James Ohlen

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James Ohlen
OccupationVideo game designer, Founder of Arcanum Worlds
Known for

James Ohlen is a video game designer. He was Senior Creative Director of BioWare where he worked for 22 years prior to starting the publishing company Arcanum Worlds in 2018. In 2019, Ohlen became the lead of a new internal development studio Archetype Entertainment under Wizards of the Coast to develop new intellectual property and video games for the company.


In his early career, Ohlen ran a comic store as well as two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.[1] The campaigns were so popular that each had a waiting list.[1] BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk recruited Ohlen to work at the company based on his D&D skills.[2] At BioWare, part of his early work included testing on Shattered Steel, then becoming the lead designer for Baldur's Gate which was credited with making BioWare a successful company.[1] As a result of the success of Baldur's Gate, Ohlen was made the company's Director of Design. He continued to work as the lead designer on BioWare's Dungeons and Dragons titles including Baldur's Gate 2 and Neverwinter Nights. He later led up the design on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins.[3]

In 2006 James Ohlen moved to Austin, Texas to set up a new studio for BioWare alongside Gordon Walton and Rich Vogel. That studio was responsible for the production of the MMORPG game Star Wars: The Old Republic.[4]

In 2018 Ohlen retired from BioWare after 22 years to start up his own publishing company – Arcanum Worlds.[5] The first book to be produced by Arcanum Worlds is Odyssey of the Dragonlords.[6]

Wizards of the Coast announced it was establishing a new Austin-based studio in April 2019 to develop new intellectual properties (IP), and had tapped Ohlen to lead it. Ohlen said that the offer was too good to pass up, and that "This is just an opportunity to work on projects as personal to me as the good ol' days of the '90s and early '00s."[7] By January 2020, Wizards of the Coast revealed the studio as Archetype Entertainment, and that another former BioWare member, Chad Robertson, was named as vice-president and general manager.[8] A month later, Drew Karpyshyn, yet another former BioWare member, came onboard Archetype as lead writer.[9] Ohlen was able to continue Arcanum Worlds under the deal, though the studio would not use any of the IP developed through Arcanum.[10]


As Lead Designer/Creative Director[edit]

Other Games[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Bertz, Matt (12 July 2018). "Longtime BioWare Vet James Ohlen Retires From Games Industry". GameInformer.
  2. ^ "BioWare Bets Big With The Old Republic". Fast Company. 19 November 2011.
  3. ^ (November 4, 2008). "New 'Star Wars' online game is 4-millennium rewind", Chicago Tribune, p. 32.
  4. ^ "Bioware Opens Austin MMORPG Studio". IGN. 13 March 2006.
  5. ^ Moon, Mariella (13 July 2018). "'Baldur's Gate' designer James Ohlen leaves BioWare after 22 years". Engadget.
  6. ^ Lanier, Liz (13 July 2018). "James Ohlen Retires From BioWare, Working on Dungeons and Dragons Book". Variety.
  7. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (April 24, 2019). "James Ohlen joins Wizards of the Coast". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  8. ^ Wales, Matt (January 31, 2020). "Ex-BioWare vets working on story-driven sci-fi game at new Wizards of the Coast studio". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  9. ^ Wales, Matt (February 12, 2020). "Mass Effect lead writer Drew Karpyshyn joins ex-BioWare vets' new Wizards of the Coast studio". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Wilson, Jason (April 24, 2019). "Wizards of the Coast taps Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic designer James Ohlen for new studio". Venture Beat. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e Purchese, Robert (13 July 2018). "Decorated designer James Ohlen retires from BioWare after 22 years". Eurogamer.
  12. ^ Dammes, Matthias (4 November 2017). "Report: Ist Bioware wirklich noch Bioware?" (in German). PC Games.
  13. ^ "New 'Star Wars The Old Republic' Expansion: Free Trial Of Prequel Story Live". Inquisitr. 17 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b "BioWare's James Ohlen Talks Game Design". Game Banshee. 23 May 2017.
  15. ^ Donnelly, Joe (24 July 2018). "If Anthem doesn't succeed, it won't be the end of BioWare, thinks ex-studio designer". PC Gamer.

External links[edit]