The menu system was taken from the single player games where the game paused while you chose what to do.
While some might say this is too slow to play I got to say that with the battle speed of FFXI I never had a problem using the menu to select things.
Absolutely. Speed up the pace of combat and give players more abilities on shorter cooldowns and the FFXI UI would probably not be able to handle it.
Don't expect FFXIV to have an interface like WoW. Maybe WoWs interface is nice and many like it because they can put 100 buttons here and 15 bars there and a big raid interface that takes up 50% of the whole screen on the left side and lot's of casting bars in the middle of their screen...
WoW is no RPG. It's a click adventure.
It's not just WoW that uses action bars. Most MMOs to be released since FFXI use them in one form or another. The stock WoW UI is almost as spartan as the FFXI UI
Also don't forget that WoW and all these interfaces are made for the PC with the use of a mouse while FFXIV got to be playable with a controller too.
None of the mentioned MMOs are cross platform games.
Well, I would expect that the FFXIV interface will be designed with a gamepad in mind, but let's not go so far as to say it "has" to be designed for use with a controller. You need a keyboard to play an MMO so that you can communicate with other people. There's no reason it can't be part of the control scheme for the game as well.
Why would you need a picture of your char next to your health and mana bar when it's right in front of you the whole time?
Flavor. You can disable the portraits if you don't want them there.
Why do you need a radar?
It's handy for locating party members and the variety of tracking features (different kinds of mobs, gathering nodes, etc.) There are a great many things that can make having a small on-screen map a very handy thing to have.
I found the concept of collecting maps good and entertaining.
Just make it possible to blend them in so you can look at them while moving.
Six of one, half dozen of the other. I'd rather have a persistent mini-map off in the corner where it doesn't block my field of view than to have to toggle a map for local reference.
Why do you need a bar for casts or abilities?
If mobs are going to use special attacks or abilities you will notice it (because you can still see the mob instead of alot of buttons) and have enough time for proper actions.
Not true...you can't always tell what a mob (or other player, for that matter) is about to cast just by the animation. Being able to toggle target cast bars means that if, for example, you're fighting a mob that casts three spells at random and one or two of those need to be interrupted, you can save your interrupt cooldowns for when they're actually needed and not simply spam them when you see a cast animation.
Spells and abilities...well, I guess you already noticed that I can't stand all the buttons of WoW which you NEED because there is no other fast way to activate anything.
You can access action bar buttons with whatever keys you bound them to while having the action bar hidden. It's absolutely no different form the macro bar in FFXI in that regard. If you think of action bars as an expanded macro bar with the option to have them remain on-screen to monitor cooldowns (or click with the mouse *shudder*), you realize that they're not all that different. Instead of pulling up a list of spells and selecting one from the list to cast, you bind it to an action bar and activate it with the appropriate key. Action bars are a lot faster and easier that way...and more intuitive than bringing up a menu/list in-combat.
If FF would get more macro lines per hotkey and more hotkeys per macro set (and I bet it will) so you could put in every ability or spell you need, that would be perfect for me.
It's fast and configurable and doesn't take up any space.
If FFXIV allows that, the only real difference between FFXIV and action bars in other MMOs is that players have the option
to have their action bars visible in other games. Functionally they'd be identical.
How creative can a game be if the developers can't even think of an unique interface?
Maybe FFXIV will be unique with the interface. Maybe SE will decide to focus their attention on other gameplay aspects without re-inventing the wheel when it comes to the UI.