Wizards of the Coast Announces Sci-Fi Video Game with ex-BioWare Developers

Wizards of the Coast announced they are forming a new video game studio called Archetype Entertainment headed by former BioWare developers James Ohlen and Chad Robertson. Ohlen will serve as the Head of Studio while Robertson will take on the title of General Manager. The debut project from the studio will be an original IP, “set in an all-new science fiction universe that will send players on a story-driven epic where choices they make will have real consequences on how their story unfolds.”

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Ohlen's credits at BioWare include Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Anthem, and of course Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate 2, and Neverwinter Nights. Roberts served as Head of Technology for BioWare from 2015 to 2019 and Studio Director from 2017 to 2019. In addition to their video game credits, Ohlen and Robertson also collaborated on the recently released 5e compatible campaign setting book Odyssey of the Dragonlords distributed by Modiphius.

Wizards of the Coast originally announced the formation of this new video game studio in April of last year.
 
Darryl Mott

Comments

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It is an interesting question of balance when it comes to sci-fi or even modern D20. If you have BFG, is you CR based on your base stats or on the BFG? Is a goblin with a BFG a CR 20 minion? What happens when that goblin runs out of ammo, and how do you adjust when the PCs get hold of it?

I don't think these questions are insurmountable. Video games do it all the time, I think some variation of a D20 system could do it with a bit of tweaking while still carrying over base concepts. While we think of modern weapons as being ultimate instruments of death, I think that is in large part because we've never seen anyone get hit with a claymore.

Which is not to say it would be easy or that it should be done, just that I can see a new system developed using the same base concepts to ease the transition. If I'm pitching a sci-fi game to my players that's going to be slightly easier if we still have the same types of abilities, proficiencies, class advancement and so on.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
They said a new IP, a Buck Roger with Flash Gordon are good examples or sci-fi getting older badly. Has WotC got the copyright yet?
Wizards of the Coast getting the rights to Buck Rogers would be hilarious!!!!

Explaining the joke: Former TSR CEO Lorraine Williams is the heir to the publisher who bought/stole (depending on who you ask) the rights to Buck Rogers from the creator and used TSR to promote the Buck Rogers brand to the company's detriment.
 
Here's my guess: They're putting together a studio, but the personalities need some time to gel with each other and the WotC monolith. WotC doesn't want to risk their D&D IP for the first game (in case the game sucks), so they're going to try creating a new IP first to test the waters - and the team.
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
Wizards of the Coast getting the rights to Buck Rogers would be hilarious!!!!

Explaining the joke: Former TSR CEO Lorraine Williams is the heir to the publisher who bought/stole (depending on who you ask) the rights to Buck Rogers from the creator and used TSR to promote the Buck Rogers brand to the company's detriment.
All true, of course, but . . . . I loved the 25th Century RPG and supporting products they developed off the Buck Rogers IP. I never managed to convince my group to play the RPG, but I had fun reading the gamebooks, novels, and I still have my copy of the board game!
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
All true, of course, but . . . . I loved the 25th Century RPG and supporting products they developed off the Buck Rogers IP. I never managed to convince my group to play the RPG, but I had fun reading the gamebooks, novels, and I still have my copy of the board game!
Just because it was a (alleged) cashgrab by the CEO to leverage her own property doesn't mean the staff at TSR didn't put out an amazing product...
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
Just because it was a (alleged) cashgrab by the CEO to leverage her own property doesn't mean the staff at TSR didn't put out an amazing product...
Fo' sho! I've always been impressed with the TSR designers who had to deal with the crappy management decisions and yet managed to pump out some great games! Not that there weren't some clunkers in the old TSR back catalog . . . .

I totally buy the current wisdom that TSR killed itself with the many, multiple product lines of D&D and its sister games . . . . but so much wonderful product, so many wonderful games!
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I remember that story. And today Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers are totally retro/vintage sci-fi.

And today lots of titles from pulp age are now public domain.

Polyhedron Magazine #160 published its own version of planetary romance: Lord of Jupiter.

Creating a new IP is better, the risk fandom gets angry doesn't exist...yet. But I hope a remake of the most popular PC races from d20 Future.

* What if the PCs start as unarmed civilians like in a sci-fi survival horror? For example System Shock. Others would like to play something like Resident Evil or Evil Within.

* I say it again. Enemies with modern weapons should have got a readjusment of XPs reward/Challenge Rating. Let's imagine a videogame where the player arrives to a new zone. The first menace is only a savage tribal goblin with a spear. Don't worry, he dies soon. After you find a goblin but with a gun, for example a colt 36. More dangerous but not too much if you have got a ranged weapon. The next target is other goblin, but this time with a exosuit, higher jumps and a machine gun. This time the menace is serious but not impossible. But worse is the gobling with a powered armour with a grenade-launcher, then practically a mini-boss. And in the end the last goblin within a mecha with plasma canons. Now it is stage boss, and worse than facing a dragon. All the goblins sharing the same stats, but with different weapons. Do you understand?

