I have a couple of comments (low for me, I know).
1. First, Larsenex's way of playing a very big galaxy but with rare habitable planets (I am thinking, sort of like how the Milky Way actually is, likely) is a very interesting idea and one that gives a huge difference in "feel" as compared to abundant, etc. Less stuff to manage but the individual encounters, etc., are more meaningful. Course you get that with a smaller game, but with a large galaxy the difference in ranges and speed, and the disconnect between parts of your empire that are far apart make, perhaps, for some different and rather hair raising thinking. Like when watching Star Trek back in the day --- most of the time there was only one starship. And that one starship had to get it right. Going to try that soon.
2. Second isn't so much of a comment as a question. I am interested/excited whatever about playing a very large game with lots of alien races and lots of planets to colonize, fleets to command, etc. But then when the game involves managing dozens of planets, shipyards, and starbases, and ships this is a problem? Wasn't that the idea? I remember from what seems like my late childhood playing Civ 1 and the games would take a week or two to play, and there were a lot of cities and units to manage, lots of patrolling the ocean to prevent invasions - I remember my early rough strategy was to try to conquer the local island/continent and then grind out a fleet of ironclads whose duty was to patrol the coasts to sink invaders before they landed. And it was all a lot of fun, The big problem was quitting for the night and going to bed.
Let me try to boil this down. I want a huge empire with tons of stuff to manage, but ... I don't want to manage it. Somehow I want it to manage itself. If I want it to manage itself, why am I playing the game? The only thing I didn't really enjoy was getting to the point that I was dominant and then having to grind the game out until it told me I won. To this day I don't know the answer to that one, except that maybe the game should have better way of figuring out when you are unstoppable and letting you off the hook. I did play some big Civ games to the bitter end solely for the purpose of getting a higher score. I hope I have grown up since then. Maybe not.
3, Ok, of course, I couldn't stop at 2. You expected that, sure. Oh well. This is around the idea that somehow shipyards and starbases increase the micromanagement drastically. First, starbases don't move around so I don't spend any time on a turn maneuvering them. Shipyards, well maybe a little at first but then also fixed in place. So when I research something maybe I go click "request constructor" a few times. Not like having to move armies around. Oh, and I have said before that one shouldn't be doing a ton of upgrades at a starbase anyway because those resources should be used to build fleets and the colonies should tend to be specialized, etc., so I won't go into that again. Second, shipyards being separate, hmmm. If I want to build something (in Civ say or GC2 as compared to GC3) I can either click a colony, find the build queue and click a ship OR I can click a shipyard and click a ship to build. I am rather of the opinion that separate shipyards reduces management --- because if I want to build ships I don't have to visit the colony at all and find the build buttons and activate that, etc. And I don't have to decide whether to construct a building or a combat unit so I can focus on the current topic. Oh, I do have to decide how to divide resources between ship building and colony building. But I don't have to decide that at each build, I can just move a slider if I am so inclined. Seems easier to me somehow.
I suppose I shouldn't even mention that every ship you build in GC3 can be a custom build, so that I have to suffer (?) the horrific micromanagement associated with building exactly the best ship I want for the time and purpose. Or I could say, whoopie this is great, and I can even spend more micromanagement time customizing the appearance of my ships if I want. I could even spend the whole evening designing ships and not get a single turn completed. Oh, the micromanagement hell! (But please don't send me to the "other place").
All of which is beside the fact that separate shipyards adds a considerable, very interesting complication to wars, since they are essential and vulnerable. But whatever. I am way past my 2 comments.
You know, I could be playing instead of being on the forum...bye for now!
P.S. Yes, yes I know there is such a thing as pointless micromanagement. Click 5 buttons instead of 1 to do the same thing. I am just saying I don't see how to build an epic 4x game without a lot of management. But it's just me.