Chris Sawyer

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Chris Sawyer
EducationUniversity of Strathclyde
OccupationVideo game designer
Known forTransport Tycoon
RollerCoaster Tycoon

Chris Sawyer is a Scottish video game designer and programmer who is best known for creating the Transport Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon series. He is also the founder of 31X, a mobile game development company.


Sawyer was born in Scotland,[1] and graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Microprocessor Systems from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.[2][3] Following school, he entered the video game industry in 1983, writing games in Z80 machine code on the Memotech MTX home computer, and then the Amstrad CPC series home computer. Some of these were published by Ariolasoft, Sepulcri Scelerati and Ziggurat. From 1988 to 1993, Sawyer worked on MS-DOS conversions of Amiga games and was involved in many projects, including Virus, Conqueror, Campaign, Birds of Prey, Dino Dini's Goal and Frontier: Elite II. He also contributed to the MS-DOS version of Elite Plus. Sawyer's first management simulation game, Transport Tycoon, was released by MicroProse in 1994 and became a classic of the tycoon series of games. A year later, he improved and extended the game, giving it the title Transport Tycoon Deluxe. The title sold well, and Sawyer immediately sought to create a sequel.[4]

While working on the basic game engine for this sequel, Sawyer had used some of the revenue from Transport Tycoon to travel across Europe and the United States and developed an interest in roller coasters,[4] and changed the project into what would become RollerCoaster Tycoon, originally called White Knuckle before release.[5] Sawyer coded 99% of RollerCoaster Tycoon in x86 assembly language, using only the services of freelance artist Simon Foster and music composer Allister Brimble as needed.[6] After creating RollerCoaster Tycoon, he resumed work on the sequel for Transport Tycoon, but again postponed it to create RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. Upon completing that project, he resumed his work on the Transport Tycoon sequel, finally releasing it in 2004 as Chris Sawyer's Locomotion.[7]

Sawyer also served as a consultant for Atari in the development of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 done by Frontier Developments. In November 2005, Sawyer sued Atari, claiming that they had failed to pay him certain royalties.[8] Sawyer and Atari settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in February 2008.[9] Due to a combination of the legal issues with Atari, and a general detest of the violent nature of video games, Sawyer temporarily stepped away from video games after the release of Locomotion, until 2010.[1]

In 2010, Sawyer founded 31X Ltd. which he initially planned to use as a holding company for the Transport Tycoon intellectual property. However, he saw that there was interest in a mobile version of Transport Tycoon and a space in the market for simulation games like this, and reworked 31X to be a video game developer focused on mobile games.[10] In addition to Sawyer, several others that worked with him on the Tycoon games became part of 31X, including Jacqui Lyons, who worked with Sawyer for more than 20 years, serving as the company's executive producer.[10]

31X's first product was Transport Tycoon for iOS and Android, released in 2013, which was assisted with Origin8.[11][1] Sawyer continued to work with Origin8 to bring the first two RollerCoaster Tycoon games into RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic released for mobile in December 2016. The game later received ports to Microsoft Windows and macOS in September 2017.[12][13][14]


Year Title Publisher
1988 Virus Firebird Software
1989 Revenge of Defender Epyx
1990 Xenomorph Pandora
Conqueror Rainbow Arts
1991 Elite Plus Microplay Software
Birds of Prey Electronic Arts
1992 Campaign Empire Interactive
1993 Dino Dini's Goal Virgin Games
Frontier: Elite II GameTek, Konami
1994 Transport Tycoon MicroProse
1995 Transport Tycoon World Editor MicroProse
Transport Tycoon Deluxe
Frontier: First Encounters GameTek
1999 RollerCoaster Tycoon Hasbro Interactive
2002 RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 Infogrames
2004 RollerCoaster Tycoon 3[a] Atari
Chris Sawyer's Locomotion
2013 Transport Tycoon[11] 31X
2016 RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic[15] Atari


  1. ^ a b c Yin-Poole, Wesley (3 March 2016). "A big interview with Chris Sawyer, the creator of RollerCoaster Tycoon". Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Chris Sawyer Software Development". Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Chris Sawyer Software Development". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b Hrodey, Matt (3 January 2020). "RollerCoaster Tycoon: the best-optimised game of all time?". PCGamesN. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  5. ^ "10 things you (probably) never knew about Chris Sawyer's Tycoon games..." from Chris Sawyer Software Development website
  6. ^ Chris Sawyer Software Development Frequently Asked Questions
  7. ^ Chris Sawyer (2004). "Chris Sawyer's Locomotion Manual". Atari. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Sawyer Sues Atari Over Roller Coaster Tycoon Royalties" from Gamasutra (8 November 2005)
  9. ^ "Sawyer settles Atari suit" from Develop (magazine) (5 February 2008)
  10. ^ a b Rose, Mike (19 July 2013). "Chris Sawyer on his reentry back into video games". Gamasutra. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b 31X - About
  12. ^ Souppouris, Aaron (22 December 2016). "Classic 'RollerCoaster Tycoon' comes to iOS and Android". Engadget. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  13. ^ Sarkar, Samit (22 December 2016). "First two RollerCoaster Tycoon games arrive on Android, iOS". Polygon. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  14. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (28 September 2017). "RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic launches on Steam". Eurogamer. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  15. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (3 March 2016). "A big interview with Chris Sawyer, the creator of RollerCoaster Tycoon". Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  1. ^ As a consultant

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