“Better finish it while there’s still an Apple II market out there,”
November 22, 2009 12:13 AM   Subscribe

The development blog for the original Prince of Persia from Jordan Mechner.
posted by loquacious (31 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Consider my paradigm shifted. you see i always thought that the characters moved ... a little oddly. Turns out it was possibly the MOST realistic animation set ever completed.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:20 AM on November 22, 2009


They didn't actually have blogs back then. Diary perhaps. Journal maybe. Not a blog though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:09 AM on November 22, 2009


Oh fancy grappling Moses.
posted by cortex at 1:15 AM on November 22, 2009


Awesome find!
posted by JHarris at 2:05 AM on November 22, 2009


This is fantastic. I just read about 20 pages of this. One thing that jumps out at me, is that while he's creating one of the most important video games ever made, he still desperately wants to be a screenwriter. It makes me want to reach through the screen and shake some sense into him. He was already doing what he was put on earth to do!

And he's wasting his time trying to get Jack Abramoff (!) to do a tv movie of the week version of his screenplay.

I'm up to the part where he's starting to work on PoP 2 and basically half-assing it so he can go to goddamned Bob McKee screenwriting seminars. It's frustrating to read.

Also, there are brief journal entries about: The LA earthquakes, the fall of the berlin wall and the Iraq War.

It's a great time capsule.
posted by empath at 2:15 AM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Isn't this the same as this.
posted by runkelfinker at 4:05 AM on November 22, 2009


I've just wasted 2 hours reading all of that, when I really should have been doing other things - awesome find! It seems almost inconceivable today that once a single person could design and code almost all of a successful computer game themselves!
posted by prentiz at 4:11 AM on November 22, 2009


Heck, design, code and produce just about every little bit of, from what it sounds like.

I liked this:

August 22, 1989: The disks are in QA. All of ‘em....but secretly, I’m still surreptitiously fixing tiny little bugs that no one will notice. I’ll slip the fixes in when we do the copy protection, Roland and I will test the hell out of it, and nobody will know the difference.

August 29, 1989: Everything was beautiful. I was thinking I’d take the day off work tomorrow. Then I decided to boot up the game on my IIc and play it through one last time, just for the hell of it. It’s that God-cursed IIc VBLANK routine Roland and I stuck in at the last minute. It works, but it screws up the joystick.

Every time!
posted by fleacircus at 4:24 AM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


As someone who is currently devoting almost all free time to the solo creation of a rather elaborate side-scrolling platformer (in Flash), I find this fascinating.
posted by autodidact at 7:22 AM on November 22, 2009


This is awesome:

I was seducing him. At the critical psychological moment, I remarked:

“You know, all my clipping is done on the byte boundaries.”

There was a pause.

“Well, that was a nice thing to say!”


I'm going to whisper that in my wife's ear tonight and see if she responds the same way.
posted by ook at 7:22 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fascinating stuff. This is like a primer on just how complicated and multi-faceted good game design can be. And quite a set of business and people skills needed too.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:07 AM on November 22, 2009


PoP source code documentation, it links back to the same website as this post, but I didn't see it in any easy to finds links.
posted by Science! at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2009


I'm still reading through, and really enjoying this. I was really interested to learn that he was friends with the designer of D/Generation (another of my favourites from this era, and really underated IMHO).
posted by jzed at 10:21 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a really great read. Was chuckling when noises started being made about the package design, and then it culminated in this:
More controversy over the package design: Dianne Drosnes saw it and threw a fit. So Bill McDonagh put it on hold until Doug got back.

Doug glanced at it first thing yesterday morning and said: “Looks fine.” Today a bunch of irate women put a message on the LAN to Doug, Bill, and Ed Auer complaining that it’s sexist and offensive.

Doug wrote a two-page response to cool them down. It looks like we’re in business again, though this cost us a week. The whole thing is ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with the package design.
It feels safe sneering at 50s sexism in Mad Men, but then you read things from the late 80s and realise in lots of ways it wasn't much better, either.
posted by bonaldi at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2009


Thanks, that was a really interesting window into one of my favorite childhood games.
posted by advil at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2009


"Why am I in Paris making a dumb student film, instead of in Novato where the action is?"

How often has anyone thought that, I wonder.
posted by kenko at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Is it supposed to link to page 11? If not, could the link be fixed?

In any case, thanks for the fascinating read.
posted by Anything at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2009


The description of the conception of 'shadow man' is awesome.
posted by Anything at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2009


Indeed fascinating. Thanks for this.
posted by jcruelty at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2009


They didn't actually have blogs back then. Diary perhaps. Journal maybe. Not a blog though.

Tomatoe, tomatoh - you're teaching your grandpa to suck eggs. I grew up on an Apple 2, and was still using it when these journal entries were written. They didn't even have consumer grade internet back then. Or the web. It's a journal that's been turned into a blog, so I called a spade a shovel.
posted by loquacious at 3:18 PM on November 22, 2009


Also, as far as page 11 - I'm pretty sure that's where the meat of the PoP journalling starts. Going back to the beginning of the blog is way too far, though.

I gathered correctly that people would feel free to explore backwards and forwards.
posted by loquacious at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2009


he's actual a pretty good online-journalist. has that knack for saying the right amount per entry & revealing interesting facets of himself. i like the 'notebook' design too. and yeah what a great time capsule.
posted by jcruelty at 3:32 PM on November 22, 2009


This one hit me in the face and gut like a semi-frozen slimy eel:

I have no excuse for slacking off. As Adam Derman once told me in a letter (about Karateka): “You dumb shit. You’ve dug your way deep into an active gold mine and are holding off from digging the last two feet because you’re too dumb to appreciate what you’ve got and too lazy to finish what you’ve started.”

*Runs away in shame to get busy.*
posted by Burhanistan at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2009


Karateka wasn't half bad neither!
posted by destro at 4:07 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, what's up guys? Oh, this looks familiar...
posted by P.o.B. at 7:14 PM on November 22, 2009


Previously on MetaFilter: All aboard The Last Express.
posted by zippy at 9:06 PM on November 22, 2009


"the comfort of having an organization is largely illusory. It still comes down to one programmer in the end."
posted by blenderfish at 10:49 PM on November 22, 2009


This is completely absorbing and inspiring, and I'm only halfway through. Thanks for posting.
posted by sleevener at 9:26 AM on November 23, 2009


A great read; I was amazed how Broderbund's developers knew they had a hit, but marketing refused to support it.
posted by Monochrome at 11:44 AM on November 24, 2009


> It seems almost inconceivable today that once a single person could design and code almost all of a successful computer game themselves

Dennis Caswell did it in 1984 with Impossible Mission.
posted by ostranenie at 4:44 PM on November 24, 2009


Just finished this this evening. Excellent reading over the past few days.
posted by limeonaire at 9:42 PM on November 24, 2009


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