I was not sure that $100 dollars was a fair price for this kind of early access. I was clearly wrong. GC3 (I will refer to it as this for brevity sake) is an excellent game so far, at least 10x better than the last one. While some of it does seem like the GC2, it is understandable that the game designers would want to built on a successful model. Here are my personal list of positives and negatives so far, considering that it is in alpha of course.
-The shipyard is perfect. Don't change it. The only thing that you might add is that awesome "rotation" feature. That is about it, seriously, the shipyard is one of the things I live for.
-The Ethic's system. No longer just "good, evil, neutral", I feel like the ethic's system has the potential to address what problems our intrepid space rules would have to deal with. Do you develop a crueler empire to destroy the other empires because you want your subjects to fair better than theirs? Are you good only because it gets you power? Ethic's has many twists and turns, and this ethic's system has the foundation of being an extremely good one. Develop it, it is one of the better "customization" aspects.
-The Hex grid. Hex is the new gold standard for grids, keep it.
-The Tech tree. The tech tree is interesting, and the specializations are cool. I think that they should be saved for a higher level. Once you get to a certain point, you should have to start making choices. Do you want shields that are good against beams AND missiles? Or do you want fast regenerating shields? Do you want multi phasic beams that kill shields, but that don't do good damage against hulls? Do you want massive killer one shots, or many small attacks? Choose what you want, and deal with the consequences.
-The graphics. Absolutely perfect, just keep improving.
What should be added:
-Diplomacy stuff in the diplomacy tree. Perhaps that will go in later, but I though it was odd that defenses go in the diplomacy tree. I guess that is just an alpha.
-Diplomacy. I really didn't like the diplomacy system in other games. As amazing and complex as GC2 was, it's diplomacy system was crap. Leaders should have goals that will be willing to sacrifice to get. All that trading ever does is making you loose money, and the standards for the CPU's was way to high. Revamp it completely.
-A slightly less Rock>Paper>Scissors combat system
-The GC2 "silliness". Listen, I know GC2 had a really funny thing going on with the descriptions for ships, facilities, etc. It worked with GC2 very well. But it doesn't fit for this game. All the silly descriptions don't fit the amazing graphics, excellent tech tree's, and overall engine improvement. This is GC3, not GC2. Drop the silliness. It worked at one point, but it doesn't work now.
Suggestions for future development:
-Allow the players to get invested in their race fully. The more customization you allow players, the more they like playing it. I will be invested in this game if the Terran's I play are light years (pun intended) away from my friend who also plays the terrans. Add in game "timeline events" (as an option) too even more add to the atmosphere to game.
Overall though, excellent start to this game. I can't wait to see how it develops!