Interview with James Ohlen
James Ohlen is BioWare's Director of Writing and Design, and co-Lead Designer of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. We sat down with James to find out the current status of the game's development. (Note: the full-sized concept art sketches are very large)
Silverdawn, March 2, 2000
Please introduce and discuss the role of each designer and writer working on BG2.
Kevin Marten: He is co-lead designer, and works with me on story, dungeon and puzzle design. He helps co-ordinate the scripting for all of the game areas and plots. He is involved in the entire design process of the game.
Luke Kristjanson: He is one of the lead writers on BG2. He writes dialogue, journal entries, movie cutscenes etc. He adds his unique brand of humor and wit to the game (anyone remember Minsc?).
Dave Gaider: He is one of the lead writers on BG2. He writes dialogue, journal entries, kit descriptions, etc. He also does dialogue scripting for the characters he writes. Dave Gaider writes faster than I thought was humanly possible.
Brent Knowles: He is a designer for BG2. He is responsible for spell implementation in the game (taking over when Ross left for university), for creature creation, item creation. He is also a scripter; responsible for chapters 4 and 5 and most of the battle scripts.
John Winski: He is a scripter/designer. He works on implementing various plots and cutscenes within the game. He is our most experienced scripter, being the only one who was scripting (other than myself) during the development of BG1.
Mike Geist: He is a scripter/designer. He works on implementing various plots and cutscenes within the game. He also does web tasks for the rest of Bioware.
Andrew Nobbs: He fills a dual role. He works as a line producer for Ben Smedstad, as well as doing clipping, light mapping and search mapping with finished art.
Kevin Craig: He does clipping, light mapping and search mapping with finished art. He also will be doing sound placement when we get to that stage.
Rob Bartel also did some writing for BG2 before Neverwinter when into full swing.
You have been the Director of Writing and Design, and Lead Designer since Baldur's Gate. How has your job changed as you have gained that experience?
Baldur's Gate was very much a learning experience for me (as it was for everyone on the project). With Baldur's Gate I, had a much smaller and less experienced design team. I was involved in a lot of the nuts and bolts of the game; writing, scripting and editor placement. Because of this I had less time to devote to the story, puzzles and balance of the game (which I was responsible for). As the number of designers has grown, my focus has changed. For Baldur's Gate 2, I am involved with the overall design of the game. This includes story, puzzle and system design; and it affords me less time to be involved with scripting and writing. I also have managerial tasks to worry about; but due to the work ethic of the designers, this doesn't take up too much of my time. I was also involved in the initial game and story design of Neverwinter, but with the deadlines of BG2 looming, I left the design work of that game in Rob Bartel's very capable hands. Other responsibilities include the hiring of designers to Bioware, and pre-design for possible future projects.