1) Feel like the Emperor, not like a logistics officer
I find it annoying that, while I have played so many strategies, I never felt like a real Emperor, sure there are cool decisions to make and everything but… Where are audiences? As an Emperor I surely should grant audiences! Where are the assassination attempts (does everyone love me?), where are the true rebels that want to overthrow me (not just people who rebel because they are unhappy and starving, I mean real rebels, usurpers to the throne and other scum I should crush). Why can’t I appoint governors and admirals (and I don’t mean “having mere 4 heroes that can be governors/admirals”, I mean selecting governors for *each* planet and commanders for *each* military formation). Instead I’m presented with choices like “what building to construct on planet X”…
My first goal is to “fix” these.
2) Fast paced, no micromanagement yet an epic scale
I know many people would disagree, I guess it is a personal feeling, but I HATE micomanagement And no, I don’t find “automated AI governors” a viable solution. Also I don’t want to limit the game to a dozen of planets.
So, I’m making a game where you are the Emperor of hundreds of planets (during testing I always start with 50 planets to get the feel of the bigger empire) and yet the game does not drag on. I made some controversial choices to achieve this, like you can’t build any infrastructure on planets directly (with minor exceptions), also you can’t move around individual ships (you operate with formations: fleets and squadrons).
3) Asymmetic gameplay, truly alien aliens and challenging non cheating AI
Some titles with asymmetric gameplay first (inspiration): Andean Abyss, AI War: Fleet Command, Pandemic, Middle Earth Quest, Fury of Dracula (most of these are board games)
I don’t intend the AI and aliens to simulate the human player. Aliens are aliens. They have different goals, they do not “play the game” nor try to “prevent the player from winning”. They just live in the galaxy and do their stuff (which frequently is an obstacle to the player, but not always). They also play by different rules (like some alien races having no ships at all and just use big rocks launched from their worlds as a transporter carrying insanely strong warriors that take the enemy planet from the ground - if these are not shot down upon approach).
And so on, so on (think of these aliens more like of “forces of nature that prevents you to establish the galactic Empire”. Note: you don’t need to wipe out the whole galaxy to win the game.
There are also some special scenarios, for example one where you start with 200-300 planets and try to crush the rebellion.