One life to live#55 : Hardcore to the Max

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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25 thoughts on “One life to live#55 : Hardcore to the Max

    • Because Max is the creator and although this is a Diablo fan site his thoughts on the subject still have something in common and i always like to think that is an ARPG fan site as well just focused on Diablo ๐Ÿ˜€

    • why does it have to be ?

      is the name of this site ?

      no, it’s

      now, who was involved in creating Diablo 1 & 2 ?

  1. “Never! Iโ€™m a purist. I donโ€™t even respec. Hell, I wonโ€™t even use my shared stash!”

    A man after my own heart. <3

  2. Good read. I’m sure I’ll be trying it out in a couple months or so. I just wish the multiplayer wasn’t so open to being affected by client side character manipulation. Kinda sucks the fun out of that aspect or the TL2 hardcore mode for me.

    • Play with friends. Look for communities like the amazon basin. There many players, not hard to find those interested in same gameplay without character manipulations. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • There are communities right on your doorstep, you should check out the hardcore forums here. There is one for the diablo 2 and another for d3. There are friendly communities there to play with.

  3. Couldn’t you jump straight into Very Hard Hardcore from the start in TL1? Not sure how Elite Hardcore is termed an improvement in that respect.

    I’ve tested the waters, jumping straight into EHC and it is super tough! Playing Outlanders, so far lost a 9 in my first phase portal, and a 13.

    • Yep, there’s a huge difference between the top difficulty of TL1 and of TL2…Sadistic but not impossible. I haven’t made it far but I still have felt like every death has been my fault…I just don’t learn too fast ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I loved the shared stash comment too. I would like to say that I avoid it in D3, but… since it’s already there and all… it’s just too hard to resist. I can honestly say I was a bit disappointed when I first realized that the stash was shared in HC, though. I knew from day one that if it was there I would cave and start twinking like a madman. On the upside, it does help ease the pain of death a good bit.

    It’s also good to hear that the Mac version is not too far off. Even though there are more and more of us around every day, we get little love when it comes to game releases. (Please save the Apple hate comments, there is nothing new to say and the thread doesn’t need to get derailed over it.) Actually, the sole reason that I picked up D2 when it came out was because it was the only Mac game that I could find at a store locally back then. So… that worked out pretty well. The choices have gotten better in recent years, but it’s still pretty dismal. Anyway, good to see that Xanth is one of us as well.

    • Don’t worry, it won’t help much anyway. Hardcore Elite mode in TL2 is so difficult right from the beginning that very little can help save you other than skill. Although I’m not particularly good at staying alive, I’ve tried four times already and only one made it past lvl10.

  5. My first TL2 char is an Engineer, now level 41, mid-way through Act 3, and he’s never died. Of course I’m not playing HC, and I’m on Normal diff, so it’s less of an achievement…

      • Because I have very limited time to play video games and I need to play through the TL2 content for my online job.

        Would I learn something about the game putting the same hours into repeatedly dying at level 15 or 20 on HC/elite? Would I maybe enjoy the experience more? Yes and yes, but sometimes work responsibilities and time management reality intrude into hobbies. Alas.

  6. Imagine a Tool fansite that interviews Maynard James Keenan about A Perfect Circle or about Puscifer. A Perfect Circle isn’t Tool, Puscifer isn’t Tool, but Maynard had a HUGE IMPACT on Tool’s success.

    Max Schaefer is Maynard James Keenan.

    • ^^ Oops… I intended to reply to the first comment. The site had me solve TWO captchas, and borked my post. ๐Ÿ™

      • That’s actually a really good analogy.

        I’m not sure how many of the younger folks are going to be familiar enough with Tool for it to have its full impact (I feel old just thinking about that), but it’s clear enough that they could get the point even if they didn’t know Maynard James Keenan from Layne Staley.

        Worst case scenario, it wouldn’t be too hard to plug in a younger example. The White Stripes/Jack White maybe? Or, if someone is just being an @$$ about the whole thing, you could always add a little tweak by suggesting that they might be more familiar with N’Sync/Justin Timberlake as an example.

        As for the issue you had with your post and the captchas:

        Captchas : Me : : Jay Wilson : D3 Haters

        Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But in my defense, how many times in my life am I going to get an opportunity to drop some contextually relevant hardcore Aristotelian/PC gaming nerd humor? I’m guessing one.

    • I haven’t played for that long, but i’ve been really surprised by how enjoyable TL2 is. Wasn’t expecting it. I’ve even caught myself thinking it might be more replayable than D3 in the long term! Especially because the maps are, you know, random.

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