I fully respect and appreciate the concerns of the more dedicated XI fans in terms of the "challenge" factor being "removed" from XIV in SE's attempt to broaden the appeal of the game to include more casual players. And with that in mind, I've prepared a short guide that will allow you to preserve that "challenge" once FFXIV goes live. General Progression Guidelines to Preserve "Challenge"
1) To start, you will need some sort of random number generator (RNG). You could try this one
2) As well, you will need a text editor of some form. Notepad, Wordpad...whatever you have handy.
Once you have those things handy, load up FFXIV and log into the game. Proceed with the following steps:
3) Refuse to progress your character solo beyond class rank 12. Even though you can progress much higher solo in XIV, your goal is to preserve the "challenge" so we're going to try to mimic the XI scheme (as it existed before all the updates to make it more "casual" friendly).
4) When you're ready to progress your character, set the RNG to produce a value between 1 and 301.
5) If the RNG returns the number "301", go farm, sit around town and chat with friends/LSmates/whatever. No party for you today. Do not proceed to step 6. You're done, son.
6) If the RNG returns a number between 1-300, open your text editor and type out your standard LFP message, repeating every couple of minutes. Do this for the number of minutes indicated by the RNG. (ie. If the RNG gave you 210 as a result, you must repeat your LFP message in the text editor every couple of minutes for 210 minutes).
7) When you have completed step 6, you may now venture out to progress your character in any manner you see fit. Solo grinding, solo levequests, group stuff, whatever suits your fancy.
8) After the first 15 minutes of progressing your character, you must return to the RNG and have it produce a number between 1 and 5. If it returns the number 1, you must stop what you are doing because "your tank/healer/support" just left. Return to step 4. Special Endgame Addendum
In addition to any challenges XIV presents on its own by way of endgame, in order to say you truly prefer the "challenge" associated with FFXI, you must adhere to the following system to ensure that you're not being "lazy".
1) Prior to the third FFXIV expansion when preparing to participate in any endgame content, you must return to the RNG and have it produce a number between 1 and 1439. The number produced is the number of minutes you must wait before embarking on any endgame activities as it represents the spawn timer on your target for the day. If you can't wait that long, tough. You wanted "challenge".
2) Alternatively, you may designate a particular type of high level monster as a "trigger" NM and observe the following rules:
a) Gather a group of 14 other adventurers and go to the area where this monster spawns.
b) Have your RNG produce a number between 1 and 240. If it gives you a 1 proceed to step (c). If not, wait one minute, reduce the high value for the RNG range by one, and produce another number. (ie. after 5 minutes, you would be producing a number between 1 and 235). Repeat step (b) until the RNG gives you a 1. (Don't worry...the most you'll have to wait is four hours before you're asking it to produce a number between 1 and 1!)
c) Hurray! You got a spawn! Now you must ask the RNG to produce a number between 1 and 5. If it produces a 1, you can proceed to kill the monster and pretend that it dropped the trigger. Any other number and your group was beaten to the claim. Start over at step (b).
As more of XIV's endgame becomes known, future additions may be made to preserve the "challenge" from XI including but not limited to: addition of RNG-based full group wipe mechanisms, how to simulate a boss kill the results in zero loot and everyone's personal favorite: how to incite loot drama because the drop rates suck so bad that half the people you play with would sell their mother for a pixelated shiny.