So I've noticed that it really doesn't matter who you assign as a Department Head when it comes to the messages that come from your BOFFs. For instance, every time I warp from one sector to another, whoever is assigned to the first tactical station is who tells me we're cleared to warp. If there is no tactical officer, then you get the BOFF assigned as First Officer. The same seems to be true everywhere else with other functions. If you're flying a ship with only one engineering station but happen to have two engineering BOFFs, one of whom is assigned as Chief Engineer and the other of whom is assigned as Chief of Operations, you're always gonna get the Chief Engineer (or more puzzlingly the Tactical or Science Officer) for Ops things if that's who's slotted in a station.
My question is: why does the system defer to the stations when the point of having more than five or six BOFFs is to be able to change these station abilities out, while the point of the Department Heads is to provide a senior staff face? Shouldn't all these messages that we get in space come from Department Heads or the First Officer all of the time, regardless of whether or not they're currently occupying a station slot? I feel like it's an easy change to make the Department Head system mean a little more.
Also weird, and in the opposite direction, is when a Department Head talks to me as a member of my away team as if they're still on the ship. Or when a Department Head comms in from the ship to tell me about something I just found on the planet (which happens way less frequently). I understand that, in early parts of the game especially, sometimes there's just no convenient way around the fact that the ship has something to say to the away team and all the BOFFs are on the ground with the PC, but it's just awkward when it happens. Perhaps a general (non-playable, non-functioning, non-buffing/debuffing, non-anything else) security or communications officer can be assigned the function of reporting things from the ship when all of the BOFFs a player owns are on the ground. Just pull one of the already existing faces from the system and throw them at the bottom of the list. Maybe this is easier said that algorithmed. But, the immersion would be better.
Another question, when/if there's ever the ability to choose to play as the FOFF on away missions and leave the Captain on the bridge (where Starfleet Regulation says he/she belongs), will the Captain (aka PC) report things from the ship to the away team?