Wizards of the Coast is in the process of staffing up its new Austin-based video game studio, Archetype Entertainment, and as of today it’s secured its second big-name BioWare alumnus for a major position. Drew Karpyshyn, who has major writing credits on such beloved BioWare classics as Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, has joined Archetype as its new Lead Writer. Karpyshyn announced his fancy new digs on his personal website, where he compared the mood at Archetype to the early days of BioWare.
“I’ve been in the video game industry for twenty years now,” Karpyshyn said. “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.”
Karpyshyn’s earliest writing credits at BioWare take us all the way back to the year 2000 — the halcyon days of CRPGs — when he performed writing and editing services for the manual for Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. (Millennial’s note: Video games used to come with physical documents called “manuals” that often explained the game’s core mechanics, in addition to other pertinent information such as story details and character biographies. Karpyshyn also has an “Additional Design” credit on Shadows of Amn.)
By 2003, Karpyshyn had worked his way up to Senior Writer on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which quickly became (and remains) one of the most beloved roleplaying games of all time, computer or otherwise. After contributing additional writing to 2005’s Jade Empire, Karpyshyn would usher BioWare into a new era of critical acclaim as Lead Writer on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.
Karpyshyn eventually left BioWare in 2012, after moving to Austin to write for the early days of Star Wars: The Old Republic. He would later rejoin BioWare Austin in 2015 to further assist on SW:TOR, and eventually, to aid BioWare Edmonton in its herculean effort to finish Anthem. Karpyshyn has been a free agent since March of 2018, which you’ll notice is a full year before Anthem‘s lackluster launch and tepid reception, so it’s hard to say just how much of his writing survived, if any.
As for what he’s working on at Archetype, mum’s the word. The studio’s official website says that it’s “assembling a world-class team to build a multi-platform roleplaying game set in a new science fiction universe,” but beyond that, all we’ve got to go on is the concept art seen above. Looks cold! Stay tuned to Fanbyte for more groundbreaking insights like this one.