I suspect it will take a good deal of effort to really max out a character when you take into consideration the role of Bridge Officers in doing that. That's going to be a pretty crazy pokemon game when trying to find BOs with all the right skills in the right slots to train your existing BOs.
Hopefully they keep expanding Federation-side Genesis/Exploration with new features and mission types as well. The more variety there the more the existing content (graphical or otherwise) won't seem as repetitive or easy to recognise. That's going to be the End Game for most casual players, right there, just knocking around exploring. And the roleplaying. I predict STO is going to have one of the most intense RP communities we've ever seen. Add player generated content to the mix and we're good. What else do we need?
Then there's optional PvP and patrols and raids and that junk for achievers and killers. To the extent they feel like they're achieving or killing I suppose they'll be okay. But the mainstay in an IP based MMO has to be socializers because we came for gameplay that will bring in other folks who like the setting and, more than any other group, we're totally good at entertaining ourselves.
Yes it would be sweet to have a system once hitting the top rank, in which you could specialize your character more in....
I love this sort of system, a great and probably the best example is the AA system in EQ1. Its been around forever and still gives you a sense of progression, I mean you may hit level 80, but there are thousands of tiny levels to do after that and each one makes your character a bit more powerful then the next one over that doesnt have as many aa's or as well a planned aa tree.
AA= alternate advancement points.
AA was kind of neat when they first put it in and think that system would be ok for most any MMO...however...in EQ it was just a massive and annoying grind after awhile. Having your wizard get his cute little drake and essentially 'levelling' the drake, sure...but the sheer amount of the abilities was just crazy and in the end just led to people requiring you to grind out at least a certain # of those points to join up in anything.
Actaully Normal players will. Lower end Avg gamer spends about 21hrs a week in a MMO. 21 x 4 =84hrs so in 1 month a person playing 2-3hrs a nite and 4-5 on weekend days can make Admiral easy in a month.
So honestly, you think Joe Average Gamer spends 21 hours a week in an MMO? Not for nothing, that sounds pretty high to me, I'd be interested from where you got that number.
I can't imagine that the majority of STO players will be playing that much, I suspect the majority of the population won't be classic MMO junkies. Rather, they will play the game in and around their family time, other games and jobs.