So turning off the PRIV option will change human nature? (We like to play the cynic...)
If anything we'd suggest that PRIV is mandatory. It would be a lot more realistic to us to be forced to guess at someone's motivations. If this game turns out to be anything like Victory! (and given the pace so far, this seems unlikely) it will get very bloody and long-living alliances and animosities will soon arise.
Many of us started a particular position hoping that we might run into another player whom we know. No doubt this has happened with some positions. We are not sure it is that different a case to have one person running multiple empires, or a group of friends running linked empires: any lone wolf that runs into those positions and those positions decide to be hostile will have problems. If they are a good player (i.e. they find a way to deal with the situation) then all bets are off.
If you know someone has multiple empires then you must respond rationally to that situation. You may have to fight. You may need to join the Galactic Senate. This game is big enough for many styles of play, but you may have to change what you thought initially to do in response to various developments. Right now all this talk about the PRIV option sounds like an internet newbie expressing shock that someone on the net is not who they claim to be.
This is a strategy game at the base. And strategy involves deception, there is no need to mince words. If one is surprised by this we suggest one goes back and brush up on military history (or chess, or the option play in football) because one is likely going to be faced with a hostile situation sooner or later. Complaining about being "manipulated" is not going to cut it when 50 divisions are landing on your HW.
We think RTG has shown an admirable willingness to adjust the game when necessary, and we still continue to very pleased with this game (is it next Friday yet?). So far we do not think a convincing argument has been made to alter PRIV or empire swapping.
His Holiness Archbishop Godolphin (not my real name)