Fragile Allegiance created by Gremlin interactive and Interplay in 1996 is an excellent game to the 4x genre. It's probably my favorite of all time. I played Masters of Orion 2 aswel, but still had more fun with Fragile. If someone remade that game with an updated graphics engine/diplomacy/agent/colony supers/Money criteria/and ship customization options I'd be all in.
The features that really got me into the game was colony defenses, optional AI colony management (hirable), Inter-asteroid missiles (different types), purchasable blueprints instead of constant research, and ease of fleet management.
Buying the blueprints in any order made the game interesting based on your wealth you obtained.....fast expansion made you rich, but money limited you from building a fleet or defenses, hence player made decisions made you think twice about what to do and when to do it.
I'd implore anyone to try the game at least once over. There is no real story besides you being put into the "fragmented Sectors" for exploiting the mining there.
The game is available at http://www.abandonia.com/en/search_abandonia/fragile
Playable in Dosbox. I have the original CD, however I have heard complaints regarding downloaded versions across the internet, so you may have to search for a better copy elsewhere.
Just another source of ideas for ya