Lead developer of Prince of Persia and its 2003 makeover warns of the challenges facing reinvention
While numerous publishers have recently shown interest in reviving dormant IP, the man who spearheaded development on Prince Of Persia Sands Of Time has warned that IP revival is inherently problematic.
Jordan Mechner – who developed the original Prince of Persia as well as the 2003 remake – explains that developers who return to old IP must tread carefully between two treacherous paths.
“Reinventing an IP is a bit like steering between Scylla and Charybdis,” he told Develop in an interview published today.
“If you stick too closely to what's worked before, it gets stale; if you deviate from it too much, you might confuse and possibly split your fan base. Between those two risks, I'm personally inclined to lean toward the second, because it's more interesting.”
Nintendo’s Punch-Out, Grin’s Bionic Commando and Telltale Games’ Tales of Monkey Island are just a few of the many recent and ongoing revivals of old IP.
Prince of Persia itself has gone through a number of transformations over the last two decades. Beginning as a 2D title in 1989, Prince of Persia cemented its move into 3D with the critically acclaimed 2003 title, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
Five years (and numerous sequels and spin-offs) later, Prince of Persia was revitalized once again with a new cel-shaded makeover.
Mechner, who acts as screenwriter for the upcoming Prince Of Persia motion picture, was impressed with the Prince franchise’s ability to reshape itself.
“Looking back at the variety of POP games over the past twenty years, not to mention the graphic novel and upcoming movie, I'm amazed at the range of difference,” he said.
“Somehow, they're all still recognizably POP. There seems to be something about the core idea of POP that is unusually resilient and enduring. Maybe because it's rooted in the tales of the Arabian Nights, which are stories that have been told and retold over thousands of years, with narrators often changing the details to suit their tastes.”