After a bit of experimentation last night as well, I wanted to bring forward some more findings, and figured I'd do it in my thread that I created on the subject.
My original premise that we should simply lower the cost of the skill tiers, may not be valid, based on the point that the devs have stated they wanted to redo the skill tree in order to promote players to transfer between different ships.
As has been stated by a number of other people, this simply is not possible and still be effective.
The issue isn't with the ship itself, I was able to build a rather cookie cutter build that effectively boosted the ship. Its drawback was it effectively made my BOs about worthless.
However due to the way that the consoles are set up, based on BO Class, and not universal, each ship has a different strength and weakness. Some are better healers, others better CC and Utility, others better Damage Dealers. This is especially true at RA and VA, where even among ships of the same class, there can be a significant difference in BO abilities, for example the Galaxy class.
The further you get away from your class of ship, the harder it becomes to actually be effective in it, without having to respec. Moving from say a Carrier to a Flight Deck Cruiser, I was not nearly as effective as I was having a build set up for a Carrier. Carriers are heavily set up for Science, Flight Deck Cruisers for Engineers. This was because of two separate reasons.
The first reason was due to a lack of a respec. ((I had them, just chose not to use one in this case)). By moving from a Science based ship to a Carrier Based ship, skills that I had heavily spec'd into via the skill tree were actually lost, while those I was using for the Cruiser I gained, but had zero points in them via the skill tree due to I hadn't had access to them via my Carrier. This caused my BOs to under perform, and by extension my ship to under-perform, and then by even greater extension, my team to under-perform, causing fellow players to have to pick up the slack.
The second cause is that even had I used my respec and fiddled with my build, was that I was a Science Officer flying an Engineer BO ship. Since the old tree's system of only allowing Engineers to train Engineers mk III skills, meant that I would have to either hunt down an Engineer that had that skill, or find another BO with the skill I want. While not impossible, it still deterred me from wanting to fly another ship "on the fly", and moved it to a desire to have to plan which ships I would want to fly.
A issue I've talked about before as well, is that certain builds are very easy to buff up (say a build centered around only dealing damage, or a more balanced build centered around tractor beams and gravity well) and other builds are much harder or even impossible (an effective tank that can grab agro or a science build centered around scramble sensors and viral matrix). This by extension makes certain ships much more attractive as they can support certain easier builds, and other ships less attractive, as they support much more complicated builds, or are in fact almost worthless when compared to other ships.
Basically they went and made the ship a BO class as well. You can effectively spec for your ship or one of the BO classes, at the detriment of the others. Due to the fact that ships are heavily BO centric, as is the skill tree, the purpose of making the skill tree easier to encourage cross ship piloting fails miserably flat.
There are three fixes I can think of the bat right now under the assumption that the devs will not scrap the basic skill tree foundation.
a) Lower the skill point costs down to where they were in the old system. This will allow people to a) become very good in a specific class or b) become good in a couple different classes of BOs. You would also need to disengage the mk III skills from classes, and allow anyone who actually trained up to 9 in a skill train BOs in that skill. On the disadvantage side, is that this just begs people to min/max more in one ship, and ignore the others.
b) Make all BO slots universal. This would allow us to transfer between classes of ships, getting the innate bonuses of the ships, while still keeping the same BO set up. The draw back is that certain ships are just not really designed to support certain BO set ups (a escort with a tanking build would still be gimped as it doesn't have the innate hull strength to be effective).
c) At Captain, we start earning "build slots", where effectively while not on a mission map, can swap back and forth between "build slots". So one slot we could have a tree that supported healing. Another supports tanking, a third dps, and the forth a Science CC build for example. With only four "slots" we still couldn't do everything in the game, but we could very easily switch between ships of different classes depending on how our teams needed us, or how we wanted to play. This has been very effective in Rifts, so the technology is there.
Not sure if its been mentioned yet, but we don't have to spend 9 points in every skill we want.
When I specced my character yesterday, I found 7 points in most skills I wanted to be ideal. 7 points is a +30, out of +33, bonus... that only leaves a measly +3 bonus I'm missing but that's very, very minor while the savings in skill points is very high. This allowed me to pick up several extra skills along the way while missing out on very little. Only the most critical skills to my build did I max out, such as the early damage skills, skills that boosted all of my power levels at once, and the skill that boosts turn rate (flying a Battle Cruiser with dual heavy cannons). Skills that were nice to have but not necissarily "part of the build" I only spent anywhere from 3-5 points. Even 3 points, which is a marginal investment, yields a whopping +20 bonus, which is more than half of what 9 skill points earns.
This naturally makes it a little more difficult to pick up skills that give you a Rank III power to train, but once you've hit max level and gotten your BO layouts complete it isn't all that hard to get good bonuses in all the Space skills you want. Doing this even freed up some points to spend on Ground. Besides, if we're patient, we can always find someone to train our officer with a required Rank III power.
To put things in perspective, my Battle Cruiser needed a lot of Tactical skills because it's damage focused. It also needed a lot of Engineering skills to boost turn rate, power levels, hull resistances and healing. Cruisers have, after all, a lot of Engineering powers. My Battle Cruiser also needed a decent amount of Science skills to boost its Shields for survivability, to pick up all the resist skills for PVP, and max out my Isometric Charge console. So it isn't like I neglected anything.
Universal BOff slots on all ships game wide means we have one big Vanilla game.
I'd rather Cryptic just sale a real " I win " Button for $250 in the Cstore so I can hit it in PvP/PvE watch people die, eat a meal, do laundry and move on. to another gameIt would be the same effect to gameplay.
1) If the goal was to let us jump ship class, it can't be satisfied. Too many skill choices depend on what Bridge Officer Powers you use. Maybe that'S not so terrible, at least you can choose between Assault, Star and what-else cruiser and the like.
2) The skill cost seem too high to make a well-rounded feeling build. And particularly one that also allows you to spec into ground.
Maybe a chance would be increase to raise the cost of the Tier 1 skills to 200 skill points, but afterwards only increase by 100 per tier. (So we have skills at 600 at Tier 5 (instead of 750?). Though I am not sure if this might cause problems with the requirement of spending all skill points. If so, than maybe the Tier 1 skills can be at 100 skill points and Tier 2 at 300, Tier 3 at 400 and Tier 4 at 500 and Tier 5 at 600.
I like Cuffs idea of the skill tree. A lot like some other mmo's skill tree setups.
I did use the new skill tree on my VA tactical/escort captain and actually found it to be an improvement for him, perhaps too much I hate to admit. He's kind of uber now. After reading other posts about it negatively effecting Sci's and Eng's and some Tac's, its very likely a big nerf. So I like your idea, seems that it could be made to be more balanced than what we have right now.
I really hate to lose my uberness, but the good of the many out way the good of the few or the one.
I would love nothing more in this game than the ability to "switch" between builds once a respec was bought and used.
If the devs are still following this thread perhaps they could share the statistics showing the number of respecs actually purchased with CP. Though with the dili exchange coming that may be less a burden than historically.