Because I know there are people who are wondering how the new crafting system works, and because I happen to have a pretty good idea (I'm not in the beta, I've just had the chance to watch a lot of crafting being done), here's a very brief overview.
1) You have to equip a tool that is appropriate to your crafting class. This is some thing like a saw or clawed hammer for a carpenter, a hammer or tongs for a blacksmith, a hand loom or needle for a weaver, and so on. You can equip a tool in each hand.
2) You don't have a list of recipes. You open a crafting window similar to the crafting window in FFXI and you put ingredients in it. Example, if you want to make brass nuggets I believe you put 3 copper ore and a zinc ore, or to make hempen thread you use 4 moko grass. Once you have your items in the box, you select main hand or off hand, depending on which tool you want to use. I'm not really sure what the difference is between tools, but presumably different tools will be better for doing different tasks. Once you've selected a hand, you get a list of items which make use of the things you've put in the crafting "box" along with the number and types of crystals and/or shards needed to fuel the synthesis. You select a useable recipe and hit "confirm."
3) Now the crafting mini game begins. On your screen is bar that starts full and slowly depletes, as well as three attributes for your item, and four basic choices. The choices are: Standard, Rapid, Bold, and Wait and they represent the strategy that you will use for the current crafting "round." You have to make a selection before the bar empties.
4) The goal of crafting is to get the highest quality for your item when it reaches 100% completion, without allowing Durability reach zero (this breaks the ingredients and you fail your synth). So the three item attributes are:
Progress (starts at zero, you are successful when it reaches 100)
Durability (starts around 100, I think usually 102 with standard quality ingredients,possibly higher with better ingredients, and goes down as you craft. If it reaches 0 you fail)
Quality: Starts at zero with standard ingredients, can start higher with quality ingredients, as far as I know there is no upper limit. You want this number to be as high as possible when you finish your synth. Higher quality = more items crafted or better items crafted, similar to FFXI.
5) Your choices each round are the following:
Standard: This represents the sweet spot of progress, quality and durability. This will probably be the most common action taken.
Rapid: This choice yields a LOT of progress each round (30% or more if successful) for a medium loss of durability and a very small gain in quality. You'll mostly use this when your durability is getting low and you need to quickly reach 100% progress before your synth breaks.
Bold: This choice yields a LOT of quality if successful, very little pogress, and medium durability loss. You'll use this most often when you are pushing for the very highest quality possible.
Wait: This causes your item to lose a very small amount of durability, but otherwise simply causes the round to pass with no other action taken. This is used in order to let crystals become stable, or possibly to allow your item to cycle to another color. Basically, you use this in order to wait for more favorable crafting conditions to occur.
6) Each round that you attempt Standard, Rapid, or Bold, your crystal has a chance to become unstable, or if it is already unstable or in rare cases, to become chaotic. Visually this shows up as a highly noticeable crackle of electricity, both visually and audially. There's also a message in the crafting log. Unstable or chaotic crystals give you a much higher chance to fail and lose a lot of durability, but if you succeed you'll some times get radically improved results (I've seen some one get 100 quality in a single round, when normally 20 or 30 is expected from a standard or bold attempt). Most of the time when your crystal becomes unstable you'll want to Wait for it to become stable again, but you may choose to gamble instead on the slim chance of getting a remarkable result.
7) Your crystal changes color as you craft, cycling from white to orange, red, yellow, or other colors. Some people claim these different colors change your possible outcome, while others claim it has no effect. The jury is still out on this, but it is known that using Wait will allow the crystal to cycle to a new color some times, so this could end up being a part of crafting strategy
8) After each round, you get a success or failure result, and your crystal may change stability or color. You'll get a message telling you how much your durability, progress and quality have changed. Generally speaking, successful attempts give more progress and quality, and less durability loss, while failures yield durability loss with minimal gains in progress or quality. The exact numbers vary according to your synth type choice (Bold, Standard, Rapid), your skill, random luck, and status of your crystal. There may be other unknown factors.
9) Once your round has finished, your bar refills, and you go back to step 5 to make a new choice. This process repeats until your progress reaches 100 or your durability reaches zero. If progress reaches 100 you get an item or items which will depend on the quality you achieved plus some experience, and if it reaches 0 durability, you lose all your ingredients and you get a smaller amount of experience.
Unless I've forgotten some thing, this is the basic crafting process. Beta testers feel free to add or correct anything I've written.
Thoughts from the community?
Edit: Corrected some typos, incorporated additional information.
Edited, Aug 11th 2010 9:28pm by KarlHungis