On the day of Torchlight 2’s release I was able to talk with Max Schaefer about Hardcore. To say I was elated is an understatement. Being able to talk to one of the people responsible for your gaming childhood and creating the mode you love was a thrilling experience. I pick his brain about the mode, TL2, and what it is that makes this so appealing. The interview after the bump.

    Okay first off thanks for taking time to answer a few questions especially on release day! Since my column is focused on Hardcore I thought I’d pick your brain on the mode in both Torchlight and Diablo.

    Xanth: Where did hardcore come from? What was the cause for it appearing in D2 as opposed to 1?

    Max:Hardcore mode came about simply from discussions about what the death penalty should be in this sort of game. Obviously there are differing options and opinions, and it seemed like a voluntary election to be “hardcore” was a great way of introducing high-stakes play without forcing people into it. I’m still trying to convince our guys to implement a “corpse retrieval” mode like we had in D1, but it’s a hard sell. 🙂

    X: How often would you guys get requests for character restoration?

    M:I don’t know of any, but I can say that virtually every time anyone dies, they blame it on lag. It’s rarely lag. 🙂

    X: Why bring Hardcore to Torchlight?

    M: Have you tried it? It’s fun! I did quite a bit of testing of hardcore prior to our launch, usually on Elite difficulty. I couldn’t get past level 14, mostly because of my short attention span. My brother was a bit better. But it was always fun to try. I have my permanent characters, but I’ll always enjoy a good hardcore run.

    X: How do you think Torchlight has improved upon Hardcore? I personally am a fan of Hardcore elite.

    M:I think we improve it by letting you select a difficulty level right off the bat. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same.

    X: As a developer of some huge titles, how much do you actually play your own games after they go live? Do you ever go back and play your past titles?

    M: Not that often. By the time we ship, we’ve played so much, there’s nothing left to do in game. You play a while just to monitor it and enjoy it, but pretty soon you’re working on the next project.

    X: I know you guys had intended to do a Diablo MMO. Would you have brought a perma-death system to that as well?

    M:Probably not. In an MMO, you’re much more invested in long-term development of a character, and losing months of work can be pretty soul-crushing.

    X: With games like Dark Souls garnering great press for both difficulty and game play do you think a game could ever release with such a Harsh death penalty as the only option?

    M:As an only option? It’s a good question. I suppose it depends on the game and how emotionally tied you are to an individual character.

    X: As a Mac user when will we see the mac client for TL2?

    M: We’ll get on it as soon as possible. I’d expect a couple-three months, but we’ll have better estimates of that soon.

    X: Any classes that seem to have an advantage in hardcore in TL2?

    M: I don’t know yet! The highest Hardcore character Elite level player I’ve seen is level 33, and it was an Embermage. I could only hit level 14 as an Engineer, but I’m hardly the best at it.

    X: What is your play style for TL2? Ranged or melee? Hardcore or soft?

    M: All of the above. Part of the testing required I do different things every time. Ask me again in a couple months!

    X: If you died in Hardcore would you be tempted to restore your own character?

    M:Never! I’m a purist. I don’t even respec. Hell, I won’t even use my shared stash!

    X: What is it about Hardcore that you think appeals to people? Did yo have any reservations creating and implementing this mode in either d2 or torchlight? Will you continue to keep this mode alive (pun intended) in future titles?

    M: Hardcore is the only mode that really makes your palms sweat. I don’t play all the time because the heartbreak would get depressing after a ton of deaths. But it sure is fun to do once in a while. Which is why people like it, I think. They like the adrenaline rush, just not all the time. We had no reservations implementing it because it has always been a popular option

    It’s awesome to hear that the developers get in on the Hardcore action as well. As Max points out Torchlight has added in some cool features that add a bit more difficulty to Hardcore. Jumping in on Hardcore elite I was fighting for my life immediately. It’s kind of sad to hear how they can create such amazing games but not really get to enjoy them after they’re made as so many of us do. The best thing to hear is their commitment to this mode. With Runic and Blizzard keeping this going we’ll (hopefully)always have our option to put our lives on the line and get our blood pumping.

    Have you ventured into TL2 hardcore? How do you think it compares?

    One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth (a paragon of objectivity) and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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