You might find yourself in the situation where you don't want to abandon your current ship just because you gained a rank.
Also, if you're sane and a follower of logic, you don't want to just up every ship to tier 5. That wouldn't make sense!
So what do you do? How could you keep them in the lower tiers and at the same time make them viable?
Here is how!
STEP 1: You can buff them... a little bit.
A Constitution-class starship should never be able to realistically fight a Sovereign-class starship and win unless Kirk himself is Captain and the plot demands it be so.
I'm sorry but you're not Kirk.
So here's what we do. Buff each tier of ship below 5 just a bit based on your current rank. An Admiral in the Captain's chair of a Constitution will give a slight buff to the ship.
How does an Admiral make your hull magically stronger? For the logic minded lets say this:
Create a new stat called "Crew Effectiveness". It goes higher the higher the rank you are (you could still call yourself a Lieutenant Commander and wear the pips if you want, this stat doesn't ruin it for RPers either it just matters on your level).
If you're a Lieutenant Commander 5 you'll get maybe +5 "Crew Effectiveness" which will boost all your stats by a small percentage. If you're a Captain 3 you'll get maybe +33 or whatever.
Your ship doesn't get a buff from "Crew Effectiveness" unless you're at least a rank above it's tier. A
Commander can get a bonus for captaining a Nova but a Admiral's Tier 5 ship won't get a bonus (neither will any level of Admiral in Season 2).
The lower the tier, the higher the boost from "Crew Effectiveness". So a Miranda will get a much bigger boost than a tier 3 Akira.
The boost won't be huge. A Miranda will effectively be boosted to the same level as Tier 1 ships (after they're boosted! Just to make the Miranda not so bad). Tier 1 ships will be very nearly as strong as Tier 2 ships.
Tier 3 ships with the boost will be very close to Tier 4 ships. Etc etc.
Basically without moving tier 5 it'll bring all tiers CLOSER to tier 5 (though not on it).
This is the FIRST STEP of my idea. Also the "Crew Effectiveness" stat wouln't be so much that a Tier 1 could viably beat a Tier 5. Instead a Tier 4 and maybe a Tier 3 could be viable (Tier 4 doesn't matter much though since most of the ships are being refit).
STEP 2: More Ship Stations.
So after the above the ships are still pretty outclasses stat wise. Lets make it more even without going insane and sticking everything in tier 5!
Open more Ship Station Slots on lower ship tiers! The Connie has like as many spots on it's bridge as a Galaxy
-class ship so why less Bridge Stations? However again, do it on a RANK BASIS.
If you're an Admiral you get more ship stations unlocked if you're flying a Connie. They might get the same number of stations and ranks as a tier 5 ship or maybe not quiet that high.
Different ships would get different stations mattering on your rank. Tier 5 ships again would not get this bonus. Lower tier ships would get more stations and higher ranked stations as a bonus. Higher tier ships would get less to none.
With the second step they have more viability because they could potentially use more abilities and of higher rank! Yay!
Even with the slightly better stats and new Stations they'll still be outmatched by a Tier 5 ship as it should be.
STEP 3: Ship Consoles.
Like the above. Increase the number of consoles! Maybe not to Tier 5 numbers but still... with rank increase them for lower tiers.
What logic might we use to say that the stations and consoles are here all the sudden? The LAKOTA in DS9 was specially equipped. You're an ADMIRAL or something. You've got more sway. You used it to equip your ship outside of it's defualt capabilities!
With steps 1, 2 and 3 the ships are looking much more viable when captained by a higher ranking officer. They still lack in the stats area. Possibly they lack a bit in the Stations and Consoles area but those are closer too.
STEP 4: Auto Balance PvE and PvP.
Okay. If the above isn't enough how about this:
This game is heavily instanced so autobalancing is possible. If you fly a Connie as an Admiral, even with all the above buffs you might still find yourself too outgunned by a Scimitar. Auto Blanace in PvP can just switch some ships, switch some stats, etc to hopefully make it more possible to run through the entire game without switching your ship (theoretically).
It could even Auto Balance groups. Lets say your group is a Connie, Galaxy Tier 4, Akira, Defiant Tier 4 and Prometheus. Under normal conditions you might fight 2 Borg Cubes and 3 Borg Spheres. With Auto-balance (turned ON, it should be an OPTION) this might lower the stats of the enemies slightly and change it to 1 Cube, 3 Spheres. If you're fighting a single boss it could simply change the stats to best match your group.
This would be a lot of work to implement though.
For PvP... it should be an optional mode to play called something like "Mixed Fleet Battle".
It would automatically try to match the fleets as best as it can. It could assign you to a certain random Tier (you'd have to own a ship of each tier) and you'd fly that one for that battle.
I can't think of a way other then that for PvP. You can't exactly force everyone to fly a worse ship unless it's a voluntary action of joining what you know will be a randomly tiered and mixed tiered battle.
You might not like being forced out of your ship and onto another one though.
STEP 5? Other Options.
Adding benificial abilities to lower tier ships could help a bit. Like maybe a Connie with a Fleet Admiral will have the passive ability "Legacy" which slightly buffs everyone in your group. Maybe a Nova's shields completely recharge very fast after leaving combat for several seconds (it's canon!). Maybe an Olympic can prevent most crew damage to fellow teammates (via it's medical nature). Etc etc. Nothing fancy like Saucer Separation that requires a lot of art work and stuff. Just simple things for most ships.
