Remember When Games Were Fun: Prince of Persia Edition
Here is an excerpt from a Wired profile about Jordan Mechner - full disclosure, Jordan is a client - and he talks about when game making was fun and the results showed in the product.
“I was right out of college, spending a summer at home,” Mechner says. “I had an Apple II, so I took my brother out into the parking lot of our old high school and made him run, jump and climb, and that video was the basis for the game.”
The date was Oct. 20, 1985. We know this because the 21-year-old Mechner kept an astonishingly comprehensive journal, which he has since posted online. While he was still an undergraduate at Yale, Mechner was already earning royalties off a best-selling action game that he had created, called Karateka. He wanted his next game to have the same essential story elements — a youthful hero, a princess in danger, an evil lord — but on a grander scale, like a “Disney movie,” as he wrote at the time.
Nearly four years later, the original Prince of Persia game was released for the Apple II. Mechner’s rotoscoped animation, based on his brother’s acrobatics, was smoother and more lifelike than anything gamers had experienced before. The 1989 game became a smash hit, ported to nearly every operating system and game console at the time. And Mechner began pitching the idea of a Prince of Persia feature film.
The idea didn’t gain traction at first, and the series faded from the limelight after a failed attempt to translate the gameplay into 3-D. But in 2003, Mechner worked with Ubisoft to bring the series back to life with the critically acclaimed Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The success of this new game was key, he would say later, to getting Disney and producer Bruckheimer excited about the idea of a film.
Bruckheimer’s production company hired Mechner to write the screenplay, keeping the series’ creator intimately involved with the making of the film. (Three other scribes share writing credits on the final version of the script.)
Mechner “came up with a good story and worked really hard on it,” says Bruckheimer.
With the release of the Prince of Persia movie Jordan will be the first game creator to cross over and write a major feature film. All indications are it will displace Tomb Raider's 9 year run as the top grossing game to film transition. In case you were wondering if the two films have anything in common, yes they do - me.
You can read the whole thing here.