Awesome, keep up the great work.
About Orbital Fleet Manager, Fleet Command Centers and the likes, I think it shows a greater problem.
A human player usually has only a few ships with good defense guarding the border, the planets themselves are usually pretty much undefended. In most of my games, I have at most a dozen fleets for hundreds of planets.
The AI on the other hand spends a lot of resources building mediocre defenders on each and every planet, tons of it. All getting picked up by the human's superior fleets one by one.
The AI should use its logistics slots and get all those ships off the planets into fleets closer to the borders. It doesn't matter if there are no ships in orbit on the core planets if there's enough force at the outer planets to kill off each and every incoming transport.
Incidentally, the race I have most problems against is Drengin, they can build up a huge amount of non-orbited ships due to their super ability.
My games usually work like this:
1) Agressively expand
2) Build up economy
3) As soon as first race declares war on me, start heavy combat research, before I do barely any at all.
I try to quickly get some medium sized ships with crappy weapons, but still with more defense than my enemy has weapons on their ships. As a result, a tiny amount of ships kill wave after wave of attacking ships and will eventually start pushing back.
By then I can already focus on improving the other aspects of my empire again, only doing further combat research if I notice my strong ships get damaged. The increase in weapon tech costs made the game a lot easier for me.
Suggested changes for the AI:
- Ships in orbit are only useful if in range of transporters. Don't keep ships in orbit at planets that are more than two turns away from an enemies transport.
- Stop building useless cannon fodder, build better ships. This isn't Civilizations, a space phalanx cannot possibly take down space tank. The AI doesn't seem to recognize this yet.
- Recheck ship orders every turn. Far too often my undefended transports (I'm lazy at times) can just fly past enemy fleets. If ship can attack undefended transport in the same turn, cancel all other orders and go take it out, Also goes for all defenders in orbit, unless there are multiple transporters and not all can be taken out.
Edit: Flagships. AI should just kill any hostile flagship in range. AI rarely does it.