Hi, I really do enjoy your MMO, it has some interesting features that make it all its own but I fear in time it will end up like many MMO's by which I mean that in the end game, there will be an accepted ship and spec for whatever goal you're trying to accomplish. As much as I want to fly around and see half a dozen of the very same slightly modified ships I don't feel this is Trek enough. I'm not going to throw a bunch of Canon at you guys. But it seems to me that as you level up you should be able to keep a ship design that you want through a retro fit. This retro fit would not up the number of fore or aft weapon slots necessarily but might give special abilities to that particular ship that other ships might not necessarily have.
Keeping a Defiant class at Admiral lvl - the ship gains the ability to cloak, might gain some extra fore and aft weapon slots.
Keeping a Intrepid class at Admiral lvl - the ship gains a secondary deflector enabling the ship to use deflector abilities from both the fore and aft fields of fire.
These are merely examples and I would even encourage retrofits to tied into the crafting system in some way. I think that a system like this would be good for the game in a number of ways, it would diversify the ship population, it would give some ships abilities that might be more geared toward pvp or pve by the abilities they attain through retro fit. It would encourage players to use the ships they have collected in productive ways rather than mothballing. Finally it would be more like the canon in encouraging players to truly love their ships and give them a sense of "tried and trueness."
They really need to add a sandbox option for STO. That way you can have the cookie cutter game for those that like it, but add open space where players can affect space with PvP, crafting, faction grinding for recipes, fleet/house space stations to own and defend. Space that holds at least a thousand players per instance.
With raidisodes and PvP as end game only options. You will have the cookie cutter end game. There is no way around it. If you add in an open sandbox zone for player created game play with persistent content created by the Dev's. It could create a very different game. One that could coexist with what they plan now.