Another area in which I think games like civilization have boxed in game concepts far too much is in the idea of cities. In civilization all strategy and tactics and development is 'city-centric' most everything is built in cities and cities are the determiner of who owns land and who can work it. They tried to fudge the concepts of non-urban development and infrastructure with improvements and by having the cities 'work' the surrounding land. In case anyone didn't realize cities don't really work that way, most especially not on the scale that civilization implies they do. In ancient/medieval times cities served as fortified points and also as centers for trade, craft, industry, and government. Large cities were NOT farming communities a person had to be able to easily walk from where they lived to where they worked. Also the very existence of real cities was only allowed by a surplus of food production in the surrounding lands so that people did not have to work in food production to survive and so could develop other trades.
From what I see of elemental the game is going to be city-centric but it's also completely ignoring the rural components of any successful empire. There is no sense of land management. All production is focuse on cities and tiny resource nodes, even food. I would really like to see a more balanced focus between city development and province development and I see many other people on the forums expressing similar sentiments. Cities are not everything of an empire.
So here's my proposal:
1. Seperate creatable map objects into: cities, settlements, and structures
2. Make cities smaller on the map and rarer, make it difficult to have many of them
3. Cities should be considered as the hub for a province, to create this feeling make most management centered around cities and have the player associate smaller settlements with their capital city
4. Make resource production the primary realm of settlements and unit, wealth, research production sentered around cities.
5. Have cities be very customizable with many options and much character while settlements only have a few upgrade options
6. Settlements and structures can be captured, controlled, razed etc. independently from cities.
To be continued with more details and examples