Josh Sawyer

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Josh Sawyer
Born Joshua Eric Sawyer
(1975-10-18) October 18, 1975 (age 41)[1]
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Occupation Game designer
Employer Obsidian Entertainment
Known for Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity

Josh Sawyer (born October 18, 1975), is an American video game designer, known for his work on role-playing video games.

Early life and education[edit]

Sawyer grew up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and is the son of Linda Sawyer and sculptor Gerald P. Sawyer.[2] He is of German ancestry.[3] He earned a BA degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. In addition to being a history major, Sawyer participated in the theater (including mounting a production of Assassins). After Lawrence, Sawyer moved to California.


Starting as a web designer at Black Isle Studios in 1999, he quickly worked his way up the ladder to an associate designer position and then lead designer on Icewind Dale II.[4][5] While at Black Isle he was known for coming up with the "Ex-Presidents" project naming system.

In November 2003 Sawyer announced his departure from Black Isle, where he had been serving as lead designer of Fallout 3, to pursue other projects.[6] Interplay went on to close Black Isle two weeks after Sawyer's departure.[7]

On July 19, 2005, GameSpot reported that he had left Midway's Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, and was accepting a position at Obsidian Entertainment, a studio founded and staffed by many veterans of Black Isle. His first role was as the lead designer for Neverwinter Nights 2.[8]

He later acted as the project director and lead designer of Fallout: New Vegas. In December 2011 Sawyer publicly released a New Vegas mod designed for his own personal use adding a large variety of small tweaks to the game ranging from rebalancing the karma of certain characters to slowing down the level up speed.[9] As of November 2012, this mod is up to version 5.1 which was released in September 2012.[10]

He also served as the project director and lead designer on the Aliens RPG.[11] Publisher SEGA subsequently canceled the project resulting in layoffs at Obsidian.[12] According to Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, the game - titled Aliens: Crucible[13] - "looked and felt like it was ready to ship".[14][15]

In 2012, with Obsidian on the brink of financial disaster after the cancellation of another project by a publisher, Sawyer proposed the company return to its design roots by making an isometric RPG in the style of those created at Black Isle. Arguing there was a market for this type of game among fans, Sawyer suggested turning to the platform Kickstarter to secure funding for development without a publisher. He succeeded in persuading company leadership, and the game - then called Project Eternity - met its Kickstarter funding goal of 1.1 million dollars in 27 hours. It ultimately raised nearly 4 million dollars, setting a Kickstarter record.[16][17]

Sawyer went on to serve as project director and design lead on this title, which was renamed Pillars of Eternity for release.[18]



  1. ^ "J.E. Sawyer". GiantBomb. Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ Daily Jefferson County Union. January 14th, 2011. Liedtke, Carolyn. "Sawyer sculpts success throughout Wisconsin". p. 3.
  3. ^ "J.E. Sawyer". Archived from the original on 2013-04-12. 
  4. ^ Ooi, Will (September 25, 2011). "An Interview with JE Sawyer - game developer, biker, and cat lover". Gamasutra. UBM TechWeb. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ (July 2005). "The Arcade Classic Is Back, and It'd Better Be Good", Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (94): 38.
  6. ^ Thorsen, Tor. "J.E. Sawyer bolts Black Isle". GameSpot. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  7. ^ Thorsen, Tor. "Interplay shuts down Black Isle Studios". GameSpot. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  8. ^ Thorsen, Tor. "J.E. Sawyer off Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows". GameSpot. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  9. ^ Kayatta, Mike (December 30, 2011). "Fallout: New Vegas Project Director Releases Personal Mod". The Escapist. Defy Media. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ "JSawyer.esp - v5.1". 
  11. ^ SEGA Signs Obsidian Entertainment To Develop Alien Title For Next-generation Systems
  12. ^ Faylor, Chris. "Aliens RPG Cancelled, Says Ex-Obsidian Staffer". Shacknews. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Here's What Obsidian's Cancelled RPG Aliens: Crucible Looked Like". GameSpy. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  14. ^ Purchese, Robert. "Obsidian's canned Aliens RPG looks finished in new gameplay video". Eurogamer. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  15. ^ Purchese, Robert. "Obsidian: Aliens RPG was "ready to ship"". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  16. ^ Schreier, Jason. "How Kickstarter Saved Obsidian". Kotaku. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  17. ^ Purchese, Robert (December 4, 2012). "Project Eternity crowd-funding ends, grand total now $4.3 million". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  18. ^ Purchese, Robert (December 10, 2012). "Obsidian renames Project Eternity, releases a proper video". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Campaign Launch Trailer". YouTube. January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 

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