I’m CEO and Creative Director of Harebrained Schemes, a (very) small game development studio in the Seattle area. I’ve been a game designer and entrepreneur since graduating high school. I got my start in the paper game industry, founding FASA Corporation in 1980, where I created BattleTech/MechWarrior and Shadowrun. My second company, Virtual World Entertainment, pioneered virtual reality game centers around the world. I sold VWE to the Disney family in 1992. I then founded FASA Interactive to develop my games for PC and sold the company to Microsoft in 1998, becoming the Creative Director for their games division and overseeing the first two years of Xbox titles, including Halo. In 2000, I founded Wizkids and invented the collectible miniature figure games MageKnight, MechWarrior and HeroClix. Wizkids was acquired by Topps Inc. in 2003. After Wizkids, I co-founded 42 Entertainment and spawned a new genre - Alternate Reality Games. As Chief Creative Officer of 42 Entertainment, I oversaw the creation of “I Love Bees,” for the launch of Halo 2, “Why So Serious,” for The Dark Knight, and many others. My latest company, Harebrained Schemes, created Crimson Steam Pirates with Bungie last year and recently ran a successful Kickstarter.com project to bring back one of my favorite game worlds, Shadowrun.

I’ve tweeted my verification (@WeBeHarebrained)

Comments: 582 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

andrewsmith1986131 karma

I just want to thank you for Mechwarrior.

Seriously, hundreds of hours of my elementary school years were spent in that universe.

JordanWeisman58 karma

My pleasure - thanks so much for playing!

Cannibalzz101 karma

I love Shadowrun for the SNES, one of my favorite games, ever. Also has one of the best beginnings: waking up in the morgue, falling out of a slab in the wall. What inspired that beginning scene?

JordanWeisman86 karma

Denny Thorley, the Producer on the game, loved the game but wanted a little "lighter" take on it. So as I often do I went the other way and pitched the opening in the morgue - not only to tweak him but because it gave us a great way of introducing the world to the character and the player at the same time since Jake had lost his memory. Plus, I really wanted to hit some of the central Noir themes, and the combination of dead man walking and lost memories play right into Noir.

JordanWeisman52 karma

Okay, I'm really here now!

crashusmaximus31 karma

Dude. I owe you a serious apology in advance for the coming wall of text, but I gotta get this out.

Back in 1993, when i was still a kid living under the roof of my fundamentalist christian parents, dying to get into tabletop roleplaying your game was the first one that actually appealed to me. For years I have been a gigantic fan. I've followed your system, read the fic, followed your kickstarter development and drooled with total anticipation.

Before I ask a single question THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the worlds you made, from Shadowrun to Crimson Skies thank you. Don't ever stop. Don't ever quit on your stuff, because its freakin awesome.

What other directions have you considered taking your IP's in? Have you ever considered getting anything like a TV series based on Shadowrun or Crimson Skies?

How do you feel about the Shadowrun MMO project they are working on in Germany? Are you concerned about how well recieved its going to be as a F2P model?

4th Edition Shadowrun is kinda a point of contention among its fans; how do you like the direction the universe took after the 4th ed stuff started coming out?

What were some of the ideas when you first designed the history starting from 1st edition that you looked at at the time and said "Well, that actually sounds pretty awesome but I don't think anyone will buy it." and tossed?

Do you still have worlds left up in your head that you haven't had a chance to do anything with?

Do you think its ever a possiblity that Shadowrun (after Returns and the Online project outta Germany) could ever see Triple AAA production values from a major studio again, or did the whole FPS thing completely jade you to the experience? (Honestly, wouldn't blame you if it did.)

Also; if some rabid, mildly insane mega fan of yours from canada was to arrange to have a sandwich delivered to you, what kind of sandwich would you prefer?

JordanWeisman16 karma

I'll try and answer as much of this as I can. . .

I've been working on tv and movie versions of my game settings for years. Maybe some day.

The SR MMO looks promising and I can't wait to see what our friends at Cliffhanger Games come up with.

