i hope what took 5 years in development wasnt the models but building the game engine itself because i created extremely hi res, high polygon models for FFXI from scratch using a program developed by an amateur lol, so im not at all impressed.
try using 5 bugged programs just to do what their one does.
1. creating extremely hi res, high polygon models isnt difficult, you can do that with a couple mouseklicks in 3D studio Max. The difficulty of modelling is keeping the polygon count low while still maintaining quality. Thats why Levelsets, Quadrics, iso surfaces and other methods are developed and still tought to up and coming modellers/programmers.
2. The modelling tools in FFXIV are quite intricate concidering they have built a whole database of items, monsters and character models that utilize Model shaving. What this basically means is that, using the same polygon model, you can create multiple variations without using up extra storage and processing power. As a programmer im quite impressed with it and however long it took them to develop/learn to utilize the tools for it, it was time well spent.
Not trying to be rude, but there is alot going on with "just" developing models for a game that an amateur (your word not mine) might miss. Probably the bulk of the raw programming of the game is spent on this( and network and database programming ofcourse) since physics, UI and actual game mechanics might seem impressive, but usually require far less work.
FFXI 2003-2007: Elaron ~Phoenix
FFXIV 2010-> : Gus Morgan ~Wutai