Revising the Rank System

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Revising the Rank System

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    Blaze Strife

    Food for thought…


    I personally would like ranks to remain rigid. I like the clear defined line between people who I can joke around with and people who I should drop everything and give my attention to. Making more people senior officers would water down the fear/excitement of being in the presence of a superior. Much like the feeling of an office worker in the presence of their CEO; Both exciting and terrifying.

    The problem of the ‘glass ceiling’ is more of a game design problem rather than a military/rank problem. In the military, gaining rank is a slow and selective process (it takes around 22 years of service to reach rank of Captain). In the TSN, we gain ranks in months. So the real question is how do we let current Lieutenants feel that they are making progress. I think that the solution to this is ribbons not ranks. In the US military, there are 6 non admiral officer ranks and 84 different ribbons. Looking at pictures of naval Captains, I usually see upwards of 20 ribbons pined to their suits. During my time playing, I have seen many promotions of rank; Yet I have never seen a ribbon being received nor even being talked about. Possibly expanding the ribbons system might be a good solution.

    Another possibility is to possibly implement a console rank system. This will allow for better specialization, give Lieutenants something to strive for and give officers someone to cry to when yelled at by their captains ;). For example, A senior officer for Helm might be in charge of establishing the protocol of the console (Min engage dist, Fleet formations, etc.) and help train junior officers. The most senior officer could also be in charge of running their specialization exams. Console rank should not superseded normal rank though. The Fleet Captain had final word on protocol. You can think of the console ranks as sub ranks compared to their global rank. Since there are no military examples(that I can find), we have creative freedom on titles and number. Console ranks would also be a great solution for people who want to hold rank but do not have the skills to captain a ship. In order to get people interested though, there has to be something to strive for and also make rank easily noticeable, possibly through uniform.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by Braddock.
    Blaze Strife

    I gotta say, I love what you wrote, Braddock. Especially about rank deference. Though I believe that that’s especially why we need one more Lt rank before LtCmdr.

    The problem with ranks being attained in months is simply due to this being a game, and not real life. We can simulate that with our startdates, but it’s not really something that can (or should) be solved. The suspension of disbelief is something we must use in this area, in my honest opinion.

    But the question is how many people play with us to RP with ranks in mind. I believe most simply wish to play the game, and don’t care much about ranks (it’d be great if I was wrong about that).

    Adele Mundy

    Braddock, I like your ideas too. I don’t know how feasable the console training is, I would like to be able to train more – I keep thinking that if I played a bit outside the TSN time, it would help, but that never happens, because of life and work and taiko. So I just don’t get any extra practice.

    I like the ribbons idea too. Speaking as one of those players who ran around Paragon trying to collect the plaques and badges, I feel a profound affinity with Muttley (if anyone reading this remembers the cartoon).

    I also agree that respect for superiors is part of the game. We can joke in the Galley (though sometimes I wish there was an extra step, so we could have an OOC room (the Docking Bay is for new arrivals, but something like that), an informal IC room like the Galley where we can be more light-hearted, but stick to RP topics even when we’re joking, and the formal Briefing Room as now) but from the Briefing Room to the ships we ought to be in officer mode. That’s what makes disagreeing with your captain difficult, and what adds to the captain’s responsibility.

    I think the RP adds greatly to the game.

    Jemel Eahain

    There are ribbons but there are so fue officers getting nominated by there fellow officers that they are being saved up to be given out all at once, want more ribbons given out nominate more people ….

    Adele Mundy

    Could we have clearer guidelines about which ribbon is for what? A few words as a reminder on the form itself would be terribly useful. And does it have to be a senior officer nominating, or can anyone nominate? Because I thought Assassino and Timonix did a splendid job running Valkyrie when everyone around them was falling prey to bugs and disconnection demons, but I didn’t know which award would be the right one.


    So far I’m liking what ideas are coming up.

    Personally, I think we should add the extra lieutenant rank, move the standard XO rank to Commander and CO to Captain. I like how this discussion is progressing.

    Matthew Vaj

    I like what Braddock said a lot. A list of Ribbons and such that we could consider drawing from:

    The console rank system is an interesting thought. In some ways it could overlap with the ribbons/acheivements system, but it’s also a very different approach. Would the ranks (or designations of some sort, not sure rank is the best word. Maybe level?) only apply to an officer’s primary, or both primary and secondary? Perhaps a level of expertise should be required in both specializations to increase a rank (or level, or whatever). Probably just primaries would be sufficient, but what do others think?

    Designating console rank/level could be as simple as “Matthew Vaj | Eng 2”. Or it could be designated by Teamspeak like regular ranks somehow – “[Ens][2] Matthew Vaj | Eng”.

    I really like the console-specific training concept as part of this as well. Thoughts on this?


    I like Matthew Vaj’s name “Levels” a lot better, so as not to confuse them with the already established “Ranks” system.

    We could do something more creative with the naming. Instead of just changing a number, we could just change encapsulating marks
    Level 0:
    [Ens] Matthew Vaj | Eng
    Level 1:
    [Ens] Matthew Vaj | (Eng)
    Level 2:
    [Ens] Matthew Vaj | [Eng]
    Level 3:
    [Ens] Matthew Vaj | {Eng}

    I would imagine that, if level is implemented, that it would only be for primary. As if you are at another station other than your primary, you would put @ station;
    | Eng @ Hlm
    | (Eng) @ Wea
    | [Eng] @ Sci
    | {Eng} @ Com

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by Braddock.
    Blaze Strife

    I don’t think we should complicate things so much. Especially since not everyone cares about those things.


    It would be a quick, visual way to identify an officer’s expertise in his field. It’s a way of quantifying and showing off one’s skills without feeling like they are bragging.
    It would also give players something to strive for other than rank. For the players who do not especially care for levels, this would not really affect them, but for the people who want shinies on their uniforms, this would add to their experience.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by Braddock.