I have said in the past WotC also would like to publish a d20 superheroes. I haven't forgotten "Mutants & Masterminds" but this title wasn't created to be compatible with D&D. The leveling up and item inventory is different. D20 isn't ready yet for a campaign against alien invaders as Marvel Secret Invasion event, at least not without a conflict between realism vs gameplay.

* Now I wonder about a quests/adventures/missions creators. Wouldn't you like a tower defense mode where players could built walls and roofs where you ca add traps against hordes of husk minions?
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I imagine a mixture of shooter and ARPG, like Borderlands, Fornite: Save the World or Fallout.

If there are alien races I wonder about the TTRPG version will have also a SRD. It should have got one for the 3PPs or these will use the ones from Starfinder.

* Will we see a DLC about M.A.S.K. vehicles?
 

bedir than

Adventurer
I imagine a mixture of shooter and ARPG, like Borderlands, Fornite: Save the World or Fallout.

If there are alien races I wonder about the TTRPG version will have also a SRD. It should have got one for the 3PPs or these will use the ones from Starfinder.

* Will we see a DLC about M.A.S.K. vehicles?
Well, this is NEW IP so it will not use Starfinder
It also won't use Starfinder because WotC using a video game to promote a competitor's product would be one of the worst ideas they could come up with.
It is NEW. Not, old, not retro.
NEW
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I have said the 3PPSs (not Wotc) could use things from Starfinder if WotC doesn't publish a SRD based in the future TTRPG.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It is an interesting question of balance when it comes to sci-fi or even modern D20. If you have BFG, is you CR based on your base stats or on the BFG? Is a goblin with a BFG a CR 20 minion? What happens when that goblin runs out of ammo, and how do you adjust when the PCs get hold of it?

I don't think these questions are insurmountable. Video games do it all the time, I think some variation of a D20 system could do it with a bit of tweaking while still carrying over base concepts. While we think of modern weapons as being ultimate instruments of death, I think that is in large part because we've never seen anyone get hit with a claymore.

Which is not to say it would be easy or that it should be done, just that I can see a new system developed using the same base concepts to ease the transition. If I'm pitching a sci-fi game to my players that's going to be slightly easier if we still have the same types of abilities, proficiencies, class advancement and so on.
In my own system, nearly any handheld weapon does 1d10 damage per hit. All that actually matters is how easily getting hit by the weapon will remove you from the fight, after all. Recovery, and chance of successful recovery, is where a single hit from a glock and an assault rifle really differ.

now, a BFG...that would basically be treated like a magic weapon with a hefty damage boost, or an AoE weapon, or something.
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
If they are doing original IP, hopefully they use something other than d20-based rules. They're a terrible choice for a modern/future RPG.
 
I hope this game uses 5e rules and is turn based.
It won't. There are elements of 5e that don't extrapolate well to CRPGs, and if they say "we are using 5e rules" and then something works differently people will pour hate on the game for not meeting their exacting expectations.

If they make no claims about ruleset they can make something that is actually suitable for a crpg rather than a tabletop rpg without creating a rod for their own backs.

As for "turn based", if you look at the track record of Ohlen, he seems to be a fan of pseudo-turn based (AKA real time with pause) games. Indeed, he pretty much invented it.
 
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My bet is that this is going to be an action-RPG. The biggest question about the system is whether it will be first-person view or over-the-shoulder.
 
My bet is that this is going to be an action-RPG. The biggest question about the system is whether it will be first-person view or over-the-shoulder.
Again, I would point to Ohlen's track record. The closest thing to an ARPG he has worked on was Dragon Age, and that was a lot more RPG than A. And pretty much everything he has done is 3rd person (apart from "sniper mode" in Mass Effect).
 
Again, I would point to Ohlen's track record. The closest thing to an ARPG he has worked on was Dragon Age, and that was a lot more RPG than A. And pretty much everything he has done is 3rd person (apart from "sniper mode" in Mass Effect).
Exactly! He worked on Mass Effect, which is pretty much the definition of an ARPG. I agree that over-the-shoulder is more likely than 1st person for the new game, but it's far from certain, 1st person has gotten more popular since ME was made.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Remember that the reason third person was so popular in the mid-00s to mid-10s was it was the only way to properly do a cover system. And cover systems were popular because it allowed games to have more detailed graphics and environments - particularly textures - because it forced players to stop and give the areas time to load on the old 360/PS3 hardware. In a non-cover shooter, players could charge in and run around faster than the system could render the textures, causing framerate drops and other performance issues. It's not just market fatigue that caused the cover-shooter genre to slow down after the Xbox One/PS4 came out...
 

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