One life to live #3: As I lay dying

One life to live #3: As I lay dying

No not griefing ( though that might be a good idea), this week we focus on the downside of hardcore ( not that I’d admit there are any). Eventually as in life we will have to deal with death, but how do we go about it?

I’ve lost a lot of characters, but the one that stung the most was the last barb I ever created. After a few hours cruising through DiabloWikiNightmare Meph runs I hit the jackpot. A nice Arreat’s Face to complement my gear. I’d been trying to trade for it for weeks but just didn’t have what anyone wanted. I slapped it on, admired my gear and went back to what I had been doing best. Now maybe I should have stopped right there and called it a night, but like gambling you can’t stop while you’re on a hot streak, who knew what Meph had next? I don’t really know what happened, I recall the leap over to Meph, and then seeing the screen we all hate to see. My deeds of valor would be remembered.


“A quick alt-F4 and I’ll be a good as new,it had worked so many times before” I thought. When a character was moving but the screen wasn’t, when a few too many mobs were after me, or a vicious pk was hounding me; it was alt-f4 to the rescue. No such luck in this case, the death screen was up, as was my barbs time in the hardcore realm. Denial is tough in a game when your death is staring you in the face. It is however quite easy to shift the blame, I could have blamed my connection, the distraction around me, but it couldn’t I knew it was my fault.  It’s that realization that pushes us to step two.


Ah nerdrage, is there anything more humorous? Youtube it if you need confirmation.Throwing stuff, punching the air, screaming over virtual things? Sure I can say this now because the sting of death isn’t fresh ,but when it hits you are going to be mad. You of course have every right to be. You’ve spent a good deal of time with that character, and now you can’t anymore. Anger can lead to rash decision making, rage deleting your account, swearing off video games, going outside etc. It’s important to keep a level head about these things. If the goal of the game is to kill things, you can do that at levels one through sixty. Death of your character won’t take the game away from you, but your anger can. If you are someone who takes this really seriously and can’t handle failure then you have two choices: be the greatest hardcore player ever who never dies, or avoid hardcore. Once the dust settles, you pick up your keyboard and move on to step three.


This is the dangerous one, and one that really could shape hardcore in the years to come. How many times have we thought “ If I could just have one more shot” but the way hardcore was set up we knew we couldn’t. That ghost was already in our selection screen and no amount of time  complaining to Blizzard in their customer service channel (trust me) would change it, no matter what the circumstance was. It’s this desire to bargain after death that leads me to fear a monetization for hardcore. What amount of money would you pay to have it back? It’s easy now to say none, but I can guarantee the option would be used. We’ve already seen there won’t be a RMAH, so Blizzard won’t be making money off the hardcore community, so this option might be the doorway to do just that. Hopefully we won’t see that, as we’ve already seen a vocal part of our community vehemently opposed to it. We’ve also seen that the Dev team seems to be opposed to it as well:

Paying to bring back a fallen hardcore character was something I read someone here post once, and I simply repeated it to say I thought it was an interesting idea. I’m not a designer. Things I find interesting doesn’t mean they’re being implemented. I have though heard Jay (who is lead designer) say that paying to bring back hardcore is pretty much a horrible idea.

Granted this also comes from Bashiok in 2010, who also gave us insight into why DiabloWikiInferno is a bad idea.With that in mind, If we look to other Blizzard titles,( WoW in particular) we see they allow their customers a wide array of options with their characters from server transfers, faction switching, gender reassignment surgery, and gigantic space ponies. Hardcore resurrection could easily fall in this vein, but as long as we aren’t shouting for it, hopefully we won’t see it. I think in this case it’s better to remember when you get what you wish for, you may not be happy with the result.


I think this is where  we lose a lot of good players to. No people aren’t slitting their wrists over the death of their characters ( though that puts a new spin on hardcore), but a lot look at the time invested and ask “What’s the point?”. I think the game is more than your character, it’s the experience. We go into hardcore because we get to be mortal, we can’t quit because we encountered that reality. Each death as I’ve said before is a chance to grow and learn, if death is something your concerned about it’s probably best to not only have one character but several to fall back on just in case. That way if you lose one you can pick up with another and assuage the sting of death by focusing on your new character. You can also (and  I hate to say this) have a soft core back up  to jump on every now and then to remind you why went  hardcore. It was my forays back into softcore that would push me back to where I belong. Seeing people die and get back to the group in a few seconds, or just committing suicide via fallen can give you a perspective on what make our community unique. This may then move you to..


Finally you can move on, create your new character and spring back into action. You may want to hang on to that ghost for a little bit for nostalgia, or delete it right away and steal its name, but eventually you come back, hopefully learning something in the process


Diablo 3 is putting a lot of things into motion that should speed this process along. First we have a shared DiabloWikistash, no more muling, or losing myriads of items on your main character. Now you should be able to set up your next character without having to divert from your current. Secondly we have the DiabloWiki banner system, while it isn’t much to look at it should help us catch back up to our still living friends. We can jump right into the action with your friends, no waiting through acts or checkpoints, just right back to cracking skulls.Lastly is the ease of normal difficulty. We’ve routinely heard how easy the first difficulty will be and as a result getting a character back into combat should be as well. With our DiabloWikifollowers to accompany us,I’m not predicting we’ll hit a bump in our leveling. All these point to a quick recovery, and while it’s not easy to start anew, it’s the threat of the possibility that drove us to hardcore.

