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

Josh Sawyer
Joshua Eric Sawyer

(1975-10-18) October 18, 1975 (age 43)[1]
OccupationGame designer
EmployerObsidian Entertainment
Known forIcewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity

Early life and educationEdit

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] Sega, the game's planned publisher, 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, Pillars of Eternity, met its Kickstarter funding goal of 1.1 million dollars in 27 hours. It ultimately raised nearly four million dollars, setting a Kickstarter record at the time.[16][17][18] Sawyer later served as the director and narrative designer on its sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, which was also crowdfunded and released in 2018.



  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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  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.

External linksEdit