One of the nice little pieces of polish in STO is the ability to give your character a title -- whether this is their rank, an accolade such as "Red Squad," or another title such as "Special Envoy" or "Career Officer," it's a nice way to distinguish your character.
My idea for enhancing the current Bridge Officers sprung from an idea related to this. What if, in addition to assigning bridge officers to bridge stations, we could give bridge officers a special sort of title, or position, that they occupy aboard the ship?
In each of the Trek series, characters were defined by their roles as much as by their personalities and backgrounds. McCoy was a doctor (not a physicist, bricklayer, moon-shuttle conductor, magician, escalator, or engineer), and that position aboard the Enterprise gave him a certain authority and certain duties. The same goes for Riker as first officer, or Paris as the helmsman, or O'Brien as the transporter chief, then chief of operations. A lengthy list of professional titles could be drawn up for each of the three career branches and all the ranks.
If we allow players to assign professional or descriptive titles to their characters, we would be (1) enhancing immersion, and (2) potentially adding some really interesting new game mechanics.
Each of the professional titles could bring with it certain passive or active powers that would further influence staffing decisions. A helmsman, for instance, would have more effective maneuvering and propulsion skills than other officers. A chief medical officer could boost the crew recovery rate aboard the ship, and a chief engineer could boost the hull repair rate slightly.
Other bridge officers could perform the same functions as these officers, but they would be less efficient in the performance of those functions. This would help players to further specialize their bridge officers, both in space and on the ground.
Having specialized positions could have important gameplay effects in combination with a death penalty. One idea that has been floating around for some time suggests that a bridge officer might be incapacitated for some time after player death. In STO as it stands now, that's only a minor inconvenience. Imagine that your top-rated helmsman is incapacitated in battle, and put on a several-minute cooldown while you're still under fire. Do you switch your tactical officer, a competent pilot, to the helm? Or do you shove your ship's counselor at the conn and hope she doesn't crash while your tactical officer defends the ship?
If given meaningful gameplay mechanics, bridge officer titles/positions could considerably enhance the depth, immersion, and economics of the game.
Any thoughts? This is really just a rough outline of the idea. Subsequent posts can flesh it out further.