We all know how they work now...and that would not be altered!
However, I'd suggest some extensions/changes to be made available that would facilitate a "deeper" version of the use of the exploration zones, including opening the possibility for voluntary semi-open PvP in those zones.
First Access Points ->
Don't change the current border access, but do add a small station or ship just outside the entrance in whatever zone border you must normally access. This token would be interacted with via communications.
The usage of this token would be to -
Go directly to a continuation mission, your own or a group members.
Go directly to a permanent "known" system within the zone.
Second -> "Known" Systems.
Known systems would be permanent instances that would have certain conditions that must be met in order for it to become "known" or "opened." These conditions would be relatively high, requiring investment of exploration that could only practicably be achieved by a group of players in a fleet. This could be taken on as a "fleet" mission and have numerous achievement benchmarks (i.e. scanning n-anomalies, aiding n-planets, exploring n-systems, etc.)
Known systems would be of two types -> "Claimed" and "Unclaimed" The difference being their openness to PvP and the alignment of any PVE ships that might be part of the system. (perhaps leading to a further definition of "Hostile" or "non-Hostile" natives)
These Known systems would be the object of various recurring Fleet missions and allow for a fixed permenant "Fleet Instance" in "Claimed" space and the ability for two (or more?) opposition fleets to "share" a similar fixed permenant "Unclaimed" instance to fight over once both have "found" the same system via the exploration process.
In each case the fleets would be allowed to maintain a base in the system with hefty energy costs.
Types of missions in "Claimed" systems could revolve around containing or eliminating an ongoing threat (i.e. Borg, Orion, Card, etc. vs. Fed)...or in subjugating a system (Klingon vs. Aliens/Renegade Gorn, etc.) Fleets would receive different daily missions to resolve in the system.
Players not in a fleet would be able to "join" the action if they were grouped with fleet members, if they were not in the group they would be returned to the access point station.
Missions in "Unclaimed" systems would be objectives more akin to what you get in a PvP Assault missions and other such current PvP actions...also with daily or semi-hourly targets.
Third -> Zones bordering more than one Faction
Certain exploration zones would lend themselves to similar access by different factions (thus allowing the "Unclaimed" system possibility to those zones. If sub-species "restricted" fleets aren't implemented then remove the K(G), K(N), and K(O) from the lists
Fourth -> Cryptic could add Systems as they desired or had capability to do so.
Fleets could "know" of many different systems in many different zones. Only their fleet members (or those grouped with them at the time) could access these learned points via the outside token. Permanent Knowledge for access would not be transferable in any way from one individual or fleet to the next, i.e., each fleet would have to "learn" / "pay the price of entry" for each point on its own.
A fleet's "exploration knowledge" would be shown amongst its other honors / prestige accouterments.
Wow I forgot I hadn't posted here after you posted on my thread. My apologies.
A variation of yours and in fact slightly different from what I posted on my thread after thinking on it further so here goes. Alot of this information mentions things currently not available in game and would thus need to be rethought if they do not plan to add that option. Of course the whole idea isn't in the system but if only part is added the rest would need to be re-idealised.
Unknown systems cannot stay unknown for long ... so how about we do something as follows:
First Discovery - First Discoverer able to name system or automatically named after discoverer. Probably best to keep a record of the first discoverer for naming purposes or ignore the naming policy and give Cryptic the chance to think up a star treky name outside of Phi Kappa Tau System rofl. Lets leave those names to the truly unknown systems.
Last Discovery - Once the last person in that classification groups discovery limitation has been reached perhaps a system message to state that a new system has been discovered and its designated name, location, including how to access it if via a wormhole and faction relationship. If this has become an irregular system then perhaps add a request for more explorers to try and locate it, perhaps in the way of an extra set of missions with an extra exploration based reward if you find it.
Permanence - Once the system has become a permanent fixture it should resolve into a sector somewhere. Either by expanding into the nearby sector or open up another sector in that area if it is not near any existing sectors. With a warp point between the exploraction cluster into the sector as required. See more in the sectors section below.
Basics - A system once discovered for the first time ( in the case of those already discovered lets say the first time this system of classification is put in place and the first discovery after that). There are 2 type of systems Unknown and Known. These 2 types then break down further into : Known Constant, Known Conditional, Unknown Random and Unknown Irregular. All exploration systems start off as Unknown Randoms. They then can become Unknown Irregular or Known Constant . From Unknown Irregular they would then become Known Conditional under the right conditions. More details below:
Unknown - An unknown system is classed as unknown until x number of ships discover said system.