I'm focusing on the original Shadowrun era because that's the one I created and still love. I know some people are unhappy with 4th Edition but I'm not part of that.

I generally don't "toss" many ideas I have for games, especially RPGs. They often live for so long, all my ideas eventually make it in.

There are plenty of game worlds still in my head. The question is, would anyone else like them?

I think that Shadowrun would make a great AAA game and I know just what I would do with it. However: A) I don't own the rights B) I don't want to spend years on a single project.

In general, I don't eat things given to me by anyone who could be described at "rabid". Hope that makes sense. . .

cbspike29 karma

How important will be dialogues in your game? Will there special quests that can be solved through dialogues? Skills that can be used in dialogues? Will quests have more solutions?

JordanWeisman33 karma

We think that the conversations are one of the key pillars of the game. We want the game to be about story, and in an RPG story is told via a combination of action and dialog with the majority of the depth coming from the dialog. I have been focusing all my efforts exclusively on the design of this critical aspect over the last several weeks and I am very excited about where we are headed, including the ability for quests to be solved only through leg work and conversations.

JordanWeisman29 karma

FAQ item: What's the story with Crimson Skies? Are you going to make another?

I would love to make another Crimson Skies game but I don't have the rights. But who knows what the future holds? Right now, I'm heads-down on Shadowrun.

JordanWeisman23 karma

Hey gang - its been a blast but I have to run and get back to making games :)

Mike, Mitch, me, and the rest of the HBS gang will drop into the forums on Shadowrun.com every once in a while so swing by and say hi.

Thanks for all the good questions and kind words. Jordan

linkin021 karma

Thanks for doing this! Just wondering if the main character of Shadowrun Returns is going to be "fixed" character type like in the SNES and Genesis versions of the game or will you be able to play any race, class, gender etc.

JordanWeisman27 karma

We really don't want it to be a single character game, and our goal is to let players combine races and skills in order to make any kind of character that they want, but it's till early days and we don't yet know some of the ugly realities that might limit this later in development.

EighteenRabbit18 karma

Assuming that you guys knock it out of the park on this release, what are your long term goals for the Shadowrun franchise? What do you want to be when you grow up?

JordanWeisman25 karma

Man I have been asking myself that question since I was 10 and I still don't have a good answer for that.

All I know is that I want me and Harebrained Schemes to keep making games that we love and want to play.

rootwinterguard15 karma

Jordan, thanks for doing this AMA and welcome to Reddit! I have a question regarding Shadowrun Returns:

Given that SR will be cross-developed for both tablets AND PC/Mac/Linux, does that mean that we can't expect a game that's larger in scale/scope, and have more than 10 hours of gameplay (given the graphics, memory and processor speed limits of tablets)?

I am thinking about how brief (but marvelous!) Crimson Steam Pirates was, and hoping that we're going to see longer, more in-depth gameplay.

JordanWeisman12 karma

Since the current tablets are already more powerful than the home PC's of the 1990s I don't believe the limitation is not a hardware one but rather one of realizing that there is a "hardcore" game audience on the devices and that they will pay enough to create games of appropriate depth.

Crimson was not an RPG, but rather a linear tactical combat game so SR will be much much deeper and have a longer play than for sure. Plus with all the creativity of the SR audience empowered by the editor we will release it should have an unlimited amount of play.

rootwinterguard2 karma

Another separate question, re: Crimson Steam Pirates:

During the boarding party phase, the game includes "loot" rewards for each round you won (I think there was gold, jewels etc...), was this a hold-over from additional game features that were never implemented?

I am imagining researching new ships tech, hiring crew, purchasing upgrades etc...?

JordanWeisman6 karma

Yep it was - these all things we would love to add if time ever allows!

crayou15 karma

hi thanks for doing this! What races will be playable in SRR?

JordanWeisman25 karma

Human, Elf, Ork, Troll, ,and Dwarf.

