One of the things that can make STO tedious is that we're all practically stuck on the same rails. There's really only one path to promote through a chracter. Oh there are some variances in whether you explore more or PvP less or what have you, but the core Episode Missions are finite.
To help this out STO needs to add a sense of choice and randomness to the equation. I know Cryptic is working to develope more content, and eventually with normal Season Mission adds and the Weekly Episodes, etc. there will be a larger variety of missions.
I have a way that I think could be possible to add, if only in a small way, a sense of the unknown, now. It works off the existing Deep Space Encounters (DSE) and Cluster Exploration technologies. Now I'm not a Crpytic Programmer, so maybe I'm totally wrong, but I think this theory is possible.
With the DSEs it's possible to be "sucked" into a fight with the enemy, though most of us learn to avoid these when we don't want to. When we want to fight we can seek out active Encouters (those glowing red balls) and click the "Join the Fight" button that pops up when we near.
I was thinking... What if there were "invisible" ships flying around the sectors. I don't mean really, ships that have some new cloaking power, I'm just talking about using them as markers, or "Beacons", that we can't see (either in space or in the map/mini-map). Use existing DSE tech, modify it slightly to make it unseen. Then as we fly around space we occasionally get a "Join the Fight" button -- Only it's reworded to "Exlpore Unknown System" (sound familiar?) or "Answer Distress Call" or something like that.
If you don't press it, fine, go about your business. But if you click it, the game drops you into a Mission. At first, just hook it up to the same Cluster Explorer Missions we get now, or even Diplomatic Investigations, maybe a First Contact (regardless of the player's Diplo Level). Occasionally throw it to a regular DSE map (surprise!). Eventually they could make new/special missions just for these pop-ups. Maybe random Epic Loot Missions.
There are all sorts of ways you could dress this up to make it something more as time progressed. But again, just an idea for something new now. Thoughts?