Irregular - An irregular system is classed as irregular until y number of ships discover said system after it was classed as unknown. This could be a high number as this could be a system that has to meet a set number of consistent conditions to become regular. If these conditions can be programmed into the system generator it would give us explorers more immersion to find it again. Most of these will become Regular after the set number of sightings has been completed and it isn't flagged ( by Cryptic ) as being totally irregular and thus will always have to be discovered by people.
Conditional - A conditional system is classed as conditional after z number of ships discover said system after it was classed as an irregular system. This would normally be the case if the conditions for it to appear fall into a simple pattern. Such as a wormhole appears to take you there. This particular phenomenon doesn't appear in the Exploration Clusters but could enhance the immersion if they appeared at semi random times with each wormhole being linked to a particular system. Once a wormhole has been identified as leading to the system z number of times the wormhole can be renamed to match the system name it is linked to. When the wormhole appears next time it can be taken to go to that system again.
Constant - A constant system is classed as constant after x number of ships discover said system after it was classed as unknown and doesn't have a set of conditions to gain acces to it. Once it has become a constant system it should be updated onto the Starfleet/Klingon stellar cartography system for all other ships in that faction to see them. See the Sector section below to see how Constant and Conditional systems are utilised further.
Basics - With Ownership I mean which factions have control over that system and which factions are the most here. These factions can be based on how the explorations were carried out before they became known. See below for more information:
Faction Based ( PvE ) - Each planet should be tied to a positive faction ( one you can help ) and a negative faction ( one you can kill ). Once it is has become known an approach to system should show the factions linked to that system. Once we have faction based missions entering these systems and approaching the planet(s) /asteroid(s) in there should spawn a faction based mission of a random nature. Rewards for these missions should be faction points with faction relationship ranks perhaps existing with bonuses available to encourage more missions to be done.
Faction Based ( PvP ) - As with the PvE Faction system this would be the PvP equivalent once the same scenario has been put in place. Decision on whether PvP or PvE can be left to Cryptic to decide. Missions run here would offer the PvP Honor badges instead.
Starbase Placement :
Basics - An expansion on malize's starbase comments in light of the ideas I added above: If you are in a fleet with a fleet owned starbase in the system you can use your warp to fleet headquarters ability. If it is a conditional system and the conditions are not valid then it will tell you so and you will not be able to warp there. Unless of course your engineers have managed to make the wormhole appear on call ( another avenue to think about ).
PvE Systems - These systems would allow fleets to place starbases here for easy access to system when their members choose. Other players can visit these starbases as well but will not have the easy access fleets will have to it. Also, fleet members would have discounts at the vendors there, with the fleet bank receiving a percentage of any money the vendors receive. Which items offer and which percentages these things will be can be left to Cryptic to decide so as not to give too much power to the fleets. A Starfleet/Klingon starbase can be placed here after x number of visitors have regularly visited here ( x to be decided by Cryptic of course ). The neutral starbase can have personel offering planet/asteroid based missions for the relevant level/rank players. If we ever get a player based mission system then the fleet starbases can offer their own missions for players to do. Rewards to be decided by Cryptic but perhaps some credits from the fleet bank or any item item the mission creator decides to offer ( should be valid for the level/rank ) the latter probably more preferable so as not to drain the fleet bank.
PvP Systems - As with PvE systems fleets can place their own starbases here as well as a Starfleet/Klingon starbase from which PvP based missions can be given in a similar way to the PvE systems.
Basics - As each new rarity of a conditional/constant system is finally discovered as such then it should be placed into the relevant sector space for access to outside of the exploration clusters.
Near Existing Sector Space Border - If it is near to the border of an existing sector space it can be extended to encompass that system or the system placed in the sector. That is assuming it is a constant system and thus accessible at any time ( cryptic rules permitting .. more below ). If it is accessed via an anomaly then the said anomaly such as a wormhole should be placed/marked in that sector. If the wormhole is random in nature it could appear anywhere in that sector but realistically should appear near that exploration cluster border.
