The Making of Prince of Persia outlines how an idea from Jordan Mechner progressed over time and eventually became a best-selling video game. The book is woven together using Mechner’s journal entries, which are surprisingly candid and lacking in certainty: It’s easy to connect the dots looking backwards, it's harder to do so looking forward. These are the quotes that I highlighted throughout:


  • One should maintain perspective as one strives to Get Ahead in life; material gains are empty; nobody wishes on their deathbed that they had spent more time on their business.
  • It’s great having David here. All the stuff I’d gotten jaded about suddenly seems cool when seen through my little brother’s eyes. Like having a car, being able to drive anywhere I want, a place of my own, a key to Broderbund, free video games in the lunchroom… stuff like that. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.
  • “You dumb shit. You’ve dug your way deep into an active gold mine and are holding off from digging the last two feet because you’re too dumb to appreciate what you’ve got and too lazy to finish what you’ve started.”
  • A story doesn’t move forward until a character wants something. So – a game doesn’t move forward until the player wants something. Five seconds after you press start, you’d better know the answer to the question: “What do I want to happen?”
  • It’s true: People like you better if you stand up for yourself. There’s no percentage in being self-effacing and making them think they can walk all over you.
  • Last week I was depressed. Now I’m bouncing off the walls. It’s a desperate, manic kind of energy, and I can’t say I’m happy, but I will say this: The colors seem brighter. The air seems cleaner. The sun is warmer, the rain is wetter, the mist is mistier. The stacks of plates on the Nautilus machines go up and down easier and I can feel my blood pumping with every heartbeat. I don’t know why, or how long this will last, but I like it a whole lot better than going through the day half-asleep.
  • Listen, the most important thing is that you have a good time. You’re only young once! In five years you’ll be 30. That’s the time of life when you stop asking a lot of questions and start to accept certain things and not try to change them. For now – have some fun! This time of your life will never come again.”
  • This from a man who’s all of 33. But he’s right. I’ve somehow gotten into the habit of worrying, in every situation: What’s the right thing to do? What’s the best thing? What could go wrong here, how can I avoid it going wrong? Fuck that! I’ve been working my butt off all year. If I don’t reap some of the rewards now, when will I?
  • First ideas are never the best. Even when you think they are, later on it turns out you can improve it.
  • I suspect that for me, another six months abroad will go a long way. I mean, I’m enjoying learning how to be a bum, but it’s not really my nature. I’m happiest when I’m in the midst of things – struggling, forging alliances and overcoming problems and, dammit, making something. That’s why I’ve been coming up with all these crazy ideas lately, like shooting a documentary in Cuba or Madrid.
  • Here I am, as free as it’s possible for anyone to be – free to travel, work, fall in love – and I’m holding back, like I’m waiting for my life to start. This is my life. It’s not a preparation for anything – it’s the thing itself. I have got to remember that.
  • I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but I don’t care any more. There’s no point worrying about my career, or about money. What I want is adventure. Whatever comes next, I’m ready for it. From now on I won’t worry about anything.
  • I should make up a little litany to repeat to myself every time I find myself at a party among strangers or meeting people for the first time: “I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to impress anybody. These people are as bored with the usual formulas as I am. All they want is a human connection, to snap them out of themselves. They want to laugh and have a good time and feel something, for God’s sake, the same as I do.

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