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I unlocked 1999 Mode for Bioshock Infinite, and I'm a little curious why they chose to call it "1999 Mode" instead of "Very Hard" or something like that. What was so special about 1999?

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This is a "why did they design it that way?" question, which is not a good fit for Arqade. – kotekzot Apr 16 '13 at 17:20
I disagree, this is more of a "trivia" or "terminology" question in my opinion. – agent86 Apr 16 '13 at 17:38
It seems like the difference between "developer intent" and "trivia," in this case, is whether or not a known answer exists. Would this question still be allowable if Ken Levine had never given an explanation? – CloudyMusic Apr 16 '13 at 17:41
@agent86 It is trivial and there is no problem here. – user9983 Apr 16 '13 at 17:44
I've elected to reopen this question as the faq specifically allows questions regarding terminology used in a game, which is what I consider the case here. The OP is seeking to understand the significance of this term in the game. If there isn't, then just answer with 'no'. It's really quite simple. – deutschZuid Apr 16 '13 at 21:19
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's intended to be a difficulty that hearkens back to the "hard old days" of FPS'es, as Ken Levine explains:

We call it the 1999 mode because our first game came out in 1999, System Shock, and it was a tough, tough game. We wanted old school fans to have a sense of the game that was pretty unforgiving, as BioShock 1 was not particularly unforgiving. I designed it to get through it. We really wanted to give gamers that kind of challenge who wanted it, but it’s tough stuff. It’s like the hot sauce on the table, use it with care.

The sense that I get from reading multiple interviews with Levine is that he views the "modern" shooter as having been made easy for the masses. They wanted to give the hardcore player a chance to play a more challenging, strategic game.

"I really had to get back into the brain I had in the 90's," Levine explained. "It's that old-school feeling of 'If I fail, I deserved to fail' instead of 'the game made me fail'".

They hid the 1999 Mode option (either by entering the Konami code or playing the game through on some other difficulty) so that the average gamer wouldn't stumble on it by accident.

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Our society needs to go back to the 1999 mode mindset. – k1DBLITZ Apr 17 '13 at 16:10
They should have implemented the 'save-anywhere' mechanic in the 1999 mode too. That's what made older games bearable, since you won't have to reload a checkpoint that could be far from where you died. – galacticninja Apr 21 '13 at 12:10

It's a reference to System Shock 2, which was released in August 1999.

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