Players have argued against the current STO rank system since beta, and you can still find several active threads on the topic in the forums on any given day. The problem is that rank is a finite list, but level keeps increasing as the game matures and raises the level cap. It’s come up outside the STO forums most recently in my fleet’s forums and a blog post by Blue Kae.
Fixing the problem requires decoupling this hard relationship between rank and level, something I’ve proposed many times [Devs – this whole ‘Rank’ situation is getting absurd…, Posts 53 and 55]. Here’s an updated version of what I last posted to the forums.
Re-characterize level as Officer Efficiency Rating. It’s a number and unbounded; that eliminates all the “exhaust the names list” problems that most proposals just delay, not solve. It’s lore friendly; e.g., the TNG bridge crew is often either doing or dodging crew evaluations. It also ties nicely to item level requirements (i.e., “You must be XXX to use this item”) since you’d only give the best/most dangerous equipment to the most capable officers–which is not necessarily highest-ranking.
Players unlock rank titles at OER’s 1, 2, 10, 20, 30, and 40 for ENS, LTJG, LT, LCDR, CDR, and CAPT. Rank title is like the current achievement title but separate. Players can choose to set their current rank to whatever titles they have unlocked, giving RPers in particular a level of control they often ask for. Players would have an option to allow auto-assigning new ranks on level-up for those who don’t want to be bothered; I’d probably default that to “on” so new behavior matches current behavior as closely as possible. Rank title would have a separate toggle like achievement title for overhead display.
Bridge Officers would use the same system, but their rank title unlocks would be at 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 instead. I originally didn’t have BOFFs as Captains, but if you check out the command leadership section of USS Enterprise (CVN 65), both Captain and XO hold the rank of Captain.
Membership in a fleet also unlocks rank titles at different fleet levels. The default rank progression would be Fleet Commander (or Acting Fleet Captain for fleets using rank 1 as a probationary positon), Fleet Captain, Commodore (or Rear Admiral LH), Rear Admiral (or Rear Admiral UH), Vice Admiral, Admiral, Fleet Admiral. Personally, I like Commodore and hate the LH/UH designations, but others feel strongly against Commodore; this approach can satisfy both camps.
So why has Cryptic ignored this issue? Dstahl’s position is that it’s too much work because of the number of dialog and item text changes required [You won’t get away with this, Rear Admiral, Lower Half!, Post 51]. I think this is just a worse-case scenario meant to dissuade further unrest, and I’ve suggested ways to minimize and spread out the effort [Devs – this whole ‘Rank’ situation is getting absurd…, Post 51]. Given Cryptic’s similar rationalization and lack of action on a game-wide bug they introduced in the Romulan featured episode [Serious Cloaking Bug, Post 159], I doubt we’ll see any change in their position, and that attitude is partly why I’m on indefinite STO hiatus.