As you probably noticed if you watched along with us, yesterday's developer chat (with Blizzard's J. Allen Brack and Tom Chilton taking questions from Twitter and answering them on the forums) was a little light to say the least. Rather than answer questions about game balance seriously, the devs chose to make fun of hunters taming druids and do a lot of hinting and winking. Fortunately, we have Ghostcrawler -- he's responded to concerns about two of the questions yesterday over on the forums.
The first is in response to some feedback about what the devs yesterday called "binary" hard modes -- they said that instead of providing multiple levels of difficulty (as in Sarth and his drakes), they'd prefer to have a hard mode either on or off (you'll be able to toggle between the two in Icecrown). This relates to what we just said recently, with different types of guilds looking for different types of content to play. GC replies that the "in-betweens" in terms of difficulty will come with later bosses in normal mode -- if you want to play a challenge without stepping into the hard modes, Blizzard will do their best to make sure that the last bosses on normal give you that challenge. Which makes sense -- bosses should ramp up in difficulty as the instance goes along, and no one would suggest, for instance, that Yogg was nearly as easy as Flame Leviathan.
And GC also talked about one of my favorite (and missed) game mechanics: crowd control.
The question was asked yesterday about bringing crowd control back into the game, and the devs cited the Faction Champions fight as an encounter where it was still necessary. Obviously, players weren't quite happy with this one either, pointing out that as a showcase for CC, a fight meant to emulate PvP, where crowd control is still on diminishing returns, might not be the best option. Not to mention that plenty of guilds don't bother to use CC at all in the fight, and get along just fine.
Ghostcrawler falls more in line on this one, saying that if you're completely ignoring CC for the heroic version of Faction Champs, he wants to see the fight. He does admit that Trial of the Champion was a little bit of a break from standard raiding, and that Icecrown will have the trash that a normal instance has, though he seems to stop short of saying crowd control will be required in there. It actually seems like Blizzard does want to bring CC back as a mechanic, but because of all of the different levels of raiding and gear they're putting into the game, they're finding it hard to nail down an encounter where certain players won't end up being overgeared. Hopefully they'll find a good balance -- I do agree that it's nice not to have to have two mages bring two sheep spells along for the ride during every encounter, but on the other hand I miss the tactics and strategy that a big CC-required fight can put into play.