Attention, Starfleet! It's time again for Captain's Log, your favorite Thursday Star Trek Online column. After last week's roundup of incoming changes and improvements, let's discuss the latest much-needed upgrade to STO: the Memory Alpha overhaul!
I am so excited about this change. Crafting in STO definitely got short shrift at launch. The system itself was not engaging, and progression was a confounding mess. While Cryptic Studios haven't fundamentally altered the former, last week's update to the Season 1.3 patch made such changes to the latter -- it implemented a dedicated crafting window and actual progression -- that I almost don't care. After bidding a brief farewell to the previous system, allow me to explain the basics of crafting: materials, missions and Memory Alpha.
The Bad Old Days
In STO, crafting takes place at the Memory Alpha research station. At launch, Memory Alpha was something of a disaster. Crafting consisted of bringing a bunch of materials to vendors at the station and hoping you had the proper combination to buy something, if only to clear your inventory of some of those materials. Progression, which would unlock vendors with higher-level items, was based on the value of items you bought. But players only knew that by explaining it to each other ad nauseam in the local chat channel. And knowing how much value one had accumulated with vendors was a matter of guesswork.
But on May 13th, Cryptic overhauled Memory Alpha. They streamlined the required materials for some items, they added component vendors and they implemented a dedicated crafting UI window. While players still collect combinations of materials in the same way, we are now the ones doing the crafting, which is known as Research and Development, or R&D. And even better, we can now track our progress through the system!
So good riddance to the old Memory Alpha! Say hello to your guide to STO crafting. We'll start with gathering materials, move on to Exploration Missions and then explain crafting at Memory Alpha.
These appear in space or on ground. Whenever you enter a space or ground map, hit "V" to scan the area. A colored ring will appear around your ship or your captain. Red means the area is devoid of anomalies. Blue means anomalies are available. In that case, you will also see a message telling you how many anomalies are in the area.
A beam of light, sort of like a blue flashlight, also appears when you hit "V." It will usually point you to the nearest anomaly, but on away missions, it also points you to the nearest quest objective or lootable container. So it's handy to scan with "V" early and often.
Also, a helpful hint. The blue light indicates how far away your objective is, too. If the beam is wide and scattered, that means the item or anomaly is close. The thinner the beam, the farther the item.
I'm not sure whether this still happens -- it hasn't happened to me in a while -- but when STO was young (or younger, anyway), it wasn't unusual to run into bugged anomalies. They could be half-embedded in rock but still trigger your tricorder scan, or your ship scanner would register a far-away anomaly that never appeared, even if you flew to the edge of the map.
When you find an anomaly, you'll see a shiny red indicator and the option to scan an object, reading, whatever. Anomalies are divided into three categories, and each category contains six item types. The first item type is available at level 1 (though they don't appear in the Federation tutorial) and a new item type in each category becomes available every 5 levels.
- Alien Artifact (Level 1)
- Unknown Alloy (5)
- Encoded Data (10)
- Genetic Sequencer (15)
- Photonic Technology (20)
- Technical Schematic (25)
- Mineral Sample (1)
- Biological Sample (5)
- Plasma Sample (10)
- DNA Sequence (15)
- Exobiological Data (20)
- Unidentified Substance (25)
- Radiation Sample (1)
- Antimatter Sample (5)
- Tetryon Particle (10)
- Methogenic Particle (15)
- Tachyon Wave Signature (20)
- Chronometric Wave Signature (25)
Anomalies appear in just about every mission type, excluding space enemy encounters and a few others. But when I want to find a pile of materials, I go 'sploring! Exploration missions are a win-win for anomaly farming.
Exploration missions, which are offered every few levels, send players into nebulae, which you can find marked at the edges of sector space. A nebula is essentially a sector containing randomly generated planets, asteroid belts and the like, and each exploration mission tasks players with exploring three such areas. Unlike sector space, in which you can auto-pilot to systems by selecting them in the map, nebulae require players to fly around and interact with anomalies. If you receive a "Scan Anomalous Readings" message, scan the anomaly to collect some free crafting mats.
If you get "Explore Unknown System," enter the system and complete a quest. The possible missions vary from destroying enemy ships to investigating planetside flora. Sometimes you get super lucky with an "Investigate Anomalous Readings" mission, in which you just fly around and collect a handful of anomalous readings.
When you first enter the system, get your mission and then hit "V" to scan for anomalies. If it's a space mission, collect your anomalies as you go. If the mission requires you to investigate the planet, make sure you collect any space-bound anomalies first, because you won't be able to get them later. Once you beam to the planet, your tricorder will point you to the nearest quest objective or anomaly, so it's easiest to collect mats as you complete your mission.
The beauty of exploration missions is that you can get in and out of systems quickly, and each one comes packed with anomalous readings. Plus, Starfleet's exploration missions give you credit for every three systems, so you can pack in the crafting mats and experience at the same time.