I finally got my question about Ship to Ship combat answered. Although I think the developers meant to say ship to ship combat will be more tactical in the positioning of ships and what not, not strategic.
"When you have a ship that is a certain configuration, you will be able to modify all the parts – the saucer, the nacelles, the pylons, the primary hull, etc. You will also be able to modify colors, decals, and other bits. However, the configuration will remain recognizable. If you are in the light cruiser configuration, you can make it look just like a Miranda, a Centaur, or something completely unique. The combinations are massive, however, you will not be able to have 4 nacelles or make your light cruiser look like a Galaxy class ship. So your ship will be unique, but others will be able to recognize its general capabilities. People will be able to look at someone’s ship and say, “Hey, that’s like a Nebula, so I know it’s an advanced science vessel”, or ”Hey, look at that cool Prometheus variant!”
I love how Cryptic is well known for their customization. And knowing that the ships in STO were going to be customizable was great...but this isn't just customization. The words "ship class" no longer have meaning. Now Cryptic seems to be saying only ship types matter, and that theoretically you could take a "light cruiser" type and it would not look like any class. Esentially, there are no classes any more except for those few people who choose to make their "configurations" look like a Centaur or a Miranda.
Losing the idea of ship classes is a big loss for me. Sure I can make my ship configuration match existing classes, and I will, but STO will lose a lot of its feel for me whe I can see Klingon and Federation ships in unlimited combinations. Thats not Star Trek....Thats Star Wars!
Flatfingers, where DO you find the time for all that writing?!
Second, and more to the point...
Hull letters might be better used when a player wishes to apply an already used ship name to a different class ship. Every Enterprise that had a new hull letter was also a different class ship. Yes, it is true that the 1701-A was identical to the 1701 refit, and got the -A by virtue of having been destroyed, but if I remember correctly, the new ship was Constitution II Class. Following that, 1701-B was Excelcior Class, -C was Ambassador class, -D was Galaxy Class, and finally -E was Sovereign Class.
Since this is a game, I doubt having one's ship 'destroyed' will be a rare occurrence, so it stands to reason that perhaps the ship would not be destroyed per se, but rather damaged to the point of needing to be towed back to a starbase and reassembled. If a player wanted to keep a given name for a new ship of a different class, then add a letter. I don't see people having 26 different ships all with the same name...but I could be wrong :p
EDIT: Just noticed several posts with this same idea in the Discussion forum...great minds think alike
With regard to ship customization, it would be fun to go to a spack dock to do ship refits. Internal system changes would use a more mundane interface, but the external refit system should be more cinematic! Meaning that the player could be positioned outside the ship and could maneuver the camera around the ship allowing the player to click on the ship parts and install new components and get to see them 'installed' rather than seeing the ship on a computer screen and flipping through new parts as it was with the Starship Creator software. This cinematic aspect would truly add that awe inspiring atmosphere that is one of the hallmarks of Star Trek. I don't know about you, but that scene of the Enterprise leaving drydock in ST:TMP put shivers down my spine! I know I'm probably asking too much especially for the initial launch of STO, but it would be nice to see later