Making features optional is definitely easier the earlier on in the process it's decided. But nonetheless, making a feature optional inevitably requires extra work. If making every feature optional required a menial investment of time and money if done early enough into the process, then a plethora of options would be much more common than they are. Actually, there's another reason. Too many options can just as easily degrade a game as improve it. Quality control is much harder to do when you provide more possibilities than you can ever consider.
That is so true. Though, usually the reason that something isn't optional is because programers forgot to make a variable a variable (i.e. its hardcoded somewhere) and fixing it requires a lot of work.
I don't think the point is to ask for many options per se, just that anything that doesn't "Make the game" should be to be turned on or off. For example, this game is about building armies, cities, and casting spells. Those things should not be able to be turned off. Without those things, it would not be the game it should be. Things like weather, certain world viariables, time effects, random events, and so on are not the game and ultimatly would not change what the game is whether or not they are included. They enhance the game, not make it. So, extra time and budget to add additional features but be weighed value vs. time and cost.
We shouldn't shoot down additional features because they arn't needed, just remeber that they are 'additional features'. There is certainly a 'vision' or 'goal' that is more than just 'build armies, create cities, cast spells, trade goods' that probebly include things like additional factions, quality graphics, superb enemy AI, and such. Stardock has made it clear that they won't be satisfied until they have these things are completed, even though the game is still a game without them. So stardock has already signed on to ensure they get in certain 'additional features' and I am sure they want to have more 'additional features' beyond that. Some things like superb AI really does't hurt the game to turn on and would pretty much only hurt to turn off, so that passes. But just about everything else could be an option.
So everybody needs to remember helping stardock find the best choices for their search for additional features. We need to look at this and try to see if we can come up with really good additional features to include, things like budget shouldn't be too much of a worry for us, that's stardock's problem
to be a supporting community, we shouldn't ever really discourage an optional feature, only give more support for additional features we do want to see stardock spend time and money creating. I say stardock should make the game as fleshed out and full of features as their budget allows, then have the option to turn off or change any features that are not needed to have the game be playable.
I say that, yes... too many options can be bad. But at the same time, thats usually at the flaw of a UI situation (such as too many options that new players get bogged down), or balancing (because that takes time and effort). Players should have the ability to shape their experiance though, so we should always be able to give them options that don't hurt the experiance directly.
For example, if you save your options to a save file (so you can quickly load the settings ), but the save file has more variables available then what are accessable via UI, then players are not bogged down by having to many options and the ability to change things that establish balance can be changed, but only by those savy enough to go and edit the save file.