Herald4211 karma

FASA created some of the most intriguing settings for games, and you're responsible for quite a bit. What would it take to get all of the FASA licenses permanently wrestled away from Microsoft and into the hands of loving creators such as yourself? Is there a Kickstarter for this in the future?

JordanWeisman15 karma

Thanks for the complements. I don't think we will ever end up with all the right for the old FASA games, but our goal at Harebrained Schemes is to start creating games and universes with the same integrity, depth, and intriguing settings like I used to do at FASA - so stay tuned for what happens in the next couple of years :)

Hasek107 karma

Jordan, thank you for the hard work, dedication, and inspiration you've exhibited in all your efforts, and especially your contributions to the Mechwarrior/Battletech universe. My questions are ones of philosophical introspection, which I hope is ok.

1) What personal beliefs allow you to identify with and enjoy the heavy metal, cyberpunk aspects of the content you create?

2) With perhaps the exception of Shadowrun, many of these universes share themes of honor, duty, pragmatism, contrasted with the stories of people who face the consequences of believing in those ideals. Which of these ideals, or ones that I may have missed, do you share?

JordanWeisman10 karma

Thanks for the complements.

I enjoy creating and telling stories in complex worlds with shades of gray rather than stark black and white because it gives the writer more legitimate and compelling points of view to work from. In BT/MW we created very different Houses and Clans each of which had their own compelling world view and philosophy. While they were often "evil" from each other's points of view, from an objective point of view the reader could understand the actions taken and how they meshed (or didn't) with each culture's view of what honor or duty means.

Shadowrun has it's own version of what honor and duty means. While an RPG allows and encourages each GM to create their own version of the world they are playing in, in my version of Shadowrun the runners are classical anti-heroes meaning that they are totally outside the "law" doing things that disrupt society but they do live by an internal code of honor and duty to each other and to the SINless, the poor souls without system identification numbers that live in the slums and are prayed upon by gangs and corps with equal abandon. In my version of the game the runners are often the only hope the SINless have.

mister_h7 karma

First off, thank you very much for this AMA and the opportunity to learn more about this exciting game.

Now for my questions:

1) A big one, what kind of vision do you have for Deckers in the game? How will the Matrix be handled?

2) Will the player have a crash pad/apartment? Will the player be able to buy safe houses? Upgade housing (i.e. from a squatters apartment up to an entire building)?

3) What kind of non-combat interactions will there be? Can we 'hang out' at a shadowrunner's club?

4) What is the art style going to be like? Fallout? WoW? Oh, and any concept art/screenshots yet? ;)

Thank you again from a Shadowrun:Returns backer!

JordanWeisman12 karma

My pleasure - answers were I can. 1) In the initial version of the game we will not be able to do a full blown version of Matrix running that would do it justice, so Deckers will be hacking the security and control systems on runs to make facilities dance at their finger tips, but to do so they will have to penetrate the facility with the rest of the team. 2) We are not sure about player character "housing" yet but it is something we are exploring. 3) A great deal of the game is non-combat. The leg work, character interaction and conversations are where the real meat of the story and thus the game are. 4) Our art team is working on nailing down the art style as we speak - we hope to be able to show you all the style direction in the upcoming weeks.

Eraser10246 karma


Thanks for doing this AMA. I would like to know a few things about Shadowrun Returns.

I. On your Kickstarter page you've said:

Here are some ways that selecting each character type allows you to see the map from a different perspective:

  • Street Samurai see a threat assessment overlay of the environment that notes enemy appraisals, options for cover, potential weapons, and statistics for drawn weapons.

  • Combat Mages see magical auras, granting them the ability to locate magical items, identify spells being prepared, and find the intersections of magic lay lines where they can recharge their power.

  • Hackers/Deckers see the digital control circuitry that allows them to manipulate the physical world via the digital one.

  • Shaman see the “true world” that lies in the astral plane, distinguishing the true nature of people, plants, creatures, and magical objects while buildings and other “dead” objects appear as mere shadows.

I love this idea and I'd love to hear more about it. (I'm new to SR world.)

