The admin system will be the make or break feature for me. The reason I've stayed away from this game for most of the last 18 months is that we were told -- a very long time ago -- that there would be a replacement for the Large Empire Penalty when it was removed. As I recall, this is how the admin system was originally advertised: a sensible replacement for the flaky and defunct LEP, a more elegant way of making tall empires viable. It must have been discussed by Brad a year ago or more. For me, it was an idea that resonated, as I prefer building tall, so it seemed better to wait. Unfortunately, the months rolled by and it never happened.
Being a fan of the series, I didn't lose all faith and have occasionally played for short bursts after some of the updates.. Just enough to experience 'Starbase Constructor Spam Hell' and develop sour feelings toward it. Now, more than anything else, it's the big issue that simply has to be addressed before I'm ready to dive in, ever again, much less think about buying more dlc.
To be honest, I probably would have given up forever on GalCiv3, except from shear force of habit I've continued following it here and in eXplorminate's forum. Eventually it began to sound like the long overdue replacement for the LEP -- allegedly still in the works -- would deal with SBCSH... And so here we are. My fingers are crossed. I've pinned so much hope on this one feature, again never imagining it would take so long.. It's almost done, Yaayy!!!
It seems to me that the hard cap on starbases by the administration stat already fixes this problem, with the nice side effect that small empires are much more competitive with big ones now. I think diminishing returns on stacking on top of that goes in the wrong direction, since a bigger civilization can then use the same number of starbases more effectively. So no, just the hardcap is a great solution already.
I hope you are right, torfbolt. Someone once showed me the numbers for a planet ringed round with multiple SB's and it blew my mind. Not only did the stacked bonuses strike me as absurdly, cosmically unrealistic, it was clear from the discussion (less from my limited experience; these were good players) that the ai wasn't anywhere close to being as effective with its overlapping zoc's.