Though nearly every MMO has some means of resource gathering for resources; few have truly conveyed the pleasure of prospecting when it's come to the gathering aspect. Star Trek™ Online (STO) has managed to develop a fairly fun means by which Dilithium crystals can be gathered, that definitely aims to incite the prospector within the gamer.
Dilithium crystals in STO however are not simple resources, they are in fact a very valuable commodity within their market. Unrefined Dilithium crystals have to be refined before they can be tendered, however when the daily limit of refining them is approximately 7000 per day it can become somewhat of a challenge in and of itself to acquire that much for refining within a single day. Once refined these crystals can be used to purchase upgrades for your star ship, additional duty officers, bridge officers, and a number of other worthwhile purchases. Beyond that aspect the refined crystals can even be brokered for Zen™ coins as well; Zen™ being the tender purchased for use in their in-game money market. Though if Zen™ is your driving force behind your hoarding of Dilithium, you may be at it for sometime before the exchange rate seems worth the while.
For any that haven't tried this aspect of the game, it is definitely a profitable side-game to take part in. While there are events centered around the mining of Dilithium crystals, along with Duty Officer quests as well, there is a regularly available daily quest players can take part in on a 20 hour rotation for accepting & turning in the quest. The quest can be found within your 'available quests' tab, or simply venture to Vlugta Asteroid field near Bajor and beam over to the Nerrack space station to pick up the quest, equip your EV suit and take part. Mind you, if you don't have an EV suit as of yet, you will need to save up some refined Dilithium to purchase a used one, but the 100 refined Dilithium that will cost you is easily compensated in no time once you get accustomed to the game involved. The suit can be purchased from the Brol on the Nerrack space station, but they can also be found elsewhere throughout the game.
Once you have your EV suit equipped, you will get a couple of new hot-bar items one of which will seal the suit and leave you ready to begin prospecting. After grabbing the daily quest from Isihl, simply click the exit airlock option and enjoy the transit of a low gravity space walk as you seek out crystals for mining. While upgrades to the EV suit may provide more suitable means, the used EV suit costing 100 refined Dilithium does have a means to help you get around with some greater ease. Watch for the flashing pylons, target these and using the 2nd hot-bar option added from the suit will jettison you to that pylon. This means of transit may prove helpful in certain circumstances, but the thrill of bouncing as one would walking on the moon definitely has its flavor of pleasure as well.
Rarely while mining on the asteroid will you not find others doing the same, don't fret sharing a mine-able area however, each miner has their own time limit in which to perform the 'mini-game' and others mining the same spot will not impact or change that value nor the potential yield. The crystals are visible throughout the landscape however their ability to be mined will randomly generate and flux over the available map. The daily quest will request that you mine at least 5 deposits prior to completing and turning it in. For those with any 'Dilithium Mining Claims' possibly acquired from lockboxes opened, there are Rich Dilithium deposits and a daily quest involved with mining one of these for completion once you have a claim. Claims offer anywhere from 6-10 accesses to these rich deposits, while the daily quest only requests one be mined.
The mining itself, once an available deposit can be found, opens to the mini-game involved which in essence is a puzzle of shape and size. A triangle displays with each point rounded, while you are to use the arrow keys or buttons in the GUP for matching that triangle with yours to then begin collecting mining points. As the available time passes, the focal point will shift and you will have to re-adjust the matching points of your triangle before points are being accumulated again. Once the timer runs out it will deliver your overall score from the attempt and upon closing that your unrefined ore total is shown as a looted item. Randomly with higher scores in this process other rare materials can be found as well.
All in all, the mining of Dilithium in STO definitely makes for a fun and even profitable side-game to provide entertainment worthy of a try. Any that have not taken the time to try it out, really should give it a shot, if you don't find it worthy of a daily practice you're bound to find it a satisfactory break from the regular grind of enemy pursuit. For more details and an in depth look at Dilithium and its uses in the game you can use the following link: http://sto.perfectworld.com/news/?p=832131