Because of the layout of the economy screen, it's impossible to use your entire empire at once
I think the way in which you manage the economy in GalCiv 2 could be done better. I don't want to change the rules or make the game more complex and I can understand that, for example, the civilization capital on the home planet generates 24 technology points (24TP) and that I need to spend 24 billion credits (24BC) per turn to get those points. The problem is that there's no way to do that and run the empire at the same time.
Let me explain what I mean. On the economy screen you have a number of sliders representing your economic policy. The first one is tax rate, no problems there. The second is industrial capacity. The obvious thing to think here is that the percentage slider represents how much of your factory and lab capacity you're using by spending credits. So back to that initial colony on turn one, I want to spend the full 24 BC and get as much research done as possible. Obviously I push the slider up to 100%. What am I now spending on research? 8BC. I'm only getting 8TP as well.
The problem is the sliders directly beneath industrial capacity that represent spending distribution. It's useful to have these and I'm not disputing that. With the sliders you can put more money towards social production and research relative to fleet spending (which is precisely what you'd want to do in times of peace), or vice versa. The problem is that because of the interface it's impossible to run your factories and labs at full capacity at the same time. Try this one while you read this. Start a standard game of GalCiv2. You don't need to make any decisions, just mess about with the sliders. It's probably easier to see this in action if you choose a race with no bonuses to research or either form of production.
You should be looking at a one planet empire. Your planet should have only the civilization capital and a starport. Select a ship for the port to build so that you are spending on your military budget, doesn't matter which one. Let me just highlight this next point.
You don't need to select a social project because the game will still charge you for your social production even if you're building nothing on the planet. This can be a significant drain on your resources and is probably a bug since you aren't charged for ships you aren't building but you are charged for improvements you aren't building.
Right. Now you're being charged for research, military production, and social production. Your civilization capital has 24 manufacturing points (24MP) and 24TP (theoretically). Go to the economy manager. Here you can see how much you're spending on TP and MP. Increase manufacturing capacity to full. You should be charged 48BC (plus one for colony maintenance). You will be charged 24BC. Assuming you haven't moved the spending distribution sliders you should be getting 34% of your military capacity, 33% of your social capacity, and 33% of your research capacity. So 67% of your factories (in the form of the civ capital) and 33% of your labs are being used.
Social and military are balanced, which is to say you can't get more than 24 "hammers and shields" out of a 24MP factory. However, you run into more problems if you aren't building a ship at a planet. I mentioned you don't get charged for ships you aren't building. Well you don't get the other half of your factory back either. For example, if your spending is 30% mil, 30% soc, and 40% tech, you're missing out on a total of 70% of your factories on non-ship building planets. You miss out on 70% if you're only building ships at a planet too, but the game is kind enough to still charge you the other 30%.
Is this really what the design team had in mind? You can only ever spend 50% of your capacity at most, divided between labs and factories. Feel free to move the sliders about. I can get 60% labs and 40% factories, all labs and no factories. I can even get 0% labs and 108% factories through some strange phantom credits popping up here and there. (That last one had the sliders in right, right, left, from top to bottom. Not sure why, but military spending and production went to 14BC.)
I can think of a whole series of different ways to deal with these issues. The laziest thing to do is just say "Yes you can only use 50% of your empire's potential. There's absolutely no reason for this but it's not changing." Marginally less lazy would be to change the capacity slider so the maximum level reads "50%" or invent a story involving the uncertainty principle to explain why the more accurately you fill a factory with workers, the less full labs become. That's the bit that I don't get.
I think the best option is to change the sliders around. The sliders you might have on the economy window are:
Tax rate (unchanged)
Research capacity (how much of your empire's lab capacity are you using)
Manufacturing capacity (how much of your empire's factory capacity are you using)
This last one would allow you to choose, of your factory output, how much goes into ships or improvements. i.e. all the way to the left, all ships, all the way to the right, all improvements, etc. I think you'd still have all the options you have now, with the added ability of being able to use your entire empire.
Another option would be to leave the sliders where they are and change the way they work. For example, your spending capacity is at 0%. All three sliders below are at 0%. Your spending capacity is at 100%. All three sliders below are at 100%.Your spending capacity is at 50%. You can move the sliders below to the maximum of them each being half full on average. I think this idea is much more complex than the previous idea and wouldn't recommend it.
I think I've made my point here. I have other things I'd like to learn more of about the game, such as how spending differs when you have more potential MP than TP or vice versa, what happens to research spending when one of your planets has the brain pods special (also known as the pain pods special to good civilizations) and you choose to make use of them, how to boost social production on newly colonised worlds without resorting to throwing trillions of credits at them or implementing changes to the entire empire (I know about emphasizing social production but it doesn't really help in many cases), and why the core colony ship has a completely redundant extra colony pod, but I'm sure I'll figure those out myself. I think that the idea I've written here could make the game better for everyone who plays it, not just appeal to my personal taste. I realise that there could be balance issues, but the extra productivity would still have to be paid for and the MP or TP capacity of buildings could just be changed if things get too fast.
Please respond and tell me what you think, and finally, thank you for reading.
P.S. I see the new patch is doing something about the unused social spending and it may be that this is all entirely redundant. If so, well done to Stardock and thanks again for reading.