Ubisoft has posted a Q&A with Producer Jean-Francois Naud and Game Director Michael McIntyre that offers new insight on the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, a full-scale reimagining of the 2003 classic that was originally in development at Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai but has since shifted to Ubisoft Montreal, the game’s original developer. In the Q&A, Naud reveals that the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake is only in the conception stage, with no announcements regarding the game, which was originally meant to release in January 2021, planned for this year. That said, Ubisoft has promised that the project is very much alive, with the developers at Ubisoft Montreal aiming for an experience that improves upon but remains faithful to the original.
From a Ubisoft post:
At what stage is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake at now?
JFN: In terms of the development stage, we’re in conception right now. Since we took over the project, we’ve been looking at feedback from the community and finding our own way of delivering the game. Now, we’re building up the team, defining the priorities, putting prototypes together, testing elements, and looking at how we can include community feedback in the development as well. It’s still in an early stage, and players should not expect to hear more about the game this year, but rest assured that we’re all putting our strengths and heart into this project.
Why is it important to approach this as a remake rather than as a remaster?
Michael McIntyre: It has been 20 years since the original game was released, and not only has technology advanced – which of course you would need for a remaster – but I think we, as players and game-makers, have evolved since that time. I do not think a remaster would take enough of those evolutions into account; I think you need to do a remake in order to truly evolve the game to meet a modern context.
In the case of The Sands of Time, it’s about how you would preserve those things that are still strong, right? One of the gameplay cornerstones of the original game is how the Prince moves around. And yes, there is technology that lets us execute that better – but there are also expectations from players, in terms of other modern games, of what it means to actually control a character. Ubisoft Montreal has developed a strong expertise in that, and we are looking at how we take those lessons and apply them to the spirit of a game like Prince of Persia. That kind of thing is more than just technology; it really is us as game makers having evolved, and understanding that for players, simply picking up a polished version of the original would not meet their expectations.
What do you see as the key elements of the original that need to be preserved?
MM: Obviously, those things that we have said before are important. The gameplay mix of acrobatics, combat, puzzles – those things have to stay, and they have to stay balanced to the same degree they are. You don’t keep those, and then double the amount of combat, and say that it’s still The Sands of Time. Keeping not only those gameplay pillars, but also the same balance, is important.
Obviously, keeping the same story and setting is important, but one of the things we identified as being critical to make certain that this is not just a Prince of Persia game, but that it is The Sands of Time, is that there is a narrator that is telling you this story, and it is a story within a story. Even other Prince of Persia games did not do that, and it really is a secret ingredient to that feeling of The Sands of Time, that sort of storybook feel. That is super-important for us to preserve.