A few questions come to mind. Is Samurai's perspective basically our own (i.e. perception of moving physical objects through sensory stimuli)? Will graphical assets change significantly in different perspectives? Will UI change significantly in different perspectives? Would change of perspective change perception of other senses than sight? (I'm thinking about hearing.)

II. What kind of graphical engine will you use?

JordanWeisman5 karma

The street samurai's view is the "physical" world but overlayed with a HUD that displays weapons and tactical information, kind of like a fighter pilots HUD does for air combat. As the player clicks to other characters there are graphical elements that change to present that characters "world view", but mostly it is overlays of information (glowing auras, laylines, etc) and some cool visual effects rather than a completely new view. We are expanding the Moai client code base for our graphical engine

Masta-Kink6 karma

Hi Jordan,

I'm a backer of the new Shadowrun returns. I've never played any Shadowrun prior to the 360 Shadowrun game. I'm one of the few who enjoyed the FPS shooter in 2007. I loved the balanced gameplay. Is there any possiblity to make an updated FPS or maybe an RPG?

JordanWeisman2 karma

Harebrained Schemes, my new company, is making an RPG right now. You can learn about it here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/shadowrun-returns

BandBoots5 karma

What was your favorite mech in MechWarrior?

JordanWeisman15 karma

I'd say it was the MadCat--it was the first 'Mech to really capture the aesthetic I was looking for.

Iam_Thesame5 karma

Thank you for doing this first and foremost. As a troubled young adult, I am looking for a purpose. What brought you into the idea of creating game developing?

JordanWeisman17 karma

I was a dyslexic child and cold not read well. As a teenager I encountered D&D and it totally blew me away. Here was a game that inspired the imagination and thrived on socialization. It caused me to learn to read those damn confusing rules and all of Lord of the Rings as well. Totally changed my life

Minimus325 karma

Hey Jordan, thanks for coming!

As someone who sadly is moderately young, I didn't get a chance to grow up with Shadowrun as many people here might have. That said, I'm following this project with extreme interest because I love everything cyberpunk. So my question is, even though this game is primarily for Shadowrun fans is it something that a newbie who lives and breathes cyberpunk and RPGs could enjoy as well?

JordanWeisman3 karma

We want to make sure that SRR is not just for those that grew up with SR, and thus will it will have all the depth of SR lore that we can shove into it, we are working really hard to make sure that it is a great entry into the world of Shadowrun that does not make the first time player feel overwhelmed.

rand0mguy15 karma

Mechwarrior was one of my favorite game franchises, and the whole concept of piloting a mech is unbelievably cool. Why would you give this franchise up and let it die. Is there any chance of mechs coming back?

JordanWeisman8 karma

I never gave up the MechWarrior franchise. I just don't own it anymore. It's owned by Microsoft. However, Pirhana games is doing MechWarrior Online right now.

rand0mguy12 karma

Yeah, the video they made like 3 years ago looked great, but this new game is nothing like that. Seems like a typical online game with no story mode. I loved the mechwarrior story/universe.

JordanWeisman7 karma

Me too.

RedsforMeds4 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

I was a huge fan of the MechWarrior series and have purchased and played almost all of the games in the BattleTech series.

How likely is the 2012 release of MechWarrior Online? Do you expect to release another MechCommander real-time tactics-type game?

I also want to thank you for your efforts in revitalizing the series.


JordanWeisman9 karma

It has been a long haul to get this universe back into the digital world, but it's wonderful that we are getting there. MWO is indeed going to release this year and it looks AWESOME! It is a true successor to the old school simulator style of MW games and the fact that it runs in a browser blows my mind. I have also seen a very cool literal translation of the Battletech board game which is also going to launch this year, so its a good year to be a BattleTech/MechWarrior fan :)

Cassilda4 karma

First, I'd like to say that I'm a big fan of both Shadowrun and BattleTech, so thanks for creating those.

With respect to Shadowrun, how much of the metaplot (the Horrors/immortal elves/etc.) was planned in from the beginning, and how much did designers make up as they went along? How much of that was intended to be tied in/explained in the Earthdawn game setting?

