In the beginning pick the populists party. The federalists and technologists work to. My favorite ability setting is in the list of priority(morale, economy, research or population).
Well I never really disable tech trading or diplomacy. I would start out with setting my production to 100%. Also play with taxes until your approval is 100%. You don't need to worry about Bc loss until your Bc is -400. I start building my colony ship right away. I colonize every planet I can find.
I start building factories on my home planet. Then my morale center. If this is a colony then you need to build your star port first. If I'm the Torians then I only build my entertainment center until I research healing pools. This could be an beginning research goal for the Torians.
After you finish build your entertainment building then you have to check if you have economic and research buildings. You need to check to see if your expenses are more than your income. If the income is more then build a research building until your spending is more then build economic buildings. If your the Krynn then you probably should just build your 1 per planet building after you build the morale center. If your the Krynn then you can research the Temple of Krynn quickly.
You really don't have to worry about population until your population is 1 billion less than your max. At this point build your best farm unless you don't have any kind of farms then you need to research farming.
Keep building colony ships after you build star ports; Unless there is a resource then build one constructor ship and grab the resource as soon as possible. When you grab the resource go back to building colony ships. You should make better designs as you can through research. Don't upgrade the current designs they are not worth the cost. Another good exception is when you research sensors. Then you should designate a planet for building cargo hull survey ships. When you build survey ships put them on auto survey.I don't worry about warships until the game starts threatening me.
Keep checking your economy screen to make sure your not wasting Bc's when you can raise taxes. You probably designate 1% or more to espionage. When your money fall below -400 Bc then you need to fix this right away. You should probably lower your approval to 70%. This is done at this point by raising or lowering taxes and production. Eventually things will get better because at this setting your population will grow. Your economy will slow down for awhile. Sometimes you have to bring this above 0 Bc when the game tells you to.
Now moving on to research sensors is a good first research goal. if you are the Torians Healing pools are a good second choice. The reason sensors are important is because it is nice to have extra money. You don't need to research Universal translator until you meet someone. You don't need to research farming until a planet is almost maxed out. You don't have to research soil enhancements until your planets can't build anymore improvements. You don't need to research weapons until someone is threatening you. What is good researching is military production, economics, morale, and research.
If you can snatch up treaties whenever you can. Economics are better than research. Label your planets so you can remember the bonuses. Starship planets are good for manufacturing capital and any non civ wide specific wonders. Use you biggest planet for the technological capital. Some factions may have wonders to enhance this. You will need to combine farming and entertainment for you economic capital. The economic and political capitol goes together. In order to work on wonders you will need to build them on your most social production planets. This can be checked on your planet/ship screen.