Here is an idea for a card game. The premise is humanity has discovered faster than light travel, and discovered the existence of the Machine, a galaxy-wide network of nodes that monitor the movement and forces within it, including the entire known history of humanity. It is the only sign of non-human intelligence, and no one knows where it came from, or who created it.
Each player takes the role of a Researcher candidate, attempting to gain entrance to the Academy. It is a very prestigious position, and there are very limited opportunities for acceptance, leading to a type of competition which require candidates to use a mental interface and enter into the Archive, a cache of data gleaned from the Machine. Their goal is to create a Thesis, explaining some interesting history or providing an analysis of galactic import.
How this plays out is that the players will draw cards from a shared deck, and construct planetary systems, with different resources, politics, events and fleet movements. Each turn (each player has a chance to play) spans hundreds or thousands of years. The basic idea is to build up societies on one or more planets, and trigger research goals which count towards a point total to win the game. The players don’t compete in an adversarial way per se, but rather have a more competitive flow where they build on each other, and sometimes take actions that will have adverse affects on another player’s thesis. An example is a hostile fleet arriving to attack a planet during a political enlightenment, ruining one player’s political science goal, while accomplishing another’s extrasolar flight goal.
That is the basic framework, and I have some notes that need fleshing out. Take this idea, remix it, make it, sell it, or just geek out on it. Tell me in the comments. ^_^