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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2011
When I was 11 years old and wasting hours playing KARATEKA on my friend's Apple IIe, I had no idea that a video game could have an author. Movies? Sure. Books? Of course. George Lucas made movies, Stephen King wrote novels, and, well... video games just sort of happened, right? How wrong I was. Jordan Mechner's new book, drawn from his personal journals from the late '80s/early '90s, chronicles the development of his classic PRINCE OF PERSIA, a landmark in the world of video games. Starting with his initial spark of an idea in the wake of KARATEKA's success, Mechner depicts POP's slow birthing process as well as his clashes with the corporate culture of software development and his dalliances with Hollywood as he attempted to simultaneously jumpstart his career as a screenwriter. The book is a fascinating look back at the realm of personal computing and gaming in the Reagan era; anybody who grew up in that time will probably get a warm fuzzy feeling at the mere mention of the original Mac, the Commodore Amiga, the Atari, the NES. But this isn't a nostalgia piece: along the way, we also get Mechner's intriguing theories on story as they apply to video games, and the journal entries provide an illuminating look at his solutions to problems that popped up as he crafted the narrative and game mechanics of PRINCE OF PERSIA. All in all, this is a must-read for old school video game aficionados, current game developers and anybody in a creative profession who's looking for a little inspiration.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2011
This is a great book. If you are in the least interested in how video games are made you should buy this. This book relates the journey of the creator from the initial conception of Prince of Persia all the way to the sequel (PoP 2). You can see the self-doubts that the author has and the frustration when things don't go right. You can also share his joy when the game is a success.

Something that really amazed me was realizing that Prince of Persia was the work of one person! Just one person with a vision and a lot of work. Very motivating for indy game developers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
This book is great enough for me to write a review, after not reviewing anything in Amazon in years.

It tells a story. A real story behind A Greatest Game of All Time. This is not a 'success story' as we can easily find in a lot of creation/innovation myth. It's not a story of Prince of Persia creation, but a story of Jordan's life as he was creating Prince of Persia. It reveals everything, struggles, supports, wresting, workarounds, conflicts, dilemmas.

I had long for a book like this, a "real" story behind a mega-successful project. Read it cover-to-cover in practically one sit. Can't put it down. A good reading day spent and it brought back a will to work on my next software project.

Highly recommended, without any reservation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2011
A fun and fast read that is both an exciting look at the fragile creation of a video game classic as well as a voyeuristic glimpse at a young man trying to figure out where he wants to make his mark in the world.

This book begins a month before Jordan's 21st birthday and graduation from college. It ends when he is 28 years old, three months before I met him and would spend the next four years working round-the-clock on The Last Express. So for me, these journals feel like a prologue to my adult life. But I think they will be equally fascinating to anyone interested in games, movies, writing, programming, or just the fun and anxiety that goes into any creative endeavor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2011
For those of us who have had the great privilege of working with Mr. Mechner, this was well worth the read. And for those who have had no interface whatsoever with Mr. Mechner's life but want to understand more about the machinations of creative genius and the birth and nurturing of successful ideas -- ideas that play out on a world scale -- this is well worth the read. The success of any product does not come easy. There are trials and tribulations for every award winner. The climb comes with wavering determination, a myriad of decisions, and a constant shedding of self-doubt. This book is about a young man's journey fresh out of Yale and into a professional world with a gift for inventing electronic games. He enters the uncertain and mercurial world of Hollywood screenwriting going right to the top, getting shuffled about, going back to games, traveling, filmmaking, games, and finally, success and a giant Disney movie of his game! Anyone who could hang on to that deserves a standing ovation. Bravo!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2011
I've been working in videogames for close to 6 years now, and have been a videogame fanatic for 25 years. playing Prince of Persia on my brothers Amiga computer is my one of my first game memories and as an artist I think it greatly inspired my development as an artist.

This book was a revelation, it brought back memories of a time almost forgotten and helped me place them in context. Jordan explains himself in simple terms, is charming and instantly relatable. Seeing his drive, his good nature and willingness to work hard, chase your dreams and catalog your thoughts has given me great inspiration about how I approach my own ventures.

