Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake was announced this morning on Ubisoft Forward. The game is the first major title for Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft India, who previously worked on other Ubisoft projects. Before the game was announced, I had the opportunity to speak to Pierre-Sylvain Gires (Game Director) and Annu Koul (Senior Producer) who were both visibly excited and very proud to talk about the game.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time remake will be released on January 21 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
THERE IS NO PRINCE OF PERSIA GAME NOW. WHAT DID THE RETURN OF THE FRANCHISE INDICATE?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: Ubisoft listened to gamers and fans keep asking for the prince to come back. They wanted this character to return to the current consoles so it was the ideal candidate to be Ubisoft̵
WHY THE CHOICE TO BRING BACK THE SITE OF TIME TO ALL GAMES?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: Sands of Time was Ubisoft’s first Prince of Persia and it’s been over 15 years now and we thought it would be the natural choice to use Sands of Time since it’s such an iconic game.
THE ORIGINAL SAND OF THE TIME HAD A LOT OF GREAT DIALOGUE. IS EVERYTHING DONE TO ENSURE THAT PLAYERS DON’T MISS A LOT OF THIS DIALOGUE?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: That’s a good question. The original game is a work of art. The dialogue and narration of this game are very important because of the relationship between the prince and princess. We had the opportunity to work with Yuri, who is the original voice actor for the prince from the original game. We’ve revised the entire dialog respecting the original script, but we’ve added a few variations. We also let the actors have their own interpretation of the dialogue for projection and the way they act during film signing for the film so we stayed true to the original story, respected the original script, but we had some room for that Improvement.
In the original game, the prince and princess were not recorded in the same location at the same time. So, since they can record in the same place at the same time, things like face capture will increase the emotion.
DID THE PROCESS FOR YURI WEIRD NOTE THAT HE RECORDED THIS SCRIPT 20 YEARS AGO?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: All you have to do is close your eyes, listen to Yuri and feel right back in the game. The game is very important to him and you can see his energy, which is also spreading in the other actors.
Anna Koul: Since his voice hasn’t changed, people associate the voice with the character and play the game they remember. That’s why we tried to do this. It’s a wonderful trigger for both nostalgia and those who have played the game in the past.
From a player’s point of view, there are things that got cut off during development. WAS ALL OF A GAME POINT ADDED FROM THE GAME?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: In terms of gameplay, we had to respect the original game. It was really well balanced with the fight, the parkour, and the puzzle pieces so we really wanted to stay true to the story. We wanted to focus on the nostalgia but also make a great game for those who hadn’t played the game before.
We’ve completely redesigned the camera with a free camera approach to really help the player explore, but also to have the right frame at all times during combat. During the fight we worked with designers to improve the fight, improve the speed and the continuous flow of gameplay. So we respected everything, but we just wanted to bring the game to 2020.
It’s interesting because Sands of Time has been re-enacted on PS3. Did you watch this version the same way you watched the original?
Anna Koul: This version was kind of an upgrade with just graphics, so we went to look at that, but we put more thought into how to redesign the game because there’s a very thin line between changing things, but also that to maintain nostalgic feeling, so we always wanted to think about how it was then and how it is today.
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: The PS3 version only has a texture upgrade. The challenge for us was to develop the game from scratch. We started from scratch with the new engine used for Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but we really wanted to tweak and inject the 1001 Nights fantasy that is unique to Sands of Time, so we really worked on the contrast, on the saturation of the color that really allows the player to step into the 1001 Nights feeling.
In addition, the game was developed here in India between the studios in Pune and Mumbai. As you know, the first part of the game takes place in the Maharaja’s palace. So you can imagine how excited the teams were to create something that was part of their culture. From the concept art to the lighting, you can see how dedicated the team was to incorporating Indian culture into this.
You mentioned that the original game is playable in the remake as well. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO INCLUDE THIS?
Pierre-Sylvain Gires: It is a legacy. In the original Sands of Time, you can play the original game. The name of the level is “A Long Buried Secret” and we believe that playing the first Prince of Persia is a legacy. The player needs to understand how the game has evolved over time. Prince of Persia was an amazing game, even the DOS version and Sands of Time were unique. It created a new genre for the game industry. As a remake, we wanted to include everything from the game, including this one. It was a technical challenge for the team on the new engine, but we wanted to do it.
The game will be released in January after the PS5 / XBOX Series X was released. IS THERE A REASON THAT THIS IS NOT RECEIVING A SPECIFIC NEXT GEN RELEASE?
Anna Koul: So we focused more on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but with backward compatibility, players can play on next-gen consoles.