So, population, as of 1.2B, starts to be a limiter, more than even food, as to what you're allowed to do, and when in the game you can do it. This is a Good Thing.
However, managing that population still seems to be a little removed to me. This is not a bid for local population; I'm actually a fan of global population, and want to see it preserved.
However, I'd like to see a "population management" screen. I need to be able to idle my studies and workshops when my people need to be handed a pitchfork and beat off the invading hordes. So, I'd like to see something akin to what Simtex did with MoO2 on the colonies screen, where you can pick up and move population between your colonies, provided you had sufficient transports (call them "caravans") and were willing to wait the transportation time to move population between colonies.
In MoO2, there's only 3 columns to this screen; farming, construction, and research. What I'm suggesting for EWOM is that you have one column per building type, and rows for each city. If you have 4 studies, they can employ up to (in theory) 15 population (1+2+4+8). If you have 3 workshops, they can employ up to 7. Let's say I'm done producing materials in this city, and want to up my research. I need to build another study, which now requires 16 people to fully occupy. I move all 7 of my workers from the workshops into the 5th study, which now has 7/16 occupied; it produces only about half of the research it otherwise would, and now my city is producing no materials at all. There are buildings to produce them, but no one's working there.
Please, don't tell me about specialization of population; I don't think that's a good mechanism for gameplay. People are a resource, just like gold, or food. Ask any CEO; he'll tell you. And like any resource, they can move around when you need it.
So, my population screen shows me every city, and where my people are working in every city, and what they can be doing. If I have idle people, they can be pressed into the military, or go into a new building I build. If I don't have them local, I can pull them from another town, provided I wait for them to move (and have a caravan that can move them).
Intrinsic to this idea is that caravans now are an abstraction, almost. They exist on the map, and can be attacked, and all that jazz. There's no limit to the number of them you can have moving between any two cities, and it allows for free flow of population if there's sufficient caravans moving between the two cities to move the population. Let's say that one caravan can move 5 population (a way low number, but go with it). I've built a caravan between my city above and another city 3 squares away which has 15 idle population. My caravans move at 2, so it wil take 2 turns to move population between them. However, I can only move 5 at a time. On my population management screen, I pick up 9 population from city B, and drop them into the "STUDY" column for city A, which is currently short 9 people. 5 people go into limbo for 2 turns while they move, and then pop up in the fifth study of city A, bringing them to 12/16; it's now running at 3/4 output. The caravan then starts moving the second group of 4 from city B, and 2 turns later (I don't want to keep track of where the empty caravan going back is, so let's just say it magically teleports back to city B ) the remaining 4 citizens arrive in City A; my 5th study is now operating at full force, but city B is down to just 6 idle people; fewer people to do other things.
City B is attacked. I can move population back there (2 turns again) to press into the military, killing my study rate. I can press other people into service (maybe those 10 guys working on the farm; of course, now my food production being moved to the city A goes to hell...).
This is what I think would make for a good, deep, but absracted economy.
Thanks for listening.