Factions who you can earn reputation with have been a common request since the game launched... and why not? They act as a form of persistence in game that allows your character to evolve and make new allies.
Now... I'm not going to pretend this is easy or something to be done overnight.
Just some napkin notes on my ideas for it:
- Instead of being called "Factions", it's called "Negotiations". More Trek that way.
- Reputation levels would be "First Contact", "Trade Talks", "Treaty Negotiations", and "Allies"
- Inroads with a faction can have a spiral effect. There is no direct negative rep. However, being allies with one faction can speed or lower your rate of gain with other factions they are entangled with. You can drop an ally if it's holding you back. (And being allies with one group that is blood enemies with the other group might lower your gains by as much as 90%. If you're making no headway with a group, you should look at who you're allied with.)
- My thought is that this would be primarily a system for new races discovered via exploration.
- Perks of forming alliances might include access to technology and even item sets. Also, exchange officers (and you'd actually exchange an officer for this, unlike the Diplomacy system exchange officer.)
- One possibility is that you could negotiate with the races that are ordinarily hostile in exploration clusters and that, as you do so, many of those combat missions get replaced with diplomacy missions for you. (For example, working out a deal to share intel on a crashed satellite or mining rites. So instead of fighting them for the items, your mission becomes to help them recover the pieces as a team.)
- Negotiations cost you resources of various types as you make concessions. The flipside is that higher levels of rapport with the non-aligned aliens in the exploration clusters not only grants you new items/technology but replaces combat missions with diplomacy missions in your rotation of missions for that cluster.
- In turn, some form of diplomatic endgame would be created around the diplomacy system, beyond ambassador.
What if there was a way to force your enemy back to the negotiation table in (Open) PvP? Imagine the Federation players somehow managed to beat back the Klingon forces. Now the peace talks begin, and both sides send their best ambassador in some kind of (mini)game where they handle out the terms of an armistice. Stuff like "If you supply us with Undine-Goo-Augmented Hull Platings*, you can keep the Otha system".
*) let's pretend that's a difficult to acquire part of an item set.