I would like to suggest a way to convert ships to your own side during a battle. Not like capturing ships in campaign, although ships captured during the battle are added to your fleet. There would be weapons like ‘Infector’ or something.
-Speaking in technical terms, it would create a new module class (SIM_CONVERTER_MODULE or something) and some lines of code like:
conversion_strength = x
Organic = (1 or 0)
(if 1) organic_conversion_texture = (Alliance organic convert)
-All conversion weapons would be missile-based, although you could make a boarding party module with very small range and a very high missile speed. Since they are all missile-based, they could also just be added as another warhead type (warhead = CONVERSION) with the extra lines of code like in the order radiation missiles, another missile type with more variables required. Either way, they should still be affected by armour and shields. The organic or crew part would change the aesthetics: Organically converted ships would have another layer or effect on top (that is not hardcoded for maximum modability)of them like radiation that makes it look like it was infected. If it is not organic, then the converted ship just stays looking the same.
-Converted ships can still use all of their weapons, even ones unique to their race.
-This would open new tactical possibilities, like having a bunch of converter ships on the front line to convert ships while they are still undamaged. Also since the enemy could use your own ships, you would have to incorporate a weakness into each of your designs rather than trying to make it all-powerful. This could even nerf the fighter problem, as there could be fighter infectors that have an area effect making swarms and spams actually impractical.
-This would also open up new moddig possibilities, for example a Borg mod could convert enemy ships and have their converter be ‘organic’ and the texture look like borg glows and such. Also other mods that use the assimilation idea, like Darkstar076’s Uni-T mod. It could make the mod much more realistic. In fact it will make the whole game more realistic, because why would you destroy every single ship and wasting them? Well, maybe for Gratuitousness but having your enemy ships turn against each other is also very gratuitous.
-Lastly, it would fit very well with current races. For example, the Order could have a ‘Propaganda Cannon’ which is non-organic. Or the Allince could have an ‘Egg Sac launcher’ which is organic.
I hope Cliffski shows up here and at least considers these.
EDIT: I also think that this should be moderatly dificult to do, it could be in a patch maybe?