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Mechwarrior maker claims Microsoft 'destroyed' studio's culture

And nearly killed Bungie

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FASA Interactive founder Jordan Weisman blames Microsoft for "destroying" his game studio after it was assimilated into Redmond in 1999.

Gamers may recognize FASA as the former creators of the popular Mechwarrior PC franchise — and a reviled Vista-exclusive shooter very loosely based on the cyberpunk Shadowrun universe.

But it wasn't the titular Shadowrun game's largely negative reception that finally put FASA on Microsoft's chopping block that year, according to Weisman. At a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, he claims the studio was doomed just as soon as Microsoft indoctrination began. And he claims FASA's fate was nearly shared by Halo creators at Bungie if it weren't for his intervention.

"The two reasons [Microsoft] bought us was, one, they wanted the catalog of intellectual properties and, two, they felt that we had developed a really good development culture," Weisman said. "And the reality is that, pretty much from the day we moved to Redmond, that development culture was destroyed."

He blames Microsoft for reorganizing FASA's staff of 60 into the Redmond corporate megastructure and dropping him into the role of creative director for a group of 300 people.

Weisman claims that fortunately, when Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000, he was in a position to become the "lead vocal pain in the ass" to have things done differently.

"I tried to convince [Microsoft] to leave Bungie in Chicago, but not winning that I did succeed in getting them to put them in a walled-off room, which didn't follow any of the other Microsoft stuff," he said. "We were much better able to defend Bungie's culture than we were FASA's culture."

Indeed, a key point in Microsoft's announcement of buying Bungie at the time was that the company would "retain its unique character and edgy personality."

Weisman says he is currently involved in a new Mechwarrior game, but the studio involved is operating under tight restrictions for using the game licenses still owned by Microsoft. Saying the company inherently destroys every studio it touches probably won't help with that one.

Read the full interview here. ®

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