How do I know this? Because adding secondary objectives to exploration maps was part of the job posting for the new content designer.
Here's what it entails:
- Making exploration mission maps re-visitable, something that was a planned feature before launch, with a list of saved exploration planets.
- Giving exploration mission maps unique and defining features. This means populating them with persistent NPCs where relevant, both creatures and humanoid NPCs with stores and missions that must be obtained in-person.
- Providing rewards unique to the mission content. That may be a pet you can only find in a rare out of the way planet or special technology from that planet. It may entail bridge officers with rare and unique racial traits who you recruit from a planet's population. It may be ship trophies. The gist of this is the ability to say, "Guess what I found while exploring today...?" Instead of feeling like a random map, it will feel like a strange and new corner of the galaxy you discovered that will drive your friends to look for their own.
There will be a travel overhaul.
- Known and well-documented sectors will continue to use sector space but the art assets will be tweaked in line with what we see in the new sectors.
- Exploration will have its own method of travel. No more hunting anomalies and star systems in a box, as dstahl has put it. You will be inside a special, instanced version of your ship with a streaking stars-at-warp effect outside the windows. You will play mini-games to find anomalies and missions. Playing the games well will give you a better chance at finding the type of mission you want or finding a mission with better rewards or intricate, engaging and unique plot lines tied to them.
My prediction is that you will all be aboard the group leader's ship when grouped, with party members' ships visible outside the windows, traveling at warp alongside the lead ship in a way that emphasizes the size and scale of these ships. But you may also see Iconian Gateways and wormholes as a means of travel for "epic exploration".
Get ready for Season 3: "Strange New Worlds".
Look at the progression:
Strange New Worlds
You establish the good guys (Klingons and Federation) and the commonality of their struggle against the Borg and Undine. Then you establish who the enemies are with the Breen, The Fek'lhri and the Iconians. The next step is to flesh out the setting and expand the conflict.
If that is true, then it will anger a ton of folks looking forward to UGC. It's nice and all, but it's a far cry from the potential of UGC.
I think UGC is coming in S3 but is likely more S3.5 or so. UGC is being done more outside the STO team and these improvements will be essential steps to integrating UGC into STO, as they will add depth to the kinds of missions and environments you can create.