well, actually population is already displayed as P/P, because we have a housing limit as well. so what you'd actually need to display would be three numbers.
Housing could easily be separated out and labeled simply as housing. It probably should anyway, just for the sake of having an easily intelligible display.
personally i think this looks pretty intimidating to new players and, well, i just put myself in the position of someone looking at it for the first time and wondering what the hell "available" population means, or what a specialist is.
New players are not idiots. They will understand that available population means population which is available for them to utilize.
but a stat for a Merchant that simply says 0.01gildar/person is pretty damn obvious.
Indeed, and going that route is a viable idea and is definitely better than the current implementation. It does lack details which could be modeled.
elemental is supposed to be about a war of magic, not a social study of large populations, exercise in economic management or anything like that.
This is true, but there's no real reason it couldn't have more detailed economic stuff for those who like that, as long as it's presented such that it does not become overwhelming.
don't forget that a lot of the people who are going to pick up this game are doing so for the first time, if it manages to redeem itself.
Yes, I know. For their sake, perhaps it would be good to add to these increasing displays a little thing in parenthesis that says "That'd be x amount of gold each turn if we had it now". That way, people can have access to the math, if they want it, and they have access to the endpoint of the math, so they can get a solid idea of what the improvement will do for their town if they build it, without having to think about it very hard.
this is not because i lack any desire to see the game improved, i'm just massively sceptical of any new abstract gaming mechanics. especially one that seems to be a middleman for linking production to population, instead of just making the link directly, which i think will solve this problem far more elegantly.
This isn't really a middleman, or abstract. This is causing you to draw directly from a pool of citizens, and causing those citizens to behave in a realistic manner which makes them relevant, and lets other people go about their business in a way that profits your kingdom/empire.
why make city level more redundant when you can fix the problem by making it more relevant? this reminds me of the asteroids vs. resource starbases question in gal civ 2: two methods of representing the same thing, that make it completely obvious that one was tacked on at a later date.
This is no more related to city level than your own suggestion; the only relation is that they both stem from population. To make city level more relevant directly, you would have to make increases in building output based on a cities level. That seems silly to me, and would have real purpose beyond increasing the level's relevance.