The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time An Interview with Yannis Mallat

What did this famous license evoke to you before you started working on the “Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time” development process?

I always felt the original game revolutionized the gaming industry. It became the standard of the time and an instant “classic,” and represented great Action-Adventure gaming, strong settings and compelling storytelling. Working on the fourth installment of this well-known franchise has been quite a challenge and a great honour for the whole team.

To meet this challenge, we have both followed in the footsteps of the legendary games and created something new that will amaze the contemporary gaming world. We can’t approach this new title thinking that it is just another game… it is part of something bigger… and so that is what the gamers will get!

How did you prepare yourself and your team: what were the references, inspiration sources (history, music, movies, books…) for this development?

The Arabian Nights book – 1001 Tales – was required reading for the development team. It gave us a great, immersive sense of the Arabian fantasy feeling; it’s imaginative and crosses boundaries – exactly what we’re doing with the game.

As for the moves, the team was inspired by Hong-Kong action movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Jet Li action films. We also watched several Capoiera documentaries – it’s a Brazilian fighting style that intricately melds martial arts with stylized dance. The story is that ancient Brazilian slaves were not allowed to fight against each other, so they simulated a group dance. People would clap their hands and pound on drums, surrounding the two people who were actually fighting; if they were approached, the fight could easily be disguised as a strange, fluid, acrobatic dance.

Of course, we also watched every Hollywood movie on the 1001 Nights tales, to see the clichéd treatment of the subject. And we all played Prince of Persia 1&2 incessantly, to really understand what makes the license so incredible.

What kind of competitors’ games did you carefully analyse and why, when setting up the “skeleton” of your project?

Most action/adventure games today build upon the original Prince of Persia, so they offer interesting aspects for the conceptual development of the game. They helped us evaluate what we wanted Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time to be, compared with other games, and how we could go about establishing new standards for the genre – just as the original game did.

We looked closely at games such as Shinobi, the Onimusha series, Devil May Cry, Tomb Raider and even some older licenses that are making a comeback (like Rygar and Ninja Gaiden). Of course, building a strong foundation for the latest Prince of Persia game also involved a careful examination of the previous titles.