I'm afraid I do not recall where I saw it, but there was an interview in which SE mentioned they are thinking about the macrobooks in FFXI and how they were used. Obviously this could mean any number of things, but it's possible that while we can switch armour anytime, armour acts much like the macrobooks in FFXI. Each set of armour and weapons has a preassigned set of abilities (set in town or in your "moghouse") that automatically switch all of your abilities to that set. In that way, we can quickly switch what type of character we are, but not what abilities we have already picked out for that type.
This was the same thought that I had, and I think it's both likely and, while maybe not ideal, a fairly solid way to go about it.
I wasn't acting like there was much customization in XI. I just meant there's a natural inclination on most player's part to find what works best and then expect everyone to follow suit. It's not a bad thing, but it leaves little room for people who like to experiment.
Ah, sorry then. My point was that in a game like XI, even though there's some decent elbow space for theoretical customization, it's not like there was really even any effort to balance out the subjobs. At no point did SE ever think, "Oh, 85% of the subjobs are by far less useful to class X than the others, maybe we should offer more incentive to sub them." And when the balances aren't so similar that people have to argue heatedly about them in the message boards for what amounts to differences that can only be detected by parser, yes, that tends to fuel the min/maxers who can rather easily say that "X is the best," rather than "A-Z are all very close."
As for it being human nature, that's only partially true. The people you're describing are not "everyone" and whether or not they become that kind of person in the first place can depend heavily on the climate of the game. Basically they tend to be something like this:
1. A competitive person. They want to be the best, rather than be the best they can.
2. Generally are not satisfied with the response that their min/maxing has yielded in the way of recognition; either they are not as good as they feel they should be, or people aren't as impressed by their accomplishments as they feel they should be.
3. Because their competitive playstyle has not impressed others sufficiently, they seek that recognition as a skilled and knowledgeable player by "helping" people to understand how good of a player they really are.
These are just the main offenders. There are other people who contribute to the problem, like those who blame their own shortcomings on others, those who are afraid of being the worst (so they join in putting down those who deviate), and those who are genuinely just trying to figure out what's best for their own intellectual pursuit. But they can all feed that competitive person who craves recognition described above.
Nothing wrong with being able to change your skill sets anywhere, I think. Trick is to obviously make it so you can't do it so quickly and easily that you're basically multiple classes in one encounter.
I don't know. I can see both sides of it, but personally I favor that being limited because the more easily you can change, the more you're expected to change away from what you wanted to be into what's most effective. Not unlike wanting to come to an event as a DRG but being pressured to come as a BRD because that's what's needed. Of course it's great when you can just change because you wanted to.
And then I also think there's something to be said for working hard to develop one or two configurations that you can change slowly as your plans change, but not being allowed to instantly change. e.g., deciding I want to make my BRD more like a DRG, and slowly picking up the abilities and skills needed to do so. A gradual transformation rather than an instant one.