FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – First Time Configuration Woes

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

Yesterday morning, my 8 hour download off FFXI was finally complete and the game was ready for me to launch for the first time. Oh boy, did I not see what was coming next… I spent more of my time fighting with the game configuration than I did playing at first.

When I finally get to log in and choose my character, instantly I saw two things:

  1. The game forced fullscreen (which I remembered from back when I used to play)
  2. The graphics settings looked terrible

But, hey, I was logging in as my character, right? It remembered who I was after over a decade, and that I’d left her standing out in the forest of East Ronfaure all those years ago. So, naturally, my first instinct is to turn the camera around in order to get a good look and screenshot.

Hold down the right mouse button to turn and….

Game crashes!


Game crashes to the PlayOnline screen that scolded me hard for doing such and such and trying to play the game in Windowed Mode, which (I still remember) was a huge no-no back in the day.

But I didn’t do anything but right-click? 🙁

So, I load it up again. Get to my character again. Right mouse click again. And BOOM. Game crashes and yells at me for windowed mode blah blah blah.

Uh oh. Well, that’s not going to work if I can’t right mouse click in game. So I get on the net to do some research.

The thing about FFXI is that it’s such a long-lived game, Google tosses you stuff that can range anywhere from 2004 to 2015, and it’s really hard to sort through what is true about the game now days. But one of the first suggestions made to folks having right-click issues is to use the third party program Windower.

Windower Wonders

windowerYes, I know, third party programs are also a big no-no with S/E games. But hey, I just wanted to get the game to run with some semblance of something so I could check out what level my old character was!

So I download this app, had to play with the window resolution a bit because the game looked all stretched and funky for a widescreen monitor (I didn’t find the aspect ratio settings in game until later that night), but finally got it to run in a way that I could play. I tested the right mouse click, and the game didn’t crash, so I was getting somewhere.

The neat thing about Windower is that it has all these little UI plugins built right in, which I haven’t explored too much. And for a long time, it was the only option players in FFXI had to run a windowed version of the game. It also controls things like screenshots and such, which is nice, because the in-game screenshots were awful, and I’m never going to remember to press the “[” key to take one.

The game looked leaps and bounds better using Windower because it knew how to crank up the graphics and do stuff in the background that I didn’t figure out until later that night…

FFXI Configuration

So, after finally getting to mess around in the game some, I decided I was tired of the intro cutscene popping up every time I logged in. I love that cutscene, don’t get me wrong, and watched it all the way through the first time I booted up just for nostalgia sake. But I don’t want to see that crystal every time I log in.

So, doing some research, I read something about the FFXI Configuration being the place to turn that off. I was confused at first, because I didn’t see this anywhere in the PlayOnline or in-game screens.

That’s when I finally deduced, the Final Fantasy XI Configuration is a stand alone program. What the? And… yes… somewhere dimly in the back of my memories, I remember this to be true!

So, I hit my Start menu, click Programs, click the Play Online folder, click the Final Fantasy XI folder, double-click Final Fantasy XI Config. And woot! There’s the joy!!

And look at that… they FINALLY allow you to play the game in Windowed mode after all these years! And when in Windowed mode, the game didn’t crash on me when I right-clicked! Progression is a wonderful thing! 🙂


I went through all the configurations in astonishment, realizing that the game had looked so terrible when I first launched it because it defaulted to try to full-screen with a 640×480 resolution. Yuk.

I messed around with this, and got the game running in a higher resolution, but then it was all stretched and wonky. So, back to researching… and I found out there was an in-game Configuration menu with an option for aspect ratio.

Where? I couldn’t even find the Logout option in this game… the controls are so… just… wow.

More research. I discovered that the main menu (why, oh why is the main menu mapped to the “-” key on the number pad?) actually has several pages… if you click the arrow buttons right and left to move through them.


And there it was, the Config menu. Under Misc. 2 (there’s like 4 Misc. settings in this menu), I did indeed get the aspect ratio to work correctly for a wide-screen monitor.

However, playing the game some more, I really hated the tiny screenshots the game took (I think I can fix that, but at this point, I just wanted to play), and decided to jump back to using Windower for the ease of things.

Now. Now. Finally, I have the game configured in a pretty playable setup. I can make some progress.

Why don’t you join me as I stumble my way through a Return to Vana’diel


  1. FFXI is, by a very wide margin, the least user-friendly MMO I have ever played. I was googling the mobile version today, since I have a dual OS tablet on the way and should be able to play it under Android, but after the big announcement Square have gone completely silent on it so who knows if it will ever appear?

    If it does, though, it has to be easier to manage than the hot mess the PC version has always been.

  2. Windowed mode was added back in 2007 with Wings of the Goddess. It was a little over a year after you left. It’s still inferior to Windower, because it hurts your framerate in ways Windower doesn’t.

    Windower has a screenshot button that will save screenshots with menu windows open, which you can’t do with the official function.

    1. I’m sticking with Windower at the moment, and it’s running things just fine. Good to know about the framerate thing, though. Thanks!

  3. BTW, a lot of menus have multiple pages. Remember, the game was designed for the UI to be used on a PS2 controller on a 640×480 TV. A lot of stuff won’t fit on the screen at the low resolution. PS2 support only just shut down, but the game launched on PS2 first in May of 2002. They don’t have the staff and skill to recorde it to bypass those limitations now.

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