Also, how much input did you and the other folks at FASA have into the various Shadowrun video games (the SNES & Genesis games, as well as the Sega Mega-CD game that never made it out of Japan)?

JordanWeisman4 karma

Thanks for the thank yous. In actual fact I had every element for the first 25 years of the game all written in code on my padded cell wall BEFORE we published the first edition of Shadowrun which means I am about to run out of material and better start writing again soon :)

Na - in reality I had a pretty good outline of the basics and had worked through the history of the world up to the 2050s when we launched the game. After that point we stayed about a year ahead of the published product in order to be able to seed things and coordinate things so that it all held together (or at least we hoped it did). The Earthdawn addition was not in the original plan, but rather an exploration of what the previous high period of magic in the SR timeline.

MattchewTaDerm3 karma

Love MechWarrior, sadened there hasn't been a modern release of this game with mega awesome graphics.

Is this something we may be able to see, even on console?

JordanWeisman5 karma

Google MechWarrior Online. Your wish is coming true.

JordanWeisman3 karma

Just to let everyone know, I'll keep answering questions until 9pm ET. Figure 5 hours is pretty good. . .

Demesthenos2 karma

What did it feel like to see so many fans donate over 100$ each to the Returns project? Also, was it difficult to get the word out? My friend and I are working on a Pen & Paper we're thinking about putting up there.

JordanWeisman3 karma

It was humbling and a little overwhelming. Getting the word out wasn't too hard--there are a lot of Shadowrun fans out there and it turns out, they're pretty social-media savvy. . .

Getting the word out on a known game world with a 20+ years of history is a lot easier than for a brand new PnP game.

dwlynch2 karma

As Creative Director where do you find the storytelling talent to help you craft the team. Do you look for writers that work in the game industry or do they sometimes come from other places?

I love that you guys are planning to open the creation tools up to the community, any thoughts of potentially using that as recruitment tool sometime down the road?

JordanWeisman2 karma

Every game's level editor is a recruiting tool! That's how you need to look at it if you want to get into the industry because its with these tools that you can make an impression on not only the companies that made the game, but every company that you are applying to. So you can be sure that we will be looking at the best of the community developed Shadowrun's when we go looking to expand our game design staff.

mazing_azn2 karma

Why do you think Shadowrun struck such a cord in Germany? I'm US-based and am curious/jealous at how much larger the fans seems to be over there.

A friend of mine, whose played since first edition, even overheard a random group of tourists riding a the train from an airport discussing the game.

JordanWeisman2 karma

We love our German fans!

Its a fine question. I think it is because it hit a nerve at the intersection of Cyberpunk which as very popular in Germany a different take on classic high fantasy that has also been very popular in Germany. But maybe some of the German fans can express it better or correct me altogether!

3quinox2 karma

What is your favorite color?

JordanWeisman11 karma

Blue. No red. Ahhhh!!!

KingTormax2 karma

What is in your plans for future games? Do you still have interest in creating new paper games?

JordanWeisman6 karma

I love paper games and create new ones all the time. From family games such as Double Double Dominoes that I created last year and is being published this year from Calliope Games to miniature games such as Arcane Legions which I did a couple of years ago - I don't think I will ever get totally away from paper games.

KingTormax2 karma

Out of all of them you have had a hand in small or large, what was your favorite and why?

JordanWeisman3 karma

I never tell which of my three sons is my favorite and so I can't do it to my games either :)

PackingForMars2 karma

Can we still become backers for SRR even though the project deadline has officially passed on Kickstarter?

JordanWeisman3 karma

Unfortunately, no. We needed to end it somewhere.

RClovesShadowrun2 karma

Gremlin from the Shadowrun Universe would like to know:

  • what dragon will be considered for eating a kitten?
  • will there be a fully functional stuffer shack?
  • will we see dunkelzahns inauguration party as a DLC event?
  • will there be havens for chars to hole up and spend their money in?


