Crafting in Final Fantasy XI: A few tips to achieving success

Most games give crafters the shaft. There's no real art to pushing a button and having an item pop out, especially when today's modern MMO design heavily favors "quick crafting." Crafting is an afterthought to most games, or something that players can do to both pass the time and perhaps offer an alternative to buying items from the shops.

Then there's Final Fantasy XI. The game equipped with a crafting system so complicated, people still have arguments about how the game calculates success 6 years after its American launch. A crafting system so complicated, some people like to refer to it as "voodoo crafting."

The ins-and-outs of the system may be hard to grasp for the starting player, but we here at Massively want to give everyone a fighting chance at what is a very interestingly designed crafting system. So if you want a few tips on how to leverage the crafting system in your favor, or if you want to find out what makes crafting in this game so difficult and draw so much debate, then this is the guide for you.
Hit crystal, receive item... most of the time...

At the most basic level, FFXI's crafting is known as synthesis -- the act of fusing materials together using magical crystals. Synthesis falls into different categories, such as goldsmithing, woodworking, cooking, alchemy, and many other trades. All you need to do to perform synthesis is go online, find a recipe guide for the category you want to learn, and start finding the components you need.

So, for example, a starting goldsmith would get 4 pieces of copper ore and a fire crystal. They would activate the crystal, insert the 4 pieces of ore into the crystal's menu, watch the animation and hope that the synthesis succeeds. Sometimes, when you do a recipe that's just above your skill, such as doing a level 10 recipe at level 7 of the crafting skill, you'll increase your skill.

"In general, remember these four things -- the moon, the stars, the time, and the weather."

But how does all of this work? How does the game calculate your chances of success and skilling up? What other factors are counted in?

Hope you learned your Vana'diel Astrology

There are many, many factors that determine the success of a crafting attempt, the chance that you'll increase your skill, and the chance that you may craft a high quality item (critical success). In general, remember these four things -- the moon, the stars, the time, and the weather. Good crafters take all four of these variables into consideration.

In general, when speaking of crafting, any movement that increases your success of crafting an item also decreases your chance at skilling your crafting up or creating high quality items. Any movement that makes synthesis harder increases your skill up potential and increases your chance at high quality items. It also makes synthesis harder, which leads to failures and the possible loss of items involved in the synthesis. That's a big deal when synthesis items may cost hundreds of thousands of gil. So the system, reportedly, offers you a choice -- do you want to succeed with ease but not much personal payoff past the item, or do you want a higher chance of failure with an increase chance of payoff?

Some of the theories involved in crafting are as follows:

The Moon Phases -- Ever wonder why people in FFXI care about moon phases? Now you know! Full moons and waxing phases lead to crafting becoming easier over all. New moon and waning phases lead to crafting becoming harder, but skilling up and high quality items becoming more abundant.

This article was originally published on Massively.