June 13, 2024

‘Prince of Persia’ Creator Fulfills Childhood Dream with Success of the Game

Video game maker Jordan Mechner reflects on the success of his iconic creation, ‘Prince of Persia’, which has allowed him to achieve his childhood dreams of making video games and movies. The highly-acclaimed creator speaks to the press, expressing his excitement for the revival of the franchise with the upcoming release of ‘Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’, after a hiatus of thirteen years. The game, inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights folktales, is set to bring back the medieval hero that has captured the hearts of millions of gamers worldwide.

For Mechner, the journey from the game’s inception in his home studio in California in the 1980s to its latest incarnation developed in Ubisoft’s studios in Montpellier, France, has been a remarkable transformation. ‘Prince of Persia’ was one of the pioneering games to utilize motion capture, a technology that revolutionized the gaming industry by making movements more realistic on-screen. Mechner, now 59 and a resident of Montpellier since 2015, reminisces about the early days when he used a VHS camera to film his little brother executing the various movements that the hero would perform in the game. Each frame was then meticulously uploaded to a computer using the rotoscoping technique borrowed from classic cartoon-making. Mechner’s father, an amateur pianist, even composed the game’s music, making it a truly artisanal production.

Upon its release in 1989, ‘Prince of Persia’ received widespread acclaim for its advanced animation and fluid movements, further establishing Mechner as a notable figure in the gaming industry. This success followed his earlier achievement with ‘Karateka’, a game he developed entirely on his own while still a student. Mechner credits his self-taught programming skills, acquired through reading magazines and experimenting on his Apple II computer, for his early success.

Since its debut, ‘Prince of Persia’ has evolved into a cult saga, continually adapting to the latest technological advancements, especially the transition from 2D to 3D. In 2000, the franchise was acquired by Ubisoft and was later adapted into a successful Disney movie in 2010.

While Mechner never anticipated the enduring popularity and longevity of the game, he continues to find new creative ventures. Currently, he is working on graphic novels, a popular art form in France. His most recent publication, ‘Replay: Memoires d’une famille’ (Memories of a Family), published by Delcourt, recounts the story of his father and grandfather, Austrian Jewish refugees who escaped to the United States just before World War II. The graphic novel, originally released in April, will be available in English in March through Macmillan’s First Second Books.

Through the novel, Mechner aims to share the incredible family stories that shaped his upbringing, including the tale of his great uncle Joji, who managed to secure an exit visa to France by showing two watercolor paintings purchased from Adolf Hitler years prior. Mechner’s grandfather also contributed to the family lore by spending three years writing a memoir after retiring.

As Mechner reflects on his journey, he acknowledges the influence of his personal life on his creations. In a conversation with his children in 2015, after announcing his move to France, his son suggested that he should work on something other than ‘Prince of Persia’, to which his daughter humorously chimed in, “At least make Princess of Persia.”

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it