I just had a small idea for the game when it fully releases. I doubt it would be terribly interesting for battlescape, but it might add a certain degree of realism to the full game.
Basically, as a ship travels through space at high speeds, it’s going to be constantly colliding with gases and other micro-objects that will pit the surface of their ship. Now for normal purposes this wouldn’t have much of an impact, mostly just a little roughening of the surfaces, but as far as colors are concerned, it would quickly wear away paint or other colors that had been applied to the external section of the spacecraft. This happens slowly, but the more you travel or the faster you go, the more this will occur.
The idea is that a small modification to your shields allows you to block this paint damage from occurring, at the expense of a few percent of your shield capacity. Basically, you’d be trading a small percentage of your shield’s power for protection from minor aesthetic damage. The gameplay impact would be slight, but notable, as the people who primarily fight for a living would want to have every part of their ship tweaked for maximum performance. (Potentially only higher cost shields could be tweaked like that, to prevent low level players from tweaking it and then complaining about having to repaint all the time.)
However, the police/government forces of the central areas would also know this. If a person were to fly into civilized space with a pirate flag waving, you would grab a lot of attention from the authorities. In the same way, a person flying into civilized space with all their paint blasted off from interstellar wind(and potentially laserfire or worse) would instantly get the attention of those dedicated to protecting the peace.
So if you wanted to go into civilized space, you’d need to stop and buy a fresh coat of paint if you didn’t want to appear suspicious and potentially be searched for contraband/illegal weapons or whatever other dirty goods you might be carrying.
Again, the fading would be a slow process, so you’d only need to repaint every few days/once a week. It wouldn’t have much impact, but I feel that it could add a certain level of immersion to the game, not to mention making different players more identifiable. Looking for a mercenary? Check out that guy over there, his ship’s been stripped down to the silver, he’s probably an awesome pilot. Wondering if that freighter’s been modified into a carrier or is carrying valuable cargo? Check it’s scarring! But be careful, as they might be pirate hunters that keep themselves looking like a cargo ship to draw you in and destroy you.
Anyway, just a little idea.