First up for inspiration (and given in no particular order) is XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the Stargate TV series.
Maybe you find this a weird combination, but for me the fun part of these two properties is that they involved the current bit of humanity going up against a hostile universe that's far ahead of them in terms of technology. I've always wanted to explore this sort of scenario where we are met with this wide divide in capabilities and must surmount them in order to grow. I love beginnings, and think this is a space not as well explored as it might otherwise be. Ideally, the player should be able to have a similar story of evolution. He starts with an easily recognizable level of tech to start, and will see that as it slowly changes into something completely new that the way he approaches problems changes entirely.
To give some examples, Stargate SG1 consists of a small group of explorers stepping through a gate to a place they know nothing about, and they quickly end up embroiled in the power politics of the region with nothing to defend themselves but clever thinking. By the end of the series, they've constructed large battleships (with one shown in the image above) and have set themselves up as the dominant power within the region. In XCOM, you control a small band of soldiers to defend against otherworldy threats using standard military gear. As you progress, you unlock options such as jetpacks and invisibility suits that fundamentally change how you can approach the fights, Really hope that we eventually get more from both of these properties.
Next up: Dwarf Fortress!
|The Fortress of Boatmurdered|
Lastly: Sword of the Stars!
Sword of the Stars is notable for the cool way it handled ship design and the very cool looking ships in general. I also very much enjoyed the different races with a large amount of backstory that all felt alien, yet relatable at times. The Liir especially creeped me out. I can only hope that I could develop systems that are just as interesting.
Hope that gives you a small idea of what sort of game I'm hoping to create here.