I'll start off by saying I love GalCiv, I was a huge fan of GalCiv2. However, I think the balance in GalCiv3 is completely wrong in regards to economy and research.
I've just finished my first game (tech victory) and just before I won I was generating just over 31k research per turn. My capital Earth was turning 2715 research alone and was far from it's max potential (only 35 population and half the buildings were low tier since I couldn't keep up with manufacturing social buildings with the 1 building per turn limit). After the Ascension gate was built my research was ~63k per turn and if I had built another research cloister (imo it shouldn't be possible after you upgrade to quantum) it would have been ~69k research per turn. Most of my worlds were underdeveloped! Isn't this a little overkill since the most expensive technology only costs around 800? Most of the game I was researching every turn and it felt a little cheap.
My economy wasn't only scaled to research, even though that was my victory aim. I was turning over a net ~7k profit per turn and about 25% of my planets were simply culturally pushing the borders of my opponents. I was overflowing with cash and social/military production, with nothing to spend it on. My military was always at least twice that of the closest opponent if not more. Also, how is ascension victory possible with research so fast as I had control of almost all crystals by end game and only had about 1/3 the required points.
Soooo... I think it's going to come down to modding to try to balance the game to be more engaging for me. I'd like some ideas or pointers to people who have been attempting this. Currently I have on my list:
- Increase research costs, these need seriously increasing, probably exponentially with late game techs about 20x the current cost, possibly more.
- Research Cloisters, Quantum Research Foundation, Ascension Gate need serious modification (50%/100%/200% bonuses to overall total faction research is insane).
- Increased maintenance costs, both ship, starbases and improvements, also probably colony costs to make expansion more of a trade off, balancing your budget should mean less research capable worlds.
- Tourism improvements need changing, currently their maintenance is far too high for the benefit, if you can make a net profit at all, might as well add a market centre (this is probably due to the tourism reduction from beta levels).
I do however worry about the effect on the AI, possibly their bonuses need buffing but that might make them too strong early game.