Over the last weekend I played a good session of Star Trek Online and rather than just plough through the episodes (main story missions), I decided to spend some time in First City on Qo’noS to be able to examine some of the deeper systems of the game.
Bridge Officers (BOFFs)
This companion system is moderately complex and offers some customisability beyond your own character and ship. They come in the same varieties as player characters – tactical, science and engineering. So as a complete beginner I had to slot BOFFs into the appropriate bridge officer stations on my ship to be able use their special skills during space combat.
The gotcha came as I hit level 11 and could obtain my second ship. The K’tinga class has one tactical, one science and two engineering consoles. I actually received the offer of a new bridge officer as the reward for an episode mission but not really understanding the strict limits on BOFFs in place I selected the wrong one – a tactical one. He could train one of my current tactical BOFFs with a new skill but wasn’t suitable to slot into an engineering station. Worse still I didn’t realise that this training was a one-off and effectively ‘burns’ the BOFF – after training the skill (s)he vanishes! So I was stuck with an empty station for some time since.
To avoid future mistakes I took the time to read about BOFFs, where to find your ‘candidate’ BOFFS – those not currently actively in use and especially how to get an engineering one to fill the blank station on my ship. The exchange is the game’s player-to-player auction house system. It uses energy credits, which are earned by selling mission-dropped items on the exchange or by using the replicator’s recycle option from your inventory. The latter is like most NPC vendors in MMOs, you only get a fraction of the items cost-to-buy in return – so it’s worth the travel time to see the exchange price for comparison! The game has been out for years now, so the economy and the playerbase is mature, this means in general that most players have max-level characters and have saved a lot of energy credits (or gold in other MMOs). Their concept of ‘a lot of money’ is very different from a new-beginner. So I can hopefully make some fast energy credits early on by selling better quality gear I’m not likely to use – like Federation or Romulan weapons unfit (or at least unfit from a roleplay perspective) for a Klingon warship.
Dilithium and dailies
The game also has an intermediary currency called dilithium, like astral diamonds in Neverwinter, that acts as a secondary exchange market for real-money bought Zen. I can, it seems, earn dilithium in-game by running certain daily missions. Not a lot at my low-level, 400 or so for destroying rather a lot of Federation ships in the Kahless Expanse area. If I start on these and save up dilithium I could buy some new starships or equipment. I tried the tutorial mission, which went ok: fighting a group of 1-3 Federation ships while avoiding triggering the next group until I’d done enough groups.
Returning to Qo’noS to hand that in, I received to follow-up the same mission but this time not a tutorial – so I dutifully headed back to the same sector of space to blast some more Feds, only this time the counter wasn’t increasing in an obvious manner. I destroyed single battleships, pairs of cruisers, trios of different smaller ships and in most cases the count stayed unchanged, only once did it go up and I couldn’t tell what I did differently. I’ll have to return to it another time and see what I did wrong…