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Exclusive: Jordan Weisman talks MechWarrior with News10

8:25 PM, Oct 1, 2013   |    comments
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'MechWarrior' creator Jordan Weisman.

A mere couple of weeks ago, video game developer Piranha Games released MechWarrior Online, a free-to-play online computer game based upon the franchise initially created by creator Jordan Weisman and his father nearly three decades ago.  Watch the about video and enjoy News10's exclusive sit-down interview the gaming industry icon as he talks about MechWarrior, the resurgence of his Shadowrun game, and the possibility of a movie deal.

Weisman created the original MechWarrior in 1986 as a table-top game played with pen, paper, and dice.  While the game was well-received, the game creator knew its true future was in the digital realm.

"I always had a vision for taking [MechWarrior] into a multi-computer game," he said. "I believed that was where technology was going to go."

Unfortunately, the technology of the late 1980's wouldn't allow for such a thing to exist.  So in response to the limitations in home computing and networking, Weisman and his father founded Virtual World Entertainment.  Under that name they opened physical retail locations where gamers could visit and six in one of sixteen mech simulator pods and play the game while networked with others.

"At the time [that] was the first place in the world that you could play any kind of network game or 3D-immersive game where you went into the world," he pointed out.

Thankfully by the time Activision published MechWarrior II in 1995, technology had advanced enough to not only allow for 3D-engineered graphics on a home computer but also the ability to dial in over the phone lines and play with others remotely - usually courtesy of a 28.8K modem (56K if you were lucky).  The game saw two more sequels between then and 2000, as well as spin-offs such as the home console MechAssault series that ran from 2002 until 2006.  Then... nothing.

"My father and I had sold the company off to Microsoft at the time, so they then owned the properties and it kind of got lost the giant warehouse like in the end of 'Indiana Jones' of things at Microsoft," Weisman explained.  "But then I licensed them back out from Microsoft after I left the company and started working with Piranha... who approached me and said they wanted to do the game together."

Fast forward to late-September, 2013, and the world saw the launch of MechWarrior Online.  It's a free-to-play online computer game based on the same roots as the original two MechWarrior games and the second of two of Weisman's original titles to find a resurgence this year (Shadowrun Returns is the other).

With the launch of MechWarrior Online and the new Shadowrun game, it's easy to assume Weisman would be content to rest on his laurels for a while before decided what, if anything, to do next.  Easy to assume, but incorrect.  In fact, the iconic game designer already has ideas on where to go from here.

"I've always loved telling stories in this universe and I'd love to be able to get back into doing fiction in interesting ways," he said.  "I've been working with the Catalyst guys on helping them with a new series of novels."

The written word, however, isn't the only thing on his mind.

"There's always the movie rights," Weisman stated.  "We can always hope.  I mean, Michael Eisner owns the movie rights now so hopefully one day we'll get a movie made."

But it's hard to look forward to new novels and a possible major motion picture without looking back from where it all started: a pen, some paper, and a fistful of dice.

"It's been a wild ride; it's been 30 years," the gaming legend reminisced.  "When I did the first pen-and-paper one, I never would have imagined that 30 years later we'd still be exploring this universe and doing it in exciting ways."

Those interested in exploring Weisman's universe can do so by visiting and downloading the game's client.


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