Just to be clear, this isn’t a book. It’s a journal. A short, sketchy stream of consciousness from a kid who, while taking Psych at Yale, created one of the Billboards top seling number one Apple games of the 80s – Karateka
That journal itself won’t appeal to use unless you are already a big fan of the game, or you are just really interested in the creative process. For me this was both.
I was fascinated to read how Jordan had to simultaneously deal with the frame rate limitations of the Apple ][, juggling a full course load, while hammering out a deal with Broderbund, while also watching a tonne of movies and considering becoming a full time screen writer.
It’s just a fascinating journey that does contain nugets of wisdom for those who are looking. Here are a few of my favorites:
Maybe what makes great artists — composers, painters, writers, filmmakers — different from competent ones isn’t so much raw ability or talent (although they help) as the willpower to continue refining a design until it’s really perfect.
I get this. I feel this when I write, draw pictures, or just try to come up with innovative ways of teaching people about computers. I know I’m not the brightest tool in the shed. But I also know what it’s like to spend hours on a single paragraph, until that very moment when you just get it right, and it glows!
You can’t do good work in an art form you don’t love yourself. I still do, sometimes, really get into a video game – Lode Runner, Dr. Creep – and it’s that part of me that I’ve got to aim at pleasing. If I can’t satisfy myself, I won’t satisfy anyone else.
Who are they? It’s us!
This perhaps my favorite quote of the book. It’s here that Jordan explains why some games are awesome, and some aren’t. Here is was referring to ports of Karateka to other platforms. None of them were as good as his on the Apple ][ because no one else was prepared to spend the 100s of hours it took to get the animations just right. No surprise. Just reassuring. That love, hard work, attention to detail still maker. And that people feel it when they use your product.
Anyways, I loved this book. And I just started reading the companion journal Prince Or Persia. I will post more then if I find something worth sharing.
Cheers – Jonathan