James Ohlen, the lead designer on many BioWare classics like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate, and Dragon Age: Origins, joined Wizards of the Coast last year, and we now know he will serve as head of the new studio opening in Austin, Texas called Archetype Entertainment.
Ohlen will be joined by fellow ex-BioWare employee Chad Robertson who served as BioWare’s studio director from 2017-2019. Robertson will serve as General Manager of the new studio while Ohlen is identified as the head of Archetype Entertainment.
There’s not much information available regarding what the pair will work on first, but it’s been noted that it will be a choice-based sci-fi role-playing title that is “set in an all-new science fiction universe.” This echoes previous information which suggested that the team would be working outside of the Dungeons and Dragons universe for this new project.
The interesting thing here is that some of the most famous games that Ohlen has worked on have been based on the Dungeons and Dragons franchise in some way. While we don’t know exactly what kind of experiences this new studio will be developing, we’d be a little surprised if they don’t touch on the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset at the very least. In any case, Wizards of the Coast believes that Ohlen is the perfect man for this job.
“We’re extremely excited to have someone like James join the team at such a critical time in Wizards’ evolution” Chris Cocks, president of Wizards of the Coast, said. “James brings experience in creative direction and studio leadership that will prove important as we look to develop compelling new experiences that engage gamers all over the world.”
For his part, Ohlen says that the potential of this opportunity is too good to pass up.
“I didn’t think that I would be coming back to the game industry so soon but working with Wizards is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ohlen said in a statement. “Our mutual love of RPGs, world-building, and interactive storytelling is a perfect match.”
Considering that BioWare has fallen on…ugh…hard times that see them stray further and further from their RPG roots, we’re certainly curious to see whether this new studio is able to recreate the design spirit of that company and their most notable works.