Hey Ross, have you played Star Control 2? It's one of my favorite games and it has some very cool "realistic" alien designs. All the alien species in it have some character to them. If you liked Rama but wish it had some extra elements like branched speech, exploration, alien politics, mining, and humans being ruled by alien overlords, then Star Control 2 will definitely be right up your alley. Its soundtrack is mostly okay, but some tracks are phenomenal, especially from the remastered OST.