I've been thinking about a few things while looking around for info on disciplines and advancement in FFXIV, trying to grasp how it'll all work in practice, and it's given me some interesting thoughts. As others have mentioned elsewhere, with regard to how FFXIV will work I really think we may need to get out of the classic mold of MMORPGs that have been standard pretty much as long as graphical MMOs have been around, and that's the "class" system.
I believe SE with FFXIV is trying to break out of that mold and create something different, something less structured, where players may choose to take up these disciplines and the skills that may apply to each - war, magic, the land, the hand. Theoretically there won't be a party set up with "the healer, the tank, the black mage" etc., but a group of players who'll bring their varied skills to the task at hand. These might include people who've chosen to specialize in one aspect, like fire elemental magic or defense, or players who can do a combination of things like moderate healing, bashing certain body parts for more effective kills, and in-between, stealing for a bit extra profit from the encounter.
In this respect it's not important if there are 2 "classes" within the DoM and 7 within DoW, or 6 DoM and 4 DoW. The important thing is that the skills are available in a healthy balance to succeed at the encounter. If underneath the DoM Conjurer skillset there are the best (or some of the best) spells from each element, for healing, and buffing available to him, it doesn't matter whether any other "classes" to use an obsolete term exist with those purposes. Perhaps someone wants to specialize in healing, and becomes the best healer around. Someone else may specialize as a fire mage and be unmatched in raining destruction upon his party's foes. Another may specialize in perhaps wind, or water, which give strong hardy defensive buffs to any party he participates in.
Here you have three very different but important roles, and all from the Conjurer skillset. Maybe there'll even be skills from the Thaumaturge set to supplement one of them - say life draining or mana replenishment. Maybe they'll want to pick up a Pugilist's skill with blunt weapons for those bone-breaking hits as well.
The point is, I don't think we can look at these paths you can take in each discipline in the traditional way we think of "classes" - "oh, there's no cleric class, what will we do?!" "There's no rogue class, but I want to be a good backstabber!" (since that last example is dear to my heart, perhaps you can learn daggers or short sword through Gladiator while picking up the Pugilist's stealth and evasion?) It'll be a new system, with a wide variety of customization despite there being perhaps "only 2 DoM classes" or "no one who can use a scythe" (take Thaum skills and lancer skills to make yourself a Dark Knight if you wish)
...Or at least, to me, with the info we have so far, that seems to be SE's vision. Will it turn out that way? I have my doubts. Most often when trying to do something different from the common, accepted practice it fails. But... it could be very interesting as well if it succeeds. :) And I'll continue trying to do my best to understand the new system and how it all works together!
Somehow I think after we've all played it for a few weeks/months we'll realize we totally screwed up with customizing our characters and will have fun redoing them... lol. Or else, players will force the devs to fall back to the tried and true class archetype formula. Time will tell I suppose.
Edited, Jul 22nd 2010 5:02pm by Roquis