I hear that bridge officers can be customized for free upon acquisition. How much can be customized? Only the uniform? Or can I go through the whole species/face/body/uniform customization?
I'm asking because I'd like my captain to be a "serious" Trek race like Human or Vulcan, but I also don't want to miss out on the fun of creating aliens of various races.
Will my captain be the only character I ever build?
The only things that are locked firmly into the 'You Cannot Change These' category with Bridge Officers are Gender, Species, and Traits. Appearance (the full banana on appearance) and skills (through training either through other officer requisitions or via the Bridge Officer Trainer on Earth Stardock) are completely fluid and something you can change as often as you like (well, you can also totally rename them, and I recommend doing so before you enter the Costume Change interface).
My current theory on it is the way that the game generates characters. Gender/Species and Traits are the first two character select screens, and it would be easiest to presume that these are the first three things generated to lead into the Officer Acquisition list.
On top of that, it makes it A) Desirable and B) easier to find officers with specific randomized traits. You know, for example, that Bajoran officers can have Creative (+5% damage with skills) and Lucky (+3% crit/expose chance), and are looking for one as a Tactical Officer. Really narrows down the list.
It also makes it easier for the game to generate special Uncommon/Rare/Very Rare officers that, in addition to sometimes having Skills you can only get through that method... also have one or two Traits that are better then average (like the above Bajoran officer having Superior Luck that adds a much higher +crit/expose chance).
...probably more information then you needed to know. Sorry. Pre-coffee ramblings.
I guess I'll figure out how to do the renaming on my own. Also, I assume the whole customization is free the first time?
Sounds great. Looking forward to collecting my bridge officers. I hope I get a Trill.
Yep, all initial customization is free. You can also search the Exchange to see if you can't find an Uncommon+ officer of a specific race and profession (though you do a coin-toss on gender there, which I personally sadface over even though I've gotten exceptionally lucky in that regard), or if you just want a Common officer, there's a Bridge Officer Requisitions officer next to the Bridge Officer Trainer (opposite side of the divider) that has one of every race/gender combination.
:3 The 'Rename' button is also to the immediate right of the Change Costume button when having a new officer join up. I recommend doing that one first, because finalizing the costume changes auto-joins the officer to your crew, and while I'm fairly certain the Free Rename sticks, it's more efficient to set up the name and then the costume from the same interface (IMO - your mileage may vary).
Just a note but you CAN save costumes in the character creator or the costume customization screen and then load those either place if the race/gender matches.
So what I try to do is keep one character slot open and use that for designing characters. Then if I get a BO of the right race/gender, I can just load their appearance from the saved file. That helps me segregate my costume design time from my play time.