Second run

Thanks to all the fans who made the 30th anniversary launch of The Making of Prince of Persia a success. Stripe Press just let me know that the collector's edition is already going into its second print run. I’m delighted that the book has found its way into so many hands, despite the logistical challenges of launching (and shipping!) a physical hardcover in the time of Covid.

The images in this collage came in from all around the world. The generous sentiments you’ve shared about the book and the original game are wonderful to hear.

Some of you have asked how you can get a signed copy. I'm not set up to receive or ship books, but I'll be happy to sign your copy in person if you (or a friend) can make it to an event where I’ll be.

As of now, I’m scheduled to appear at the TGS Toulouse Game Show in France, November 28- 29 (fingers crossed). We also have some online giveaways coming up. I’ll post about upcoming signings and other events on social media.

Here's my journal entry from 30 years ago today.

Game developers, take heart: Four months after Prince of Persia shipped on PC in 1990, 26-year-old me was seething with frustration that the game I’d labored on for four years was a flop. I had no dagger of time to give me a glimpse of the long view, or how much I’d enjoy celebrating this anniversary with you.

Hot off the presses!

The new Stripe Press edition of my "Making of Prince of Persia” journals will be released on April 28, 2020 — 30 years to the month after the first PC release. (I can't tell you the exact date in April 1990 it shipped, because I didn’t write it in my journal. I might have been busy celebrating, or maybe sleeping.)

Update: You can pre-order it now.

Sheets are coming off the presses as I write this. The binding is hardcover, and a pleasure to the touch. I hope you’ll find it worth the wait.

A big thank you to everyone who sent in stories and images for the “Legacy” chapter. Your contributions added up to a full-color, 32-page special section at the end of the book, highlighting moments in the prince’s 30-year (so far) journey since the original game’s release. The whole book clocks in at 336 pages, with work-in-progress sketches, screen shots, and visuals illustrating the stages of the game’s creation.

We’ll be doing a giveaway of 10 signed advance copies, so you can have a chance to win and receive your copy a month before the pub date. I’ll post details on Instagram when the contest opens, on or around March 9.

Note: The paperback first edition of The Making of Prince of Persia will be withdrawn from sale and replaced by the new hardcover edition.

Meanwhile, here's my journal entry from 30 years ago:

Collecting a fan legacy

The Prince of Persia book project is going full steam ahead. I've spent enjoyable hours combing the Strong Museum collection for images to illustrate my old journals, while book designer Tyler Thompson has been developing exciting design concepts.

It felt right to end the book in 1992, when Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame signed out of QA. After that, a decade would go by before I'd be hands-on again in the creation of a Prince of Persia title — joining Ubisoft in Montreal to make PoP: The Sands of Time, then pitching it to Disney/Bruckheimer as a movie.

But a 30th-anniversary collector's edition wouldn't be complete without some kind of acknowledgement of the prince's subsequent adventures. So Stripe and I decided to add a "legacy" chapter: a kind of scrapbook of the prince's odyssey since 1992.

We have mementos of the episodes I was involved in, but what I really want to see are things that aren't in the Strong's collection. Like this fan-made Prince of Persia LEGO, which I love. (If you're the person who created it, I hope you'll read this and submit it for the book.)

We're reaching out to you for submissions. If you feel inspired to share a souvenir of a Prince of Persia-related moment in your life — whether as a gamer, fan, artist, programmer, collector, cosplayer, dev-team member, or other capacity — please send it! We'd like to see photos, art, screen shots, anything that could fit on a book page.

Because time is short, and Stripe's book design staff is small, we ask you to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Send submissions by email to: pop30@jordanmechner.com
  • Image attachments only, ideally 300-600dpi.
  • Please only send images that are yours (photos you took, or something you created). If it was a work for hire or someone else controls the rights, let us know who.
  • The text of the email should include your name, where you live, and explain the context or story of the image, in 1001 words or less.
  • One email per submission.