Having a single Olympic in your group to prevent a lot of crew damage might even be a good alternative to just another tier 5 ship.
Still, at the end the tiers would still be present. They'd just be slightly more muted. I don't think combat wise a Tier 5 should ever die to a Tier 3 unless the captain of the Tier 2 is great and the Tier 5 captain sucks. However this idea of mine will help close the gap a bit and maybe with abilities they could act as good support ships anyways.
ALSO you can probably ignore doing this to Tier 4 because most of those ships are moving up a tier anyways.
I am not sure, I would agree with the actual ship modifications like consoles or BO stations but, I think that you may be on to something with a leadership buff to lower ships based on rank of captain. I might even go so far as to include in that buff the ranks of the BO's that you also have manning those stations.
I think this thread touches on an area that I have been thinking about and haven't seen addressed.
Interaction at all level. I suppose they have the level matching feature, but I would personally like to see people group together speaking pvp here across rank bands. It is a major bummer to have a group of friends and then cross a rank line and not be able to participate with them anymore until they get a new rank.
We all know the pvp que needs fixing, I propose that instead of having a hard rank limit, ie. ltc 1-10 or com 1-10 that the system allows any group of players as long as they are inside a 10 level window.
an example would be a few ltc6 an ltc9 and a com 5 could be on a pvp team together.
To me the way the rank bands are set up, is just as isolating as the instancing is, but together they go a long way in breaking down community in the game.
PvP queue should be like an FPS. You can start an instance. Everyone piles in and you can join as long as it's not full.
The game will RESET upon completion instead of kicking everyone out. This way people can stay and new people can join. There will probably be 30 seconds to a minute between games.
The queue system is stupid. It's also ugly as sin and has a text explosion.
Realistically, I would have much rather seen a system in place that didn't lock the ships into tiers, but rather allowed ship's captains to choose what ship they would like to fly, based on their prefered play style, and then allow them to improve the ship through their own skills.
I realize that many players look at this in terms of "oh this ship could never stand up to that ship!" But that isn't the correct way to look at it. This isn't an issue like comparing a 289 V-6 to a 454 V-8 or Hemi V-10. Just about any ship in Star Trek can be retrofitted to accomodate the necessary upgrades, computer systems and warp cores necessary to outfit the latest weapons.
We saw this with the Lakota in DS9. While the Excelsior Class is 100 years old, it was retrofitted to the point that it was standing toe to toe with the Defiant.
I can see having limitations on a refit ship based on available weapon slots and consoles. However, I don't feel that BO slots would need to be limited. Take this for example:
Miranda Class (in STO) has 3 BO Slots for Space Combat.
Sovereign Class (in STO) has 5 BO Slots for Space Comabt.
From what we know about the Miranda Class based on canon, the Miranda has enough room to accomodate 5 bridge officers on deck at any given time. In fact, if I remember right, it can accomadate 7 positions. (Captain's Chair, 2 forward Conn, Weapons, Communications, Science, Tactical)
So what I'm saying is that while I can see obvious restrictions on weapons loadout and console slots in a "refit" version of a Miranda, limiting the BO slots doesn't make sense.
Perhaps a system could be devised where a refit would gain approximately 25-50% more hull strength (based on reinforcing materials, new materials incorporated into the hull), gains 1 additional weapon slot fore and aft, adds 1 additional console slot for each discipline, and achieves the same BO slots as a Tier 5.
In a situation like this, a "refit" Miranda would look something like this:
Refit Light Cruiser
Hull: 15000 (Base)
Device Slots: 4
Turn Rate: 5 deg/sec (slight increase due to additional mass from upgrades)
Consoles: 2 Eng, 2 Sci, 2 Tac
Weapons Slots: 3 Fore, 2 Aft (Capable of outfitting Mk X)
BO slots: (Based on Cruiser Line, Assault configuration)
Engineer, Lt. Cmdr.
Given these specs, I could see a Miranda Class being capable of functioning well at the upper tiers, being viable for a Rear Admiral, yet not as powerful as a Sovereign class, or as heavily armed.
This sort of "refit" program would give people an opportunity to fly the ships they choose, while not overly impeding thier gameplay.
I think they need to steal something from an unlikely source.... Americas Army game.
Make the PvP games continuous. Allow for people to fill slots to enter that have specific tier requirements,
Example: On Capture and Hold (per a team)
(1) Tier 5
(5) Tier 4
(6) Tier 3
(2) Tier 2
(1) Tier 1
(4) Runabouts with any tech
At least this way, we would spend time decking out 5 ships minimal rather then having millions of energy credits because we have our 1 ship decked out. It would be more tactical to fleet players and run way longer.
I'd think it would be better to just have different equipment setups for each of your ships (so you could use the same gear in any ship, it's just set differently). You can save the equipment sets of course so you don't have to do it manual before each game.
But a problem is that a lot of people don't like the idea of being forced to play as a ship which might not be their current one. How often did Picard command something that wasn't either Enterprise or a shuttle? His BOs switched on a few episodes (Riker, Data, etc shortly commanded different ships). But not the captains.