Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn has joined Wizards of the Coast’s Archetype Entertainment.
Following a stint at Storyscape creator Fogbank Entertainment – which shut its doors last month – Karpyshyn rejoins BioWare alumni James Ohlen and Chad Robertson as lead writer at Archetype. In a revealing blog post about the transition, Karpyshyn shed some light on how it felt to work at BioWare, and intimated that the studio has been forced to “create games based on market research rather than [the] creative instincts and passions [of its team]”.
“I’m proud to announce that I’m the lead writer for Archetype Entertainment!” Karpyshyn explained in a blog post (thanks, GI.biz). “Founded by James Ohlen – the creative genius behind BioWare hits like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR and Dragon Age – Archetype is a new video game studio under the Wizards of the Coast umbrella… and I haven’t been this excited to work on a project in a long, long time!
“I’ve been in the video game industry for twenty years now. When I started at BioWare, everything was fresh and exciting. It was a dream job – talented people working together to create epic games like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. 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.
“But with Archetype, my passion has been rekindled. The feel in the studio reminds me of my early days at BioWare; I can feel the magic in the air. And even though I can’t get too deep into the specifics of what we’re working on yet, we’re already generating plenty of excitement in the industry.”
The comments echo those of other BioWare devs that followed an exposé into the working environment at the studio, forcing BioWare to acknowledge “problems in the development of Anthem and some of [its] previous projects” with both a public statement and an internal memo to all staff in early 2019.
A detailed investigation by Kotaku depicted an unhealthy culture at the acclaimed studio and included specific references to senior staff from a number of anonymous sources that intimated the studio lacked focus and drive throughout much of Anthem’s pre-production and production processes.
“We put a great emphasis on our workplace culture in our studios. The health and well-being of our team members is something we take very seriously,” the company said at the time. “We have built a new leadership team over the last couple of years, starting with Casey Hudson as our GM in 2017, which has helped us make big steps to improve studio culture and our creative focus.
“We hear the criticisms that were raised by the people in the piece today, and we’re looking at that alongside feedback that we receive in our internal team surveys. We put a lot of focus on better planning to avoid ‘crunch time’, and it was not a major topic of feedback in our internal postmortems. Making games, especially new IP, will always be one of the hardest entertainment challenges. We do everything we can to try and make it healthy and stress-free, but we also know there is always room to improve.”