I don’t want to hijack a thread to talk about another related game, but I do think it is one of the things endless space does well is abstraction, as Helio says. Like, say you’re playing as the money faction. One of their special things is they don’t build colony ships, they just plop down money, and bam, colony. So… they’re buying it? But from who? The planet is empty, nobody owns it. But you’re the money faction so of course you buy things, and now you need to focus a little more on economic techs early game to make sure you reliably can afford it. Buying planets from space itself is nonsense, but as an abstraction it makes a ton more sense.
Stellaris goes kind of the other way entirely, and I think makes a different, but very strong result also - Stellaris gets that feel of being an actual space nation down. You’re the federation - scientists and diplomats, but still with starfleet, so to speak. You’re always a more rounded nation amongst other more rounded nations. I think Stellaris only needs more external events to react to, or perhaps a way to tell its seed to weight certain things more heavily. I’ve had a few games where my xenophile race starts next to xenophile pals who prefer drastically different worlds to me - and to continue the star trek metaphor, having local vulcans is fine, but there’s no guarantee you’ll have the klingons, the dominion, or the borg, and they are essential! I’d like it if you could tell the seed to generate at least ONE nearby race that hated your ethics and liked your planets, just for some drama. I think as much as stellaris wants late game events, it wants a ton of mid-tier, not the end of the universe events. Stars going solar flare wild. A dominion crisis. A planet experiencing the total collapse of its crust. It’s got all this. It just needs more… tension. The equivalent of a cat having a go at the side of your chair.
Actually fuck I had a point here but it’s gone. I’ve just sort of listed things about a couple of games. Bugger. Anyway, I do like Stellaris, utopia was well good.