The Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner

Rating: ★★★★

I read The Making of Prince of Persia after Oz recommended it. I have no special fondness for Prince of Persia; I've never played it, and I don't intend to now. But I like making-of stories and have heard this one is inspiring.

The journals are an unvarnished window into Mechner's creative process – there are long stretches where he doesn't work on Prince of Persia at all, where he does other things that are more interesting to him, like writing screenplays. And they're honest in other, cringe-worthy ways. I admire Mechner's decision to include it all. Some passages I would never put into writing, much less publish for a public audience.

I took note of Mechner's relationship with money – while making Prince of Persia, money seemed purely a means to an end for him: he spent freely on hardware and seemed to really only want to make enough to pay his way through film school. He was nearly broke a few times. But when the royalties started coming in earnest for Prince of Persia and Mechner became wealthy, he wrote about how difficult it was to spend, how much he wanted to keep it.

I wish the book had been structured or edited a little differently. The journals start out with Mechner already having bunch of industry relationships and a fairly established reputation – he already published one successful game, Karateka. I wish this book would have started with this and Mechner's earlier unpublished games (that's a separate book). And the last third of the book covers the years after Prince of Persia's release – important to the story of Prince of Persia I guess, but not nearly as engaging as the actual making of the game. By his own admission, Mechner spent those two years goofing off.

I read the Stripe Press edition of The Making of Prince of Persia, which is delightfully well-made – thoughtful page layouts and excellent printing and binding.