Master of Orion III is hard game to "grok," as Heinlein uses the word. Allow me to try to give you the short summary version of what we're trying to accomplish in the design of MOO3.
One Sentence Description: Master of Orion 3 (MOO3) is a deep, easy-playing strategic-level game evolving the Master of Orion series by modeling the story depth of science-fiction epics like those you've read and seen in the movies or on TV.
Longer Game Synopsis: "Space is big. Really big." So begins The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But like the void of space, there is a void in strategic space games. None have provided the bigness, that focus on the highest levels of grand strategy, that science-fiction epics in print, film, and television have long delivered. So, to the traditional "4-X" strategy game of eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate, we are adding an important new fifth "X," eXperience. (Yep, it's a 5-X game!) Through game devices adding character, story, and plot to familiar strategy play mechanics, MOO3 will deliver the grandeur and richness of an epic space opera not in the guise of a traditional book, movie, or TV show, but presented in the medium of a game experience.
In MOO3, players assume the biggest role ever. No longer do players merely represent petty interplanetary dictators. In MOO3, players represent the controlling power behind an entire galactic civilization. The dictators, presidents, councils, and overlords that come and go are merely a player's pawns. One must use these governments and their leaders to secure the destiny of one's civilization and to manipulate its policies of freedom and oppression in both foreign and domestic arenas. It is not enough to be an able economist or a great captain to succeed in Master of Orion 3; considerable political, administrative, and espionage skills must be applied to craft your civilization's glorious chapter in the Annals of Time and Space.
Although MOO3 is a turn-based game and a player can do anything, he can't do everything. Only a limited amount of "Imperial Focus" is available to each player each turn, so players must manage the ultimate resource their own direct involvement! Therefore, as players build empires, retaining able administrators becomes more important (as does watching their loyalty and ambition!). Growing an empire means growing a bureaucracy and citizens can resort to voting with their feet or their pitchforks if they're not properly led.
So it is up to players to provide direction and focus to drive their civilization to its goals. Left to its own devices, a civilization will slouch forward, but when properly led by a player, their destiny will be forever written in the stars....