Okay, so now that you understand crafting materials, it's time to discuss using them. At level 4, you should receive a mission to deliver anomalous data from Earth Starbase to Memory Alpha, which is where all crafting takes place. Head to the Teneebia Sector of Alpha Centauri Sector Space and scoot on over to Memory Alpha.
After you beam into the station, head to the large central room. Complete your intro mission by dumping off your data at the console in front of Commander Jenna Romaine. She then will explain the idea behind crafting. Now you're ready to get to it!
Interacting with one of the Research and Development consoles in the center of the big room will open up the R&D window, where you now do your crafting. The crafting window is available at any time by selecting the new "View R&D Progress" option from the mini-map dropdown menu, but you can only make things at a console in Memory Alpha.
Crafting now breaks down into four distinct categories, each with its own set of craftable items. You must attain 500 points in General Research to unlock the other three fields.
- General Research: Hypos, Shield Charges, Kits, starship weapons up to Mk II
- Energy Fields: Body armor, Ship engines, Engineering kits, certain personal shields
- Physical Sciences: Deflector arrays, ship shields, Science kits, stun pistols, certain personal shields
- Technology R&D: Starship weapons, Ground weapons, Tactical kits
Each craftable item, in turn, offers a series of information.
- A number: The item's research value/cost.
- Item icon & name
- Material costs: Each item requires a combination of different materials. The stun pistol above, for example, requires 7 encoded data, 7 tetryon particles and 7 plasma samples.
- Item reagent: This is the last piece of any recipe. To make an item, you need a basic version of that item. So the "blue" Plasma Stun Pistol Mk IV above requires a common "white" Plasma Stun Pistol Mk IV to make.
R&D progression is fairly simple. As you create items, their point values add up, unlocking more craftable items. So, if you make three of the Plasma Stun Pistols above, you earn 120 points. Once you hit 500 points in General Research, you unlock the other three categories. Once you hit 500 points in Energy Fields, Physical Sciences or Technology R&D, you can unlock Advanced R&D in that tree.
Memory Alpha contains a room devoted to each of those three fields. In each field's room, you'll find two officers who discuss their research and one Ferengi vendor. The vendor, a new addition with the crafting overhaul, sells the white items, such as stun pistols and warp engines, required to craft the blue-rarity items. So if you aren't lucky enough to find the items you need for crafting by looting enemies, you can now buy those items without having to rely on the player exchange.
And those are the basics of crafting in STO. It's not a particularly deep system, but it can be a source of useful equipment. And no matter your opinion on the content of crafting, the recent overhaul is a huge improvement over the old days (or older, anyway) of guessing your way through progression.