Web Site Admin: Passing the Torch

David Anaxagoras, who’s ably assisted me behind the scenes these past three years, is stepping down as jordanmechner.com’s website administrator/consultant. In today’s guest post, David says goodbye, and readies the torch for his successor.

If after reading David’s job description and requirements below, you think it might be up your alley, please write to us at ask@jordanmechner.com.

David — Many thanks for your kind words and your diligent work. I know many readers will join me in wishing you best of luck in your adventures still to come.

I’d like to take a moment to say goodbye and introduce myself. You might know me as Jordan’s web site administrator, but it’s more likely you don’t know me at all. I keep a low profile. I move, ninja-like, through the mechnerspace, nipping and tucking bits of code, mercilessly slaying spammers, conjuring solutions from PHP and destroying them when they no longer suit our needs.

For three years I have done this, and now I am about to take my leave. Continue Reading

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 in Blog, Guest Post | 5 comments

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Prince of Persia Source Code — Found!

(Warning: Geek Quotient of today’s post = 11)

My Dad (yep, the same guy who composed the music for the original Karateka and Prince of Persia) called from New York to tell me he was doing some spring cleaning and had shipped me a carton of old games and other stuff of mine he’d found in the back of a closet.

The carton arrived yesterday. My jaw dropped when I saw what was inside.

No, I don’t mean the stacks of Spanish Drosoft versions of POP and Karateka (though those are cool too, especially if you have an Amstrad computer with a cassette player). I mean those three little plastic 3.5″ disk boxes nestled among them… which appear to contain the ORIGINAL APPLE II SOURCE CODE OF PRINCE OF PERSIA that I’ve been searching for, off and on, for the past ten years, pestering everyone from Doug Carlston to Danny Gorlin and everyone who ever worked at Broderbund, and finally gave up hope of ever finding.

I KNEW it wasn’t like me to throw stuff out!

So, for all fifteen of you 6502 assembly-language coders out there who might care… including the hardy soul who ported POP to the Commodore 64 from an Apple II memory dump… I will now begin working with a digital-archeology-minded friend to attempt to figure out how to transfer 3.5″ Apple ProDOS disks onto a MacBook Air and into some kind of 21st-century-readable format. (Yuri Lowenthal, you can guess who I’m talking about.)

This is a crazy busy time (in a good way) with too many projects, so it might take a little while. I’ll document our progress via the twitter and facebook feeds, and I promise, as soon as we can extract something usable, I’ll post it here.

Posted on Mar 29, 2012 in Blog, Games, Making Games, Old School, Prince of Persia | 116 comments

Announcing Last Express for iOS

Update: The Last Express will be released for iOS on September 27, 2012.

I’ve been biting my virtual tongue for the past few months in my eagerness to respond to the many fans of The Last Express who’ve suggested how beautifully this 1997 adventure game could work as an iPad/iPhone app.

Ilya, Veronika, Jan, Jáchym, Sebastian, Felipe, Robert, Will, Stefano, Chiara, Felix, Alexander, Arnim, Jennifer, Lydia, Lauren, Ravi: You’re absolutely right.

It’s with enormous pleasure that I can finally share this good news: A young French company, DotEmu (who celebrated their fifth anniversary in Paris last night — making them ten years younger than the game) is developing a full iOS version of Last Express, to be released later this year.

Details to follow — but be assured, this will be the complete, original PC game, a deep and immersive real-time interactive narrative offering 20+ hours of game play, with a few additional enhancements to make it more iOS-friendly.

For those who are new to The Last Express, you can read about the original game here. Watch this space, and the official Last Express facebook page, for updates.

My thanks to DotEmu, the original Smoking Car team, and all the Last Express fans who’ve encouraged us to refill the coal tender and stoke the furnace so that this train can leave the station once again, fifteen years later.

I can’t wait!

Posted on Mar 16, 2012 in Blog, Games, Last Express, Old School | 53 comments

Karateka Fan Letter from John Romero

When I was 17 years old and dreaming of a career making games, my role models — the people who created the games I admired — were known to me only as names on Apple II title screens. I couldn’t look up their bios, read interviews, or check out their websites, because the internet didn’t exist yet. I didn’t know what they looked like, what countries they lived in, or if their names were even real (“Lord British“?).

There was one way, though. You could send a letter to the publisher (the old way, with postage stamps) and hope that it might get to the game creator who might actually read it.

At 17, I didn’t have the chutzpah to think of that — but another enterprising kid named John Romero did. John informed me of this when we finally met, in an elevator at GDC, years after he’d fulfilled his childhood dreams and become one of the best-known game designers on the planet, thanks to Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake.

John’s first words to me were: “I wrote you a letter. In 1985.”

When I got home, I dug it out of storage. Indeed he had. It was one of the first three or four fan letters I ever got — forwarded by Karateka’s publisher Broderbund Software to my Yale Station post office box, where I was a 20-year-old senior in college. John himself was “17 going on 18,” as he was careful to specify in his letter, perhaps figuring the extra year might cause me to take him more seriously.

John assures me that he has my answer in storage somewhere. I don’t remember what I wrote, but you can read his original letter here. Thanks, John!

I couldn’t resist posting this now, because I’ll be seeing John again next week at GDC. We’ll be on a panel with Tim Sweeney (Epic) and young whippersnappers Adam Saltsman (Canabalt) and Notch Persson (Minecraft), moderated by Jane Pinckard, on the topic of “Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development.” Hope to see some of you there!

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 in Blog, Games, Karateka, Making Games, Old School | 12 comments

Real-Life Prince of Persia

This video by comedy group Karahat is so classic, I just had to repost it. Thanks to Kotaku and many kind people on twitter for alerting me to its existence.

The prince’s foray into real life may not do for parkour what the Real Life Angry Birds commercial did for T-Mobile, but at least he’s out there trying.

I didn’t even realize this video’s true genius until I saw it a second time — so thoroughly has the modern iPhone era of cheap-and-easy digital compositing effects reshaped my expectations. As far as I can tell, its central special effect was created using a technology that was equally available in 1985.

A special booster potion to the first reader who calls it out.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 in Blog, Old School, Prince of Persia | 8 comments