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on 19 June 2017
A little time travel back to the days when games were still made in bedrooms with exceptional people who put everything they could into it.
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on 21 January 2012
The Making of Prince of Persia is a collection of Jordan Mechner's personal diaries that chart the creation and release of the multi-format, multi-million selling video game. A game which I played endlessly on my Commodore Amiga.

The story begins in 1985 when Jordan graduates from Yale University. Already the author of a hit video game, Karateka, he wonders whether to follow his passion for writing screenplays and making films, or create another game (which he isn't keen on doing). It isn't long, though, before the idea for a new game - based on Sinbad - takes shape.

What follows is a full account of the game's creation, a process which takes Jordan no less than 4 years. This was largely due to technical challenges (such as the ground-breaking animation), but was also due to self-doubt, drops in motivation, and distractions such as travelling and writing screenplays. Occasionally, little or no work was done on the game for weeks at a time. At one point, the game was nearly abandoned. Thankfully, the game was finished and released into the world to much critical acclaim - only to sell 150 copies at the start. Gradually, though, as the game was ported from the original Apple II version to the many home computer and console alternatives, the game became a major hit and the awards rolled in.

Don't worry, this book isn't technical. It's honest, informative and moves at a speedy pace through the years. All in all, it's a great read and worth every penny.
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on 19 April 2012
I bought this book entirely on the basis that I played Prince of Persia on my Amiga back in the early 1990s, and figured that the book was worth a punt.

It certainly was. I got the nostalgia kick I was looking for, but the bonus is that Mechner is a good journal writer. The reader gets an insight into the tribulations of game development and there's a real sense of the sheer effort of will required to get things done. It's honest at times - often so honest that I wonder whether it's a good idea, legally speaking, for Mechner to write this stuff.

Overall, thoroughly recommended for fans of the game, or those just interested the auteur creative process.
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on 15 August 2014
There isn't much that's in-depth about this book. Most of it passes with Jordan talking about what's happening as the first Prince of Persia game makes its way into production and saying how he feels about it. There's little to nothing about the coding challenges that (one imagines?) must make up at least part of the development process - but maybe Jordan just never found it hard to do. That's just another aspect in which the book lacks substance though - you don't learn how it is that Jordan came to have his programming skills. Or how he came to decide what features he would put into each level of the game. Tantalisingly, there are some notepad sketches of graphic elements that, if you played early versions of PofP, you will recognise, but you don't ever get close to his thinking re the actual creative journey. So it's just not quite the book I wanted it to be and has little else as compensation.
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on 13 October 2012
(from my goodreads review)

If you picked up this book looking for pretty pictures of Jake Gyllenhal and co on location and amusing anecdotes from the cast and crew of the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, you'd be sorely disappointed. This is not that book. This is a book about the original video game that spawned a host of original remakes, which later provided inspiration for the movie. Every story has a beginning, and this is the beginning for the Prince, in his earliest iteration.

For fans of the recent Ubisoft series of games, this might make an interesting read (provided you can put your console/computer controller down long enough to read) and is an excellent insight into how the original Prince of Persia was created. Although not exactly a detailed account into the mechanics or decisions that were made to create such a classic game, this book does provide a look into Jordan Mechner's thoughts on the process and how he struggled to balance his dreams and ambitions. In essence, isn't that a story we all personally know?

The more I read through this collection of journal entries, the more I wanted to root out my copy of the DOS PoP and play it (which I did about halfway through the book). Twenty three years on, and the game is still a thrill to play and I don't think I've played a game recently that has given me the same shivers I got whenever the pixelly Prince needed to make a particularly haring jump. This is lasting power, and hats off to Mechner for getting past all the politics he describes here to get this made and have it enter legendary status (in my books at least).

In the end it's a wonderful story of how, through hard work, perseverance and personal drive, you really can achieve all that you set out to achieve. I think this was quite an inspiration and highly recommend it for anyone who loves the Prince of Persia game(s) (new or old), or anyone who enjoys a good biographical look into the mind of a successful professional (although, at the time he wrote this section of his journal, Mechner wasn't an out-and-out success yet).
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on 17 November 2011
I picked this up with no more expectation than finding out some occasional Prince of Persia tidbits, but was surprised to find myself racing through the book. The diaries are well written, engaging, and very natural feeling - occasional references to new people out of the blue just added to the feeling that this was a record written at the time. The factor that makes the book so engaging, I think, is Jordan's doubt and uncertainty about the process of making the game, but more generally about how he should live his life. Very honest, and entertaining.
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on 29 July 2014
Fantastic little gem. One has to congratulate Mechner for having the foresight (or the massive ego) to keep a developmetn journal for Prince of Persia. The book is a fascinating view of the author's state of mind while developing the game. It helps to understand the process, his motivations and his creative ideas better. I did like that he kept his other personal (non game) entries as they definately had a baring in his state of mind and therefore on Prince of Persia. The only shame is that there aren't many more game developers that have kept a journal like Jordan Mechner has!
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on 1 February 2016
I started reading this book because of the potential game development lessons in it. Having played the game as a kid and being fascinated by its animation and soundtrack made the whole thing all the more interesting.

Those elements were all in the book. However, it offers so much more than that.

Jordan's life at the time was registered in such an interesting way that even if the book omitted most of the content about Prince of Persia it would still be worth reading.
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on 3 August 2014
An inspiring gaming geekfest. Fascinating to see how Jordan his game, life and maturity develop through time. Given his creative ability I'm surprised he hasn't turned this into a script. It has so much potential to be an engrossing coming-of-age celebration of 90's gaming geekdom a bit of a 'Starter for Ten'/'The social network - me thinks
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on 21 August 2013
I read this over a few days and found it very pleasing. I'm a child of that generation and remember the feeling of excitement during those years that something amazing was happening. Jordan's recollections resonate with that era. I don't think I'd read it again, but I might read his other mini-memoir as a result.
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