Prince of Persia: Time Run

The Prince of Persia License was created in 1989 for Apple II. Ubisoft acquired the license and released more than 8 games from 2003 to 2016 on consoles and mobiles. Prince of Persia is an award-winning franchise with a huge fan base worldwide. In 2013, mobile gaming was already massive, and game categories like the “runner” genre were seeing impressive retention and generated revenue. We set out to reboot Prince of Persia as a Runner game, something that had never been done with the franchise.

Company:  Ubisoft

Year: 2013 to 2014

Team size: 25

Location: Pune, INDIA

Role: Creative Manager

Metrics

$1m+ project

License revenue totals $300m+

Skill set

Creative Direction

Leadership, Agile

Pitching

1.Benchmarking the Runner Genre

After having validated the core gameplay principles, we benchmarked currently successful Runner games such as Subway Surfer (more than $80m all-time revenue) or Temple Run (estimated to earn $3,518 daily).

By working with analytics and reverse-engineering products, I could identify the list of “MUST-HAVE” features required for this genre.

After an in-depth analysis, we designed a game loop that represents the typical user journey over a short period ranging from 3 minutes to 15 minutes:

The monetisation mapping demonstrates our ARM strategy: reaching more users through the social layer (Acquisition), increasing engagement through game and store mechanics in the gameplay layer (Retention) and converting users into payers (Monetization).

While designing and validating gameplay features, ARM and Game loops, I was in parallel working with the production team to develop a AAA universe and story that would be conveyed by visuals, audio and animations. 

2. Product vision

In most runner games, the player is running away from something. The prince of Persia is a hero, and it needed to run after something. We created a second character, an evil force called the vortex. The vortex is a game master that messes with the environment and makes the game more challenging. If the player used the rewind feature, the vortex would find the player and attack, increasing the tension level in the game. Once the player would survive all the tension level, a bonus world would be unlocked in the Dimension.

Tension levels would increase through a game session, and the effects would be felt in the gameplay but also through the visuals:

The game’s creative direction was built on 5 key pillars that are important to the brand:

  • Sand
  • Speed
  • Time control
  • Alternative reality
  • Duality

To communicate the pillars and inspire the team, I created mood boards. Mood boards were used as references throughout the entire production.

SAND
SPEED
Time control
Alternative reality
Duality

Setting targets and achieving them

Designing features and properly communicating them to the team is critical to achieving a successful product in a vast organisation like Ubisoft.

The following videos show features at the research stage and the implementation stage in the game engine.

Video references of features

Features implementation

3. Production design

Achieving quality under a budget (both $ and Mhz)

These diagrams are studies of possible production pipelines for graphics. Studying different architecture options enabled our team to reach a AAA quality on mobile, on conventional devices while staying under our budget.

Sample of guideline document
Sample of guideline document

After successfully passing all the corporate gateways with the HQ, our team unlocked the GO for production.

I kept reviewing sprint contents, mentoring the team and providing a bi-weekly presentation of the progress to the HQ.

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