Looks like this thread is turning into an impromptu public review... Which is fine, I suppose.
Facings are purely a detail of a single tactical combat, and so I think they have no place in a combat engine in a turn-based strategy game.
Facings are presently in the design because Aquitaine wrote them in. I can't find any discussion where this is actually justified in a logically valid way, however. This leads me to suspect it was added because it's important in the Total War games, which was essentially his ideal for FreeOrion combat, as far as I know. Total Wars' strategic maps are more or less subordinate to the tactical battles though, which are the real point of playing the game. So this ideal isn't necessarily applicable to design decisions for FreeOrion.
So... unless the above is a straw man argument, I am (or rather, remain) receptive to deleting facing from the tactical game design.
As a plus, it would seem to be easily removed without any major consequences to other decisions.
Does anyone have any reasoned objections to this?
Here's what I would cut even before the discussion stage:
Engines - Multiple options (I put this in the "too much detail" column)
Engines are relevant directly to the strategic game, as much or more so than to the tactical game. Regardless, we've essentially had that discussion, and as noted above, I've semi-settled on an arguably simple system where engines aren't separate components, but instead engine-like ship characteristics are properties of the base hull itself.
Battle UI (belongs to graphics team anyway)
This doesn't mean full implimentation details are to be discussed or a UI design to be finalized as part of game design. It just acknowledges that some high level aspects of the UI need to be decided in the game design context before graphics can do anything useful. Graphics might decide how specifically to show some information, but game design would need to tell graphics what info to show, and decide, with heavy graphics consulation, whether it's practical to show certain info. The current discussions about modelling ship parts or using icons over more generic hulls is a good example... It's not just about whether models or icons looks better, but whether the necessary info can be conveyed at all with icons or models.
Battle map layout - Relative scale of objects on screen? (again, this is aesthetic)
The meaning of this is a bit unclear without the subpoints:
* Planets arranged in space?
* Star size w.r.t. other objects?
It's not just how big on screen things are, but the general layout of objects in the battle map. This includes issues such as the relative distance between objects and the sizes of those objects, how big the map is and how long it would take to travel across it, and the issues you (tzlaine) brought up, etc.
I submit that the best way to handle them is in the most strategically relevant to the least. This way, decisions about less-strategically-releveant elements of the design depend on the more strategically-relevant ones.
This sounds good in theory, but often the discussion will just degrade to every listing their own set of other decisions they'd need to be made first before the current one can be decided. So in pratice it's often necessary to make some lower-level decisions first...
Much of the current crop of threads should hopefully be closed soon though, which will both provide the background decisions necessary for and make room for the Shipyards and Battle Map Layout discussions.
When to fight? (frankly I didn't get this one -- what exactly did you mean here, Geoff?)
If we have many players in the game, each with several fleets moving about and getting into multiple battles per turn, we probably don't want to always have players manually resolve all battles. There have been various suggestions about how to allow players to pick which battles to control, and how to limit the number of battles the player feels the need to control, etc. This is particularly important for multiplayer games where we don't want to have several players waiting with nothing to do for many minutes while one player plays through several combats back to back.