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The Original Prince of Persia Movie

Jordan Mechner offers a very inside look into the development of the original Prince of Persia.

Knowing as much as I do about the lifestyle that goes with making video games, I know better than to romanticize it, but the story behind the creation of the original Prince of Persia has remained some of the most evocative game-development lore in my mind for a long time now. Considering the relatively crude state that video-game animation was at in 1985, it was mind-blowing to imagine Jordan Mechner video-taping his younger brother hopping around, then using some kind of arcane silicon alchemy hoodoo to turn that movement into the naturalistic animation you saw in the game.

It was an ingenious shortcut around the costly, time-consuming, and painstaking task of animating everything by hand. It was basically the birth of motion-capture in video games. It was also something that I always figured I'd only get to see in my mind's eye, but Mechner himself has gone ahead and unearthed some of those reference tapes for the world to see.

  



While I would've loved to have seen some of the raw footage of Jordan directing his brother in between takes, this is still a pretty thrilling little piece of game-development history. It just strikes me as incredible how much of this early tape can be clearly seen in the finished product.
18 Comments
Posted by Ryan

Knowing as much as I do about the lifestyle that goes with making video games, I know better than to romanticize it, but the story behind the creation of the original Prince of Persia has remained some of the most evocative game-development lore in my mind for a long time now. Considering the relatively crude state that video-game animation was at in 1985, it was mind-blowing to imagine Jordan Mechner video-taping his younger brother hopping around, then using some kind of arcane silicon alchemy hoodoo to turn that movement into the naturalistic animation you saw in the game.

It was an ingenious shortcut around the costly, time-consuming, and painstaking task of animating everything by hand. It was basically the birth of motion-capture in video games. It was also something that I always figured I'd only get to see in my mind's eye, but Mechner himself has gone ahead and unearthed some of those reference tapes for the world to see.

  



While I would've loved to have seen some of the raw footage of Jordan directing his brother in between takes, this is still a pretty thrilling little piece of game-development history. It just strikes me as incredible how much of this early tape can be clearly seen in the finished product.
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Posted by Y2JBone

I LOVED the original Prince of Persia.  Kicks the crap out of the 3-D versions I think.  But then again, I'm an old-school gamer. :)

Posted by Vigorousjammer

oh my goddddd! awesome stuff!!!

Posted by Jon_Rivera

My favorite version was the SMS version.

Posted by MattOnTheSite

Incredible. It looks like the clips are cut from a Prince of Persia documentary or something. There is a shot of a dude (possibly Mechner?) in front of a POP-screen background between the cuts. Anyone know what that is?

Posted by selbie

My mind just simultaneously imploded and exploded. Some of my very first gaming years were spent playing Prince of Persia. This is beyond cool.

Posted by Dudacles

That is awesome.

Posted by Joey2683

Wow, that's real? Those are nearly identical to the in game animations! Thanks Ryan.

Posted by yellownumber5

I noticed those frame length portraits that pop up between cuts also.  I think it is mechner.  I'm totally guessing that maybe this tape was actually cut out of a longer one where he actually had an explanation for each scene, but for some reason he cut those out, and whatever video editing software he was using wasn't perfect and cut in the last frame of each of those scenes.  (Hey Vinny is there some industry term for that type of editing error?) Or maybe Mecher is trying to mess with our minds all Fight Club like.  Who knows.

Posted by Osiris

Indeed, oldschool :) Nice to see this stuff.

Posted by FeverSteed

So he's to blame for all those heinous jumps I had to perform...

Damn him and the stupid wall he climbed

Posted by c_rakestraw

This is awesome. It's cool to be able to see bits of how games are made.

Posted by Media_Master
Posted by dQuarters

Serious kudos to Mechner for this. A simple vid submission like this can make a lot of people very happy. Now if only we could watch Spielberg and Bushnell's heroin party that led to E.T. I'd shit my pants with joy.

Posted by Milkman

Dude, that kid IS the Prince of Persia.

Posted by Bruuin

That is INCREDIBLE!!!!!  The original Prince of Persia was one of my favourite video games, ever!!  Seeing this short clip reminds me just how ahead of it's time that game was.  For all the simple control mechanics, the animation was well ahead of it's time.  I'd never even though of how it may have been done.  This explains it!!!!

Posted by BiggerBomb
Posted by WholeFunShow