Recently I returned to STO to try out the various new features like the DOFF system, Borg/Defari invasion, new Dilithium changes, etc since the introduction of the new F2P model.
IMO things for STO are coming along, albiet slowly. Having the perspective of being away from the game for about 6 months, I can see the underlying direction and vision of the game has shifted towards introducing "systems" as opposed to the "Theme Park" approach of MMO development.
Now here's what I mean by "system" - Gameplay elements, that tie into other features of the game, that offer a different approach to achieving a goal or different type of gameplay focus. Examples can include, player housing, territory PVP, player crafting.
"Theme Park"- Content designed on already established mechanics, that offer rewards such as XP, tokens, or loot. The primary reason for these features is the advancement of a character or development of their abilities or stats. More Theme Park content offers a variety of achieving these levels and gear or used to increase the level cap or gear sets.
One thing that caught my attention is Cryptic finally starting to add functionality to our ships by moving some of the DOFF missions inside of our ship interior. Now understandably there have been complaints about all the, flying around to sectors, zoning to the bridge and running to the appropriate department NPC to setup assignments. Too me I see it as a starting point to creating a use for the inside of our ships. When other features and mini games start to show up like customizable interiors/crew and poker, I feel that players will not be so critical of having to zone into their ship. These systems are potentially what will give our ships a sense of purpose outside of blowing the crap out of stuff. (and more in line with the shows)
The dilithium mining though extremely simplistic right now shows that Cryptic is willing to take Episode Tech features (EV Suit) and port them to the rest of the game. In as of itself, the mining minigame is not that big a deal, but every "system" that they add to STO gives players variety of game play.
Now don't get me wrong, STO can use some more roller coasters, or big "rides" like new STF's or more Episodes, but taking the approach of introducing a new game mechanic in new missions and then putting minigames into the main game, helps the overall feeling of variety of gameplay.
Season 6 looks quite promising with the upcoming additions of Star Bases,fleet functionality and talk of territorial PvP. Keep up the good work Cryptic!