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Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered

Jordan Mechner's Blog announces the discovery of the long-lost source code for the original Prince of Persia, saying: "I will now begin working with a digital-archeology-minded friend to attempt to figure out how to transfer 3.5″ Apple ProDOS disks onto a MacBook Air and into some kind of 21st-century-readable format." The story of how the source was discovered is pretty funny:

My Dad (yep, the same guy who composed the music for the original Karateka and Prince of Persia) called from New York to tell me he was doing some spring cleaning and had shipped me a carton of old games and other stuff of mine heíd found in the back of a closet.

The carton arrived yesterday. My jaw dropped when I saw what was inside.

No, I donít mean the stacks of Spanish Drosoft versions of POP and Karateka (though those are cool too, especially if you have an Amstrad computer with a cassette player). I mean those three little plastic 3.5″ disk boxes nestled among themÖ which appear to contain the ORIGINAL APPLE II SOURCE CODE OF PRINCE OF PERSIA that Iíve been searching for, off and on, for the past ten years, pestering everyone from Doug Carlston to Danny Gorlin and everyone who ever worked at Broderbund, and finally gave up hope of ever finding.

I KNEW it wasnít like me to throw stuff out!

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18 Replies. 1 pages. Viewing page 1.
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18. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 31, 2012, 21:21 Necrophob
 
Ant wrote on Mar 31, 2012, 21:06:
But can he release the source, compiled game, etc.? Will Broderbund and Ubisoft allow it since the franchise is still popular?

He might want to, but I bet the publisher that has the rights would rather release it on GoG for $9.99. I Love GoG, but some of those games aren't worth 1/5 of the price of a new PC game anymore.
 
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17. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 31, 2012, 21:06 Ant
 
But can he release the source, compiled game, etc.? Will Broderbund and Ubisoft allow it since the franchise is still popular?  
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16. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 10:56 Creston
 
I KNEW it wasn't like me to throw stuff out!

At first I thought: "No, I'm the kind of guy that throws stuff like that in an old box along with Spanish Drosoft version of POP and Karateka!"

But then I realized... This was like in the 80s. Where ELSE would he have stored it?

Creston
 
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15. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 08:27 gilly775
 
Necrophob wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 21:32:
mixma242 wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 20:54:
Nice! Although after 25 years you have to wonder if the media is still any good.

Yah, it's not like 3.5" disk were known for their reliability. It's great that he found this.

That's why you have companies like Kroll Ontrack who can recover data from even burned or physically altered disks.
 
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14. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 06:35 obo
 
I believe Apple II disks use GCR rather than the normal MFM (or older FM) encoding used by IBM-compatible disks, so the PC floppy controller can't read them at all. It's the same reason you can't read/write Amiga disks. You can get add-on cards/boards to do it but it'd probably be easier to access on the original hardware.  
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13. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 06:11 theyarecomingforyou
 
Dev wrote on Mar 30, 2012, 00:53:
Are you sure thats not a limitation of the OS thats reading the drive rather than a drive limitation? Because I recall way back in the day a DOS program for 5.25" floppies that could store 800k instead of the normal 720k.
I seem to recall using larger floppies on PC as well. We're talking about a long time ago though, so my memory might be a little fuzzy.
 
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12. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 01:04 MisterBenn
 
That's what she said! (My sincere apologies)  
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11. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 00:53 Dev
 
GaiamarkGames wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 23:25:
If they're Apple-formatted 3.5" floppies, which store 800k instead of the DOS 720k, then they can't be opened by a normal PC floppy drive. The easiest way to copy the files is to get an pre-OSX Mac with a floppy drive, image the disks, and then copy the disk images to a PC, where they can be read by software like CiderPress or an emulator.
Are you sure thats not a limitation of the OS thats reading the drive rather than a drive limitation? Because I recall way back in the day a DOS program for 5.25" floppies that could store 800k instead of the normal 720k.

I honestly don't know if its software or hardware, I don't do much with floppies nowadays.
 
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10. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 30, 2012, 00:09 wonkawonka
 
My //e still works fine and so do the disks. One of the drives has a problem but the other is ok and I can still play One-on-One (and Karateka!).  
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9. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 23:25 GaiamarkGames
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 22:01:
Alamar wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 21:48:
Three words... ebay dot com...
Also, it wouldn't surprise me if you could hook up a normal PC floppy drive to an apple 2 emulator program and get the stuff off that way.

In any case, I agree, I don't know the longevity of floppy media.

