I must confess that I actually disagree with Aurelius for once.
Both in closed and open beta, I ground conj to 12+, and in open I purely ground thaum to 20 in two separate sessions (1-17 - fatigue break - 17-20). I must admit I find the magic missile spam the most efficient skill/hour.
My point is that the system isn't ideal, but not for the reasons people here are stating. The game hasn't even hit store shelves yet and people are already getting up tight and whiny over what "optimum" involves. Why not just play the game? Why not do things because the process is fun, instead of forcing yourself into a process that you don't find fun in the name of the outcome? I'm trying really hard not to make a snide remark about the general attitude of the XI community but some people might be shocked to hear that if the game itself is really fun most of the time, you'll tend to not give a sh*t about skill points or xp/hour. You'll be playing the game and having fun and, "Oh hey! I just gained a rank/physical level lol!" (That's exactly what happened to me...twice...while I was messing around with my crafting over the last few days.
You know what I do when I take a combat class out into the field lately? I kill stuff for their drops. I'm to the point now where Star Marmots no longer drop shards so they're off the list. So I spend an extra few minutes to find the juicy Thistletails and spank them around for a while and I get my shards and my meats and my pelts and my moko grass and all that good stuff. And while I'm doing that, I'm exploring a bit here and there. I like to poke around in caves I haven't been to before just to see what might be in them.
And with my experiences in the open beta in conjunction with SE's announcements at the prelive event today, I've finally decided to head down to my local Gamestop tomorrow and see if I can't still manage a CE pre-order. And whether I can get a CE or I have to wait for a copy off the shelf on or after the 30th, I already know how I'm going to spend my first several hours/days of playtime in the game, and it has jack to do with hurry hurry rush rush progress as fast as I can.
SE was smart to ensure that skillups aren't based on the damage that you do because if it was, the entire dynamic of grouping would change. Certain classes would have a very clearly defined edge over others. It would just be a bad scene all around with your healers and your tanks on the bottom end of the Progress-o-Meter and your heavy hitters loling themselves all the way to the cap.
The game is set to go live in one week and one day. We're already seeing people well beyond rank 20 with at least one class in an OB that has only been running for a couple of weeks. Three months from now when the rush rush hurry naoz people are capped with one class and heading back to start on their second or third, I'm going to be having fun. And you know what I'm not going to be doing? ******** because the optimal way to manipulate the progression system doesn't make sense to me or isn't particularly fun. Edited, Sep 14th 2010 7:42pm by Aurelius