I eventually came back to a barbarian a few months ago. The game has changed so much it didn’t feel right anymore, but with D3 on the horizon maybe the perfect homage would be picking up where I left off in D2, and hopefully this time if/when he dies I won’t require as long of a hiatus.

Next week: Softcore vs Hardcore: Can we get along?What are your attitudes towards our other half?

One Live to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

Related to this article
You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.

22 thoughts on “One life to live #3: As I lay dying

  1. Well written and entertaining to read.

    “Anger can lead to rash decision making, rage deleting your account, swearing off video games, going outside etc.”

    Rash decision = going outside 🙂

  2. Woah, I hadn’t even thought about it before, but Blizzard wouldn’t stoop to letting people pay to resurrect their fallen HC chars… would they??

    • No they would not. In practice such a move would undermine itself.
      The entire appeal prestige of such a game-mode would be undermined.

    • Is really hard to tell. I mean, they did not let slip that D3 will be online-only until just recently. If they can do that, they can do anything. 

      As for if it undermines or not, well, they did alot of changes that really change our vision of what D3 is, such as skill changes, auto-stats, RMAH, online-only. So what we think of as “hardcore” is not important, is what blizzard will want “hardcore” to mean.

      Doesnt mean much to me, ill be sticking to my softcore. 🙂

      • The big difference here is that there was a lot that could have led to predicting online-only as the game is being designed as a cheat-free multiplayer-focused experience so online-only isn’t a really big stretch they would take to achieve the cheat-free aspect especially when you consider Blizzards experience in that area (WoW).

        Compare it to hardcore mode which has a clear history of “one death period” there isn’t any reason to believe that they would overturn that ideology.

  3. well hardcore is the most “emotional” mode : the investment in your character create some kind of relationship, and you never got use to lose it.

    Best time ever in HC, with real interaction with other players and a real thrill, i’ll never forgot the catapults in act 5, the damn puppets in act 3 and the badass souls in ball throne.

    • Or being 1-shot as a decked out sorceress by random super uniques in hell while suffering from the infamous black wall.

  4. Another great article.  I’d love to read about how Hardcore came about.  Can we get some back story from some of the original developers on how Hardcore came into being?

    As a side note, since your last article, I started playing a Hardcore Bowazon and have been having a lot of fun.  I’m 1/3 the way through chapter II and am really dreading meeting Duriel, but I’m taking my time and building my character.  I’ll take him on when I feel good and ready.  Feels kind of cool to know I’m this far into the game and never, NEVER, died once yet.
    My goal when playing Softcore was always to focus as much on offensive power as I could, and my feelings of accomplishment always hinged on how far and quickly I could advance in the story.  Now, if I’m alive at the end of a playing session, I feel I’ve accomplished something.  😆

    • Soft, the history of hardcore is something I’m actually working on. So look forward to it “soon”. Glad to hear you’ve jumped into the hardcore realm!

    • I think the idea for hardcore/permadeath comes from roguelikes, the forefathers of action rpgs (games like Nethack).

      Entering Duriel’s lair really was always the scariest moment for me in D2.

  5. Hardcore is also great for a better co-op experience. You and your team mates are more prone to watch eachothers back because if one of you falls, theres no way on getting you back. I’ve had team mates die on me, for example in act 5. Its definetly difficult knowing you won’t have the same play experience you had with that person once their character drops dead

  6. @steveman0
    (misclicked,meant to reply, doh)
    I agree that they probably will not allow buying back, and that it would completely ruin HC, however if you look at what they are thinking about doing with pvp they are not really sticking to a \one death period\ philosophy. There maybe pvp that is that way, but it is also likely that there will be pvp for HC characters that is basically the same as SC arena pvp.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen some of the discussion regarding HC pvp but the last I’ve seen of it there was no solid decision made.  It may turn out that they retain the HC aspect and make death final in PvP as well.  

      Really PvP is a different ballgame and I don’t think it would be that surprising if they death wasn’t final in PvP (when you consider the arena might be scored on kill count they can’t really have death be final there without really short matches).  It isn’t really the main point of HC as I see it so it doesn’t make sense to read it as any indication that they could allow for buying your character’s life back.

  7. When ever I play softcore, I always think to myself “Lets see where my first death is, and how far I *would have* made it through hardcore.  I tend not to make it past act 3 =\

  8. If your allowed to pay to bring back your character in hardcore, it is no longer hardcore. Its softcore but your wasting money to rez instead of losing durability. I really hope this is not implemented.

  9. Oh and I also made a HC char after being inspired by your column. Looking forward to making a petilicous WD and so I decided to go for a fishymancer, made it to lvl 47 and nightmare before I died due to not paying enough attention :'( I don’t know if my friends will be up for playing HC when d3 comes out and playing with them is def. 1st priority, but if they do, I now feel a bit more emotionally prepared 😛

  10. Another one great article, Xanth. I greatly appreaciate it. Your writing skills, the way you compose the skelet of the text..Its great. Keep up the good work 🙂

  11. great article, once again. the more i read about your hardcore experiences, the more i’m hoping that there will be hardcore-achievements. those might be the tiny little extra spark of motivation i need to really invest time playing hardcore. just for bragging-rights :D.

  12. Very moving piece, now I have to make a hardcore character. I’ve lost items to hacks plenty of times on SC chars in D2 which totally sucked as much as dying would be anyway. So I think the game will be more exciting in hardcore. Do they get to share stash with soft core chars?

Comments are closed.