Josh Sawyer in 2010
Joshua Eric Sawyer is a video game designer active in the role playing game genre. After Chris Avellone left Interplay, Sawyer became the lead designer of Van Buren (the canceled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios) before he himself left in November 2003. At Obsidian Entertainment, he was the lead designer and project director of Fallout: New Vegas, a standalone game based on Fallout 3's engine and gameplay.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Sawyer grew up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and earned a BA degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. In addition to being a history major, Josh participated in the theater (including mounting a production of Assassins). After Lawrence, Sawyer moved to California.
Career[edit | edit source]
|July 2005||Present||Obsidian Entertainment||Project Director / Lead Designer|
|November 2003||July 2005||Midway Home Entertainment||Lead Designer|
|March 1999||November 2003||Black Isle Studios||Junior / Game / Lead Designer|
Black Isle Studios (1999–2003)[edit | edit source]
Starting as a Web Designer at Black Isle Studios, he quickly worked his way up the ladder to an associate designer position and then lead designer on Icewind Dale II.
While at Black Isle he was known for coming up with the "Ex-Presidents" project naming system. When Interplay closed down Black Isle Studios many team members ended up at Obsidian Entertainment, which would eventually come to include J.E. Sawyer.
He was the lead designer of Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound (codenamed Jefferson) before it was canceled due to Interplay losing all rights to the Dungeons & Dragons license. He then moved on to Black Isle's Fallout 3 project, codenamed Van Buren, which used the same engine, as lead technical designer. After Chris Avellone left Interplay, Sawyer became the lead designer of Van Buren. In November 2003 it was reported by Tor Thorsen of GameSpot that he had abruptly quit his role as lead designer of Van Buren to pursue other projects.
Midway Home Entertainment (2003–2005)[edit | edit source]
After the cancellation of Van Buren, Sawyer left Black Isle and joined Midway Home Entertainment to work on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. On July 19, 2005, GameSpot announced that he had left Midway. He was preceded in that move by memorable game designer John Romero, who left work on the Gauntlet remake in June 2005.
Obsidian Entertainment (2005–present)[edit | edit source]
In 2005, Sawyer was employed by Obsidian Entertainment to work on Neverwinter Nights 2. Sawyer was the project director and lead designer of Aliens: Crucible, the cancelled role-playing game based on the Alien film franchise. He was the project director and lead designer on Fallout: New Vegas, which was released in October 2010. He also wrote and performed several songs for Fallout: New Vegas: "Cobwebs and Rainbows," "Home on the Wastes," "New Vegas Valley," and "Streets of New Reno."
On December 29, 2011, Sawyer released his personal mod, JSawyer, on Diogenes Lamp. The mod fixed some major oversights made by the developers with statistics such as karma values and what weapons certain perks effect as well as making Fallout: New Vegas, in general, harder.
Subsequent projects include the landmark Pillars of Eternity and its sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, released to critical acclaim.
Credits[edit | edit source]
Fallout series[edit | edit source]
|2010||Fallout: New Vegas||Lead Designer, Project Director, Additional songs|
|2011||Dead Money||Item Design|
|2011||Honest Hearts||Project Director|
|2011||Old World Blues||Item Design|
|2011||Lonesome Road||Item Design|
|2011||Gun Runners' Arsenal||Project Director|
|-||Van Buren||Lead Designer|
|-||J.E. Sawyer's Fallout RPG||Creator|
Other work (excerpt)[edit | edit source]
|2018||Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire||Lead Designer and Project Director|
|2015||Pillars of Eternity||Lead Designer and Project Director|
|2006||Neverwinter Nights 2||Lead Designer (taken over from Ferret Baudoin)|
|2002||Icewind Dale II||Lead Designer|
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- While at Black Isle Studios, Sawyer mentioned several times that he'd like to make a Fallout: Resource Wars spin-off.
- J.E. Sawyer measures 6'2" (188 cm).
- J.E. Sawyer often listened to Moya while writing for New Vegas.
Videos[edit | edit source]
- Sawyer talks Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 3 and other Obsidian games
- The PC Gamer Show Episode 2 9:28—17:08
- 2012 Game Developers Conference; Choice Architecture, Player Expression, and Narrative Design in Fallout: New Vegas
[edit | edit source]
- J.E. Sawyer's Twitter account
- J.E. Sawyer's Formspring account
- I thought I could organize freedom. How Scandinavian of me. article by J.E. Sawyer at RPG Codex
- Bethesda Blog: Inside the Vault - Josh Sawyer
- Fallout Official Site: Developer Diaries - It's a Small Wasteland
- Do (Say) The Right Thing: Choice Architecture, Player Expression, and Narrative Design in Fallout: New Vegas GDC presentation
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