It’s my first time posting, I saw this thread and I wanted to chip in. I’ve played nearly 600 hours of Gal Civ 3, so it’s pretty safe to say I’ve enjoyed it and I’m grateful to you and your team for all the hard work you’ve put in.
I’m a Concept Artist by trade, so visuals and narrative are a big draw for me. When I’m playing a game that can sometimes last dozens of hours I want to feel like I’m living an epic story with nuance and not a straight A-B, me VS Ai.
A handful of ideas.
Dynamic minor races – Bring back the interaction. Make them meaningful contributors to your empire – give them skills they can bring to the table - more research, better spies etc. Make them a diplomatic source of contention. When other empires attacked a species I was on good terms with I wanted to be able to tell them to back off, I wanted there to be repercussions. Give them their own objectives and situations to be solved eg Minor Race A has been working on a secret project that requires X resources from you for completion which will then go on to be a benefit or detriment to your empire. Diplomatic issues between minor races and you/other minor races. Make them fallible – plagues that you have to research cures for or send scout ships out to retrieve resources for.
If they interact with me I feel like I’m playing in a living, breathing galaxy. When they just sit their quietly as they do now, they may as well not be there. It’s a shame not to make more of them as the stylised art style is gorgeous.
A static Galaxy – I get that there are events, and anomalies, but it feels like, once you’ve colonised a system, or met another minor race, beyond it being annihilated by the Ai, it’s always going to be there. What if stars had a small chance of undergoing change and impacting that system? Going red giant, or going Nova and leaving behind a black hole. It might be a hindrance, it might be a benefit, but either way your strategy has to change.
Limited turn based events – In X number of turns an Asteroid will collide with a colony world. Do you try to limit the damage or are ships in range that can intercept the asteroid? The shockwave from an exploding star is heading for one of your planets in X turns. Can you counter it with planetary shields, do you have to send colony ships to grab what you can. Alternatively a genesis wave is heading towards a dead system, get your colony ships there before the Ai to reap the rewards.
Dead Worlds – I’ve seen this come up a lot. I play gigantic maps generally and it’s always demoralising to find great swathes of dead systems surrounding my core worlds. Those first turns need to be about exploration and wonder, not chalking up one dead system after another. I want to feel like I’m progressing, not stagnating. Could we make these more useful? Probe the system, discover one time resource bonuses or buffs, eg Dead world yielded +5 Durantium. An artefact was found on Dead World Y which yielded a temporary research buff. Your probe accidentally activated a beacon whilst scanning a dead world that triggers one of the games mega events. The property of a star changes to something more hospitable and a dead system becomes a living one.
The gameplay of Gal Civ III has always been engaging for me and I prefer it over other big titles out there because of that, but some of the others handle the world building immersion better. If Gal Civ could do more of that I think it’d be a very well balanced offering.
I didn’t enjoy the new MOO for gameplay but I liked how they showcased their races on the various UI screens, how you got a chance to see them a little more and dare I say it, the voice acting wasn’t unwelcome. (probably a contentious one )
I like Stellaris for its variety in race and how the situation on an established colony can suddenly change. I like how it entertains epic ideas like Dyson Spheres and Ring Worlds. I haven’t played Endless Space _2 yet, but it looks expansive, epic, so I’m considering checking that out.
If it felt like there was more going on in Gal Civ other than me trying to annihilate or befriend a major race I don’t think these other games would get a look in.