Before I get depe into FF14’s crafting system, I want to look at crafting in MMOS in general. Crafting is for many games, the only tangible player-created item set, meaning it has personal value. It’s a stamp on the world, saying “I did this”.
Crafting doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it has its own economy. Faucets and sinks are required for any balanced economy to work long time. Currently, the major sink is power creep. This means items lose value because better items come along. Some games implement destroying items, either through combat or as crafting materials. The former is by far the most effective but also the most difficult to balance.
Faucets are all over the place. Crafting materials come from anywhere and the resulting items are often on-par or of lower quality than what you can get from other means (questing, dungeon, world drops). If the faucet is too large, then the value is nil since they are too easy to acquire.
UO had an interesting mechanic for crafting. There were faucets, though limited, for crafting and item drops. Some items required multiple inventive paths to complete, like the old aquarium. Tinkering, carpentry and a few more had no real world drops. Plus, there were tons of sinks. Break on use, loss on death among others.
EQ had a multi-stage crafting process but the items had little to no value, outside of 1 or 2 per skill tree. There were no sinks, unless you let a corpse rot… but no one did that past level 10.
Wow put in a simple crafting UI at the start. Items had some minor value while leveling but a lot of value at max level. That has changed today where the items crafted have no value outside of 3 skills and are used more as combat buffs.
EvE is based on this concept. Few faucets, many sinks, an economy 100% on crafted items. Unfortunately, the game is based on a PvP mindset that is difficult to compare to PvE focused games.
Nevewinter’s crafting is more of a minigame, which can be done offline. It’s fun but not really well integrated.
GW2 is a bit too much like WoW for my tastes. Crafting is queued, has no value outside of max level and even then, barely any impact.
FF14 is a slight change of pace. Crafting is an integrated system with multiple steps and dependencies. There are really few faucets since there are no world drops. This makes crafting rather important in the large scheme of things. Even the low level stuff is used by other players, since one character can play every class.
I’m certainly curious as to how the next few games will address this system. It’s so integrated into the MMO mindset now, that we’re sure to see it. Just not sure which variant.