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Chris Sawyer, Freelance

Although Chris Sawyer may not be a household name, this game developer, designer, and programmer created some of the most popular computer strategy/simulation games in the industry, including Transport Tycoon, Transport Tycoon Deluxe, the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, and its add-on packs Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes. Sawyer has also been in charge of many PC conversions of Amiga games, including Frontier Elite 2, Xenomorph, Conqueror, Campaign, Virus, Goal, and Birds of Prey.

Sawyer's contribution to the sage advice in this chapter:

    1. Create something original and unique. Your game should look and play differently from other products to stand out.

    2. Don't be put off if publishers initially discard your ideas and designs. When RollerCoaster Tycoon was in early development, I was told by everyone that it wouldn't succeed. The best way to convince people of a game's potential is to get the game to a playable state and actually let them play it.

    3. Never forget that the ultimate aim of any computer game is to be fun. It's all very well coming up with a novel gameplay idea or an ever-more-immersive 3D world, but if it's not actually fun to play then it's worthless.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating RollerCoaster Tycoon?

Perhaps the biggest challenge was to create a business model that was reasonably realistic but primarily "fun." I did this in RollerCoaster Tycoon by ignoring many of the financial and managerial aspects of running a theme park and concentrating more on the design and construction side.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 These three images show some of the 3D models used in Chris Sawyer's RollerCoaster Tycoon in their source environment (either Lightwave or Raydream Studio). Sawyer commented when submitting these images, "Actually, this is the first time I've seen these myself—they're fascinating." Indeed. (Used with permission by Chris Sawyer.)

If Sawyer could go back and create the original RollerCoaster Tycoon all over again, would anything be done differently?

Very little would change if I were re-creating the game to work with today's PCs. However, given more processing power, I'd reduce some of the compromises in the game, improve the graphical detail, and improve some of the AI.

Any pet peeves with today's computer games?

Too many violent games, and not enough that focus on the more "positive" things we all enjoy, like building things and "nurturing" things.

Chris Sawyer returns in Chapter 12 to discuss artificial intelligence.

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