There's a good chance we'll receive more submissions than we have manpower or bandwidth to acknowledge. Here's the deal:

  • We'll choose a selection to include in the book.
  • If we choose yours, we'll reply, and ask you to sign a release. As a thank-you, we'll send you an autographed copy of the book once it's printed. This courtesy copy is the only compensation we can offer.
  • Submissions that don't fit in the book might get posted on Instagram @pop30anniv, @jmechner, and/or jordanmechner.com.
  • We won't be able to answer follow-up emails, individual messages, or questions. (Especially if they're about when and what the next Prince of Persia game will be. I promise that when I have info to share on that subject, I'll post it.)

Thanks for playing! I'm excited to see what you'll send.

Meanwhile, here's my journal entry from 30 years ago:

A 30th anniversary note to Prince of Persia fans

Thirty years ago today, I was at my Apple II, crunching on a six-week deadline to finish Prince of Persia by mid-July to ship in September.

I know this because I wrote it in my journal. If I hadn't, those details would have long since faded from my memory, along with the 6502 hex op codes I once knew by heart.

In 1989, I could never have imagined that Prince of Persia would last this long — much less have foreseen it being ported to a future generation of game consoles from the makers of the Walkman. (Or to the big screen by the producer of Beverly Hills Cop.)

To all of you who've played, watched, and supported PoP over the years — thank you! I've been especially moved by the things you've shared about the ways PoP has touched your lives. Your kind and encouraging words have been an inspiration to me.

Many of you have asked when there will be a new PoP game (or movie, or TV series). If you feel that it's been a long time since the last one, you're not alone. I wish I had a magic dagger to accelerate the process — it would have been poetic to time a major game announcement with this 30th-anniversary year. But I'm only a small part of a bigger picture.

There is one PoP announcement I can make, and am happy to share with you. Stripe Press, an imprint specializing in books about innovation and technological advancement, will publish a hardcover collector's edition of "The Making of Prince of Persia" — my 1980s original game development journals, newly illustrated with notes, sketches, work-in-progress screen shots, and as many visual features as we have the bandwidth to add by our target "gold master" date of September 2019 (30 years after Apple II PoP signed out of Broderbund QA). Oh, and there'll be an audiobook.

What I cherish about books

For me as a kid who dreamed of creating mass entertainment, in the pre-internet days, when you still needed a printing press to make a book and a film lab to make a movie, the Apple II was a game-changer: a technological innovation that empowered every user to innovate. Suddenly, I didn't need adult permission (or funding) to tell a story of adventure that might reach thousands — and ultimately millions — of people.

That direct connection between author and public is still possible today for small indie games — and for books. By contrast, making a major movie or AAA game requires millions of dollars and hundreds of people. It's a thrilling ride, and the rewards can be great, but by nature it's beyond the scope of what one person or even a tight-knit creative team can accomplish alone.

So it felt very much in the magical 8-bit spirit when Stripe's co-founder Patrick Collison emailed me to propose this book, and less than two months later, we're doing it. For me personally, in the midst of longer-term projects whose announcement is still a ways off, it's refreshing to add one whose timeline is reckoned in months rather than years.

In 2012, when the PoP source code disks I thought I'd lost turned up in my dad's closet, I discovered that an incredible retro-gaming fan and archivist community has been keeping the flame of early game development knowledge alive.

The Internet Archive and Strong Museum of Play (which houses work materials and artifacts from my past projects) are already on board to help us make the collector's edition of "The Making of Prince of Persia" as feature-rich as possible.

As we move toward beta, we'll document and share our progress online via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With luck, we'll be able to bring boxes of printed hardcover books to PAX East in spring 2020 — 30 years after the PC release of Prince of Persia (which is the one most people remember). I hope to see many of you there in person.

Until then, here's a fateful time-capsule post (and photo) from the week PoP went alpha, thirty years ago. Reading it now, the drollest part is that I still thought (as usual) I was about two weeks from the finish line.

And then there's the mullet.

Join the anniversary celebration: