The businesses are represented by two buildings sitting on either sides of a playing field.
This would result in some kind of capture-the-flag game, and although these games can be successfull, i don't think that is realy where you want to take this design.
I think two city-blocks seperated by maybe a road between them, and give both teams a whole bunch of options on their own city-block(invest in this local business, place cameras, pay an NPC to guard an area for X time)
- make like 40 races (a bit insane ), problayby just parametrized (like: Race A is scientific + aggressive)
I'm not sure why every race needs to start on exactly one planet, space travel is old, colonies have been built, wars have been fought and settlements have been annihilated,
so some 6-8 races spread out is believable, let them colonize different(and same) types of planets to give them unique colonizing patterns a portrait and an ability/skill
Althrough, I'm not sure what should happen if you attack a planet of that race (does other planets will help them?). Note I would prefer to not implement any sophisticated algorithms for neutrals, since that's not the scope of the game.
The other planets build more defenses/ships(since they can't arrive in time even if they wanted to help), and i think their diplomacy(willingness to join) should be partly dependent on their military strength anyway.
I still get a problem with these independent planets... I don't know, it kind of feels wrong to me. I mean, Terrans auto colonize and sometimes (based on logical factors) that planet will join the empire and sometimes not. Is it just me or is this mechanic flawed?
It's kinda boring, hence different races.
Another option is to have planets hold "friendly ties" with other planets and have their diplomacy towards the player be influenced by this.
It'd basically replace the physical universe's(as i think you described)
The galaxy is made of a few dozens of planets (not that many) connected by routes (so traditional here).
with diplomatic routes.
Make these routes overlap largely(aka planets make friends with neighbouring planets) and the player would be able to grasp these routes.