"1) Imagine if the player told his units to build him a city."
I think I was not clear enough, because that is exactly what I want to suppress : "automatic building", "supervisors" etc..., the idea is that the player would manage every detail. indeed, once I will have told a ship to collect resources every month I will not have to displace, load and unload it myself but it will will follow exactly the precise orders I gave to him (it ? does my sentence imply that I am talking about some kind of pilot ? can orders be given to a thing ? There is no pronouns for objects and things in my native language, only male and female ones).
I totally agree with you Stormynature : "the idea of automating the repetitive processes that multiply with growth is a very attractive one", and the idea to allow the player to come back to a lower scale is pretty good
I'm not sure this is exactly what I meant, I think the difference between what you say and what I say is the way to automate things : my idea would be more the following : the player build a city, then another, then he should think : "I should make a procedure to build cities !", and then every time he will discover a place to build a city he would just have to launch the procedure he made. That would allow him to say "hey but here it's a place full of iron and coal ! I will use my plan to make an industrial city !, and here a farming city !", to manage every details, and not just 3 or 4 general management choices such as "explore/conquer/build".
In your design I think it's more that when the scale changes, management of the lower level of details is made automatically by the computer.
I think these two ways to "automate" things would make pretty good games, that's a shame they don't exist
Edit : Yeah ZeroBeat indeed I think you cannot place every buildings for each of your dozens of colonies, and in fact in games where you have to put click by click everything you just do it quickly always in the same way cause you don't have time, and you don't appreciate the 23rd colony as much as the first one. One solution is to make it automatic, but you will not be able to control the details if you want to. Another solution is to allow procedures or plans, so that the player can take his plan, modify it a little bit if there is something different, or make a new one if a colony has a special position for example. To prevent the game from looking like a movie, I think keeping bringing enough new situations to the player can be enough.