Anyways, it's not comparable, it's not "realism" it's believability, there's a difference between the two. A great axe being dropped by a mouse is FAR LESS believable and pulls you out of the world a lot more than only getting useable meat from a handful of them. Whenever anyone makes an argument about believability, someone always counters with a contrived, horribly unrelated argument about realism and it generally boils down to "It's a game hurf de durp - nothing has to make sense." I'm afraid that is false, tolerances for unbelievable mechanics are always going down, and so called "next-gen" (which is a horrible misnomer at this point) gaming isn't simply about snazzy graphics, but about progressive mechanics and pushing design forward as well.
I think you're grasping at straws - monster drops have never once pulled me out of a game world. A cockroach could drop a Buick and as long as the game was fun and engaging I would never care.
This notion that mob drops need to have some sort of realism balance to them is just absurd. If it makes FFXIV 10,000x more fun to have marmots drop great axes, I say let them drop. Edited, Nov 21st 2010 7:21pm by Whales
Docent42 basically said everything I wanted to say, but it's true, and I'll reiterate, just because you have no sense of immersion in a world doesn't mean that no one does, game designers craft experiences - part of that experience is immersion, it's difficult to create immersion in games with heavy amounts of abstracted mechanics, which is what MMOs generally are, which is why un-abstracting some of these systems (I.E. stopping monsters from dropping things that don't make sense) is a step (albeit a small one) in the right direction.
Considering all of the levequest-awarded gear is gear that can also be crafted, it wouldn't surprise me if that's what NMs dropped as well.
But at the same time, I'm kind of hoping they do something similar to what LOTRO does, where NMs don't drop gear or rare materials suited to specific items (ie. Zomfg Ore which can only be used to make Zomfg spears, swords, and axes but not for caster stuff or armor). Instead, every "rare" mob drops a specific kind of crafting reagent based on the level of the mob and that reagent is used in recipes for literally all different kinds of gear so that you can have gear made with that reagent whether you're a caster or a physical damage class, tank or healer, whatever...didn't matter. And the quality of gear made with this reagent was typically a step higher than the stuff made with run-of-the-mill ingredients.
The benefit to this kind of system is that it kept crafting relevant, and while the reagent items could be quite valuable when traded amongst players, it was impossible for RMT to monopolize them. If, for example, you have a half dozen or more rare mobs in every zone that all drop this reagent based entirely on the level of the mob, it's impossible for RMT to camp them all.
So for example, you could have 4-5 rank 1-10 NMs in the areas around Camp Bearded Rock, Camp Bentbranch and Camp Black Brush and all of them drop a Blue Aether Fragment every time they are killed and those Fragments are required for recipes that produce some above-average rank 7-12 gear, everyone is happy. RMT can't cover all that ground, you don't have to target any one specific NM to get your Fragment, and crafters remain relevant at all times. Do the same thing for the areas around Skull Valley, Drybone, and Emerald Moss with rank 11-20 NMs that drop Green Aether Fragments that are used to make some nice rank 17-22 gear. The only people who wouldn't be happy about this are the ones who want ready-made gear drops, but it worked in LOTRO and left the nice ready-made stuff as rewards from other sources that couldn't be monopolized and/or didn't require camping for hours on end.
I have some friends who work at Turbine that would probably not be happy if I said that seems like a bad idea, but I won't because LOTRO and FFXIV are two different games, what works for one may not work for the other.
The problem I see with your system is this: (And I haven't played much of LOTRO so it may be that I'm making an assumption) if "rare spawns" in LOTRO are how I imagine they are, similar to rare spawns in WoW, (which drop random rare items from around that level usually, or insignificant unique pieces) the problem is all those mobs become forgettable, and no one ever actually knows who they are, where they spawn or cares about them whatsoever. The half second peaked interest of "oh it's a rare spawn" /demolish/loot/go_on_with_life doesn't compare to the sense of accomplishment of tracking down that Notorious Monster and getting that specific material you need to make that loot you want.
Sure, itemization is important so that we don't have a repeat of VE and LL, where some NMs are basically worthless and some are overcamped to ****, but even when tackling an NM in a point based system like VNMs or ZNMs, there is a very specific goal in mind, tracking down that NM that has that thing you want. You come to know the NM, and they're usually a challenging fight. I've played a lot of WoW, and I couldn't name a single rare spawn off the top of my head, I could name dozens and dozens of FFXI NMs though. "Notorious" should mean something.
I do agree the NM system in FFXI was flawed to a degree, and I don't mind loot materials that are useful for more than one thing, but I don't think it needs to just be "tiered" general materials, otherwise every NM is the same as every other one, and it's only by "stumbling" upon them that anyone will get those materials practically. I like the idea of setting your sights on a specific enemy and pursuing them.