New WotC Game Studio Headed By Bioware's James Ohlen

Ex-Bioware designer James Ohlen is in D&D news a lot right now! He’s behind the Odyssey of the Dragonlords Kickstarter, the new Heroes of Baldur’s Gate hardcover, and is now also heading up a game studio for WotC!


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Ohlen was a lead designer and writer for Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age: Origins and more.

According to PC Gamer, Ohlen is opening up a new game studio in Texas for WotC. He said "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. Our mutual love of RPGs, world-building, and interactive storytelling is a perfect match."

It’s not a D&D project though. It’s original IP of some kind -- WoTC says it "will focus on the creation of original IP outside of the Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons brand." Still, a WotC-owned game studio could mean D&D games in the future.

Is it a video game studio? Unclear! WotC says it's a "multimedia studio," with "freedom to develop different expressions."

Why not D&D or MtG? WotC's Chris Cocks says "[FONT=&quot]We think that we’ve been uniquely successful because we’ve developed franchises that endure. We want to continue to build off the strength of those brands and develop new content and experiences that will allow fans to experience them in many more ways."[/FONT]

Venture Beat has a little more to add. This new IP is NOT Ohlen's current projects at Arcanum Worlds (Odyssey of the Dragonlords). WotC's Chris Cocks said "No, James still has Arcanum Worlds, and he’s free to publish his previous creations there, but this will be something that nobody has ever heard of before”. But it does appear to be digital in nature -- "We’re focused on unlocking the potential of Wizards’ digital experiences, and I think James is a key hire toward that goal. So as we develop our digital library, I don’t think we’re tied to a specific platform; it’s more about finding the right ways to connect our franchises to people."

Ohlen starts work for WotC in May.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Ex-Bioware designer James Ohlen is in the news a lot right now! He’s behind the Odyssey of the Dragonlords Kickstarter, the new Heroes of Baldur’s Gate hardcover, and is now also heading up a studio for WotC!
OH MY G-

It’s not a D&D project though. It’s original IP of some kind.
*closes tab*
 
Ex-Bioware designer James Ohlen is in D&D news a lot right now! He’s behind the Odyssey of the Dragonlords Kickstarter, the new Heroes of Baldur’s Gate hardcover, and is now also heading up a game studio for WotC!Ohlen was a lead designer and writer for Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age: Origins and more.

According to PC Gamer, Ohlen is opening up a new game studio in Texas for WotC. He said "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. Our mutual love of RPGs, world-building, and interactive storytelling is a perfect match."

It’s not a D&D project though. It’s original IP of some kind -- WoTC says it "will focus on the creation of original IP outside of the Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons brand." Still, a WotC-owned game studio could mean D&D games in the future.

Is it a video game studio? Unclear! WotC says it's a "multimedia studio," with "freedom to develop different expressions."
It does seem odd that it's not an already established WotC IP, especially given his success using said IP in the past. Perhaps they are going to let him do something as a test run to make sure he can still produce quality products before letting him play with the big toys? Given how much they've been burned recently when it comes to CRPGs, I could understand their caution. But conversely, if there is anyone you should be able to trust, it would be Ohlen...
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
Let me get this straight. Famous D&D video game designer of a legendary D&D video game franchise is hired by the publishers of the most popular edition of D&D as the head of a new video game studio for the company that owns D&D... but is NOT working on a D&D game??!

 

Mistwell

Hero
Let me get this straight. Famous D&D video game designer of a legendary D&D video game franchise is hired by the publishers of the most popular edition of D&D as the head of a new video game studio for the company that owns D&D... but is NOT working on a D&D game??!
Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: "Absolutely nothing happened in Sector 83 by 9 by 12 today. I repeat, nothing happened in Sector 83 by 9 by 12."
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
I imagine maybe they want to create the ultimate RPG where players not only can create and customize their characters, but also new quests/missions/adventures, with a player as Dungeon Master as a asymmetric multiplayer game, with the target to can publish a mixture of RPG liveplay show and videogame streaming.

Sometimes it is easier to start from zero with a new franchise what create an adaptation with the old game mechanic. And like "guilds of Ravnica", the lore could later to be adapted to D&D.
 
I wonder if WotC doesn't have a D&D game already secretly in development, which would contractually not allow them to have Ohlen also start development on a D&D game.

Either that, or Ohlen had a really interesting original IP idea he wanted to develop, and WotC were excited by it as well, and agreed to work with him on it (or the reverse, with WotC creating a new IP and approaching Ohlen, but, still, you'd think they'd go D&D or M:tG first and use an established brand as the base).
 

Ricochet

Explorer
Doubtful, Demetrios. They are notoriously dragging their feet in regards to video games. It's a huge investment, I get that, but they need to pull the trigger to capitalize on all of the podcasts and Youtube shows etc. that will earn them untold advertisement (provided the game is GOOD, which in turn will cost more money then they seem to be willing to spend).
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
The market is plenty ready for a 5e D&D game. Hell, I've been waiting for one since the horrid Sword Coast Legends (which was advertised as 5e, but was barely D&D, let alone 5e). It's been 5 years since it died ignominiously and took nSpace down with it...time to give it a proper go.

I tried to scratch the itch with Pathfinder Kingmaker....but I've discovered rather quickly I have entirely burned out my interest in Pathfinder (or, more accurately, the 3.x ruleset....it's just too much number porn and fiddly, ultimately meaningless bonuses that really do nothing).
 

jeremypowell

Explorer
I wonder if WotC doesn't have a D&D game already secretly in development, which would contractually not allow them to have Ohlen also start development on a D&D game.
Pretty sure this is it. They've licensed BGIII away to someone else. Remember this? Short version: as of last October, an industry insider said that a game studio (but not Beamdog) was working on Baldur's Gate III.
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
Pretty sure this is it. They've licensed BGIII away to someone else. Remember this? Short version: as of last October, an industry insider said that a game studio (but not Beamdog) was working on Baldur's Gate III.
I really hope it's not Baldur's Gate III. That story ended in Throne of Bhaal. I have no qualms if they use the Baldur's Gate name, but lose the 'III'. Even if it deals with the ramifications of the Bhaalspawn saga, it should not be labeled the third BG game. Use the Baldur's Gate title, certainly, but drop the numeral and give it its own subtitle (assuming this game actually even IS in development...the video game industry has become nigh-impossible to trust these days).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Perhaps they are going to let him do something as a test run to make sure he can still produce quality products before letting him play with the big toys?
Note that he's not going to be doing all the code and testing and stuff *HIMSELF*. If they have any brains whatsoever, the question isn't about *HIM*, specifically. It is about this entirely new studio. It is whether this new team, with possibly an entirely new organization - from office space to desks and chairs through software tools to team organization, staffing, and processes - can produce quality products. It is much more than just the one guy.
 
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