Baldur's Gate Designer Leaves Bioware To Form D&D Publishing Company

James Ohlen was one of the architects of the 1990s' Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II video games, along with other classic CRPGs. He has been working for BioWare for over 22 years, but now he's leaving to publish D&D adventures with his new company, Arcanum Worlds and their first hardcover sourcebook, the Ancient Greek themed Odyssey of the Dragonlords.


PlayersGuidePreview.png

He's not alone, either. He's joined by Jesse Sky (Star Wars: The Old Republic). Their website announced their first project, "... a hardcover sourcebook for the fifth edition of the world's greatest roleplaying game. This epic adventure is set in a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Greek mythology."

Ohlen announced this new venture in a series of tweets.

"After 22 years I have retired from BioWare. I've loved my time with Anthem, Star Wars, Dragon Age and Dungeons and Dragons. But I need to take a break from the industry and work on something a little smaller and more personal.. The most fun I've ever had at BioWare was as the lead designer on Baldur's Gate 1+2 and NWN. I've been a D&D fanatic since I was 10 years old and I want to be a part of it again. Please visit http://www.arcanumworlds.com to see what I'm talking about.

The first book I'm working on is called Odyssey of the Dragonlords. I'm working on it with another former Creative Director from BioWare - Jesse Sky. Plus a mystery writer that I've worked with before."


Game Informer says that BioWare's founders, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, originally heard of Ohlen when he was running a comic book store and running two legendary D&D campaigns so popular that they had waiting lists.

Ohlen's credits include Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age: Origins, Baldur's Gate I & II, Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Jesse Sky worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic, along with threeexpansions.

And who's this mystery writer? They say "We're excited to be working with one of our good friends, a very talented author who lives here in Austin, TX. Stay tuned - we will be announcing his name at a later date!"
[FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

DA:O was definitely very D&D-influenced, especially, as was DAII. It had useful adaptations to the computer environment, like out of combat healing and spell point recovery not requiring explicit rests.

A lot of video game developers seem to avoid licensed products. They're often nice about saying why, but my guess is that dealing with the license holder is often just a pain in donkey.

It's pretty clear that dealing with licence-holders adds to bureaucracy, and when Atari folded exactly who owned the D&D computer game licence became a legal mess for a while.


But it's inevitable that even the most agreeable licence holder will want to take a cut of the profits, which are already meagre compared to a microtransaction mass battle game.

But Pillars of Eternity has certainly suffered as a result of a lack of a licence. Not just because of name recognition, but because without an established ruleset to aim at "what it should be like" the rules have drifted around all over the place, so you don't know from one patch to the next how a character will play.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
It's pretty clear that dealing with licence-holders adds to bureaucracy, and when Atari folded exactly who owned the D&D computer game licence became a legal mess for a while.

But it's inevitable that even the most agreeable licence holder will want to take a cut of the profits, which are already meagre compared to a microtransaction mass battle game.

Definitely, between the bureaucracy and the extra cost it becomes hard to justify paying for the license.


But Pillars of Eternity has certainly suffered as a result of a lack of a licence. Not just because of name recognition, but because without an established ruleset to aim at "what it should be like" the rules have drifted around all over the place, so you don't know from one patch to the next how a character will play.

I'd agree. I like Pillars in a lot of ways (with some nits in spots). They had a lot of good ideas and were really able to implement them and experiment but there were some times where I could really feel the confines of the game mechanics a bit too much for my taste and there are some classes that have a good bit of WTF factor. Still, their lack of a license means they're free to do things like throw out the official rulebook (while still being a very obvious 4E clone in many ways) and I wouldn't be shocked if, just as you say, their net profit ends up being better without having to pay WotC for the rights and/or if dealing with a WotC license would preclude the use of Kickstarter, too. Either alone are huge benefits for the indie developer. Both together would be substantial.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
Ah. Yeah, as much as I absolutely adore DA:I, I can't argue that it--that all the DA games, to some extent--can get grindy in parts.

Sure, but DA:I, by going open world, made things feel more grindy. They had a lot more fetch quests or other open world puzzles. Some of that was cool, such as solving the Astrariums, which themselves felt legendary and mysterious, though I did wonder why they were there. However, the items you got when you solved the Astrarium was often rather... eh, which is very characteristic of a lot of very game balanced and kinda mundane feeling CRPGs and certainly of some TTRPGs, too. I also found that exploring could get annoying, particularly when it became clear there was an area of the game I couldn't get into... but was it simply because that area wasn't unlocked yet or was it because I just didn't figure out the trick? I spent a lot of time running away from bears.

They had some really well-done stories, though, such as Crestwood*, where you first show up to absolute dirge and later on really change the look of the area.

(* Ironically I had a hard time taking that name seriously, due to the fact that there was a town near where I went to high school named Crestwood. It was a classic low tax "suburban dictatorship" that proved to be founded on (surprise surprise) a multi-decade fraud.)


I can't actually say what style of play I prefer, because I get 99% of my video game experience by watching Let's Plays on Youtube. For a variety of reasons, I actually can't play much myself, and often don't enjoy it when I do, but (assuming the streamer is halfway interesting) I enjoy vicariously experiencing the stories, the worlds, and especially the characters.

Huh, interesting. I am 100% the opposite. I only watch someone else play when I'm stuck in a game and need a hint. Otherwise, nope. But I know other folks who do watch streaming play.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Huh, interesting. I am 100% the opposite. I only watch someone else play when I'm stuck in a game and need a hint. Otherwise, nope. But I know other folks who do watch streaming play.

I totally get that. I think it's partly down to what people are looking to get out of a video game.

If what you want is the actual play experience, then watching others play is absolutely not going to do it for you.

But for me, what I want is the story, the character interaction. (Also just to keep up with what's popular, since I work in related fields.) So seeing someone else do it--again, as long as that person isn't a chore to listen to--meets those needs pretty well.

I am, for the record, absolute garbage at video games. I have no reaction time, I have no sense of strategy or tactics beyond the immediate. I find it very frustrating to play even easy games without God mode or equivalent cheats.

Add that to the fact that if I do too much gaming, I get pain in my fingers (lingering tendonitis issues), which interferes with my work as a writer, and... Well, you can see how watching videos would be the better option for me. :)
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
I didn't have a gaming computer when the BG/BG2/Planescape computer-based videogames were all the rage. I did pick one up in time to enjoy the Neverwinter Nights series and I found them (and many of the home brew modules) very entertaining. I wish Mr. Ohlen and his associates every success.

A number of these games have been remastered and rereleased. They play very well now.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
I totally get that. I think it's partly down to what people are looking to get out of a video game.

If what you want is the actual play experience, then watching others play is absolutely not going to do it for you.

Yes, definitely.


I am, for the record, absolute garbage at video games. I have no reaction time, I have no sense of strategy or tactics beyond the immediate. I find it very frustrating to play even easy games without God mode or equivalent cheats.

Yeah, "story mode" is almost never what I'm looking for. I tend to find even hard is often kind of easy. I wasn't good for a long time more or less as you say then... hmmm, something happened. I won't say I am really awesome at them but I'm a solid player, at least at CRPGs, third person action games, and some FPSses, so game play definitely matters to me. I don't like games that are pointlessly difficult so I tend to ride the difficulty to keep challenge up but not totally devastate me.

But yeah, if you're dealing with physical limitations and mostly in it for the story, I'd just watch them too. I know someone like that. The only games he's actually any good at are racing games (which I totally, utterly suck at). He often likes the idea of story heavy RPGs but I know won't actually play one.
 



Remove ads

Latest threads

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top