If there’s one defining characteristic of game developers in Scotland, it would be taciturnity. A habitual unwillingness to gleefully engage in conversation about one’s latest game, or a suspicion that showing more than bare tolerance for the aforementioned title is, somehow… well, vulgar. The sort of activity that one might expect of frauds, charlatans or those engaged in marketing, but not something a self-respecting game developer would engage in, unless at gunpoint.
Of all the developers in Scotland, we’ve managed to track down and speak to the vast majority, even if in some cases, this was part of a ransom demand. However, there remains one developer so secretive, so unwilling to speak to people, that younger developers consider him a myth or legend.
In the Pacific Northwest of America, they have Sasquatch, in South East Asia, they have the Batutut. In Sumatra, it’s the Oren Pendek. Nepal and Tibet have long told stories of the Yeti and in Australia, they tell of the Yowie. In Scotland, we have Chris Sawyer.
Mr Sawyer is creator of the Roller Coaster Tycoon and Transport Tycoon series. Researchers and conspiracy theorists say he may operate from Dunblane. Yes, there’s more to Scotland than Lemmings and GTA. Tell your friends…
In the recent auction of intellectual property from Atari, after it was bankrupted, many of the company’s franchises were sold off to other developers or publishers. Roller Coaster Tycoon went on the market with an opening price of $3.5M, remaining unsold, leaving the future of the franchise uncertain.
Now Chris has given an interview to Gama Sutra in the run-up to the launch of Transport Tycoon on mobile devices. Working with his new company, 31X, which features several members of the Marjacq agency, in conjunction with Origin8 Technologies, the game will be released on iOS and Android devices in late 2013.
In the interview, Mr Sawyer told Gama Sutra’s Mike Rose:
The game is completely re-written (a consequence of the original games being written in 8086 Assembler, which can’t be recompiled for other platforms),” he explains, “but the game design is very much based on my older games with updated interface and controls to suit mobile platforms.
The graphical style of the game (fixed viewpoint isometric) I think really works well on devices like the iPad and iPhone – It shows a lot of rich detail in a small screen area, and together with the touchscreen interface makes the game feel very tactile.
Sawyer’s original plan was to completely stay out of the development side, and instead focus on funding development from the team at Origin8.
However, as time went on I got drawn into working quite closely with the development team, overseeing the design and helping with debugging, and generally trying to help get what is a massively complex game working on mobile platforms.
You can find the entire interview on Gama Sutra. Or you can check out the trailer for the new Transport Tycoon below…
Congratulations to Chris and the team at 31X. If you’d like to let us know more about your plans, we’d be thrilled and delighted you know…