In post 3 I asked for a hardcode mode to satisfy both groups and added the suggestion to include some type of bonus for playing hardcode mode as seen within other games such as Warlords Battlecry 3(RTS). Heck the developers of Dominions_3(TBS) did not want people using save/reload cheats and thus purposely left out the save cheating option completely... you can still save an exit, but once you select end turn you must play the hand you're dealt.
Quite frankly that just means I would lose interest in those games earlier than otherwise. Why? Well first, I would end up playing the hardcore mode because I want those extra features, too! I'd lose interest because sometimes I'll be playing a game, and something will happen that makes me not want to continue. Maybe I got utterly crushed and want a second chance; or maybe because the AI did something utterly retarded, all of a sudden essentially handing me the game. It may surprise you, but I use the load feature fairly often in order to circumvent AI mistakes as well as my own. Not everyone who likes the load feature uses it to guarantee a win - at least not all the time (and quite honestly, there are still occasions in which no level of loading will change the future, unless you essentially start over). If I can't load my game, and something happens that makes me not want to continue that game, then I'm not going to finish it; and that is not the mark of a good game.
Just because some people will 'abuse' the load feature, you should not penalize everyone who wants to make use of it. Is there really anything wrong to, after victory or defeat, jump back into the middle of the game and trying something totally different? Or replaying a particularly fun segment of your game? Not to mention, I don't see anything wrong with abuse if no one and nothing sentient is being harmed. I abuse my alarm clocks every morning (they usually don't last very long), should I be punished for it? And really, what about people who are playing with save/load enabled, but don't actually use it at all?
As I wrote earlier several types of games have included bonuses for 'hardcore/iron man' mode. And they included those bonuses because the challenge is harder. Why should someone running 5 miles on flat grass recieve the same reward as someone running 10 miles on rocky ground up a hill? Yeah the person running the easy 5 miles will want the same reward, but clearly does not deserve the same reward. I believe another reason previous game developers have included bonuses for the 'hardcore/iron man' mode as a way to encourage gamers to play a tougher and more fair challenge. So it's not only MY personal preference, but it's what developers in the past have realized and thus provided in their games.
Wait, so what do you mean by bonus, now? Extra features, that just add to the overall richness of the game, or features that provide the player an advantage? Because quite frankly, I don't see why a harder challenge warrants extra features. By that reasoning, features should be stripped from the game as you lower the difficulty level from the highest setting. Because that's where your argument is taking you.
If this were a competition, then someone running 5 miles on flat grass shouldn't necessarily receive the same reward as someone running 10 miles on rocky ground up a hill. But Elemental is (or will be, anyway) a game, not a competition. The major reward Stardock should be considering is the fun factor - how fun can they make this game for every type of player? Look at GC2. Some people very can jump into the game and very quickly hold their own on the highest difficulty settings, while other people, even after playing the game for years, still have trouble playing on any AI setting above tough. Why should those people essentially get an inferior product to those playing on impossible? I know that isn't what you're arguing for, but it's a logical extension of your argument.
The *only* reason to play on harder difficulty settings, or hardcore mode, or whatever, is if you personally find it more fun. Maybe because you're so good that the easier settings are boring, or maybe you find near insurmountable challenge to be more fun. Great! Go for it, we will do nothing but applaud you. But I personally don't enjoy getting my ass handed to me more often than not, and I would like to play the game at a difficulty that presents a challenge but not a road block, and I want the option of going back in time and playing around. That is half the fun of the game for me (and apparently plenty of others).
And in conclusion, another great reason not to give extra features for hardcore mode: they would inevitably end up being modded into the regular game by disgruntled players, and it would just make people even more bitter towards SD if they have to go through modders in order to be able to play the 'full' game as they see fit to. Seriously, giving extra features to people who play the game in hardcore mode would be a downright terrible idea. That said, hardcore mode itself is a great idea; it provides a way for people to compare scores with reasonable certainty that the people they're being compared to didn't 'doctor' the game to their benefit. In fact I think that's the only good reason (still good enough for it to be included) for hardcore mode, because people who just don't want to load for whatever reason can simply choose not to, even if the ability is there.