Or just look up the stats and do some math?
Math equates nothing for human judgement or error. Using it as your sole method of data gathering treats your players like robots which is both inaccurate and just plain terrible behavior.
Actual testing, especially in the case of Red Mage takes testing beyond raw math data and gives back the whole picture.
Was it wise for RDM to be casting X Spell vs Bursting Y spell or just meleeing?
How likely is it for RDM to commit to WSing at the correct time?
There is a wealth of data that cannot be made simply by punching numbers into a spreadsheet, and the fact that people have taken the game down to that has, frankly, ruined a great deal of fun for me in the genera as a whole.
Let's take another popular genera, like MOBA's, and make a rough Analogy.
Breaking this game down to the spreadsheet has essentially posted all the possible scoreboards in every MOBA fight possible. All you have to do is punch in the right combination of characters with 'insert x gear' in it and your fight outcome is made up for you.
You don't even need to play. Just enjoy your stat sheet and move on.
That's how FFXI is beginning to feel to me. There's no reason to go out and do anything when the effort is weighed, measured, and at it's worst, judged
before it's even come to my mind as an idea to do.
What's the point?
At least when you physically do a test like I recommended, the feedback data is more of a scoreboard rather than a spreadsheet.
This is largely the fault of ignorant people.
This misunderstand what parsing / theory crafting is.
Parsing is simply gathering data from a specific event / monster battle, it's not gospel and doesn't prove X vs Y ever. Human's are entirely too random and this game relies too much on human judgement for parsing to ever be remotely accurate in making Job X vs Job Y, or weapon X vs weapon Y type comparisons. Its just a good way to collect data about attack / accuracy / defense, which leads to the second part.
Theory / paper crafting is just taking the data accumulated from parses / analytical methods and using that to determine X possibility from situation Y. It can be used to determine what is possible, not what will actually happen. Theory crafting states that at 5% DA, 100 attacks will produce 105 swings and of those 99.75  will hit. In actuality you can have 101, 110, 120, or 150 swings from 5% DA and of those 80, 100, or 150 that actually hit. It's all random numbers determined by entropy, you can't predict it.
And neither of these can possibly account for the human behind the keyboard, nor the other humans behind the other 17 keyboards, nor the other humans in the same vicinity behind their keyboards. The most important part of playing a MMO is the ~playing~ of the MMO, not the number crunching on excel spreadsheets. An interested attentive player on RDM/NIN will beat out a non-interested inattentive player on WAR/SAM, I've demonstrated this many times over again during the last half dozen years or so. And just because a player is attentive / interested on RDM/NIN does not guaranteed they'll be attentive / interested on WAR/SAM, all players are not created equal, we're not robots and we don't all react the same way. So someone who enjoys and is very good at doing hybrid RDM may not be so good at doing MNK, WAR, DRK, or *gasp* BLU, just do to shear boredom. This is why people need to find what works for them and go with it, provided their group accepts them and their successful in whatever endeavor they take on, and success is measured in enjoyment gained not loot earned. Which beings me to my final point before I duck out again.
The success of an MMO player is not measured in the quantity of *leet* loot obtained, the number of trophy's attained, nor the number of monsters felled. It's measured in the amount of enjoyment they had, we're playing a game after all. Deprive a player of enjoyment long enough and they'll leave, and that is bad for the game. This is not the *special snowflake* argument, as being different just to be different is pretty ignorant (unless someone's enjoyment is from being different, but now we're talking medical issues). Edited, Aug 30th 2011 11:04am by saevellakshmi