So there's been a lot of great discussion about the direction we plan to take the game in terms of removing the production wheel from the planet govern screen.
This post will probably be a bit disorganized, I apologize in advance.
Planetary management today:
The player goes to a govern button and can play around with the planet's production wheel to optimize its production.
The problem with this is that you HAVE to do this in order to optimally play the game. I know that many of our core players really like this but it's extremely off-putting to the vast majority of the player-base. We also find it extremely gamey. Specifically, it trivializes the fact that this is a colony on an alien world that is supposed to be unique.
When you play the game, you notice how many little cut scenes we have to try to convey what it means to be doing these things. We do this because it matters to us that players are given the feeling of weight of what it means to be colonizing other planets. It's why we have technologies like Xeno Farming. You can't just grow corn on these worlds.
Features like the per-planet spending ultimately result in a planet being simply another "resource" in your empire. That's not what we want this game to be about.
If you played GalCiv II, which had a total of $800k budget, you can click on the details screen and see all the time and energy we put into what is largely fluff stuff (statistics, man on the streets opinions, history, etc.).
GalCiv III's planet management is very soulless in our view and we have the opportunity to do some interesting things with it in this engine.
Planetary management: The future = you are the leader of a civilization, not a mayor
Many players have stated they are looking forward to admirals and commanders and such for fleets. But few talk about the importance of good leaders in government.
Where I'd like to see government aspect of the game go, in the long-run, is towards the concept of Governors and Senators. These were things we touched on in GalCiv II but we literally had insufficient memory to cram anything else into that game by the end of its last expansion. But GalCiv III is 64-bit, we can make this extremely interesting and sophisticated.
Thus, the direction we are looking to go is where you would recruit governors to run your planets. You would assign it to a planet and they'd have their own special abilities. Maybe one governor IS a micro manager and having him as your governor lets you micro the spending ratios on that particular planet. Another might be really good for managing finances, another at research, and so on.
In none of these cases is the governor actually constructing anything on the planets for you. That system would be separate in which you could set up templates or set up a particular weighting and tell the governor to execute on that that plan. I.e. the governor is still beholden to you.
Beyond planets: Sectors = Senators
Beyond the governors are the Senators. In a game where you only have 5 planets, who needs another level of abstraction? But in the future, if you have thousands of planets, you are going to need a bureaucracy to run this civilization. This is where vast amounts of political features can be integrated. This part would need to go through a lengthy beta with players to nail it down but the idea being that as you go up the tech tree, you gain access to lots of interesting political abilities that you can choose to implement as part of your strategy. Things like a cabinet, a senate and elections start to become very interesting additions to the game.
Discussing the AI
The team is always looking for ways to improve the AI. They took the path in GalCiv III to make it very moddable and that direction will continue. When I wrote the GalCiv II AI, it was not moddable at all. I would, in a background thread, simulate future turns to predict what I thought players would do and then try to counter it. That design precluded scripting because I was reacting to other players as much as I was implementing my own strategy.
Now, on the forums, the AI gets talked about a lot. We take it very seriously to the point the 1.4 is mostly going to be about AI. But at the same time, we really need some of the more..earnest players to understand some underlying facts: Each day, thousands of games of GalCiv III are played. We record the setup stats. 85%+ of players don't play above normal. Over half of players play at BELOW normal. And while they may not post, they are just as much as a customer as frequent posters. For them, bad UI, alien interaction, constructor spam, boring invasions are far far more concerning to them than whether the AI is challenging to someone who has mastered mid-maxing and has level 17 banks.
Thus, design updates to the game aren't about making it "easier" for the AI. They don't even factor in. In the long-run, the AI will keep getting better and better as we mine the data we get, look at saved games people send us and just plain get better at the game ourselves. What I can do, adamantly, is that we won't be prioritizing engineering hours into thwarting really edge case strategies (i.e. if you create a custom race with these bonuses and these starting conditions and do X, Y and Z you can get a huge advantage). We can't focus on that kind of thing. Most players don't even use custom races. That is, most people just play as the Terran Alliance (which kills my soul given how much budget has been spent on the customization aspects). That is, they don't even modify the Terran Alliance. They just play as them as-is.
The point is: While I love hanging out and posting with you guys, engineering hours have to take into account the entire player base. Not just people who post on forums.
So 1.4 will be AI centric and continue the work on the planetary governor stuff. We also want to tackle the way constructors are handled but that won't make it into 1.4.