Please, for my sanity's sake (kittens too), stop comparing aesthetical features to "real change". You could not be any more wrong. If I saw SE focus too much on making the graphics and races different, I would be disappointed. A new game with different story, lore, races, and art style but that copies XI's (or WoW's) gameplay to the point- that's a real change, eh?
This may be your opinion, but that in no way makes it fact.
Yes, game play is absolutely important - the game simply wont survive if it is bad. I wouldn't attempt to suggest otherwise. And yes, the gameplay of XIV does need to be different that XIs, or no amount of new makeup will change the fact that it's essentially the same game.
However, to be brutally honest, FFXI is far from an amazing game to play in my opinion (and this is the opinion of someone who loves that game). MMOs are immersive, social games. This is for many people part of the appeal. And that appeal is not just built on the mechanics of the game itself. It is in the detail. It is in the environment. It is in the people.
No single game "mechanic" in FFXI ever sent a shiver down my spine, but the first time I saw the owls in Carpenters Landing (the ones that look directly at you no matter where you stand) a spine shiver is exactly what I got. Not because they freaked me out, but because I appreciated that at least one person on the dev team put the effort into adding such a small and totally irrelevant feature.
The environment is what pulled me into FFXI, and it's one of the main factors that kept me there. I make no appology for wanting FFXIV to offer me a lovely new environment to emerse myself into.
You may not appreciate the environment, but that doesn't mean that no one else is allowed to. It certainly does not mean that anything they say regarding it is "wrong". You are of course welcome to your opinion, but that is all it is: an opinion. Please, for my sanity's sake, remember that before levelling such negative commentary at people.
And for the record, at no point in my post did I suggest that game mechanics should be put asside for such a change. They should not. But part of the develpment teams job is to build the environment, and how they go about doing that is certainly a fair topic for debate.
To make a different game you have to change more than just the mechanics, and you have to change more than just the environment. You need to change both. Edit: Spolling. Edited, Jun 2nd 2010 10:04am by Gii