New Sector Space - If, however, it was discovered in the middle of nowhere we ( Cryptic in this case ) can opt to use that system to create a new Sector Space to start adding systems to. Hardware permitting they can control how many systems will turn into known systems and become a part of sector space. Perhaps each update will increase the chances by 5 systems or allow 1 sector to be created and put up to 10 systems discovered next in there. All ( laughs ) they would have to do is set a value to the systems record to be discoverable and whether it would be conditional or constant.
Oops.. more than 11k characters .. time to split onto a second post rofl.
Basic - One area that people have commented on is the fact that you cannot revisit a system once the patrol has been done or the exploration completed. In the latter case you might well have done but wouldn't know it rofl. Also, the fact that despite multiple planets showing on the sector maps visual of the system when you do access it, it doesn't seem to be the same so lets try something different.
System Structure - Lets have a system that can have a finite set of planets and asteroids from 1 to say 5. The latter number decided by Cryptic. Whilst not utilising an exact science to the rotation factors etc if the system has a sun or two have the planets and asteroids orbiting the right planetary bodies. After all asteroids can circle planets and the sun itself. Having the planets orbiting would mean we could get rid of some of those asteroid fields from systems that may not require them. As there would be another way to see the movement of the ship in action.
System Display - In sector space either show just the sun(s) for the system or the whole planetary system in a scaled down format. I'll leave Cryptic decide which as that would depend on the systems they may want to target.
System Access - When you approach the system it should ask you if you want to warp there. And yes, even after you have done the initial patrols. Lets get the opportunity to visit these systems as we wish, either for the fun of doing random missions without a mission given to us or pick a mission up from Starfleet/Klingon HQs and go have fun that way. When you warp into the system it should place you at a consistent location say near the last planet/asteroid or to the nearest safe point to the last known location for the mission itself depending on how you are receiving the mission. On entry into the system without an existing mission it should generate a patrol like mission and a set of co-ordinates to warp to ( symbolised by a beacon perhaps ? or just tell helm to warp to the said co-ordinates).
Well, I think there were some more ideas but those were at the forefront of my brain when I think of this stuff so should be enough of a head start. I'll fill this post out if I think of something else.
Perhaps a combination of the two ideas is possible or a variant of. I'm not a PvPer and I'm not in a Fleet as of yet so have not dealt with that side of things in game to see anything out of regular PvP and Guild settings I have seen from other games.
I'm not in a fleet and I hate PVP : what are the benefits of your system for me ?
If you are referring to my post I am in a similar situation. That is why I added a regular starbase for non fleet / pvp members to utilise if they chose to. Apart from that anyone could access the newly discovered systems as if they were already existing systems just to add extra gameplay content and further immersion. I prefer choice over forced play and have described my system to cover all ( I hope ) type of players whether those that like to group and fight together or those that like to play alone and those that play with their other fleet members.
I'm not in a fleet and I hate PVP : what are the benefits of your system for me ?
Well the overall emphasis would be on getting static groups of players (i.e. Fleets) a focal point outside of blowing each other to bits (i.e., "The War" post you find in my sig which has another appearance for player fleets within internal and external combats relating to the war.)
Anyway, an upshot of these kinds of things would be to make fleet membership more attractive, even if on a simply casual basis. However there would need to be some concession to lonewolf types as you describe, and that could be a variation on the "House" aligning rules from "The War" posting.
The short story there is that a certain number (say 7) "Houses" would be fixed canon known, cryptic created frameworks that player fleets could "align/join/hook into" as mega-alliances. (By example, Klingon Player Fleet XYZ could align themselves to the House Durass or the House Martok, etc.)
You could also allow individual players to do the same...however they would not have all the benefits (voting) that the more organized members would have. In short they would be "inert politically" as it were, but would enjoy other benefits...one of which could be access to House stations if those fleets allow it, and in direct relation to your point that the "lone wolves" who align to a House would then also be able to access and contribute to this permenant exploration.
Example, Player Fleets could get a "cut" of the non-player fleet member (of their House) exploration totals in exchange for allowing certain privileges for those non-player fleet members (of their House) at their Fleet owned stations. Conversely the non-player fleet members could have access to systems of various fleets that are either allowed by those fleets for non-player fleet members (of their House) and/or those non-player fleet members could get default access to systems when more than half of the player-fleets aligned to their House have discovered that system.