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The Making of Prince of Persia

(Mechner Journals #2)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  787 ratings  ·  87 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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4.03  · 
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 ·  787 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 only
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
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
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.
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.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd only recommend for fans of games in the 80s, as its a simple journal with a lot of mentions to different characters. A fun read if you're into the early scene of Apple, Amiga and IBM games
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked it less than Making of Karateka.
This book almost not telling about the game, but about author's doubts and complaints about Broderbund and people who he works with
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
§1. In 1996, I was given a pirated copy of Prince of Persia to play on our Pentium 75 MHz PC running Win 3.1 but couldn't get past the first couple of frames because I couldn't figure out how to get around the guard.

§2. In 2014, I came across Fabien Sanglard's code review of the original Prince of Persia Apple source code, where he mentioned this set of memoirs, originally posted online (and still free for anyone to read!), subtitled Journals: 1985--1993.

§3. Later in 2014, and for these two reas
Michael Scott
The making of Prince of Persia is a continuation of Jordan Mechner's first memoir, The making of Karateka, covering the period from 1985 (the publication of Karateka) to January 1993 (the aftershocks of licensing Prince of Persia for a large number of platforms). As for the first part of the memoir, there's a combination of Jordan's thoughts and feelings and game development, but this time Jordan is more mature and there's much about the actual business of making games. Plus, a traveling Jordan ...more
Michael Cooper
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book, super easy to read. Especially interesting to get an insight into Mechner's mind during the creation of the game including his doubts, hopes and fears as well as just being a relatable human being.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Ubisof
Gutenberg Neto
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book is a fascinating insight into the mind of Jordan Mechner while developing one of the most important games of all time. The book is composed of (mostly short) journal entries written by Mechner during the years in which he was developing the game. Not all of the entries are related to the actual game development. In fact, many of them have nothing to do with Prince of Persia at all, dealing with many of the author's personal happenings at the time of writing. It's really interesting, for ...more
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
A fun quick read. It was interesting to peer into the mind of such an acclaimed game designer as he worked on Prince of Persia 1&2. Uh I was struck by his perfectionist tendencies and his 'If you want something done right...' ethos. Also his insecurity! As he gains (more) financial and critical success he finds himself wondering why he doesn't feel as awesome as everyone says he is.

I love his worries in the beginning that he won't be able to program when he is Old. Luckily he is inspired by
Pat Rondon
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fun, quick read about a talented kid graduating from college with an idea for a game and one major hit already behind him, finding tremendous commercial and critical success in the early days of the video game industry. The book follows Mechner from Prince of Persia’s conception through the development of the game and its sequel. As the book is composed entirely of entries from Mechner’s personal journal, the focus is largely on his state of mind, social interactions, and personal and ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stories, code, history
An excellent book and a delightful insight (for those outside the game industry or those with siblings / family / friends in the game industry) about what it takes to break into game development

Just like Mechner's previous book (The making of Karateka) this is an awesome recording of the personal side of the development process of one of the world's most famous video game franchises

As indie game developers also become more & more powerful in our current age, this book shows the never ending
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it
After creating Karateka, Jordan Mechner started keeping a journal... about the movie screenplay he wanted to write. Despite his success @ video games, he didn't want to create another video game. He wanted to break into Hollywood.

The original Prince of Persia was created almost as an afterthought based on scribbles in 1985, and it was released 4 years later. That's the type of effort dozens if not hundreds of people would put into a modern blockbuster today. The sequel was released in 1993. This
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I can't believe Jordan Mechner kept such detailed journals when he was going through all of his game development. I didn't expect to get into the book, but I could barely put it down. Its interesting seeing his method of exploration of the world while developing his game. I don't know if I could ever go the route of musicians, game designers, comedians, writers- taking huge risks and hoping for revenue down the road if your product sells. The story was fascinating (even if it didn't explain much ...more
Marcin Wichary
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book talks surprisingly little about the actual Prince of Persia game design decisions, although some are here and will prove enlightening. There’s seemingly more here about the politics of making a big game, and the dreams of a young aspiring filmmaker (yes!) who just happened to create a very popular Karateka in the year before the book starts.

It is all surprisingly insightful and introspective, although the book suffers a bit by presenting just Mechner’s unedited diaries as written decade
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting insight in the making of one of the greatest video games of all time, both the programming and design perspective and the human side of things: one one side the personal dynamics at Broderbund, Jordan's thoughts, insecurities and personal ramblings, on the other a perspective on the technology of the time and how iconic elements like the white mouse and the Shadow Man came to be.
These unedited diaries are uncorrected and non-novelized, so they aren't always an easy read, especiall
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Other books in the series

Mechner Journals (2 books)
  • The Making of Karateka
“I've chosen a life that's so different from everybody else's that it cuts me off from them. Practically everybody I know treats me like a guest celebrity. Of course it's my own fault. I feel so damn alone sometimes, I feel like I could just float away into the stratosphere and everybody would stand there looking up at me and not one would haul me back down to earth. No ropes.” 4 likes
“A story doesn’t move forward until a character wants something. So – a game doesn’t move forward until the player wants something.” 1 likes
More quotes…