Haven't posted in a while, but just to keep folks in the loop: New functionality/art is being delayed by sorting out bugs and gaps in *old* functionality/art. Which is good, but not terribly exciting per se. But I can likely post some new videos covering combat and housing evolution at least.
On a more promising note, I might have some good/big news to announce on the collaboration front some time in the new year. We will see.
Expanding on some ideas
from earlier in the thread, I think I may have worked out some more specific (though still hypothetical) solutions to the problems of 'scaling'. The big step here would be to limit the game to a single planet (and possibly save others for expansions,) using a settlement paradigm similar to Deadlock or Sid Meier's Colonization. The game therefore operates on 2-and-a-half distinct scales: the settlement scale, and the planetary+homeworld scale.
Basically, each planetary faction (or House) has a backing or patron Homeworld which provides initial supplies and colonists, but gradually shifts from blessing to burden as your estates expand and more tribute has to be shipped back home. Aside from being an interesting progressive-taxation mechanic, this allows a degree of integration with the larger setting, without having to model it too dynamically (the Homeworlds are too distant and populous for you to heavily impact their politics & culture during the course of the game.)
On the planetary level, however, the various sub-continental territories can all be claimed, invaded or colonised by the competing factions, who can themselves be allied or negotiated (or married?) with, all using the traditionally dynamic 4X or grand-strategy paradigm (albeit greatly simplified- we're not looking at more than 20 territories here.) But the populations and extent of these territories are comparable, so it's reasonable to have them impact eachother.
That just leaves integration between your particular settlement and the management of a territory, which is tied to the shift between early and late-stage gameplay. The 'early game' (at least within a particular assignment) consists of exploring the map, ferreting out resistance, and either conquering or assimilating it, while your initial base gradually expands into a mature settlement. (The surrounding territory, of which this is merely the 'capital sector' is assumed to follow your rough example.) This then gives you enough military, demographic or cultural clout that you can start throwing your weight around in adjacent territories, and begin gradually annexing them into your estates.
The way that this expansion is modelled on the settlement level is that your vassals and allies among the ruling classes will establish 'holiday homes' of a sort within your capital, so that as more tribute rolls in, the problems of securing and processing natural resources on the same map are largely displaced by the 'later-game' headaches of keeping visiting nobles pampered and obliging. Which goes a fair ways toward ensuring they don't rebel, and helps provide an 'organic' method for interfacing with political intrigue, given that a large chunk of your citizens will be representatives of the ruling elite.
However, this still leaves the problem of (A) inheriting/conquering foreign settlements, and (B) coming back to your own settlement after long absences, both of which would require some method of doing relatively quick simulations of hundreds of in-game days of development and AI-ordered construction in ways which still create a functional economy. And... I don't really want to think about that yet.