I'm looking forward to Galactic Civilizations 3 as much as the next space-mad conquerer, but I'm also worried that by the time its alpha is fleshed out with all manner of alien flesh, I won't have time to really dig into its deep systems and long campaigns. I think it's far more likely I'll find the opportunity to leap into Infinite Space 3: Sea Of Stars, which just hit Steam Early Access. It's got space travel, combat, strange alien races, and a dynamic galaxy, but sessions with it can also be played and finished in short, twenty-minute bursts. Check the launch trailer below.
Infinite Space 3 is the sequel to Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, a game which tickled Kieron's fancy not only pre-comics, but pre-Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I know! I didn't know such a time existed either, but he said that "the game offers variety, excitement, thought and pace all in tiny bundle you can wolf down in a sandwich break."
The third entry in the series aims to do the same, albeit with expanded modding support, a 3D world (or 3D worlds, rather), and all the other spit, polish and improvements a successful Kickstarter campaign gets you.
If you're intrigued, the alpha costs £7, and there's a video development update from back in February that provides some pointers towards the present state of the game.