Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Q&A
Interview By: Ubi Soft | Posted: 29/04/2003
This interview was conducted by Ubi Soft with Producer Yannis Mallat, and Consultant Jordan Mechner.
The Prince is quite familiar to gamers, as the main hero of the series that carries his name. Is there any link between your Prince and the one featured in previous games of the series?
The new Prince of Persia has a very different look from the previous games. For this game we needed a strong hero who would project the Princeís key attributes: agility, courage and determination. To achieve this, we gave our character designers complete freedom to break from previous visual conceptions of the Prince, and start over from scratch. They did a fantastic job and gave us exactly what we hoped for.
And what is the personality of this new Prince?
He starts out as a young Prince seeking adventure and glory. He is eager to embark on a journey which will demand all his courage and determination, and soon gets more than he bargained for, as his adventure transforms into a sheer struggle for survival. He realizes that not just his own life is at stake, but also the fate of everyone he loves and his entire world.
It was important for the Prince to evolve and change as a character throughout the game. As the stakes rise and the odds against him increase, he gets more and more beat up, and also more determined. This gradual transformation is reflected in the characterís appearance, as he becomes a tougher, stripped-down kind of action hero. The Princeís ideals and illusions will be challenged by the hard choices he must make. In the course of the story he matures, and learns what is really important.
Players will get to control a very agile and acrobatic character. He has feline movements that are quick, light and spectacular. The Prince was designed so that his skills in combat, from swordplay to martial arts, are unmatched, since he has been trained all his life by the best instructors of Persia. Of course, in the beginning, he has a certain innocence, even over-confidence, since he has not yet tested his abilities in a life-or-death situation.
How would you describe his evolution to meet current gaming standards?
On the one hand, the Prince of Persia is a classic videogame character, whose acrobatic movements are instantly recognizable to millions of people around the world. We could just show a shadow of the Prince and you would know right away that it's him, just by seeing him move, jump or fight.
But, todayís videogame standards are extremely high. It is harder than ever to create a truly special hero that the gaming public will embrace. For Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, we faced a double challenge: To recapture the spirit of the original character, while reinventing him as a distinctive hero for a new generation of gamers.
The new Prince is much more fully developed than the character in the earlier games. He has a unique look that reflects his specific personality and totally fits with the exotic Persian settings of the game. He is an extremely expressive hero whose essence is communicated through in-game action, facial expressions and dialog, all while advancing the story. Also, players will really get to see the physical and psychological evolution of the Prince.
Did Jordan Mechner provide input on The Prince?
One of Jordan's main objectives during this project has been to unite the story and game-play aspects of the game. As the Prince is the main character, it was of course especially important to get his feedback on our approach. We agreed on the key attributes of the character and the artistic direction.
We felt it was essential for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to capture the exhilaration of movement that was such a key element of the first gameís appeal. The animated character needed to feel acrobatic and graceful, as opposed to mechanical, and the controls had to be simple and intuitively satisfying. Jordanís input was of great value for this process.
The Princeís personality is expressed not just in his physical movements, but also through his dialog and interactions with other characters. Jordanís role as screenwriter helped to ensure that all these aspects are woven together to clearly delineate the Princeís character development over the course of the game.