Most pvpers would like to see some form of open world pvp with a meaningful, persistent effect. The issue is how to make that happen without disturbing the design ideas and mechanics that Cryptic has laid forth.
First, any long term pvp idea should note that there are two more playable empires on the way: Cardassian and Romulan. http://www.startrekonline.com/factions Ultimately, STO's pvp design should consider including every player based faction fighting a three front war in meaningful, open world pvp.
Here's the proposal. We adapt to STO's current design and engine mechanics.
"The Klingon Empire and the Federation have both started military, transwarp incursions into part of Borg Space. This is an area that might be much larger and richer than all four alpha quadrant empires combined.
As these governments secure these new valuable resources, they do what most empires do. They start to fight over these resources or retaliate for the inevitable treachery from their one time allies."
As for game mechanics, the precedence is already set thanks to the endgame Borg transwarp sectors for separated systems. These new transwarp pvp sectors wouldn't interfere with those who don't wish to pvp, or interfere with the original sector's heavily instanced design.
STO could build these future liberated Borg pvp sectors like the current Borg transwarp sector map. In each case, the factions should have three deep space sectors set up to include a two permanent, invulnerable factional bases, with their respective transwarp gateways.
Each permanent base would provide each faction a front that has a secure face off point against each of the other factions. These could function with exactly the same design that currently secure both Sherman's Planet (Deepspace K7) and Ganalda (Ganalda Station) in Eta Erivan Sector Block. They could even be exact copies of each base's structure with the addition of a transwarp gate nearby.
These would open into sector maps that could work exactly like the sector maps do today to handle movement loads. Each faction would have access to three maps.
That might be confusing. In the big picture, this end game feature would be six permanent Borg transwarp style maps: Federation versus Klingon, Federation versus Romulan, Federation versus Cardassian, Klingon versus Cardassian, Klingon versus Romulan, and Romulan versus Cardassian.
Again, these pvp sectors are only available by transwarp. Keeping in line with Cryptic's design idea that pvp should be consensual only, these areas are pvp sectors by design. Entering the clearly marked zone is consenting to pvp.
Inside each sector map, there should be about ten permanent planetary systems set up for siege warfare. To speed release, planets that would fine under different names would be replications of Andoria, Risa, various large pve ground maps, etc. These could simply be numbered worlds in the tradition of the Borg that originally colonized them.
These maps might need to be made larger for the higher than normal player load. Again, these are permanent, non instanced, winnable maps. Each has objectives for planetary control, in the 100 players vs. 100 players or larger range. This is just like cryptic's team once did for Recluse's Victory in COX.
This is not limited to planet side. These planetary systems should include space pvp objectives to land troops or blockade an enemy prior to the ground effort.
This idea could be further enhanced by destroyable environments. Examples would include those used as in SG or VG bases that cryptic's team once did for COX, SWG's hack and destroy factional bases, or WOW's Wintergrasp.
These system objectives could exist in space and on the ground. An attacking force destroying said objectives could be the game win. Otherwise, the system zones could be based off of a kill count, with destroyed hard points adding significantly to such a count.
The attacking force would have to complete the objectives in the vulnerability time. If they failed, they're booted out of the system as the defender retains ownership.
As for appearance, the destroyable environments could be the controlling faction for the zone or the Borg by default. A Klingon controlled sector would ideally have a Klingon ground base and a Klingon star base for example, but if it had to look like captured Borg property for coding purposes, that works too.
Due to typical factional imbalances in games, these sectors should do an elite style Borg or Undine PVE invasions for sectors lacking activity for a set amount of time (every time, 24 hours, or a week). This creates default content, if necessary during low activity cycles, for the temporarily larger factions. The elite ships, elite creatures, and attack styles for these already exist as end game content for STF missions.
This extra mechanic also encourages more pve inclined players to hit these pvp sectors as well. Further, the larger scale of the designed fights makes for a more epic experience and reduces the sting if someone gets killed, since it is much less personal.
After all, properly done, a pvp experience can actually enlarge a pvp player base in time. It does so by expanding percentage of the active player base that enjoys it and participates.
In the big picture, this occasional forced PVE defense would be necessary to keep large factions spread thinner and entertained. It would also give the Cardassian and Romulan factions a chance to mature as they build up into the greater pvp war.
Once again, the limitation on the current game design is that the system maps would need to be single instanced. Multiple instancing would lead to situations where one group won their map, only to lose the greater number of instances for control.
My own experience is that this would tick many players off. It removes their sense of immersion.
Another limitation is that such events would need to be timed evolutions. A particular system might only be vulnerable every few hours for about thirty minutes to an hour. All the sectors would need to have their vulnerable times set up simultaneously.
This gives a sense of urgency. It also keeps players from being continuously tied down to only this part of the game.
When there are only a few players using the system, you'd only have one planet vulnerable at a time. Eventually, as the game and factions mature, to endgame content, you could eventually move to having every system inside vulnerable simultaneously.
If a sector's system fills to max load for one side, simply have the excess players "warp" to the next vulnerable area in that sector. Overfill in the sector would allow for transwarp to another sector that faction has in this conflict.
Ultimately, if this worked on the 100 player versus 100 player model, it would allow each faction to have up to 3000 pvpers in meaningful conflict, against 1000 of the each of the other factions' members at any one time. This would also put 30 planetary maps in play for each faction.
Should that not be enough, additional permanent sector maps could be added to the more popular zones as necessary. Also, more free for all style sector maps could eventually be designed.
If each system in the zone were worth say 100 points, this gives a tangible score of who is currently winning their war. Again that leaves four factions in conflict over 3000 points in that faction's spheres of interest. Lack of participation means that the Borg pve faction controls 6000 points for its 60 worlds.
The total score could be added up with end of each hot time. There could be a current news npc on your hail button to give you an up to date tally of the scores of all four factions. This would also give you intelligence on how much was Borg controlled. It would also give you a heads up when the next vulnerability cycle was beginning.
If the current design concept for the Cardassians and Romulans does not include them in a state of war, these Borg space pvp zones could be considered hostile, deep space, no mans lands, such as in TOS neutral zones, under Borg control.
Storyline wise, the technically "at peace" factions would assume lost areas were due to Borg incursion. The factions could keep their cold wars from going completely hot with misinformation.
Like a mission and a pvp quest, players would earn top level medals, experience, merits / honor, and energy credits for participating. The zone could also give top performance awards and incidental drops just like STF missions.
Maps that were controlled could be used by the controlling faction. A certain threshold of active maps might even unlock STF missions for that faction only, allow players to find special items for crafting, provide minor buffs as a faction benefit, allow special temporarily unlocked missions under the proposed mission architect system, or some other reward.
One last note, this could allow for fleet based points to be kept up to date on a pvp ladder system of some sort. Also, capturing fleet(s) might have their fleet's logo on the repaired, destroyable bases they capture.
Do you have any thoughts and suggestions for improving this idea?