Okay, so I have a number of issues with how bridge officers are used in this game. First and foremost, the rank = skills system. It's completely backwards and it necessitates promoting all your BOs to Commander so that you can use all four of their abilities on the ground. This is unrealistic; there is only one first officer on a given ship, so only one BO should be promoteable to Commander. The whole system creates a number of issues with realistic/canon gameplay that I think could be addressed with the following changes:
1. Only allow one BO per ship to attain the rank of Commander. Once the player has chosen his/her first officer, the rest can only be promoted to Lt. Cmdr or Lieutenant.
2. Allow players the ability to demote BOs as needed (in case a player wants to change their first officer).
3. Change the BO ability/rank system so that BO only need to have a certain number of skillpoints spent on them in order to unlock the next tier. They should NOT require a promotion. Once the next tier is unlocked, THEN they can be promoted if the player wishes. If the player does not, they can retain their rank without harming the player's effectiveness on the ground (i.e. a properly trained lt. cmdr would have access to their commander level abilities). You could limit their effectiveness when using skills at a lower rank - say, for example, a lt. cmdr could only be ranked up to 6 in a cmdr ability, a lieutenant to 3, an ensign to 1. This might be overcomplicating it though.
The net result I am going for here is that players who would like to have officers with more realistic ranks (i.e. 1 commander, a few lt. commanders, several lieutenants and many ensigns) are not punished for it by having ineffective crew members on the ground. Thanks.
I'd like to see the ability to promote a BO (at Captain level) to Chief Engineer, Chief Medical, and Tactical head and First Officer. Each would get a buff to Eng, Sci(healing) and Tac abilities and possibly a LT rank space and ground skill that they use at their leisure that we have no control over...
So say they each get a 5% buff to their ground skill effectiveness and they each get their class space skill which they use when possible (maybe with a longer recharge than the standard player version)
So my Chief Engineer would Rotate Shield Frequency when my shields drop below half their total
My Chief Medical Officer would be an odd one maybe make a skill similar to tactical team except it only heals crew and only if you're at 50% or less crew alive/able?
and of course my First Officer would get Attack Pattern Alpha that they'd use when we enter combat
First Officer designation could be given to any ONE of these people which would increase their ground skills by another 2% and would reduce the cooldown on their space power by half the difference between the cooldown of their power normally and that of the player version.
Of designating officers as department heads could allow you to give them a Department head Kit that adds a skill or two to their powers available
I view the ranks as just skill access levels - the costumes matter more if I want someone to "appear" as though they're XO. It's also too bad the "title" is limited to your display for other players; I pick Captain but get "Rear Admiral, thank goodness you're here!" when I start a mission. Kinda makes the ranks useless, especially when 90% of the players now outrank everyone except the NPC admirals who are mission givers.
It is a shame that you can put so much detail into the appearance and skills of a bridge officer and yet they're really just a skills conduit. It would be nice if they had some personality so you felt like you had your command crew as comrades-in-arms instead of just mission pop-ups.
When the game first launched it seemed like the BOs responded more appropriately to their roles, but now it seems like there's just one person who's giving you info. This seems weird when you're on the ground - shouldn't your away team science officer be talking to you about science, and the tactical officer about your security, instead of just one character? Heck, my engineer hasn't appeared to talk to me in ages.