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The Making of Prince of Persia

(Mechner Journals #2)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  958 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Before Prince of Persia was a best-selling video game franchise and a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, it was an Apple II computer game created and programmed by one person, Jordan Mechner.

Mechner's candid and revealing journals from the time capture his journey from his parents' basement to the forefront of the fast-growing 1980s video game industry... and the creative, technica
Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published October 19th 2011 (first published October 14th 2011)
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Roy Klein
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book is supposedly about the development of the famous Prince of Persia game. In reality, it's a book about a guy who really really REALLY loves himself, and a journal about everyone who ever told him that.

I'm of the Prince of Persia generation, a game developer in my past and have a fetish for old-school development, so I figured this book would be right up my alley. The the first half of the book had some of what I expected, heavily diluted in the author's dream of grandeur, self obsessio
Koen Crolla
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vidya
I don't know why I keep reading these things about video games I liked in elementary school. There were no good people in the '80s or early '90s, and while the video game industry specifically sucked in a different, sleazier way than it does today, it did so in the same way the world over.
Jordan Mechner, admittedly, probably wasn't the worst person making video games at the time—he was a misogynist, of course, and a creep (though he was not yet the person who would marry a woman young enough to
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
If there is any reason for people to start keeping a journal of their life, this book would be a great example to prove that point.

The story is a collection of journal entries made by Jordan Mechner, while he was producing the classic game Prince of Persia. You get incite into his worries and feel his triumphants, as the development process and negotiatians go on. You get to read about his deliberations in his head over wether he should stick to this game designing thing or drop it all to take u
Mahmoud Ismail
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was really amazing to read how the first PC game I ever encountered and madly fell in love with was made over a period of 4 years! The book is in the form of diaries that were kept by Jordan Mechner during this period of his life when he was hesitant about his future; whether to continue writing games or pursue a film career. The book is truly inspiring and fascinating. I loved every single page of it. Highly recommended.
Adam Wiggins
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the personal journals of a twenty-something genius while he single-handed created one of the most artistic video games of all time. It doesn't read like much of a story, since it's a collection of disjointed journal entries; but I found it a page-turner nonetheless.

I probably found significance in this one since I can relate to the author's circumstances in so many ways. He oscillates between thinking all his hard work is a waste of time, and thinking he's creating something truly great.
جادی میرمیرانی
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
fun read. specially if you have played the game.
Eric Mesa
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this as part of a bundle - probably Storybundle as I've bought nearly all their video game bundles - and I had put it off in favor of other books because I don't have a strong connection to Prince of Persia (POP henceforth). My family was working poor until I was getting into later elementary school, by which time a lot of computer game industry had lost its first "death" to the consoles. By the time I was playing computer games, it was mostly just RTSes hanging on and we weren't anywhere ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I must say, I liked it. It wasn't about Prince of Persia as such, but Mechner's personal journals from the time period that mostly intersected with the making of Prince. I'm fine with that; especially given how humane and mortal it made Mechner seem, when he let us see how he struggled with doubt, how he searched for a direction (he wanted to do movies and not games, except did he really?), how he changed his mind and his goals. That's something that probably most creative people experience in o ...more
Chris Moyer
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Super quick read, and super enjoyable if you are into video game development. Probably if you are into film-making or other creative pursuits. Great to see Jordan, a now-super-successful developer, struggling with self-confidence, professional development, motivation and deadlines.

Some great quotes:
"But, as Brian pointed out, if players get frustrated they can always call Tech Support for hints."
(Yes, technical support for video game issues)

"Level design is a creative process, like screenwriting
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Disappointingly, the book has less to do with Prince of Persia, per se, and more to do with Jordan's life around the making of Prince of Persia which is mostly about how he doesn't really want to work on PoP.

And I'm slightly put down by the always complaining author that did one of the coolest things ever. Made me sad, and bored me for a short while. But, after all, it's what his view of things is, that's how he saw them back then, and there are some instructive lessons there, if you can manage
Shayan Kh
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

It was not a very interesting book. It was a journal of Jordan Mechner's life while he was working on Prince of Persia and it's sequel. And in that aspect, it was a nice enough read. I like game development and I would like to get a job in this industry, so for me, it was sort of historical fun. All the hassles of game making and working with a studio. But the knowledge isn't really transferable. Because it was for more than 25 years ago, and it wasn't an industry back then.
So on
Nguyen Duy Pham
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
The book title is somewhat misleading. This book is not less "The making of Prince of Persia" and more "The journal of the Jordan Mechner around the time period he started making Prince of Persia."
Not a bad book per se, but definitely not what many reader come in expecting.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it liked it
The first half: Making of Prince 1 was interesting. After that it became mostly meeting & travel log. A good read, nonetheless. ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's a blast to remember how playing games from the likes of Mechner, Minter, and Turmell on an Apple ][ 30 years ago inspired me to pursue my career.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is really a diary transcript -- there's no (or very little) editing going on here and no overall narrative being spun other than what Mechner was going through at this period in his life. That's what this book is advertised as and that's what you get.