JordanWeisman2 karma

1) We believe that no dragon should be left behind when it comes to kitten gastronomy. 2) Funny, we were just talking about Stuffer Shack! Fully functional? No. 3) No. 4) We're thinking yes and perhaps they'll get nicer as your Lifestyle increases. Perhaps.

Lykenx2 karma

All I saw was creator of MechWarrior.

I spent so much time playing the RTS version of MechWarrior. Please make another one because man, it was the bees knees.

Raven = best mech eva

edit: might have been mechcommander. same thing, different thing who cares, mechs are cool.

JordanWeisman2 karma

Thanks. Yes, it was MechCommander. Fun game and the first one that my partner, Mitch, and I made together. Who knows, maybe some day. . .

Elementium2 karma

Me and my brother loved Mechwarrior! Oh man.. Co-op was frustrating cause he was a terrible shooter though.

You said your company is small, are you secure financially? is it expensive to run a game developer these days?

JordanWeisman2 karma

Yes, game development is expensive. The main cost: great people.

Are we financially secure? It's 2012. Is anyone?

AgentSmif2 karma

Was the 2007 Shadowrun FPS slated to be an FPS from the start or was it turned into one so you guys had a chance of getting a publisher to sign on? When I play the game it feels like there were compromises, like the teleport ability which violates a core rule of the Shadowrun universe.

P.S. The game had potential

JordanWeisman4 karma

I did not have a hand in the FPS. That was developed in-house by Microsoft after I left. It was always intended to be an FPS but originally had a full single-player campaign. I agree it had potential and lots of people tell me that it's a great, under-appreciated FPS.

RClovesShadowrun3 karma

I would love to see Microsofts Shadowrun redeveloped for an immersive Shadowrun Action RPG, as long as they stick to canon, and retcon the existing FPS to fall within canon. I do like FPS's, I just couldn't support the 2007 one (sorry Mitch). But I have it in my heart to support a Shadowrun ARPG with a FPS component, that respects the Shadowrun lore and fanbase!

JordanWeisman2 karma

Mitch says he understands.

RClovesShadowrun2 karma

Recognizing that I don't know Mitch, he's certainly turning out to be an alright guy. _^

JordanWeisman3 karma

His mom thinks so.

colourbars771 karma


JordanWeisman2 karma

My pleasure. 1) Wow that is a long list and very different based upon what type of game we are discussing. For computer/video games the top part of the list has people like my friends Will Wright, Ken Levine, Warren Spector, and Chris Taylor. 2) The key to getting into the industry is to MAKE THINGS! This generation has incredible creative tools available at your fingertips (if you're currently typing on your PC/Mac). Use those tools to create the kind of stories, games, videos, that show what your capable of and passionate about. Be careful to scope your creations to things that you can FINISH - and then get starting making them. When we (meaning everyone in the industry) hires, the biggest thing we look at is what the person has conceived of and created.

MrMcDougle1 karma

Thanks for this chance you grant us! Direct fan-approach is something I appreciate alot, Jordan. MISSION EDITOR: -will it allow to include legwork? -feature dialogue? -allow to create multiple solutions for a scenario(choosing different nsc/factions or even going all pacifist) -will it allow to create unique NSCs for the the runs? -will it allow to create campaigns? -will we be able to download and upload “run-files” freely? (placing them in a folder in the root game folder) -will we thus be able to rate and comment runs / campaigns? To tag them(“canon”; “fun”; “Hard”;”Kittens”)? MODDING: -will you keep the files in a format which could be modded/replaced easily? -will the files be encrypted?

JordanWeisman3 karma

With the caveat that it is still early days, let me try to answer your questions about the mission editor. 1) Dialog - yes the GM can create their own dialog for their missions 2) Yes the GM will set the solution or solutions for their missions 3) It is our plan that GMs can create missions and make them available to their friends or to the entire community. We hope to have community rating and comments on GM created missions. 4) The editor will not allow actual MODDING in that the GMs cannot change or add new graphic elements or game code, but they will be able to affect how NPCs behave via the mission editor.