Chris Sawyer

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Chris Sawyer
Born Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
Education Strathclyde University
Occupation Video game designer
Known for Transport 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 first entered the games 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 wrote most of his games in x86 assembly language,[1] using only the services of freelance graphics designer Simon Foster and composer Allister Brimble as needed.

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. Sawyer immediately sought to create a sequel. However, while still working on the basic game engine, Sawyer developed an interest in roller coasters, and changed the project into what would become RollerCoaster Tycoon, originally called White Knuckle before release.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] Sawyer and Atari settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in February 2008.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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. [7]

31X's first product was Transport Tycoon for iOS and Android, released in 2013, which was assisted with Origin8.[8][6] 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.[9][10][11]

Sawyer has a degree in Computer Science and Microprocessor Systems.[12]


Title Year Publisher Notes
Virus 1988 Firebird Software
Revenge of Defender 1989 Epyx
Xenomorph 1990 Pandora
Conqueror 1990 Rainbow Arts Software GmbH
Elite Plus 1991 Microplay Software
Campaign 1992 Empire Interactive
Birds of Prey 1992 Electronic Arts
Goal! 1993 Virgin Games
Frontier: Elite II 1993 GameTek, Konami
Transport Tycoon 1994 MicroProse
Dino Dini's Soccer 1994 Virgin Interactive
Transport Tycoon World Editor 1995 MicroProse
Transport Tycoon Deluxe 1995 MicroProse
Frontier: First Encounters 1995 GameTek
RollerCoaster Tycoon 1999 Hasbro Interactive
RollerCoaster Tycoon: Corkscrew Follies 1999 Hasbro Interactive
RollerCoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes 2000 Hasbro Interactive
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 2002 Infogrames
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 2004 Atari Consultant
Chris Sawyer's Locomotion 2004 Atari
Transport Tycoon 2013 31X [8]
RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic 2016 Atari [13]


  1. ^ Chris Sawyer Software Development Frequently Asked Questions
  2. ^ "10 things you (probably) never knew about Chris Sawyer's Tycoon games..." from Chris Sawyer Software Development website
  3. ^ Chris Sawyer (2004). "Chris Sawyer's Locomotion Manual". Atari. 
  4. ^ "Sawyer Sues Atari Over Roller Coaster Tycoon Royalties" from Gamasutra (8 November 2005)
  5. ^ "Sawyer settles Atari suit" from Develop (magazine) (5 February 2008)
  6. ^ a b Yin-Poole, Wesley (March 3, 2016). "A big interview with Chris Sawyer, the creator of RollerCoaster Tycoon". Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Rose, Mike (July 19, 2013). "Chris Sawyer on his reentry back into video games". Gamasutra. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b 31X - About
  9. ^ Souppouris, Aaron (22 December 2016). "Classic 'RollerCoaster Tycoon' comes to iOS and Android". Engadget. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Sarkar, Samit (22 December 2016). "First two RollerCoaster Tycoon games arrive on Android, iOS". Polygon. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  11. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (September 28, 2017). "RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic launches on Steam". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Chris Sawyer Software Development". Retrieved 2017-06-07. 
  13. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (3 March 2016). "A big interview with Chris Sawyer, the creator of RollerCoaster Tycoon". Retrieved 3 April 2016. 

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