This season was promoted as being about getting back to exploration following the Iconian war. As it turns out, that was the prospect that the Alliance was looking forward to. What it got was a brief interlude before the next big "Oh Sh--!" moment. Now here we are, right back to facing bigbads.
So I ask... Where is the exploration? See what Season 11 was presented as is what made me come back to the game. What it actually turned out to be, essentially more of the same in a different package, is what has made me take another break from it. Just for once can a real attempt be made to make this game have at least an ASPECT that tries to be what Star Trek has been about from the beginning? Yes, Star Trek has involved a lot of space battles over they years, and there have been big threats presented such as the Dominion. But all of these things that have made good plotlines in the shows have been triggered as a result of Starfleet's exploration efforts.
So rather than just throwing out the title question, I'm going to share what I would do if it were MY call:
First, I would bring back the star clusters, but in a different form than what they were before. I would take the alpha and beta quadrant sector maps we have now and stick them at the heart of a massive star cluster that rests across the alpha-beta divider on the galactic map. I would then surround it with star clusters of varying size and shape. I would make it where these clusters are procedurally generated as they are entered for the first time. So first, the sectors are populated with one to five points of interest, stars being the most common and anomalies being the least.
When a star is first approached, a star system map would be generated with that star at the center, with anywhere from 3 to 10 planets placed on the map around it. Hint... star system maps would be similar to sector space, except that they would contain a solar system.
When a planet is approached, a planetary system map would be generated. It would work just like a star system, except the planet is at the center, and its moons are placed around it.
When a planet is discovered that has sentient life on it, the civilization is procedurally generated with a wide variety of factors including its disposition towards off-worlders, what sort of commodities it produces. What commodities it lacks, what sort of raw materials it possesses and how rare they are. How advanced they in terms of technology would play into it as well. The general appearance of the people of these worlds would also be procedurally generated using elements from the Alien character generation system. Once these life forms are generated, they will be persistent. A civilization's starships, if it has any, would rely on new tech. Essentially something that works behind the scenes like the old Starship Creator program... Essentially a kitbash of ship parts to create something not seen in core Star Trek. All of the ship parts for this would be generic, so nothing specific from UFP/KDF/NRR ships. We don't want to see a ship that looks like the Enterprise E with Klingon warp nacelles. So this part would require some work from Cryptic's art team to create the components and making sure that they can snap to each other in a logical manner. And they would need a LOT of variety for each component. It could be a resource library and functionality that gets added to the Foundry as well, so more than one system would benefit from it. The kitbashing would maybe draw from one to three different component styles, and they would be consistent through the different varieties of ships the civilization has. So if the first ship generated draws from Styles A and R, than all the other ships would use those styles. All styles would need to be compatible for maximum efficiency. What do I mean by ship types? Science vessels, Battle cruisers, Support vessels, etc. Essentially the ship classifications players have across player factions would be possible, though which ones are actually generated would be based on what sort of civilization they belong to. A civilization of peaceful explorers would lean more towards science vessels and less towards warships.
So the rules governing the civilizations we discover would be different for each one.
Oh... and each civilization would get its own "deck" of duty officers that players could earn and use in an extended doff-oriented minigame that involves colonization and facility operation, perfect extensions to the Admiralty system. Bridge Officers could also be recruited from civilizations with whom a player's faction has good enough standing.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, but I have to go to work, so I'll need to continue this later...
When it comes to MMOs, I wear prescription glasses. Whether or not they are rose-tinted is beside the point.