Designer's Note: I know you internet users love to "graze" information like this. You people are constantly busy asking specific questions in pursuit of specific answers. For my part, I'll try to provide them for you.
However, this won't allow you to deduce what Master of Orion III is really all about. That's because you will read about a particular change here or there; and that only partially enlightens you about only one aspect of the game. All of this information grazing simply doesn't allow you to "see the elephant."
To that end, know that there is a very rich and tightly woven design underlying MOO3. Each part of the game is built upon the modifications and improvements made to all of its other parts. The design is a large and complex tapestry in the way that all of the elements fit together and influence each other. If you closely examine the weave in one area, you can easily get the wrong perception of the game until you see in relation to the totality of the design.
So please remember this, no matter what you read in our official comments, there is more to it than that. If you read something that makes you anxious, it probably wouldn't if you could see it in light of "the big picture." Have a little faith here, people. The design for MOO3 is packed to the gills with nuance and richness that we're presenting through elegant feedback and functionality; we expect you'll love it when you can the whole thing. My problem is that I simply can't take the time to fully explain the myriad complex connections that exist when I answer your specific questions. (This game might never get published if I had to do that.)