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On morality in RPGs, Armored Warfare & Guido Henkel, Chris Avellone...

How did Obsidian get a deal on something so atypical for them as Armored Warfare?

That was really weird. I think Feargus’ focus is really on keeping the company going. I think that opportunity just came up and he took it.

From Russians?

Yeah.

So they just turned up asking you to make a modern clone of World of Tanks for them?

Yeah. I played it quite a bit, I gave feedback to the team for quite a bit, but that was a huge project.

So you just split the team into the tankers and the others, right?

Yeah, it wasn’t quite that haphazard. There were people that expressed an interest in it, there were people who were available, but it was a very large project for many years at Obsidian.

Do you remember your first meeting with Tim Cain and Chris Avellone?

I actually didn’t meet Tim for the first time, until jeez… He was already at Troika and I didn’t really meet any of the Troika guys until many years later. I think, maybe, I did not meet Tim until he came up to work at Obsidian. That was probably around 2011. Maybe it was later than that’12,’13I can’t remember, but it was when he came over there. I met Chris pretty early on at Black Isle Studios. Chris and Colin McComb, Guido Henkel and Tim Donley.

Feargus Urquhart, Josh Sawyer and Tim Cain at their tabletop adventures

Guido Henkel?

Yeah, Guido was the producer on Planescape.

Wow, I didn’t know that to be honest. Is Guido the same guy who did the Realms of Arkania series back in the ’90s?

Yeah, Das Schwarze Auge. I met all those guys and worked with them to get materials for the website.

Does Guido still collaborate with Obsidian anyhow?

No, he was part of Black Isle, working on Torment, and then he left.

Chris Avellone, like yourself, was one of the creative leads at Obsidian. What was his main role?

Chris was a senior designer at Black Isle and Obisdian for a very long time, so he contributed to Icewind Dale 1 and 2. Obviously he was doing the majority of the story development, and the character development for Van Buren. He was the chief creative officer at Obisdian.

When did he actually leave the studio?

2015 maybe.

I want all the games to do as well as they can possibly do

Do you know who he is with nowadays?

He is just on his own. He has done some work with inXile and Larian for Divinity 2.

Divinity 2?

Yeah, he is listed in the additional narrative design, so yeah I think he is doing freelance stuff.

Have you ever experienced rivalry in a creative team?

I don’t really get the sense of that.

So always all under one banner together, right?

Well, I am the design director, so it would be pretty stupid of me to be looking at Tyranny and saying, ‘Hey, let’s make this game worse!’ [laughing], because I have some sort of beef against them. No, I want all the games to do as well as they can possibly do.

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Josh Sawyer: Chapter IV

How did Obsidian get a deal on something so atypical for them as Armored Warfare?

That was really weird. I think Feargus’ focus is really on keeping the company going. I think that opportunity just came up and he took it.

From Russians?

Yeah.

So they just turned up asking you to make a modern clone of World of Tanks for them?

Yeah. I played it quite a bit, I gave feedback to the team for quite a bit, but that was a huge project.

So you just split the team into the tankers and the others, right?

Yeah, it wasn’t quite that haphazard. There were people that expressed an interest in it, there were people who were available, but it was a very large project for many years at Obsidian.

Do you remember your first meeting with Tim Cain and Chris Avellone?

I actually didn’t meet Tim for the first time, until jeez… He was already at Troika and I didn’t really meet any of the Troika guys until many years later. I think, maybe, I did not meet Tim until he came up to work at Obsidian. That was probably around 2011. Maybe it was later than that’12,’13I can’t remember, but it was when he came over there. I met Chris pretty early on at Black Isle Studios. Chris and Colin McComb, Guido Henkel and Tim Donley.

Feargus Urquhart, Josh Sawyer and Tim Cain at their tabletop adventures

Guido Henkel?

Yeah, Guido was the producer on Planescape.

Wow, I didn’t know that to be honest. Is Guido the same guy who did the Realms of Arkania series back in the ’90s?

Yeah, Das Schwarze Auge. I met all those guys and worked with them to get materials for the website.

Does Guido still collaborate with Obsidian anyhow?

No, he was part of Black Isle, working on Torment, and then he left.

Chris Avellone, like yourself, was one of the creative leads at Obsidian. What was his main role?

Chris was a senior designer at Black Isle and Obisdian for a very long time, so he contributed to Icewind Dale 1 and 2. Obviously he was doing the majority of the story development, and the character development for Van Buren. He was the chief creative officer at Obisdian.

When did he actually leave the studio?

2015 maybe.

I want all the games to do as well as they can possibly do

Do you know who he is with nowadays?

He is just on his own. He has done some work with inXile and Larian for Divinity 2.

Divinity 2?

Yeah, he is listed in the additional narrative design, so yeah I think he is doing freelance stuff.

Have you ever experienced rivalry in a creative team?

I don’t really get the sense of that.

So always all under one banner together, right?

Well, I am the design director, so it would be pretty stupid of me to be looking at Tyranny and saying, ‘Hey, let’s make this game worse!’ [laughing], because I have some sort of beef against them. No, I want all the games to do as well as they can possibly do.

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Joshua Eric Sawyer

Born: 18.10.1975
Nationality: American
Role: Game Designer
Studio: Obsidian
Previously: Black Isle Studios
Known For: Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, Deadfire

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