I roam around in space, killing enemies and completing missions. I just came back from a break, so there is a lot of new stuff including doffs. I thought they were some sort of bridge officers but I was wrong apparently. What I've read so far about them is this: they involve some micro management, there is also some kind of mini-games involved. I assume they generate some kind of rewards, but for me as a pve space roamer, do they give me any kind of buff in combat etc? Why do I need doffs?
It is sort of like a "Farmville" type of game from Facebook where you get DOFF's and assign them to tasks and missions and they work in "real time". When you come back or an amount of time has taken place (30m to 1week) then you gain experience and other such goodies. I went from a Captain 1 to a VA in three weeks of doing nothing but DOFF missions.
To be honest (IMO) it is more Star Trek that the rest of the game. It is actually looking at your crew abilities, sending them on a mission or down to a planet and deciding on what new recruits or officers you may need to fill in the gaps. Really a lot of fun.
(Just in case you don't have time/ desire to check out DOFFs for Doofuses -- but you really should check it out sometime) :-)
The short (and sloppy) answer is that you can assign up to 10 DOFFs (5 for ground and 5 for space) to be removed from the available pool for doing DOFF missions but instead have them give you a nice but not game-breaking passive bonus. There are many different DOFF passives and each DOFF grants up to one passive (depending on if his passive grant applies to any skill, attack, etc, that your character uses) when assigned to his role as a passive-giver (called being on 'active duty').
So they are a totally optional component of the game, but you 'need' them if you want to take advantage of their passive-granting-ness. If not, you miss out on up to 10 passive bonuses that you could be receiving. Their passives are things that could help you in PvP or PvE. I don't do much PvP, but I'm guessing that the difference is more noticeable in PvP and that if you mostly do PvE the DOFF passives become even more 'optional' (but still fun).
After you assign the 10 passives that you like best why keep playing the DOFF missions? Because 'ranking up' the DOFF missions unlock access to better DOFFs with (presumably) better passives to grant.
DOFFs can be moved on and off of 'Atcive Duty' as often as you like, but they become 'bound' to you forever once you put them on the Active roster. If you think you may want to mail, sell, or trade them, then you will have to avoid the temptation to put them on your Active roster.
Some active roster powers, especially for space, are pretty powerful. You don't have to play the system, you could just buy the doffs you want on the exchange, but they're good enough that I'd say, yes, you are handicapping yourself by not using them.
However, the system gives a pretty substantial flow of sellable items (high quality bridge officers, doffs themselves, data samples, a few items that can't be obtained except by the doff system), EC, dilithium, and a pretty substantial amount of experience (bridge officer skill points usually aren't a limited thing, but you'll have hundreds of thousands in a matter of days with doffs).
Ok, it sound as if it doesn't take too much time away from my gaming to make use of these doffs. I will have to check them out and I got this jem hadar ship thing in a Xmas gift, is it something worth having?
I assume they generate some kind of rewards, but for me as a pve space roamer, do they give me any kind of buff in combat etc? Why do I need doffs?
DOffs on active duty can affect cooldown times (ex: evasive manuevers/deflector) or enhance some abilities (ex: gravametric shift, brace for impact). You can also send them out to collect components for consumables (turrets, platforms). While not necessary for PVE they don't hurt anything either.