Actually, sometimes bad programming is bad, but to me, this sounds more like a case of bad management is bad. More than likely, someone in the game design department looked at the comments ...
Wouldn't that be bad design is bad? Honestly, designers make mistakes, sometimes the mistake is in the implementation, sometimes the mistake is in the logic. To be honest, it's unlikely that a programmer was even involved in this issue. Whatever proprietary tools used likely allow their design team to tweak the numbers manually.
I play a Gladiator and my girlfriend plays a Conjurer, one of the biggest issues in beta was that I leveled faster than her, even when I would often sit fights out using nothing but provoke to let her get additional skill gains. In larger groups against difficult enemies, it was often the best idea for her to simply focus on healing, because by the time she switched targets to get an attack off, another heal was usually already needed.
Giving no or reduced skill gains for buffs and heals is totally unacceptable, so it was the right decision to implement it. Of course, the difficulty is then that people will abuse the crap out of it.
Final Fantasy XIV currently has the same problem Final Fantasy II had, Square-Enix just like the Square of yesteryear decided to try a new approach, unlike Final Fantasy II which went without EXP in the favor of skill points, Final Fantasy XIV simply uses both.
The problem is, you have to use a skill to improve it, so classes that take more actions or use more skills end up ranking up faster. Just like in Final Fantasy II you force players to do odd and awkward things just to raise their skills, like beating on your own party members. Tanaka worked on Final Fantasy II so this should be a bit of nostalgia for him, after all, I think just about anyone who played FF2 abused the system.
Unfortunately, now it's an MMORPG, so exploits are taken seriously.
My question to those that knew about the exploit or have researched how healing skill gains are since then is - how bad is the nerf? Do you basically not get any skill for healing now? It would be very upsetting if once again I had to slow down purposefully just to let my girlfriend catch up. I don't mind doing it, but it's horrible that I have to. Healers already get crapped on the most out of any role in an MMORPG, don't make them feel like they're dragging down their friends SE! I know you think the skill gain is clever, reward players who take more actions by giving them more skill, but taking more action is rarely the answer.
In a long party, the healer should be conserving MP, and in a tough battle they should be focusing on healing. It seems like in both of these situations they get the short end of the stick. Edited, Sep 28th 2010 10:27am by RamseySylph