=prod model wasn't, and so it wouldn't have made a blind bit of sense to include it. It WAS in more or less every 4X that uses a population = production model tho = in Civ, you can position your citizens, in MOO, you assigned them by blocks etc. And the funny thing is, it worked just fine in those games. There's no reason for it not to work in GC3. If anything is 'the spirit' of Gal Civ, it's a razor-sharp AIs that actually play the game. Gal Civ isn't the most innovative 4X; it's not the most relatable, it's not got the biggest budget or the most features or the best balance. But it has always had excellent AI. Removing the wheel to avoid an AI improvement is precisely the opposite of that spirit.
This really boils down to three things:
1. The AI can't specialize.
2. Because the AI can't specialize, everything has to be cheap and bonuses have to be high.
3. Because bonuses have to be high, those who DO specialize can get game-breakingly good scores.
Removing the wheel is entirely down to dealing with this. Nothing to do with micro (since that could easily be reduced using any of the 150 different suggested ways to trim micro that players have contributed to this very forum), nothing to do with some mysterious 'spirit of the game'.
So let's analyze this further:
Part 1: The AI can't specialize.
The strategic AI is, let's all be honest now, really bad at this game. This isn't a dis to SD. It's an objective statement of fact. The reason that the bigger maps are boring is because you aren't competing against the AI to win. You're basically just waiting for the AI to fall apart. It's entirely possible to play on maps where, by the time you meet another empire, you're already in mopping up mode because they've already fallen so far behind you. This should not happen. We've excused it with 'well, don't play on those settings', or with 'it's getting better!', but ultimately, the AI cannot play the game effectively beyond a few dozen turns.
This is entirely down to the inability to specialize. It produces slowly, it researches slowly, and it barely makes money. When it tries to research, rather than putting 100% of it's research planet populations into research, it puts 50% of it's industrial populations into research, where they are useless. It builds shipyards orbiting worlds covered in market places, and then spends 50 turns building a frigate.
The AI will continue to do this regardless of if they get rid of the planetary wheel or not. Only now, you, the player, get to send 50% of your industrial world's population over to do research at miserable returns too, if you want your actual research-dedicated planets to make even half-effective use of their infrastructure. If you are think this idea will be a net improvement to the game, then you are, quite simply, wrong.
Part 2: Everything has to be cheap
So, because of 1, everything in the game has to be cheap and everything which gives bonuses has to give really, really high ones. The AI is going to be building that frigate on that econ-dedicated planet with only 50% of it's production going into un-boosted manufacturing; it might have a manu output of just 10 or 20. Even on manu-dedicated worlds, it's 20-30 population will only be dedicating 50% to manu, so even with lots of end-level factories it's unlikely to break 100 final output. That means that everything is ludicrously cheap - for example, money is nearly worthless because the AI never really makes any use of it's econ worlds; it might put 30% of total production cash, and be dedicating the rest to stats that are outright worthless for those planets.
The AI's inability to specialize is therefore dictating the economic balance of the game. EVERYTHING is balanced around trying to make the AI's crappy planets actually produce things despite being used incompetently. This is one of the main reasons I've been banging on about the AI needing to specialize so much. The reason we have all there unbalanced mega-bonuses from adjacency and basic buildings is because otherwise, the pathetic output that the AI is presently achieving would be even lower, and the game would be even less of a challenge; fixing the broken economy will actually murder the AI in it's present state. Removing the wheel does not fix this as such - instead, it makes the player reliant on the ridiculous bonuses too. If anything, these insane increases will actually need to be increased still further to compensate for the incredible slowdown that non-specializing will introduce.
Part 3: Specializing gives game-breakingly good scores
Because the bonuses have to be so high, actual specializing gives enormous output scores. Attempting to increase outputs so that the AI is less dire automatically increases the player's output even more, because he'll make use of 100% of those new bonuses while the AI might get 50% out of them. As they balance everything around trying to make the AI actually productive at horrible global settings, this leads to insane bonuses for the player. For a level 3 factory to give a noticeable improvement to the AI's outputs, it needs to give 10% extra per factory - say maybe +100% planet-wide. The player will gain manufacturing equal to his raw production from the upgrade. The AI will get, at best, half it's raw production value extra out of it, due to it's population being spread out doing dumb stuff.
Hence why, by T3, you are producing more or less anything in 1-2 turns, yet the AI is producing stuff in 20+. When you have 500% bonuses, the player will put out 600% of raw production. The AI will, at best, put out 300% of raw production into manu, and then 1/4 of raw production each in econ and research. Thus, the difference between specialized and non-specialized gets bigger throughout the game, and efforts to make unspecialized competitive by boosting outputs causes the specialized worlds to become relatively more powerful rather than less.
Now, I'd say that leaving the wheel alone and teaching the AI to use it is a much better solution than taking it out. And fixing point 1 allows you to fix point 2, and that fixes point 3. It would allow you to nerf the oversized outputs, as the AI wouldn't need them to prop it up anymore. This, in turn, would substantially reduce the difference between specialized and non-specialized planets, so that previously insanely-high cumulative bonuses would be brought down into merely very good planets. If we shouldn't be making huge hulls in 1 turn, then make huge hulls expensive and reduce top-possible-bonuses to be less than they cost.
I doubt we'll be seeing a switch to a factories-are-production economy, since that'd be a ground-up reworking. Which means that pop=prod is almost certainly staying. If pop-prod is staying, then we need to be able to direct the population. ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE PLANETARY WHEEL IS A WEAKER METHOD OF DELIVERING THAT. The only alternatives which do not result in a loss of control (like, say, per-planet 'focus' buttons that set 100%) are ones which do nothing to resolve either the problems above, or the micromanagement issue, and so are meaningless changes. If you're celebrating the removal of the wheel, just watch how well the AI is doing in your next play-through - because in 1.4, that's you. That's how well your empire will be doing by turn 300. Does that look like fun? 20+ turns to build a destroyer? Research that's trapped in <T3 because without specialized research worlds you cannot keep up with the exponential increase in tech costs? Fighting against a bureaucratic limit set on your ability to exercise control over your people? If so, go play MOO3 - you'll love it.
This is a stark choice between improving the AI and simply removing stuff it can't use from the game. The former everyone wants anyway. The latter sets a dangerous precedent. What will they remove next in favour of teaching the AI to make use of it? It presently doesn't use the ship designer - it just builds from scripts. So we can nerf the hell out of that. Just limit the player to purely cosmetic changes. That makes combat much easier to balance, and doesn't wreck the 3D printing. The AI was bad at picking good hulls - and we've already seen that the solution to that was making the unlock techs insanely expensive so the player wouldn't use them so much either (not that it worked; it just made sure ONLY the player could ever get large hulls). The AI is terrible at diplo; what do we do? We introduce the lock-out because the AI was so easy to abuse. I suspect that might be considered much more 'gamey' than being capable of telling factory workers to work in factories on a factory planet.
This suggests that design decisions are being influenced by poor AI, which doesn't bode well. The game is being changed into something the AI is capable of playing, rather than the AI being improved to be capable of playing the game. That's exactly NOT why I buy a Stardock game. SD have a reputation for good AIs that can play the game in front of them, not poor AIs which have the game deliberately re-written around them until it's simple enough for them to play.