The following list of suggestions will be given in rank of importance. The first 5 I hold to be essential, but the latter points are simply innovations that I'd like to see.
1. More fleshed out dialogue options in missions which affect the outcome of the mission and allow for multiple approaches to missions. For instance, one ought to be able to avoid combat through at times through means such as: placating the possible opponent through diplomatic speech, trickery, bribes, offers to complete a service, sabotage, etc. These various approaches could be approached through some combination of utilizing more complex dialogue trees and implementing a basic skill system which allows one to improve their ability to take certain approaches. For instance, let's say you want to trick your Klingon opponent into thinking that you have a fleet on it's way, some form of science skill might be rolled against to fabricate false readings on their sensors. Alternatively, a certain tactical skill at a specific level might open up a dialogue option with a character which anticipates an upcoming battle and gives some advantage.
Rather than creating entirely new skills, I suggest that some equation be made which takes a basic tactical, engineering, and science dialogue skill from each character (main character, bridge officers, and away team) from averaging their points spent in specific fields. Obviously this equation would need to be different between npc's and the player character. The success, or presence, of these dialogue options would roll against the highest value among all bridge crew members, away team members, and the captain.
In another post made below, I will detail how a fleshed out mission might look with multiple dialogue options and mission approaches.
Also, different approaches should offer different rewards based on their difficulty to discover/pull off and the overall utility of adopting the approach.
2.A greater variety of missions, accomplished primarily through the use of mini-games. Thus far, the content I've seen has been limited to run-and-gun combat missions, moving around the map searching for generic objects to scan, and delivering supplies. Don't get me wrong, I love the space combat (barring a couple of minor points which I'll touch on later), but the Star Trek universe should not be limited to it. Given that combat has been well developed, I will suggest some ideas to flesh out the exploration, and diplomatic aspects of the game.
As regards the exploration, some form of scanning mini-game could really add some substance and variety to the missions. Here's what I'm thinking: in missions requiring prolific scanning, a number of zones in the system (or on the planet/in the station etc...) ought to be available to travel to. In order to narrow down which of these to travel to, a mini-game ought to be completed which narrows down the choices. The difficulty of the game ought to be made easier through the science skills of the highest relevant skill available (like the dialogue skill above). A high level of success would not only save time by cutting down the possible areas to check, but could also provide some benefits like skill points.
These multiple instances could be made more interesting by introducing some negative consequences like ambushes disguises like particular sensor readings or something of the like.
Other possible mini games may include gambling games between the player character and an npc, transporter mini-games which allow more favorable positioning in a coming battlefield, etc.
3. Next, both space and ground maps ought not be prolifically populated with enemy encounters, but ought to have a few key encounters that are more challenging and offer different approaches. Again, sabotage by taking hacking defense systems, evasion by interrogating an npc and finding a secret route, diplomacy, bribes, threats, etc could all be implemented. These sorts of approaches could have skill point awards that running in gunning would not necessarily achieve. For instance, bribing an enemy group early on in a mission might win you an ally later.
Also, the fewer groups that are present should be more aware of what's going on. I should not be able to ambush a group of enemies and have a group twenty feet away completely miss the action until I decide to go on to them. On the flip side, this would necessitate, again, that I not be moving around in a beehive in every ground instance I participate in. Let there be a few, challenging fights that may sometimes be avoided rather than a swarm of enemies that I have to trudge through. Does anyone else think that a few Miranda's should be taking on a swarm of cubes with any reasonable hope of success?
4. The next thing I'd like to see is accuracy penalties for firing while moving and firing at moving targets in both space and on the ground. Rather than having every shot hit, it would be interesting if one could throw some evasive maneuvers into their combat in an attempt to forgo some damage. Also, a distance modifier should be added which affects accuracy as well.
5. The final crucial addition would be a death penalty. I'm not suggesting a loss of skill points or equipment or the like, but something to dissuade reckless charges. Perhaps a hit in experience for awhile, maybe a loss of funds, or badges, or merits even. Perhaps a temporary hit in stats. I would even recommend that if all participating players get killed during a mission, that they be required to restart.
Now on to some minor suggestions:
6. It would be nice if there were some random missions peppered into the sector maps. These missions could be something along the lines of distress calls, anomalies, ambushes, etc. Of course they should be more fleshed out than simply kill this many squads; again, they should involve diplomacy, maybe mini-games, some investigation, and sometimes some inevitable failures and forced departures.
7. Unique technologies would be cool. Perhaps something along the lines of faction specific technologies that can only be achieved by gaining favor or some sort of special badges by completing missions for particular factions. For instance, I complete a number of missions for Romulans, random missions, missions I seek out in Romulan space, story missions involving Romulans, and eventually I have enough favor to get a cloaking device.
8. Finally, I think that the starship classes should be differentiated from one another. For instance, the Centaur saucer should have different stats from the Miranda saucer. Not such that one is simply better than the other, but to provide a bit of customization. For instance, maybe one has an extra weapon hard point and the other has better hull integrity and bonuses to shield output. This could also be applied to the various hull material designs.
This about sums up my suggestions. I want to emphasize one final time the importance of developing the mission types and depth more. Following is an example of a fleshed out version of the ground portion of The Kuvah'Magh. *spoiler alert
You arrive on the planet and are greeted by Paris' daughter. She reports the situation to you (charges, Klingon assault teams, and all that) and suggests that you and your away team follow her to a small resistance of security forces holding out nearby. At this point, there are not prolific amounts of red dots everywhere on the map! As you make your way to the location which she has indicated, you are ambushed by a semi-challenging group of Klingons, nothing too special. After they are dispatched, you arrive at the held out position and help to finish off a group attacking the security forces. Here's where it gets interesting.
