With Admiral the highest rank available, will we be seeing a game universe dominated by Admiral-ranked player characters six months after launch, as all the most-dedicated players seek to gain access to the best ships and equipment STO has to offer?
What is the overall PvP power scaling as a player moves towards Admiral? Could two opposing faction Commanders take on an Admiral and have a close battle, or would it be the one sided massacre we would see in other MMOs where the end game characters are effectively untouchable by the low and mid levels?
Several questions I've had on this for some time so time to get them down:
(1) In our history here on planet Earth, Admirals are never in personal command of a ship, only Task Forces and Fleets. This is backed up in pretty much every episode and film where an Admiral may be ranking officer on a ship but it's never actually his/hers permanently. Unless it's an emergency, I do not expect to see an Admiral running around personally in command of any vessel. It may be his flagship for a particular operation but it should not be for them to command.
As an alternative, and if you think you've got the bandwidth to develop it, I'd propose a completely new tier to the game. Sector command ability for Admirals. They get an entirely different interface from the tactical ship one, but are tied to the Captains operating in a particular sector by being able to give them missions, share in their success by completing them, and allocate available resources from their sector(s) and the Federation overall towards building infrastructure, colonies, new ships, etc. As the saying goes, Generals and Admirals are concerned with logistics, not tactics. I know, maybe not interesting to most people, but there is precedent for a choice ---simply refuse promotion from Captain. Picard did it; Kirk made the wrong choice and got "demoted" back to Captain where he remained for the rest of his career too.
There could also be, as in real life, several ranks of Admirals although that is not clearly distinguised in Star Fleet. A Rear Admiral would command a task force or sector. A Vice Admiral a larger task force or a Fleet, or perhaps a division of Starfleet itself (Engineering, Medical, etc.). A full Admiral would command the resources of a Quadrant of the Federation. Finally, there is Admiral of the Fleet, the top rank and policy setting position.
(2) While it is true that any officer can command a vessel and be called "Captain" while in command, he can be overridden by a superior officer in his chain of command. One problem I'm seeing is that everyone can simply run around the galaxy doing whatever they feel like doing with absolutely no consequences. In this time of uncertainty, you would hope there is some direction and orders coming from the top of the chain of command. Failure to carryout that policy and required missions should be grounds for a court martial and demotion. I know a lot of people would prefer doing their own thing, but Starfleet is a military organization with a firm chain of command. There's no such thing as organized anarchy.
(3) For Klingon characters, a preferred method of rank advancement in the past has been assassination of an immediate superior, thereby replacing him and causing others to move up as well. Considering the opportunities for direct or implied challenges to what passes for honor in the Klingon Empire (sometimes a rather unique definition...), the risk and rewards would be far higher than in Starfleet Command, where such activities are generally frowned upon. Hopefully that will be reflected in their system?
(4) I'm also not clear on the rank advancement or crew options in later stages of the game. Clearly small ships have rather limited staffing requirements so large crews won't be possible, along with all the variations that brings. However, with larger ships, it's possible to have several crew/bridge shifts with widely varying skill sets available. This opens up a number of options for non-bridge officers to participate on away missions as well where their particular skill set may be in demand. How many "personalized" officers can we have on the ship at once for each rank?