Here’s a flat-out crazy idea. I understand this may involve too much new stuff rather than the typical tweaks to existing systems… but hear me out…
What if there were a whole new system where players in a game would get to vote on Galactic Policy. “Galactic Policy” could be anything: Maybe a limit on weapons tech levels, maybe making specific types of infrastructure cheaper or more expensive, maybe vote for No Warp Gates, …or anything else that could be tweaked in the options settings. Or that brand-new ship limit on systems, have players in a game vote on it in that specific game. And of course, anything could be changed by future votes!
This system could add more to the diplomatic game by having each players’ vote count, and thus when you are going to propose a vote it will be really important to have spoken with the other players to gain their support. Or those opposed could promise whatever they want in private communications to get your proposal voted down.
I see a few options for votes: Either give each player 1 vote, or have it somehow tied to size of empire. MAYBE introduce a new technology called “diplomacy” or something to give your empire extra votes.
I would imagine some limit should be placed on how many issues can be brought to the Galactic Senate each cycle, or when the Galactic Senate should form (it would make more sense after a few cycles in a game rather than right from day 1, after civilizations have expanded and met each other).
Perhaps this could open new avenues of victory, like a Diplomatic Victory in some RTS games by having 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place spots voted on.
I think it’d be Awesome.