Jordan Mechner

Jordan Mechner

Game designer (Prince of Persia), screenwriter

Posted

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a game designer, screenwriter, and graphic novelist (Prince of Persia, Karateka, The Last Express). @jmechner on Twitter. I keep a blog at jordanmechner.com where I sometimes post sketches, journals and "making of" stuff.

What hardware do you use?

A year-old MacBook Air. When I'm in my home office, I dock it with the mother ship (Apple Cinema display, keyboard, Magic Mouse, and external hard drive), but most days I'm nomadic, so what's on my desk is less important than what's in my shoulder bag.

Contents of shoulder bag:

1) MacBook Air. It's light, and the battery lasts all day. I often don't even carry a power cord.

2) iPhone 4S.

3) Kindle. I prefer it to the iPad for reading because it's small and light, and the screen doesn't glow.

4) A handful of pens (Sakura Pigma Micron 02).

5) Moleskine sketchbook, for caf├ęs, airports, restaurants, and whenever I have a few minutes downtime. I always take it with me, because the days I'm sure I won't want it, I'm wrong.

6) A thinner, red Moleskine notebook for notes and rough drafts. I don't use looseleaf sheets, because they end up getting lost. The notebook lasts longer than you'd think -- I go through two or three a year -- and becomes a kind of journal.

My first-gen iPad gets a lot of use around the house, but I'll only take it with me if I have a reason, like a screenplay PDF to read or an iOS app to playtest.

Home office setup includes an iMac with USB hub connected to various devices, including a three-year-old Okidata 5800 color laser printer that used to be able to print wirelessly on our Apple Airport Extreme network, but the software hasn't kept up; a ScanSnap scanner; and assorted 1TB and 2TB external hard drives containing several tons' worth of paper, CDs, DVDs, VHS, DAT, mini-DV, Hi-8, celluloid, Exabyte, 5.25" floppy disks, and other last-century storage media.

The fact that .pdf has replaced paper for 99% of what I do makes not having a networkable printer less of an inconvenience than it might be.

And what software?

Scrivener for big writing projects, especially in the researching and outlining phase. When I get to the point of actually writing pages, I switch to Movie Magic Screenwriter or Final Draft.

Evernote for notes, journaling, and quickie writing like emails and blog posts. I also use it to transcribe what I've scribbled in my red Moleskine. When the notebook fills up, I shelve it and start a new one. Notebooks aren't great for searchability, but they're interesting to browse through years later.

Apple Mail, Address Book, and iCal (synced through MobileMe so I can use whichever Apple gadget is closest) form the unified front end for a tangled unholy mess of Gmail accounts, Google Calendars and Google Apps. The sync problems are insidious, never-ending, and drive my assistant and me crazy.

Things for getting things done. Although the Allenic ideal of an empty in-box eludes me, I do try to be vigilant about consistently moving action items out of Mail, iCal, Evernote and Moleskine and into Things, so they're all in one place.

I tweet mostly from the iPhone, using Echofon.

What would be your dream setup?

I still have the Moleskine sketchbook -- except they've changed the paper, so it's more of a true white and doesn't repel watercolor.

One iPad-sized tablet combining the functions of all the Macs, cameras, iPhone, Kindle, wireless networks and hard drives. The tablet screen can switch from glowing to e-ink mode, and doubles as a scanner, so I can scan pages anytime.

An iPhone-sized version that's identical, only the screen is smaller. They're always synced, so whichever one I take with me, it has all the same stuff on it.

And a one-touch off button, so I can toss those amazing gadgets in a drawer and forget they exist, at least for a couple of hours.