Yeah x games... no research, barebones diplomacy and no ship designer which means it ain't really a 4x game ;p
What I liked about Star Ruler was the ship designer though (all the tech art icons of that are by me so yeah), the idea and concepts behind it are great. Sadly in actual gameplay when it comes down to it, you need like 200 or 300 ships.. at that point it becomes irrelevant how well you designed them as long as they have a shield, armor, engines and guns.. and enough fuel to not die before they reach the enemy. The "no limit" gameplay really doesn't work in games *cough* Distant Worlds *cough* because you can't manage it.A good 4x game
handles solar systems like a normal 4x game handles planets. And uses the MOO3 concept of planet regions (Which is an awesome concept) for everything. So basically, you build mining colonies on planet regions with high minerals but do you really care where exactly that then is?. Combat is abstracted to solar system level and only the central government planet (the "capital" per solar system) has a dedicated battle abstraction (Outer orbit, lower orbit, ground), because let's face it. Taking a mining colony on planet 3 is irrelevant when a hugely developed world has orbital cannons that can shoot at other planets. You need to take and replace the government. That is how, realistically, space conquest would work. Destroying anything beyond the most annoying military installations would be a huge waste. And in best case you even let local government continue and just oversee that from orbit. Obviously the orbital elevators would be the prime focus point. In the end what developed empires would care about are raw materials, food, and skilled people for military or empire duty.
Oh boy, i forgot Space Empires
I would kinda say these (the whole series) are good 4x games, where it not for the pain-in-the-backside that is... COMBAT.. urgh. For me, the game stops being fun when I have to fight on equal terms (ie, when I meet a same-strength enemy). I think when a 4X games takes itself seriously you have to absolutely abstract fleets. At best you should order fleets around. You have so many possibilities but reality is.. that you have to camp on the warp-points. Which is what I said above... combat needs to be abstracted to at least solar system level. And a gameplay element should exist that limits movement in certain space regions into (large, but still in some way corridors) so as to allow fortresses that have a point and work like the "zone of denial" in total war games.
There was a japan-only game based on LOGH (Legends of the Galactic Heroes) which did this nearly perfectly. The combat, that is.
I would disagree that 4x fans can never be satiated though. Reality is no sci-fi 4x game so far was the *one* super awesome one that shifted this genre into a golden age. The 4X genre never did have it's quake, doom, halflife or Deus EX equivalent. There is just too little innovation in that genre. And whats really missing is admiral and government systems that feel real. A proper power progression for the player (Why do we start as emperor?). And somehow no 4x game ever got the Immersion right.