Jordan Mechner is one of the most important creators in the game industry, as he helped birth the cinematic platforming genre with Karateka. The best way to learn about the game is no doubt The Making of Karateka, which was released on Switch in August of last year. That said, Mechner himself still had more to share on how his seminal title came together, and he shared some interesting insight during a GDC 2024 panel.

Mechner made Karateka as a college student, which meant he was basically fumbling through the project as he taught himself how to make a game. There were quite a few stumbling blocks along the way, and not surprisingly, Mechner needed a lot of help to achieve his goals. What do you do when you’re a broke college student and you need help? You turn to your parents, of course!

During his GDC 2024 panel, Mechner mentioned how his parents were an absolutely integral part of Karateka’s creation. In order to get the fluid character animation for the game, Mechner turned to his mother’s karate teacher to record reference footage for enemy fights. It was Mechner’s mom who came up with the idea in the first place, which ended up becoming one of the game’s signature elements.

Mechner’s dad was deeply involved with Karateka as well. Mechner’s own father was filmed running through the woods in order to capture animation frames for Karateka’s main character, and he recorded his sister for animations tied to the game’s princess. Mechner’s dad even went a step beyond, as he crafted the soundtrack for Karateka as well.

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