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Art Design graphic design

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 15: The Making of Prince of Persia

I didn’t know it at the time, but video games were one of my first exposures to graphic design. The characters, the symbols, the 8-bit graphics, the cover art, all exposed my 8-year old self to graphic design ideas before I even knew what the term graphic design meant.

Enter the book The Making of Prince of Persia. This book is a collection of Jordan Mechner‘s journal entries while he was creating the game Prince of Persia. This documented journey of bringing a video game to life is a masterclass on book design. We’ll focus on the cover only today.

The Making of Prince of Persia is an example of scale. The designer (not sure who), scaled up the 8-bit prince to fill most of the cover. Leaving enough white space (or blue space) to give the 8-bit prince room to “leap” off the cover. The designer then contrasts the large image with one small DOS font for the title and author name. The DOS font reinforces the books 80s coding theme.

This is a counterintuitive choice for a book cover, but one that works. Usually the title font is large and prominent. But the giant 8-bit leaping prince instills the feeling that this book is an adventure. A page-turning experience you’ve never had before.

The Making of Prince of Persia , and other books by Stripe Press, are designed so well I want them all. Not only for their content, but for their visual beauty.

Categories
Art Commonplace Book video games

Combat! Combat! Jordan Mechner’s journey creating Prince of Persia


Prince of Persia was hard as…<shout favorite swear word here>.

That’s my lasting memory of it.

The protagonist, we’ll call him Prince, felt so heavy during gameplay. I was accustom to games like Super Mario Brothers. Mario and Luigi were light. They had spring when they jumped. They could don a racoon tail to float and fly past foes.

Prince of Persia? Na man. The Prince had weight. The realm had gravity. And as I learned, this was by design.

The game’s creator – Jordan Mechner explains:

What if we combined that gameplay with a charachter who’s so human feeling that you feel like if you miss the jump and you fall, it’s really going to hurt?

Because in the early platform games charachters were kind of weightless. You know, you would jump, and you’d make it or not, but you’d float down to the bottom. It didn’t feel like you could really get hurt.

Jordan Mechner

This War Stories video is a revealing look at the process behind creating a video game.

Toil and grit man.

Toil and grit.

Have a watch:


Bonus Jam: Jordan’s new book, The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993–Illustrated Edition is out now.