I had an idea for a UI feature that could be useful in PvE and PvP... feedback and comments welcome.
When we target an enemy ship currently, what we see is just the basics: The relative level of the enemy compared with yourself, what faction they belong to, and a general indicator of shield and hull integrity. We can see active buffs and debuffs, if we know how to identify those little icons or if we have time to mouse over them. And of course, we can visually see the class of ship we're fighting. It's crude threat assessment at best.
What I'm proposing would be introducing more of an optional Electronic Warfare aspect to the space interface that would provide additional information about a target. It could help players understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of a ship (or other object) beyond just general visuals, and it could be turned off by players who don't need or don't want the visual "clutter".
This could take the form of a text display on a transparent background or feed text to the chat window, so that it won't obscure the visual display. It would be toggled on and off (perhaps with CTRL-v). The readout would display a certain amount of additional information about the target, if you're within identification range. The amount of information displayed could possibly be modified by Starship Operations, Starship Sensors and Starship Command skills. It could be countered by Mask Energy Emissions, Jam Sensors, Scramble Sensors, anything that breaks target lock (and of course, by Cloaking).
A successful skill check would reveal more information, while an unsuccessful skill check might provide limited, no, or possibly even misleading information. There should be some indication as to the quality/accuracy of your "intel": red for poor, yellow for fair, and green for good.
The kind of information that gets displayed might include any of the following:
Max/Current Hull Points
Current Power Allocation
Weapons Load (fore and aft)
Equipped Impulse Engine/Deflector Dish/Shield Array (with or without bonuses)
Equipped Consoles (with or without bonuses)
Equipped "Powers" (Bridge Officer Abilities)
Currently Active "Powers"
Since this is potentially a lot of information, it might need to be "windowed" by either refresh or repeated toggling to see it all, and allow the player to set what information to display in their options/preferences.
Why might this be desirable?
It could help players understand the effects of ship builds better.
It could help players learn how to do better threat assessment in PvP.
It would give captains more reasons to use sensor skills and increase the versatility of science vessels, especially in PvP.
It injects a certain amount of an Electronic Warfare / Intel aspect into the space game
The possible downsides are too much clutter, too much distraction, and giving too much tactical advantage to teams with Science captains.
being able to "see" power allocation would be nice since you really cant tell the difference between the sci ship target subsystems and the tac target subsystems. i can only guess that all pve ships run 50 across the board.
Just to make an argument for the underlying tech that would allow something like this...
The same kind of "threat assessment" that makes sense in a space game where we have sensors also makes sense from an "extra-sensory" perspective and this tech could conceivably be ported to other games.
You could use it to simulate tricorder scans, tactical intel, telepathic probes, or divination spells... any kind of ability that would allow you to know something about a target that you can't find out visually.
Now I fully "get" that developers might want to be able to hide information from players... this could take the form of a settable attribute that makes a particular NPC 'actor' or object unscannable. In this case, your "Electronic Warfare readout" would show no information and would be marked red for unreliable.
But I would argue that this "unscannable" attribute would only be used rarely. It would be better to allow players to read information about all but the most unusual of targets, with a chance of poor accuracy.
One reason I say this is because it can help players gain an understanding of how the game works when they can see a target's configuration and experience how that affects gameplay.
I would also like to point out that you could also target yourself or an ally and get the same kind of information.
Why would you want to use EW on yourself or an ally, you might ask?
Well, it depends on the implementation. It could be used to expose stats that you normally don't see or that happen to be difficult or impractical to access. Like, for example, trying to open a non-transparent window during combat. Or trying to mouse over something when you'd really prefer to use your mouse for navigation.
Electronic Warfare displays would also provide a bit of instant feedback you can't get by reading logs after the fact.
Another possible downside that occurs to me is the possibility that providing this information in a real-time fashion causes the gameplay to slow down or stutter. But I'll leave that in the hands of UI experts who know more about it than I do. It's just a suggestion and I won't be heartbroken if it never sees the light of day.