Wizards of the Coast reveals new studio headed up by BioWare veterans

Update: Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn joins Archetype, says he lost enthusiasm at BioWare as it became more corporate


Original story, January 31, 2020: Wizards of the Coast continues its rapid expansion into the games industry, with the reveal of Archetype Entertainment.

Headed up by BioWare veterans James Ohlen and Chad Robertson, the new Austin, Texas-based studio represents a change of tact for the Dungeons & Dragons licence-holder.

Unlike previously announced games endeavours -- which leveraged the considerable heft of properties like Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering -- this new studio is working on an original science-fiction IP.

It's a task well-suited to Ohlen in particular, who is best-known for his work on classic RPGs such as Dragon Age, Neverwinter, Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Ohlen joined up with Archetype in April last year as head of studio, before it was officially revealed.

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz at the time, he said: "This is just an opportunity to work on projects as personal to me as the good ol' days of the '90s and early '00s.

"In that time, work wasn't work for me at all. I didn't think of the work I was doing then to be anything but a labor of love. It was the most fun. I would prefer to be working on one of my games than going on vacation.

"I was a little bit of a workaholic, because I loved it. And Wizards is giving me an opportunity to return to those personal projects."

Archetype Games has now gone public however, and is "assembling a world-class team" for a new multi-platform roleplaying game.

"At Archetype, we believe there will always be a place for story-driven roleplaying games that put the player at the center of an epic personal narrative with impactful choices," reads the studio's website.

"We are building games that represent the diversity of our audience. We also believe that game studios should empower top developers and challenge them with ambitious projects that are shaped by a strong, clearly communicated creative vision."

Update, February 14, 2020: Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn is the latest BioWare veteran to join Archetype Entertainment.

Karpyshyn joins the Wizards of the Coast subsidiary as lead writer, and said Archetype feels similar to the early days at BioWare.

"When I started at BioWare, everything was fresh and exciting," he said in a blog post. "It was a dream job... But as we grew and became more successful, things changed. We became more corporate.

"We were less able to make what we loved, and the teams were pushed to create games based on market research rather than our creative instincts and passions. My dream job became just a job, and I lost the enthusiasm and excitement I once had."

After working on titles like Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the first two Mass Effect Games, Karpshyshyn left BioWare in 2012 before returning again in 2015 where he worked on Anthem.

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