Prince of Persia
Jordan created and programmed the original Prince of Persia on an Apple II computer in 1989. A decade later, he partnered with Ubisoft to reinvent his classic for a new generation of gamers with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Its success launched a global franchise that now includes video games, graphic novels, toys, LEGO, and a blockbuster Disney feature film.
In my GDC China keynote about Prince of Persia’s 20-year journey from game to film, I showed a 2-minute trailer I made six years ago to pitch the movie to Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney execs. I’m posting it here for those who are interested.
Why did I cut a new trailer, instead of using one of the existing game trailers Ubisoft had already produced to market the Sands of Time game? Because the game marketing trailers were very specific about certain story points that weren’t in the movie (freeze, fast-forward, sand monsters, visions). Co-producer John August and I didn’t want to confuse the execs by showing them a different story from the one we were pitching.
It took me a week to cut on Final Cut Express, in late 2003. Assembling a trailer from existing PS2 game footage was an editing challenge, because key scenes, locations and characters from the movie didn’t exist. So rather than attempt to explicitly tell the story of the movie in the trailer, I set out to convey the kind of movie it would be. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers — the trailer reveals nothing about the plot of the movie beyond what’s in the game.)
The sound mix is rough — I didn’t have the proper elements or the time to do a professional-quality mix — but it served its purpose of selling the pitch. Hope you enjoy it.
(Updated with latest versions.)
I’ll be in San Diego next Friday for an 11:30 am Q&A panel about the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time graphic novel anthology I’m writing for Disney, with artists Todd McFarlane, Cameron Stewart, Bernard Chang, Tommy Lee Edwards, Josh Middleton, and Niko Henrichon, many of whom will be on the panel as well. (Check the Comic-Con schedule for updated details.)
It’s been a very cool project and one I’ve had a lot of fun doing. The book is a prequel to the movie (I use the word “prequel” advisedly, for those who think time is like a river that flows swift and sure in one direction), with each chapter drawn by a different artist in a different style. It’ll be published next April as part of the Prince of Persia movie pre-launch.
This is the second Prince of Persia graphic novel I’ve been involved with — the first, written by A.B. Sina and illustrated by LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland, was published last year by First Second Books — and they’re very different projects. Whereas the First Second book is deliberately separate from the games and movie — linked thematically, rather than through plot and characters — the Disney book is firmly in the universe of the movie. It offered a chance to establish, and expand on, the characters’ world and back stories beyond what’s in the film.
Most enjoyably, it’s given me an opportunity to revisit the story and characters of the original game for the first time in two decades — though in a way that’s kind of hard to explain, until you read the book.
Hope to see you next Friday, those of you who can make it!
Just gave a talk to Lucasfilm at their Presidio campus. The invitation included spending a night at the Skywalker Ranch — the stuff of dreams, for me.
I’d been to the ranch once before, in 1987. I was two years out of college, stalled halfway through the first Apple II version of Prince of Persia, and torn between pursuing a career in computer games or screenwriting. In fact, the old Broderbund Software building where I programmed POP is just down the road from the Skywalker Ranch (a long, winding, scenic road, often foggy and frequented by deer). So being invited back to tell Lucasfilm staff the story of POP’s 20-year journey — from 8-bit computer game to summer movie — felt pretty cosmic.
Especially considering that it all goes back to the first ten minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Both the Skywalker Ranch and the Presidio campus are seriously nice places — in idyllic natural settings, with a level of luxury and attention to detail rarely found in movie or videogame studios. And filled with sacred artifacts like the Original Millenium Falcon.
I got a tour and a sneak peek at some of the cool stuff the LucasArts guys have been working on, at least one of which I’m pretty sure I can mention without violating the NDA I signed along with the retinal scan.
Thanks, Lucasfilm, for a great and memorable visit.
The first five years of Old Journals have now been posted, covering the development and first release of Prince of Persia. As of June 1990 — nineteen years ago — POP is struggling for life on two formats, Apple II and IBM.
I really appreciate the interest readers are showing in these journals, both on this site and on Twitter. I’ll continue posting one new old journal entry a day. Thanks for following!
Did these on set in Ouarzazate, added the sepia ink wash later when I got back to the hotel.