Interview : Chris Sawyer

30/01/2006 00:30
2.482 lectures
In the series "Industry Profiles", the wonderful website introduces us renowned independent UK developer Chris Sawyer, whose most recent release was the self-developed follow-up to Transport Tycoon, Locomotion.

Chris Sawyer

What do you do?
Visit theme parks and ride roller coasters. In my spare time I design and develop computer games.

How did you get into the games industry?
In the early 1980's while at school I started writing small games in assembler-code for home computers, then after graduating from university in 1988 I thought I'd give the games industry a go, just until I could get a 'real' job.

What do you most like about the games industry?
There's nothing better than knowing thousands of people are getting some positive enjoyment out of something you've created.

What do you least like about the games industry?
The growing trend towards realistic and personal violence in games. Also the narrow-mindedness of some publishers when it comes to recognising a good game.

What is your proudest achievement?
Creating RollerCoaster Tycoon virtually single-handedly after being told by people in the games industry that there was no market for it, only for it to become the overall No.1 PC game in the US in 1999 and 2000.

And your worst moment?
Realising a few days after RollerCoaster Tycoon had been published in 1999 that I'd made a mistake in the coding which meant players' progress was completely reset when the time changed to summer time or daylight-saving time. I still insist it's a bug in Windows' handling of timestamps rather than my mistake but it was easier to fix the game rather than argue with Microsoft!

What's on your music playlist right now?
Yazoo and Duran Duran - I'm just getting into the old 1980's music now. I think I spent too long in front of a computer in the 1980s to really appreciate the music at the time.

What is your favourite piece of software?
Windows XP

And you least favourite?
Windows XP!

How do you relax?
I chill out on a favourite roller coaster (a real one, not a simulated one).

What was the last book you read?
Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli.

Favourite movie?
Fifth Element

Favourite game?
RollerCoaster Tycoon (slightly biased there I think)

Last innovative feature you saw in a game?
I can't remember any...

What would you do with a year off?
Do a world tour of theme parks and roller coasters.

What would you accept as a bribe?
A year off. Or life-time passes to every theme park in the world (plus several years off).

What gadget to do you love most?
In-car satellite navigation - I don't know how I ever got anywhere at all without it.

What's your greatest strength?
Patience and persistence.

And weakness?
Single-mindedness - Great when you're right and everyone else is wrong but not so good when you're wrong and everyone else is right.

Has a game ever scared you?
No, I ride roller coasters for that kind of entertainment.

What would you do with $10million?
Start searching the internet for second-hand roller coasters and a nice big plot of land.

What's your tip for success?
Don't follow the crowd, have the courage to create something different and unique - As well as being fresh it will stand out amongst the crowd and will have less competition.

Thanks, Chris Sawyer.

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