This is not probably what the devs want to hear, but ... I am having fun with the beta (I originally wrote this prior to 1-Z3).
Well not exactly with the beta, but with a mini game that I overlaid on top of the beta. Its basically a simplified version of SimCity, and so far its made me more attached with my cities, and the world around me. I actually think about turns, instead of just plowing through them. I spend time personalizing and tweaking my cities, without being completely drowned in micromanagement. And I think its something the devs might want to consider.
This mini game is somewhere in between SimCity and the making cities in Spore. (skip to the 30 sec mark of the video ---->)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7Uy18ylWWQ
[TLDR]The basic premise of this mini-game idea is where you place buildings within your city matters by conferring some sort of a bonus or penalty. [/TLDR]
In the rules I made up so far for this mini game, the penalties don't lower the base bonus of the building. In other words, a market always makes 1 gold, regardless if you put the it in the worst place for a market.
For example, the housing bonus is a prestige increase, since houses in good locations make people want to live there. Things that I made increase prestige for a house include: other housing (people like a commuinty), moutains (people love building houses up against cliffs), the town center, coastal shores, scenic vies, oasis, palaces, crystal shards (its the symbol of power), estates. Things that lower pretige: slums, refugee camps, mines and other resource gathering buildings, desert, marshes, and so on...Other types of buildings and tiles are neutral. Right now, each tile gives the house .25 bonus/penalty. With 8 tiles surrounding it, thats 2 max presitige total. Its actually very hard to get the max 2 from a house. I average about 1 prestige per house when I really try. These types of bonuses could be a tech upgrade, and even the max bonus could be an additional upgraded via techs.
More examples. Markets get a gold increase bonus if placed next to the appropriate buildings ... such as housing, town center, farms (farmer's market) and so on....other markets reduces the bonus (due competition and lowering of prices, which abstractly means less taxes). Barracks have their training bonus increased if placed next to the command center. The watch tower has its sight increased, if also placed next to the command center. Resource gathering buildings get a bonus if built next to a workshop (easy access to tools and materials)...and so on. You could come up with a never ending list of bonuses and penalties.
The trick is to make it simple and easy to understand.
First, each building gets only one type of bonus from this system. So a house will only get prestige bonuses, markets only gold bonuses. There won't be a mix of different types of bonuses. This will cut down in the confusing on what gets what.
Second, make it easy to understand graphically the moment you place the building...similar to the city building mini game of Spore.
Below is a screenshot I photoshoped so you get an idea of how this might look.
The green squares represent that the tile gives the building a bonus, white is neutral and the red a penalty. The color of the building being placed shows whether or not it overall gets a bonus or penalty (or neither).
The colored, slashed lines in some of the tiles represents how the newly placed building would affect the buildings already there. You will only see this if they both buildings don't affect each other the same way. This means you could have buildings where one gets a bonus and the other a penalty.