During a recent Ubisoft preview event, Michael McIntyre, director of level design for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, talked to Joystiq about the new sequel to the old trilogy, establishing its connection to the Sands of Time game series and the Bruckheimer film. The Forgotten Sands is a side story, based in the Sands of Time universe, bridging the seven-year gap between the original Sands of Time game and its sequel, Warrior Within.
Clearly, Ubisoft has positioned the next game to piggyback on the Bruckheimer blockbuster and ideally generate renewed sales for the brand (which underperformed in its 2008 iteration). Forgotten Sands is also an opportunity for Ubisoft to finally justify the Prince's remarkable transformation from carefree hero to brooding, emo warrior.
Continue reading for our full interview with Michael McIntyre -- after the break -- in which he reveals new (and
rewinding revisited) elements in the game and the return of a familiar voice.
Which Prince of Persia games have you worked on?
Michael McIntyre: I worked on the Prince of Persia from 2008, I worked on Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones and this one. (And the DLC for the last one, as well.)
How long how has The Forgotten Sands been in development, and when was it decided it would be a continuation of The Sands of Time series?
The game's been in development for a year and a half now, and it was decided that it would be part of The Sands of Time franchise fairly early in development -- that it would be the same Prince, same universe.
Prince of Persia (2008) / Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003)
How are you going to communicate the difference between the two Prince of Persia universes, The Sand of Times and the reboot from 2008?
I don't know exactly how they're gonna go about that. The Prince of Persia that came out in 2008 is totally its own universe. This one is back in Sands of Time and it's a fan favorite -- The Sands of Time universe. So I don't think we're gonna have any problem saying, "Oh, by the way, this is the Prince from Sands of Time." And that's all we're really focused on right now.
What platforms is the new game being developed on?
We're on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PSP, and DS.
Will each version generally be the same game? Will there be differences?
There will be differences. Each console has its own strengths and weaknesses, so they'll all have their own game ... Well, not each have their own game, but there will be differences.
Will the Dagger of Time -- the time-reversal mechanic -- return in The Forgotten Sands?
I'm not gonna go all into any "Dagger of Time" talk, but this is not The Sands of Time story. This is a story that's set between Sand of Time and The Warrior Within.
How exactly, then, will The Forgotten Sands connect with next year's film, if at all?
Basically, the film is telling the story of The Sands of Time trilogy, which Ubisoft made, and this game is a story that happens on the side of that. So, it's the same character.
Will Jake Gyllenhaal voice the Prince in the game?
Will Yuri Lowenthal the voice actor in the original Sands of Time [and The Two Thrones] reprise his role as the Prince then?
How about Nolan North? Is he going to be voicing any of characters in the new game?
I have no idea.
He's in every game.
Yeah, we use him enough for Assassin's Creed. [Laughs.]
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (2004)
Warrior Within, the second Sands of Time game, was commonly criticized for its tone, which was a lot darker than the first game's, and the Prince, who had become inexplicably angrier and less likeable. In terms of the tone of The Forgotten Sands, is it more like the first or second game?
All that I'll say is that, obviously, there's a difference between the Prince from The Sands of Time and Warrior Within, and there was like seven years that past between those stories where he became that new guy. So, obviously, some bad things happened to him in that amount of time, and this is that time frame -- where The Forgotten Sands' story is taking place. That's all I'll say.
After three games in The Sands of Time series, how is Ubisoft looking to introduce new elements to keep the franchise fresh?
Basically, I think the one major way that we're looking to make it fresh is that this isn't the Sand of Time trilogy. So, it's not entirely focused on time powers. We do have the rewind still, but we also have powers that are more focused on nature -- controlling elements of nature.
One of the things that people loved about the most recent Prince of Persia (2008) was the somewhat cooperative mechanic between the Prince and Elika. Will that kind of gameplay return in any shape or form in The Forgotten Sands?
Since there's various different platforms doing their various different things, that's a bit of a "yes" and "no." It'll depend on the version of the game.
Do you know what the status of the alternate Prince of Persia (2008) universe is? Will it continue?
I don't know ... I don't know.
Which of the two Prince characters do you have a personal affinity for?
I like them both. The Sands of Time was one of the reasons that I came to work at Ubisoft, so I certainly have a soft for it. But I liked that the Prince in the other game made me laugh. He was fun to watch.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is set in Azad, the Prince's brother's kingdom, where the Prince must use the power of "the Sand" to defeat an enemy army that has set siege to the royal palace. The game utilizes the Anvil engine (also used for Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia, 2008) and will feature new nature-controlling abilities, in addition to time control. The technology and game design will combine to create, as Ubisoft puts it, "epic wow moments."
As suggested above, the versions of the game for Wii, DSi/DS and PSP system will feature "a different gaming experience" from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.