Ken Levine, creative director at Irrational Games and creator of BioShock, is an interesting guy. If you listen to him talk during the Irrational Podcasts or read his interviews, it’s very apparent that 1) he loves games, and 2) he’s extremely intelligent. This manifests particularly well in that he is cognizant of what the gaming public is thinking and wanting, even if they don’t know it.
So cut to this morning when Irrational Games announced the 1999 Mode for BioShock Infinite. Instead of how most games increase difficulty by giving enemies a health bump and the player a health drop, the 1999 Mode take it back for “old school” gamers and include “tweaks and features that BioShock fans will not experience in a standard play-through.”
In particular, Levine says that players will “face more of the permanent consequences of their gameplay decisions” and “sweat out the results of their actions.” 1999 Mode will also demand that players “pick specializations and focus on them.” These choices for the new mode were informed by questions posed on the Irrational Games website to the general public where it was revealed that 94.6% of respondents showed that they liked upgrade choices in BioShock games but that 56.8% said that permanent decisions (exactly what 1999 Mode is bringing to the table) would have made those games better.
The new 1999 Mode will also demand better “weapon, power, and health management” and will lead to a game over screen if the player “lacks the resources” to be resuscitated. Also, here’s a pretty sweet piece of art that accompanied the announcement.