Looking forward to more stories from Mechner!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2014
I remember very well those countless hours I spent playing Prince & Prince 2. I played it on various PCs I had access to back then, 20 years ago. I played it slow and I played it fast, in black&white (monochrome), and in color, with a beeper, and a soundcard. Before I had a soundcard, I made myself a Covox, soldering a bunch of resistors together, and Prince was the very first game I tested my poor-man digital sound interface against. It was mind-blowing when I first heard the game samples. In the next few months I went as far as ripping then the samples out of the game and writing a few songs myself featuring voices from the game. In brief, Prince left quite a mark and it's really unforgettable - it brought me & my friends so much happiness and joy. So I was really thrilled to read through this book and know how the game was actually done. It's unbelievable by modern standards! I was always amazed by how games were written single handedly back then, but I still couldn't believe what I just read now. Aside from extremely interesting descriptions of the development and product management process, the book is full of invaluable insights about the life of a programmer, and the internals of a game publisher. It brought back all those memories from 20-25 years ago when I was a kid hacking around, "cracking" nearly all the games I had for "infinite lives". I "fixed" all the games I had, myself (so that I could play them till the very end), but Prince. To the best of my recollection, I used to play Prince without cheating :) It also reminded me of how I dreamed of writing games myself (and I actually wrote some very bad ones!) only to discover I don't really have neither talent for that, nor stamina. I'm currently involved in a software company, and I have certain relation to project & product management, and seeing how our guys code, I can really appreciate the confessions of this diary. Huge kudos to Jordan for publishing it. I had this thought so many times through this book - it would have been extremely sad if Jordan didn't have enough strength and tenacity to finish the game back then! I was almost like "Please please finish it, dude! We really need it!" all the way through the chapters :) Again, it's still unbelievable after so many years how really groundbreaking the game became.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I enjoy 'documentary-style' books on old software applications and development teams (for example, Masters of Doom by David Kushner), but was a little hesitant at purchasing this book, since it seemed to be more-or-less a journal of Prince of Persia's author, Jordan Mechner (spoiler alert: it is).

Reading through the book, it had some low points, to be sure, and could've been edited to take out a little bit of the rawness... but in some ways, those parts made the book feel more authentic, like 'inclusions' in a diamond. I loved playing both Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia 2 on my family's old Macintosh, and the book goes into great detail on the trials and tribulations Mechner himself went through in building the game, getting it on IBM, working on contracts and deals for ports to other platforms, etc.

While I'm not a huge fan of the more modern PoP titles and movie franchise, the original games were so good, especially considering the limitations of the early 90's desktop computers. This book recaptured some of the moments of adrenaline I had when playing the game, and was also an interesting look into the video game industry in the 90s.

It's also pretty awesome that you can go look at the original Prince of Persia source code (if you're a programmer, especially doing games, it's neat to see how barebones the actual code was in the 90s!).

I would recommend this book to anyone doing freelance or small team programming, especially in games, and also anyone who grew up playing the Prince of Persia games and having a bit of a shudder on hearing the 'sha-clunk!' of the spikes raising up through the floor!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
It's been awhile since I read a book that I liked so much.

Prince of Persia was a game I grew up with, like many people out there. And Jordan's name recently popped up in the press again when he found the Prince of Persia source code and was able to extract it from the vintage discs. Perhaps the perfect time to jump into his memoirs.

This really is an amazing recount of Jordan's life during this period of time, as well as how this game came to be. You don't often get a behind-the-scenes tour like this one, let alone years later. Reading this happened at a good time for me personally, as I had just moved to San Francisco. So reading about a person living here, but years prior, it became pretty surreal. And theirs a huge nostalgic power surrounding prince of persia in general for me. So please, factor the bias into my fantastic review. But, in all honesty, these memoirs are extremely well-written. The story has a way of sucking you in. After reading it, you feel like you experienced it yourself, or could at least make a moderately accurate made-for-tv movie detailing the events. It's worth the money, it's worth your time. I'd recommend it to gamers and non-gamers alike. It's just a solid piece of literature, and it applies to a wide audience, I can't imagine someone reading this and not enjoying it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2011
I found this book excellent and very entertaining. It was certainly interesting to have an insight into what Jordan was thinking and the problems he faced while designing, developing, creating the graphics and audio for PoP, negotiating the royalties and overcoming different issues with the publisher (now long gone Broderbund) and their staff.

I have to admit I am a little biased since Prince of Persia was either the first or second game I ever played on a PC (and it captured my imagination on the spot), but I believe this book has great value for any aspiring game designers and/or developers out there. Knowing that Jordan was in his twenties while doing this, makes the story presented in this book even more interesting!

While articles, books or movies themed on different success stories only show the upside of things and treat problems superficially, Jordan's journals are extremely objective and well detailed which can only stimulate you and remove any doubts about developing your own game.

I gave it 5 starts because after I started reading it I couldn't break myself apart from it!
It was inspiring and presented the game development process from blueprint to royalty checks in a very organized (due to it's reality) and concise manner.

I loved it!
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