I think it's a really good controller design. The controller video is my favorite piece of FFXIV ARR media so far, really feels like it actually shows 'gameplay' more than a "BTW we have THIS!" video.
However... I also wish (and maybe this will be possible with addons later?) they would have just taken it a step further and provided four controller macro sets on screen at all times, using L1, L2, R1, and R2 to choose, then using the select-button to pull up the "select more sets" menu. Something about having 32 macros available at all times seems more usable to me than 16 + swaps, especially when considering PvP where you find yourself often using every single ability available to absolutely maximize your potential for surviving the constant influx of high-pressure situations.
Going to get a little ranty here, apologize, but I would like to explain what I'm getting at in a way that might require a breakdown for visualization to understand 'why' I would like this option.
For starters, I use home-row (esdf) key positions instead of the more common wasd combo, because it functions nearly the same and keeps your hands where they 'should' be, making the transition from 'playing' to 'typing' seemless. It also opens up another couple keys on the "pinky" side giving more flexibility when key-binding on PC. Since I generally use ESDF to move, in an MMO environment, take WoW for example, I find myself binding 4RFC, 5TGV, Then Shift-4RFC, Shift-5TGV, to keys I frequently use (we'll call these my tier-1 keys). Keys 123, QWA, 6YHB, Shift-6YHB to keys I need to use somewhat-frequently (tier-2 keys), and other misc keys around the keyboard like zxc, num-pad, brackets, etc for other things. This results in about 16 Tier-1 keybinds, 14 Tier-2 keybinds, and roughly 14 Tier-3 keybinds. When I combine that with the mouse, it adds in two side buttons, a primary click, a right click, a middle click, and scroll-up/scroll-down, providing another 14 bindable functions when combined with Shift modifiers (realistically 8, since the game's primary click, scroll up & down functions are included in the default action-set of a controller, so we can factor them out since I won't bind them to something-else). This means at any-given time I have roughly ~34 "immediate" actions when combining tier-1 and tier-2 bindings I use, while offering an additional 14+ tier-3 bindings that, while I don't use as often are still easy enough to utilize.
I feel that number (34) is pretty close to a 'magic' number, and at least 'around' 34 is realistically what most long-term users will expect to be able to use from a macro system in an 'immediate' sense while inside an MMO, especially as an MMO grows over the years and adds more functionality. FFXI was probably the exception to that rule, since we loved FFXI despite it being a slow/cumbersome menu system. I knew many very good people who navigated the menu in the 'classic' FF style and never used macros at all. In my later years, I even found myself doing a variation of this when windower's spellcast became available.
Out of curiosity, I looked how many WoW action bar macro-slots are available with 'just' the bottom macro sets, since it can get crazy if you figure in the side actionbars, pet-actionbars, and action-bar addons (like bartender) where you can add even more. The number seems to be 36 (3 sets of 12). I seriously think if we had four controller-sets on screen, providing 32 macros, as well as options like using select to change to other macro-sets, that playing with a controller would be something I could be pursuaded to use, and it could potentially even convince me to change over completely from a long-time keyboard-and-mouse user. Anyhow, here's hoping for the option.
Oh, and one thing I haven't seen mentioned... one feature I would LOVE modern day MMOs to offer... is some kind of a mumble/teamspeak/ventrillo integration option. I'm paying a monthly fee, it'd be absolutely AWESOME if a standard voice server was provided with that fee. I'm not talking "build voip options into the game" (though an overlay option of some kind would be cool), since I've yet to see that done properly... but rather, a straight up private voice-server option that we could use our standard voice software (I.E. mumble clients) to connect to from our PCs, but was also usable with PS3 while in game. Having a controller presents a rather MAJOR setback for communication in a heavily communication-dependent game type... voice is about the only alternative I can see potentially resolving the issue while adding a 'hook' to keep players tuned in for years to come. If you play FFXI with nothing but a controller... it gets a lot harder to build long-term bonds with people since your communication will be so limited. So also... here's hoping for voice that is compatible with modern and free multi-platform clients... I mean hell, i can run mumble on my cell phone, there really doesn't seem to be a logical reason for not being able to provide it to the masses.
Edited, Feb 21st 2013 4:29pm by FUJILIVES
Posting from just above the generator.