If there is one thing that is obvious in reading these forums, it is that we all have VASTLY different opinions on what is fun.
One thing that I think we can all agree on is that it is more fun to have a challenging game that is challenging from the first turn to the last turn. It is not fun to have "won" the game by turn 100 and then spend 200+ turns "ending the game" to actually win.
Here's some things that need to be acknowledged. The 64bit architecture gives Gal Civ 3 bones... big bones that can hold a lot of meat so to say. Most of what I am going to discuss is in the future ideas area because i FULLY UNDERSTAND that this is not minor tweaks...
Issue 1. Map Scaling
I think that map scaling is something that needs to be implemented sooner rather than later. There are a lot of things that work well in bigger maps but not in smaller maps and even more that are brokenly over powered in huge maps.
Examples... Ideology. The ideology system is in my opinion a neat part of the game that is currently VERY limited in actual implementation. Currently it is tied mostly to random events and planet colonization events. Each one of the paths has a 1pt every x turns building or buildings that a player can build. However on a map with 500 planets these mean a lot more than on a map that has 30 planets. same with the events themselves. More on ideology later...
Research... Unlike manufacturing which is mostly planet unique, Research is an empire wide ability. If I have 30 planets my research is going to be much less than if I have say 300 planets. base research COSTS for new research should scale with the map size and number of habitable planets. There are games where I have literally researched everything in 250 turns or less.... that shouldn't be possible.
The Precursor stuff... These should be a bonus % based on the number of total possible... not the number of station mods. If I have 4 research stations and 5 manufacturing stations on a small map that may be all of them on the entire map. but there may be 20 or more of each type on the bigger maps. it is game breaking when you can get 800% bonus to manufacturing or 1000% bonus to wealth.....
People have complained about the "unrealistic nature" of sensor and engine stacking.... the best fix here is simply to get the AI to use the same things to balance out the player doing it. I'd also be cool with the #of Attacks being based on the highest tech level of your weapons. Stinger ships get one attack a turn... Harpoons get 2 etc etc etc... then you disassociate movement from attacks.
Issue 2 Lack of balanced Victory Paths for the different Ideologies.
As I said before the Ideologies are a neat feature, but they are very very incomplete in implementation as far as how they feel in the game.
I suspect that they were intended to be much more deeply tied to the game than they currently are and this is one of the things that is greatly affected by the limited diplomacy options.
In GCII the "good" civs would often declare war on an evil warmonger civ even if they were not allies. The civs ganged up on each other... they acted like the ideology mattered.
I've said before that I do not think a Benevolent race should be able to declare war unless it is a RESPONSE to another race going to war. People have replied saying that that limits the Benevolent races ability to win the game.... GOOD. it SHOULD. at least it should limit their ability to win via conquest. Conquest is the path of the Malevolent and Pragmatic.
Here's the thing... the current lack of espionage and true diplomacy makes the ideologies feel very shallow and lacking.
A benevolent society should be one that people Want to join or be part of. A benevolent society should be able to STEAL population from other races through emigration...
One of the areas that GCIII is majorly weak in comparison to GCII is that the moral system is really rather weak... it does not do much of anything. In GCII it was the limiting factor on your taxes and thus your economy. If you taxed too much and people got mad planets would strike, or declare their independence or swap sides... a negative moral could also slow down your growth and cause your influence to retract.
Benevolent has one whole path related to keeping people happy... but to what end? what does it do that really matters for winning the game?
Also the lack of actual political parties, voting, war weariness etc is noticeable...
The Ideologies will be incomplete until a full system of Diplomacy and Espionage is implemented in the game.
In the Final expansion of GCII the unique tech trees introduced unique techs for some of the races based on which ideology they had... this needs to come back.
Points on this... If Moral was actually a stat that mattered and did something quantitative Higher moral Civs should gain population from lower moral civs. Higher moral civs should have an easier time stealing technology from other civs... Higher moral civs should get bonuses to tourism income...
1. The game is not going to be fairly balance for Victory Paths until Conquest is not the only means in which the AI can win the game.
2. Benevolent civs should help each other it is in the nature of benevolent to give for the greater good.
2a. To this ends Benevolent Civs should have technology paths such as "Missionaries, or "Foreign aid" Which can be used to boost influence and promote an influence flip.
2b. Benevolent Civs should not be allowed to declare war except in reply to an invasion, or major event... GCII had the assassination event... perhaps in the future the ideology linked major events can be something that with espionage other civs can learn.. OMG the Humans are Malevolent and they just murdered 2 million people for profit... we should reprimand them... if they don't change we will save their people from them as no one should suffer.. etc etc etc..
2c. Benevolent Civs should get defensive bonuses when they are being attacked much like the tech trees from GCII
2d. Bene Civs should not be able to do terrorist acts once Espionage is available
3. Pragmatic Civs should be able to do everything without penalty but with lesser individual bonuses..
3a. Pragmatic should have really good bonuses to all forms of espionage.
4. Malevolent Civs should have a moral penalty if they are NOT at war... like reverse war weariness
4a. Malevolent Civs should not be immune to culture flip... they should be immune from population loss or artificial influence.... if I have a huge civ and the Yor build a planet on some class 4 civ... It should flip cause they shouldn't have built a colony there in the first place...
4. Malevolent Civs should get bonuses to Terrorism and Sabotage.
But the biggest thing is that Ideology should be untied to the colonization events. Honestly it should be multiple actions chosen before the first Ideology is chosen... I think races that have a tendency to evil.. like the Drengin should have building options like Slave Pit (5pts Malevolent if built) or Factory (5pts Pragmatic).... Once they Unlock Malevolent the Factory option goes away and they can no longer build it.
Rush building before one has tech should be Pragmatic and give Pragmatic points... Forced rush (slavery) should be even faster but give Malevolent...
I think that the ability to game the game and on huge maps get all the Ideologies at once is broken beyond measure and should never happen... Once you choose Malevolent it should completely lock out Benevolent Ideologies/research options... the Mega events that once gave Benevolent bonuses might still be available with some additional other bonus but not Benevolent.
In this option Pragmatic should still be open for purchase but at much higher costs and possibly a completely new tree compared to the normal tree.
If a civ is Pragmatic they should get either reduced Bene/Malev options or their second choice should lock them from the third.
The point is that the three Ideologies should not be equal.. they should not play equal... Conquest/Malevolent should be the easiest option to play with the most short cuts but the least bonuses long term.
Cultural/Benevolent should be harder but with the biggest bonuses long term...
Right now there is on this forum a general agreement that X tech tree with X bonuses is the best way to play... I don't think there should be a single best way to play. I think GCIII has big enough bones to make a game that can really play shockingly different depending on which path one chooses. It is just not quite there yet.
I look forward to the day that it gets there.