I don't want to appear to be firing the first shot. You bring out the best qualities that are or should be present in a linkshell. If SE's aim was to create a giant linkshell (community) your points are very valid.
However, the chief complaint I read against AH's are that prices will plummet. Players will find that Maple Sap is not really worth 1,000g per pot or that really cool looking +1 willow mask is not worth the asking price of 10,000g. The fact is that the retainer system is used by several players on probably most servers to take advantage of people without access to the community that you refer. I have seen examples of retainers offering to buy shards at x price with a second retainer standing next to it offering shards at x-y price. Only when someone buys then try's to sell do they realize that one price is a unit price and the other is a set price. The current retainer system market promotes or at least aids players that are willing to take advantage of either new, lazy, or desperate players.
The system is inefficient because it really doesn't even supply basic market information as to what products to produce. Because of the vagaries of the retainer system and the lack of being able to have a single retainer in two places at once, you will be hard pressed to know if the market really doesn't value that item "x" at whatever price or that the market is unable to find your item "x" because it is being sold on the spellcraft ward with all of your new budding willow wands or in Gridania when all potential purchasers are located in Ul'Dah. The axiom of location, location, location is defeated by the current system for many products.
My chief complaint with having an AH is having the Auction House determine what an item's value is, and not what a player value's said item at. With a retainer system, I decide what price I want to pay for an item. If someone is listing an item for 100k, and I don't think that item is worth that price, I am pretty sure I can find said item cheaper if I look a little bit longer. Whereas if there were an Auction House, people would list the price based off what the last sell price of said item was. So if I see an item on an Auction House listing for 100k, I would then most likely sell said item for right around that.
Yes the wards in it's current state do allow some people to take advantage of other players, by either over charging for said item, or by trying to buy an item for Set price instead of unit price. The nice thing though, is when I see a person over charging for items in there bazaar, I know to avoid them in the future. My retainer is set in the same stand in the Fieldcraft ward ever since I started playing. People know to come to that person if they need finished carpenter items.
Also with the current retainer system, I now have 30 slots to sell stuff, instead of the typical 7 in XI's auction house. Also since players have become somewhat accustomed to checking peoples bazaar when ever they come across one, stuff tends to sell a whee bit faster.
I agree with the OP's assessment of the game mechanics thus far, and being a parent gives me an understanding and insight into the young persons attitude of not wanting to wait for anything these days. Perfect example is my son standing in front of the microwave complaining it is taking way too much time to cook his popcorn :)
They want what they want and they want it yesterday! Tomorrow or 30 minutes from now is just not fast enough for some people.
I have been frustrated many times trying to find things in the wards and in a way it has driven me to find other ways to get the items/gear/ammo I wanted. I have been nudged in a direction I wouldn't normally go but I have to say in doing so, it has opened more doors for me to do more things I would never have the opportunity or ability to accomplish. I have been max physical level for some time now, I have 7 crafts over 25, 2 of which are 30 (DoH) all DoL 27/28/25. My main DoW is 43 And I make all my own consumables and repair most of my own gear. My point is I would not have been so inclined if there were an AH in place. There are plenty of "I want it now" types in the game that are willing to pay almost any amount of Gil for convenience to keep the crafting community rolling in Gil, so I don't think a search function would be a bad thing. I haven't seen one good excuse for having an AH other than the convenience of not having to work for what you want. I didn't like not having available everything at my finger tips like an AH offers. I do like however, being able to harvest then craft what I need. It's a lot harder, It's not easy, but it is more rewarding than walking up to a counter and buying it, at least it has been for me.
I agree with SWSeeker, and I hate to say it, but in my opinion I agree with them. To many people rush everything, rush to 50, rush to cap, rush to get items. This is one of the reasons why I think the retainer system was shunned by many. You have to work to obtain your items. Yet they don't realize that if you develop a strong community with the people around you, you can get items much faster, make the items much faster, and the cost of doing so is much cheaper.
I created 4 Oak Composite bows just the other day, yeah it took me a week to get all the materials, and I had to ask a few friends to make some of the more rare ingredients, but when all was said and done, the cost to make the bows was 0 gil, because I end up trading materials within our community for free. This is what it has come down to, within my community fighters get me items and crystals, and shards, gatherers get me items I need, crafters craft materials that are rare to appear on the retainer system. In turn they receive free repairs, free items, and free gear upgrades.
All in all the entire system helps everyone out. And I keep making a great many friends. Edited, Dec 21st 2010 3:28pm by Technolust