So, I was looking on dstahl's pedigree and I discovered that, according to wikipedia, he is best known for creating German-style board games. Whatever that means. Now, me, I read that and I said to myself, "Perfect!" Because that is exactly what the game needs right now.
There is a war going on. Any admiral will tell you that involves strategy. We need systems on the map that can change hands. We need both PvE and PvP objectives to complete to make it happen. We need faction-wide rewards that pay out the longer you control regions. And, all of it needs to be deep, interesting, and not grindy.
This looks like a job for Daniel Stahl! Build the gigantic board game in space and let us play it. Kirk himself said that Risk is part of the game, didn't he? (Fifteen points for you if you get that joke.)
As long as ALL the objectives and ALL the rewards can be obtained through PURELY PvE means, then I'll be just fine with persistant warzones and planetary control mechanics. The minute Cryptic starts putting in PvP-only rewards and systems, especially if they seem vital or are better than what's available to PvE gameplay, I will start complaining, and so will a lot of other players.
By the same token, even though I despise PvP, I don't want those players to be left out in the cold. Make all objectives available through a separate PvP mechanic. Maybe give equal credit to PvP matches and PvE mission runs?
I can't remember the name of the RTS that involved this, but...
To make and upkeep one soldier involved the following:
To make the bread, you had to have your peasants harvest wheat. Then take it from the granary to the mill to be turned into flour. Then take the flour to the bakery to be made into bread.
To make the sausage, you had to have farms. Peasants would take the animals from the farms to the butcher to be turned into sausage. But, the farms couldn't work without vegetables. So you had to have farms for that too. Peasants had to take the vegetables to the farms to feed the pigs and cows so they could grow into sausage.
To make the wine, you had to have vineyards. You had to have wine presses. You had to have cellars. You had to have a glass blower to make the bottles.
To make weapons and armor, you had to mine ore. You had to harvest lumber. You had to have skins. You had to have...
OK, you know? You get the idea. It was huge and complicated and *waaaaaaay* too complicated for one person with a keyboard and mouse to manage alone.
But, this is an MMO! A single server MMO! We're literally all in this together. We could have big complicated objectives without fear. Now, obviously, this is Star Trek. We're not making sausage and I wouldn't want us to, that would be way too grindy. (Ba-dum!) But we could come up with more entertaining objectives. Big, necessary things that the whole community works on together.
This is an interesting idea, and I think it might fit very well within the game.
I think it would be especially attractive to people who want more non-combat content: in the course of fighting the war, some would be out in the front lines, patrolling or defending systems, but others would be supporting the effort through gathering resources, producing materials, and researching new technology.
Similarly, this would provide some additional content for the Diplomatic Corps as they work to shore up allies, strengthen alliances, and negotiate trade agreements for vital resources.
I would love to see some sort of changing control zones where a faction would have a greater influence over a sector or star system based off the number of completed missions or the like. Of course I fear this will potentially involve pvp elements but if there was some sort of global advantage to this, my initial ideas are that we have more raw materials available so starships are cheaper, I think it would be great.