Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands – The Terrace
- Company: Ubisoft
- Role: Level Designer
- Period: October 2009 – March 2010
- Tools: 3DSMax / Anvil Engine (In house Engine)
- Platforms: X360 / PS3 / PC
Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands was released to coincide with the 2010 Hollywood movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The game itself is not directly related to the story of the movie, but is revisiting the story from the earlier Sands of Time video game trilogy. The game’s story is set in the 7 year interval between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within.
In Level 13, after fighting Ratash in the Throne Room, the Prince must follow Malik to the Palace Gardens by climbing the outer Terrace. After the Boss fight the Prince is granted a new ability to dash over gaps if there is an enemy on the opposite side, which is featured heavily in this level. I wasn’t the main designer for this level, but I created the tower climbing sequence (see youtube video below) which hadn’t been nailed down quite late into production due to the level design challenges it involved.
Level Design and Scripting
As mentioned above I was bought into this level late in production, as the tower acrobatic sequence was proving very difficult to block out and was becoming a risk for other departments like Art and Animation to be able to start work.
The concept for the tower was that it was an aviary and various mechanisms when moved would release the birds inside. These mechanisms should form the acrobatic sequence that the Prince uses to scale the tower. The initial mockups for the tower were very square with the mechanisms in the middle of each face. Due to the precise metrics required for the Prince to wallrun from object to object the towers were far too large to fit with the scale of the rest of the level (which was already at an advanced stage of production).
The first decision I made when taking over this part of the level was to increase the number of faces on the tower to 8, so it was an Octagon based cylinder. By adding the moving mechanisms to cross the edges of 2 faces it fit perfectly with the Prince’s free running metrics, fit the scale of the rest of the level and looked a lot more aesthetically pleasing and similar to architecture of this period/location. From this point on it was just a case of iterating on the design to find an interesting path that used the majority of the tower and some backtracking (so you didn’t just take an anti-clockwise corkscrew to the top). While working on the path I noticed that the Prince was facing the tower wall the entire time, to add some variety to the gameplay I added columns at the top so the Prince was forced to leave the safety of the tower walls.
The whole process took about 3 weeks to complete, the game itself was only a 5 month production, so it was imperative to find the right solution as soon as possible and de-risk the level.