I think I've made a similar suggestion in the distant past, but this is appropriate to the threat here:
In the configuration menu, have the binary option "Tabula Rasa Stellarum", which makes the playing field largely empty. It would eliminate much of the background story, but would be perfect for someone who just wants a battle royale between empires in a clean field.
If enabled, during Galaxy Generation:
- Skip Epic Systems and Forced Planets. No Tyl, no Ephelos, and no minor races.
- For each Pirate, Marauder, or Splinter Colony planet generated, there is a 50% chance that it is converted to the Derelict Colony Special, making them rare.
- For every Derelict Colony special, there is a 50% chance that the script returns a null response rather than place the special, making them rare.
- The Derelict Colony special no longer generates structures or gives a tech. Instead, it gives a one time bonus to the first settler of (2d5)x10 credits, (2d4)x10 research points, and (2d3)x10 metal, and then the special is deleted. This makes the Derelict Colony a nice little loot box, but there are no significant advantages to finding ruins of the past.
This would be a good alternative game mode for people who just want empire-on-empire violence, with only a few scattered nuisances and only a few decaying echoes of the past.