... having rules in place that would outline the creation of balanced classes, races, spells, magic items and artifacts? I'd love to have a toolbox approach to some of those. So whatcha think? Any hope?
There's gotta be a formula to make stuff. Even doing something like the old MSH modeling system would be really cool. Something besides "Set and Whirl".
Formulas generally only screw things up. Anytime there has been a formulaic construction method for anything, be it magic items, spells, monsters or whatever it hasn't worked.
Look at the track record:
Magic item formulas (failure)
Monster Advancement (failure)
Epic Spellcasting system (Epic failure)
In the end, you're much better just eyeballing stuff in this game and comparing it to existing items.
In the 3.5 DMG, there were rules for creating your own classes and races. I think it would be silly for the designers NOT to include something like this in 4e.