If they're Apple-formatted 3.5" floppies, which store 800k instead of the DOS 720k, then they can't be opened by a normal PC floppy drive. The easiest way to copy the files is to get an pre-OSX Mac with a floppy drive, image the disks, and then copy the disk images to a PC, where they can be read by software like CiderPress or an emulator.

As far as longevity, I still have all my old 3.5" disks for my IIgs and they were still able to be read as of 2007 or so.
 
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8. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 22:40 Alamar
 
Necrophob wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 22:08:
I'd imagine looking back at that code must be a trip for the guy. I remember dinking around with stuff like mode 13h, back in the day when you could still get at that kind of stuff. DirectX and OpenGL spoil us with their power, while seeming to make stuff that used to be fairly simple more difficult.

It's amazing looking back at old games and seeing the weird crap that the programmers pulled off back then. I remember looking through the Wolfenstein 3d code, thinking it would be very simple, only to be baffled in most places. I could have sworn I saw some dynamically generated assembly.

Gawd... 320x240 with direct 8-bit addressing... Those were the days... I mean, other than being able to do it now at any res... heh

I wrote a palette rotation program in assembler that I used as a password checker... It was pretty ; )

Also, while addicted to Eye of the Beholder (and similar style games), I wrote a 3D maze program that used Bresenham's line drawing algorithm to texture the walls...

Some of these things, I still have around on a backup somewhere, and ya, it's neat going back to it, so I totally get the nostalgia bit ; )

As for the cool shit people were doing in 13h... The demo scene was awesome... Some really neat stuff packed into crazy tight code : )

-Alamar
 
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7. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 22:08 Necrophob
 
Dev wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 22:01:
Alamar wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 21:48:
Three words... ebay dot com...
Yeah he should be able to find a working apple II computer on ebay I'd imagine.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me if you could hook up a normal PC floppy drive to an apple 2 emulator program and get the stuff off that way.

In any case, I agree, I don't know the longevity of floppy media.

Nowadays, I wouldn't think recreating code for an old game like that would be too terribly hard? (at least code that did similar things under something like flash, I don't mean exact code).

As a general reminder to anyone, if your stuff is important to you BACK THE CRAP UP. Seriously, there's no excuse with such cheap backup methods nowadays. There's also free solutions on the internet, or just throw it onto usenet (encrypted and with pars). Nowadays premium usenet providers offer 1000+ days retention.

I'd imagine looking back at that code must be a trip for the guy. I remember dinking around with stuff like mode 13h, back in the day when you could still get at that kind of stuff. DirectX and OpenGL spoil us with their power, while seeming to make stuff that used to be fairly simple more difficult.

It's amazing looking back at old games and seeing the weird crap that the programmers pulled off back then. I remember looking through the Wolfenstein 3d code, thinking it would be very simple, only to be baffled in most places. I could have sworn I saw some dynamically generated assembly.
 
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6. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 22:01 Dev
 
Alamar wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 21:48:
Three words... ebay dot com...
Yeah he should be able to find a working apple II computer on ebay I'd imagine.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me if you could hook up a normal PC floppy drive to an apple 2 emulator program and get the stuff off that way.

In any case, I agree, I don't know the longevity of floppy media.

Nowadays, I wouldn't think recreating code for an old game like that would be too terribly hard? (at least code that did similar things under something like flash, I don't mean exact code).

As a general reminder to anyone, if your stuff is important to you BACK THE CRAP UP. Seriously, there's no excuse with such cheap backup methods nowadays. There's also free solutions on the internet, or just throw it onto usenet (encrypted and with pars). Nowadays premium usenet providers offer 1000+ days retention.
 
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5. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 21:48 Alamar
 
Three words... ebay dot com...

Seriously though, I'm happy for him... But I can't imagine how it's of any use, beyond nostalgia of course : )

-Alamar
 
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4. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 21:32 Necrophob
 
mixma242 wrote on Mar 29, 2012, 20:54:
Nice! Although after 25 years you have to wonder if the media is still any good.

Yah, it's not like 3.5" disk were known for their reliability. It's great that he found this.
 
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3. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 21:31 Silicon Avatar
 
That's pretty funny.

The floppy disks should be fine if they were just kept in a closet.
 
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2. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 20:54 mixma242
 
Nice! Although after 25 years you have to wonder if the media is still any good.  
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1. Re: Prince of Persia Source Code Rediscovered Mar 29, 2012, 20:39 nin
 

That's pretty fucking cool. Piece of gaming history, sitting in the back of dad's closet.
 
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