As a result, there are several different things several different types of people could get out of this book. Here's a list that I've tried to order in terms of "compelling storylines" from strongest to weakest:

1. The eponymous story of th
Arthur Cravan
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sure, the guy is a bit of an egomaniac, & it makes the last quarter or so a lot less meaningful than what comes before, but it's easy to read & ultimately quite interesting. I forgive a lot of the self-congratulatory bullshit - I mean, he's young, he's becoming successful, he was probably a bit of a basement-dweller leading up to the inflow of cashmoney... & it was a personal journal, he didn't know people would be reading this shit 30 years later. You can see a lot of his struggles, as well - I ...more
Ye Lin Aung
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2020
(meta-review about the process: It has been some time that I have read a new book and feels good to be able to finish one!)

Programming is fun and these days, it is on the rise. All the top companies in the stock market are the tech giants. However, back in the 80s, it was not the case. People were not very sure. Then if you narrow it down to "games", it was a very small niche market. Nobody knew whether they will be around or what it will be in the next few years.
Jordan had a success making his
Jason Holliday
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was supposed to be coding all day but decided to finish reading this book...

I hope the enjoyment of reading the book makes me twice as productive at coding tomorrow. This is an awesome book. I like reading books based on journals and even more so when it s by a game industry titan like Mechner. I've also read the Karateka book and I spent countless hours back when I was a kid playing and beating the game on an Atari computer that I bought making $35/week working 7 days a week on a chicken farm
Greg Stoll
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A nice look back at the making of Prince of Persia. Usually when I read stuff like this I can't help but feel jealous and wonder if I should have tried to start a startup or whatever. I didn't feel that reading this, partially because Mr. Mechner's skillset is very different than mine (he wrote scripts for movies and such), and partially because I have fond memories of Prince of Persia. I remember playing it as a kid and getting so scared by the big chopper things that chop the Prince in half th ...more
Patrick Lum
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: artbooks-to-buy
I sort of started reading the preview on a whim, reached the end of the preview, immediately bought the rest of the ebook and kept going. I'm gonna get the hardback if I can too. Mechner's diaries bring the reality of the early days of game dev to life through his own lens in a way with an immediacy that a lot of well-researched but retrospective non-fiction does not. Though it doesn't offer as much in the way of game design insights, apart from the occasional pseudo-essay Mechner was thinking a ...more
Aniruddha Prithul
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book, specially if you area game designer/developer. However, it isn't really about how Jordan made the game. It is really about everything else that happened while he made the game.
Reason I gave it a 4 is that It can be sometimes hard to follow; because he doesn't really explain the different characters and their relations to him like one would do in a proper biography.
But then again it isn't a biography; it's a journal and I am glad it exists.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As an artist and creator, so much of Jordan's thought process during the long process, literally years, of working on this classic game (in the pantheon of all time greats) resonated with me on a deeply emotional level. The doubt, the self-reproach, the vitriol directed at those who didn't get it and never would... it was comforting to read that even the creator of one of the greatest masterpieces of electronic art went through all those feelings we mortals endure.

Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am absolutely in love with this game. I remember the first time when I saw it and I played it. Sweet childhood memories so when I see it somewhere, I get sentimental. I was expecting to read a journal describing the full experience of creation, meanwhile I've got maybe some interesting facts but it was too dry. I guess, that was the concept of the book and some may like it but I'm not one of those people.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is captivating for two reasons: you learn how a classic computer game came to be and what struggles (human, cultural, and technical) the author had to overcome.

But it’s also a biography of the formative years of Jordan Mechner who really got into computer games just to finance art school so he can make movies and how he dealt with the unexpected success.
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting read. However the title is misleading: making of gives one the expectation to read a gazillion (technical) details of the making of prince of persia. Guess what, you o ly get glimpses. This book would triple in value if the author would commented on his journal entries and gave way more detail and background to his short notes.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy this book as much as the first as it seemed a bit too self conscious and less about the process. The author has less too lose, or to prove, at this point making the whole thing a bit less interesting. Still thought this was a good read though especially if you recognize the ‘struggle’ of having to figure out what you actually want of life.
Jef-Aram Van
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This diary is a light, fun read and gives great insight into the roller coaster ride of emotions that Jordan Mechner went through while developing “Prince”. Despite hindsight, I actually felt tense at times when things were rough and equally thrilled when Mechner succeeded. Highly recommend this book!
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I went into this thinking it would discuss game design and aspects of the software, but it turned out to be almost entirely about the life of Jordan Mechner while he was working on the games. I still found it interesting to read the inner monologue of a twenty-something software engineer, including all his anxieties and existential questions, but don’t expect much more than that.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Less of a diary and more of a series of well edited diary entries. There's a very salient point where he's being told how much he sucked at something while oliver north stood trial. For the most part the vast majority of the book was riveting.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tale of two books: a mixture of an engaging, interesting narrative about software development, overcoming challenges and transforming a passion in art; and a quite tedious droning about travels, friends etc. That is much less interesting. Still, it's brilliant at times, and well worth reading.
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Jordan Mechner is a game designer, screenwriter, graphic novelist, and author. Widely considered a pioneer of cinematic storytelling in the video game industry, he created Prince of Persia, one of the most successful and enduring video game franchises of all time, and became the first game creator to adapt his own work into a feature film with Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. He also ...more

Other books in the series

Mechner Journals (2 books)
  • The Making of Karateka

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