    FWIW, I mostly agree with Braddock, I would find having a way to identify when a person has achieved certain threshold levels of skill being a nice color to the environment, and the only place I (speaking for myself only) would be likely to notice or remember someone’s achievement is if it gets reflected in the uniform. Regarding the last question about applicability to primary/secondary, though, I don’t see why people shouldn’t be recognized for achieving levels of excellence in multiple stations if they have otherwise earned it.

    The trick, it seems to me, is figuring out an effective metric for a level increase. Would it be determined by the simple number of sims/missions served in that post? By a certain number of COs’ positive debriefings (i.e., “I can’t think of anything you did wrong, so good job!”)? By demonstrating proficiency in specific actions (e.g., calling an Echo drop accurately)? By special acts of cool-headed service under fire? By votes? By surviving ___ minutes in a level-11 caltron invasion sim? By some combination of these?


    I am not so much in favour of the levels. I think that the specialization pins should cover that. Speaking of which I am fully intending to take the exams for more specializations.

    But having those levels in front of everyone would cast doubt over an officer without them who was promoted.

    I do think that more use should be made of ribbons, and people encouraged to use them on their teamspeak avatar.

    Also I think it would make the ribbons and medals if they were awarded more frequently in smaller groups rather than saved up for a single big event where individuals can get lost.

    Matthew Vaj

    Matsiyan’s post brings up the question of criteria for promotions. I personally was never under the impression that to be promoted you needed to be really good at your specialization. I always thought it was more about your dedication to the fleet and effort put into improving our division, so the thought of someone of low ‘level’ being promoted never crossed my mind as an issue, although I could see some people doing so.

    The problem I have with specialization pins is that they’re a one-time thing: you get it once and keep it. The Levels system allows for further improvement and potentially authority/responsibility for training less experienced officers and maybe further standardization of protocols for each station.

    Draeco, I figure level increases would be based at least in part by the number of Noticable and Meritious performance of duty by CO or XO. So, for example, if a Helms officer pulls off some particularly crazy awesome stunts that keep everyone alive somehow, the CO would take note of that and relay his commendation of the officer to someone who could be appointed to be in charge of such things. After getting X number of those commendations, the previously mentioned appointed person could recommend to either the Fleet Captain or the ranking (leveling?) officer of that station, who would then promote the officer to the next level.
    This would probably be discussed by some sort of committee (look, more ideas for departments!) before being finalized.
    Also, there should probably be some sort of balancing due to some captains and XO’s being more liberal in commendations than others, but that could be discussed, again, by the aforementioned committee in more detail.

    I think this could be a really good long-term rewards system because those commendations probably shouldn’t come all that often, unless someone really is exceptional. And if the number of commendations needed increases for each level, that could draw out the ‘I have something to work towards!’ mindset for a long time.

    John van Leigh

    On awards, I have to agree with Jemel. Their original intention was to compensate for rank attrition: it was an unspoken “we know you deserve recognition, but we can’t promote you accordingly”. Lower awards would be given in a smaller ceremony for each crew alone, and higher ones (think DSM and above) would be handed out by an admiral to try and make it more special. The original draft covered many mechanics that were never implemented, although I feel it’s better as it is.

    Most nominations nowadays come from people requesting a clearly defined, non-subjective award (lenght of service, being DO, your ship getting Allard’ed mined), from ONI (certain contributions to the storyline getting ribbons), or from various seniors who had a subordinate performing great or doing a specific piece of heroics.

    Now, I have to agree on this one: most of us, that is, everyone who isn’t ONI (and I have no idea of their inner workings, so I can’t talk for them) has no idea how long the campaign is gonna last. So, for us, our list “to be discussed and awarded towards the end of the campaign” is SOP, but not a guarantee of any sort. We know there’s stuff we need to improve in the award system (there are plans in place, or at least there were some months ago). But there’s a reality as well: periodically the award system experiences a revival that lasts for a month, then gets forgotten, then someone brings it back up, and so on. We’re all part of this issue, but if we are to keep this system running at peak efficiency we need imput from the crews: you have the right to request an award for someone, and some of us feel it’s better when you do. That way it isn’t just us deciding who deserves recognition and who doesn’t: it’s from the crews and for the crews.

    Now, for the levels system. I have to go with Matsiyan here. Adding rigid, officialy-sanctioned recognition for multiple levels of expertise, other then specialist pins, is a risky move, because it prevents us from aknowledging expertise gained out of character. I’ll give an example: one of the most promising scicomms officer in the division is Ensign Slate. She worked with me both here and in the USN, and she’s one of three people in this group that I trust wholeheartedly on scicomms. Yet, she’s an ensign, and there’s no fair way to work around that. I don’t think that she or anybody else here should enjoy preferential treatment, so she won’t be receiving magically-granted double promotions to make her a full lt because I think she’s good, but she gets my trust, because I know for myself how she works. If we implement a level system, we’re stuck with two options: the levels are given with a standarized test (which I think is downright dreadful), or because of observation. If so, it becomes a secondary rank in which we are also bound to treat movements with kid gloves out of respect for the effort it took for the others to get there, effectively slowing down advancement of competent people on something there’s just no reason to. If we go with tests, the officers that end up with higher levels aren’t the ones who know their jobs, but the ones who know the book (or just have it sitting next to them). I don’t think either is acceptable.

    Also, I don’t think that making command seniority dynamic would impact the interactions with the crews, mostly because Captain A, Captain B and Captain C, no matter how they’re called or ranked among captains, are all captains. It’d just be an internal mechanic for command officers to shuffle around and minimize the impact of issues we’ve been experiencing.

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