Your population’s quality of life is the factor that decides how fast it grows or shrinks. In addition the taxes payed by your people will be reduced if it’s bad and increased when it’s good.
The quality is influenced by nearby buildings and factors like environmental pollution, but first of all you have to make sure your people are provided with all needed resources. If your people are missing food they obviously wont be happy 😉
A new aspect we added to this is a need for variety. For example a city district level 2 will need food of 2 different kinds, e.g. an industrial farm and a fishery.
When you hover a district the message panel will explain what is missing. In the above example the quality of life is reduced because your people are not provided food of 3 different kinds.
The current variety of your production is displayed when you hover the resource production at the top of the screen. The pie in the production category indicates the current level of variety. Every resource type over 10% adds to this and gives you a production bonus of 2%.
In competition mode the AI now receives development funds by growing it’s population (like you do). Based on this the AI now can develop now buildings and upgrades and takes these cost into account when it tries do decide what to build next.
In addition the AI will act a bit faster so it becomes harder to win against them.
All these changes and more will be added to the game with Alpha 14 that will very likely be released next Friday (31st).