Not sure if anyone else played this Play-By-Email game way back in the day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vga_planets
), but for fans of version 3 there's now a web-based version available online:http://planets.nu/
VGA Planets for those that don't know is a 4X strategy game played in turns, usually a game will only run 2-3 turns per week so a game can take months but that being said when you get a larger empire an individual turn can take several hours to complete. Not playing myself as I burned myself out on this game a few years back, but for anyone else it might be worth a look. The game has up to 11 players, each commanding a race based somewhat on popular races from Star Trek, Star Wars and BSG
It's free to play, but without premium you're restricted in what levels of technology you can get (and consequently what type of weaponry, engines and ships you can build). Though you can overcome this somewhat by use of bonuses in game (bases at planets with certain indigineous life have technology boosts, assuming that's still in the game).