They update you on the current situation. There are an undetermined number of charges being set by the Klingons. There is an estimated 10 minutes before they are fully deployed and detonated. The ambassadors are held up in the embassy which has been heavily fortified. The options presented to you right off the bat are to forgo dealing with the charges and charge strait after the embassy with the remaining security forces. This is the surest way to save the ambassadors, in time, but the charges will be set and do ridiculous amounts of damage. On the other hand, you can trust the security forces to deal with the charges and go off to infiltrate the embassy with a smaller task force, including your team and Miral, who knows a possible way to sneak in. Finally, you can take out the charges and hope that nothing happens to the ambassadors while you're causing trouble. This is the official situation.
If you choose the first option, you have something more like the mission as is, only with less conflicts which are tougher. Throw in some set-up turrets, shields, and a heavy guard force. On the way, you run into some of the colonists who need healing. If you stop to help, you may find one who tells you how to cut the power to the embassy, which will give you a reprieve from the automated defenses and leave only the Klingon defenders. Finding this man and achieving this option objective gives you a minor reward. When you clear out the exterior defenders and get inside, you clear out some interior guards and reach the leader. A dialogue occurs during which you may try to barter with him for the hostages. In reality, he has no intention of allowing them to go and is only biding time. If you pursue too many of these attempts to dissuade him, he will have reinforcements when you finally fight him. The reward will be less. Perhaps in some dialogue earlier on, Miral or some Klingon captain mentions that the leader never negotiates, to hint that any attempt will be fruitless. When you win, this approach gives you the least reward for of the possible routes.
If you choose the second option, infiltration, you will proceed to a trail that leads to an underground access to the embassy. Along the way, a Klingon group uncloaks and stops you. The leader says some heated words and then Miral recognizes him. He's an acquaintance (maybe family) from before the conflict. She has some sentimental words with him and he seems troubled, but is standing by his guns. Miral talks a bit more and convinces him to come to your side, though he still seems hesitant. You may choose to accept his help or not. If not, you insult his honor and they attack you. If so, half of his group sticks by him and the other half attack. When you defeat them, if you accepted his help, he agrees to sabotage the explosives. You continue on. The passage has a terminal which an engineering skill roll may access. If accessed, you gain intel on which passage to choose ahead and have the option to reactivate the defense system. This activation requires another engineering skill roll. If your tactical skill is high enough, you and you succeeded these rolls, an option appears which suggests that you leave Miral behind to activate the defense system at an opportune time, otherwise you just activate it. You proceed into the embassy. If you took the more opportune passage, you're in the room with the leader. You may negotiate with him. If Miral is at the defense systems, you can actually make him agree to leave and deactivate the bombs, whether you sent the Klingon to help or not, and you complete this section of the mission. This ending offers the best reward. If you did not succeed in your negotiation and you sent the Klingon to help, only one charge goes off, so you get less points, but not much less. If you did not send the Klingon to help, three of the charges go off and you get quite a bit less points.
Finally, if you deal with the charges first, you must find each one and use an engineering roll to deactivate them. They are each guarded. A scanning mini-game may narrow down the possible locations. If you deactivate them, you proceed to attack the base as before. Miral is not with you, so you aren't directed to the secret passage. You must assault the front, deactivating the defenses or not. When you reach the leader, he has killed a number of ambassadors, but not the chief ones. You fight him and receive a mediocre reward.
This concludes my example of what a fleshed-out mission should look like.
I dont know if this is even planed, but I am a big time Star Wars Galaxys fan, and Everynow and then they had holidays or special events where the player got special gifts or certain items, they could use or display on there character or ship, or in SWG (there house) I dont really know how other people feel, mainly due to the fact I have been playing instead of catching up on the forum, but back to my point, I love the fact that we have special pre order items, now that I have pre ordered it, I find myself wishing I had pre ordered it somewhere else, cause of other Pre order items. I myself wasnt made aware of other places pre order items, I only really saw the game stop pre order.. Just a wish list, I would like to see down the road a chance to recieve those other pre order items. like having the OST Ship but not the uniforms... haha just a wish list and I dont know how other people feel either..
As far as I know pre-order bonus items should in time become available from the C-store thingy... :|
As for the other suggestions, I love most of it, but I don't think you should expect this any time soon. Cryptic got forced to release the game before it was finished, and I'm confident if they had another year or so the game would've been more diverse. I think the first priority is to polish the content that is already in there, after that there will probably be more additions, some of which I hope will be the stuff you put forward.
I haven't read all that people have said (being that it goes on for quite a while) but they (cryptic) should adopt the way Mass Effect (1&2) has with interacting with others.
You can be nice, aggressive, or down right rude! which tends to lead to violence. This also then has an impact on the development on your character being that you will either become a 'nice' captian or not.
Personally, as a stay at home parent with two 16 month olds, I am very very very very very happy about the limited death penalty, and would be much less keen on this game, and possibly quit, if the penalty were more significant.
Limited? Yes. Annoyance is a penalty.
What I'd love to see is player-created content. I'd love to take my Alien character and do a series of missions about his homeworld. Or be able to 'create' a race other folks could play: create limited ranges of costumes (height between X and Y, etc.), set certain traits.
I for one think this is a wonderful idea. It feels very reminiscent of KOTOR with the dialog choices that would take you down the path of the dark side or light side. That game is what got me playing MMOs in the first place and those choices had a lot to do with the draw of these types of games. I think your example is extremely well thought out and I believe necessary to provide us all with a more immersive and engaging Star Trek experience. I hope the Cryptic Devs take note of these suggestions and make decisive steps toward implementing them in the near future.