And you don't have any input on the Live Arcade adaptation of Prince of Persia, right?
JM: That was a great surprise. Ben Mattes sent me a trailer, and it put a huge smile on my face. It looked so beautiful, and I can't wait to play it.
So you don't mind that you don't have any influence on it?
JM: You know, I made that game once on the Apple II. That was enough!
What was the inspiration to create it for the first time, back in the old days?
JM: I had just done Karateka when I was in college, so I knew I wanted to do another game, and I was trying to settle on the world. I thought part of the reason for Karateka's success was that it was set in medieval Japan, which was this exotic, rich universe.
I was trying to think of what could be like that, only different, and I came upon the world of The 1001 Nights. As far as the gameplay, the inspiration was really the first eight minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones runs and jumps and spikes spring out, and he jumps across a chasm and grabs on with his fingertips and pulls himself up just as the gate's closing.
It's pretty much just the suspense of those eight minutes that I wanted to extend into an entire game. At the time -- all games do this today -- the basic idea from my point of view was to combine the trappy, puzzley gameplay of Lode Runner or The Castles of Dr. Creep -- which were two games that I had been playing a lot and enjoying -- with solid physics and animation that would have you believe that this character really had weight and mass, and that when you fell on the spikes, it would hurt.
The recent Xbox Live Arcade update to the original Prince of Persia
It was one of the first games that really kept you on the edge of your seat, because it always seemed like he was just about to get killed.
JM: That was the goal. When you jumped in most of the video games at that time, it was a perfect arc, and you'd land safely. But in a movie like Raiders, just the fact that he jumped and he almost made it but he just missed it and he had to pull himself up by his fingertips -- that made it real. That missing and pulling up was something that I wanted to do.
Did you write the graphic novel?
JM: No, actually I'm supervising the writer and the artist. I found a really great writer who is a really unique talent, and he brings a great background richness in authentic Persian myth and poetry.
His mandate was to take Prince of Persia back to the mythic roots of the story, and I think Prince of Persia game fans will be really surprised when they see it. Hopefully they'll like it for giving them something that's deeper and stranger than they would expect from a graphic novel based on a video game.