I find myself more than a bit annoyed at the slider system and how it inherently seems to waste resources. Seems especially annoying (to me) after they really upped the maintenance since vanilla. Before you could kind of ignore it, but now it seems like you really but heads with it constantly.
So I was thinking that it might be interesting to mess around with the cost of production/research (hereafter just referred to as production) while drastically reducing or eliminating most maintenance. For instance, if one unit of production cost 2BC instead of 1BC, while maintenance was eliminated, then you'd still have to think about what you built and how you adjusted your sliders. In a sense, it would shift maintenance costs to production costs.
This way you wouldn't be directly penalized for merely having buildings, but it would affect the costs a lot more when you moved sliders up and down. Similarly, you wouldn't be directly penalized for lowering your production capacity (since the maintenance on production-buildings wouldn't exist, so the sunk cost in those buildings each round would disappear). There'd be an indirect penalty, however, since doing either of those to save money would indicate you probably built too many buildings and it could hurt production on some worlds if you have a massive planet that costs tons to run.
Increased efficiency could be represented by adding some more production bonuses due to technologies and the like, which give production that only costs half as much.
I haven't looked at modding in this game yet. You might not be able to modify the cost of production directly. You can achieve the same effect, however, by merely multiplying all production values and costs by a given number (double the cost of production by multiplying by 2, for instance). That's straightforward enough.
Anyhow, has there been any mod that does something like this? (I realize that doubling production costs might be too much, btw, it is probably more reasonable to merely increase them by 50-70%). If not I was thinking of making a mod to do this. Not sure if anyone else has an interest though.
PS. Honestly I also find the current morale system rather annoying too. Seems odd that the practical cap is so low (maybe 20 billion or so) compared to the game cap of 100 billion, especially given the diminishing returns. I realize this does impact other variables, of course.