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People News The New Obsidian: Josh Sawyer promoted to studio Design Director role


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Jan 28, 2011
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Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment

It's gradually becoming apparent just how much Obsidian have changed over the past couple of years. Following on the heels of Leonard Boyarsky's recruitment comes news that some Codexers will find less welcome. In an off-handed remark on Twitter the other night, project director and balancer-in-chief Josh Sawyer revealed that he'd been promoted to the role of studio "Design Director", giving him a measure of authority over all of Obsidian's current and future games. I asked him yesterday what exactly that means:

Congratulations on your promotion. Does it actually mean anything, though?

It means I’m responsible for helping with overall design direction at the studio. I’ve always talked to designers on other teams about their work, but now it’s part of my job. I talk to individual designers at all levels about challenges they’re facing and what they’re trying to accomplish. I also talk to producers and game directors about high-level design direction and focus. I try to play our games regularly to give feedback on specific issues I come across as well as areas where a team is doing well. I help review all incoming design applications and sit in on as many design interviews as is reasonable.

Currently I’m revising and updating old documentation that covers basic design principles that Obsidian has used and continues to use in our games. Obsidian is a lot larger now than it was ten years ago. Tribal knowledge only goes so far and all standards documentation needs to be regularly reviewed.
According to resident Obsidian expert Duraframe300, the described role is largely analogous to Chris Avellone's former one as Creative Director, although I assume under Sawyer's tenure it will have less of a narrative focus. It's a new era, all right - when I joked about "Avellonesidian" and "Sawyersidian" last year, I never imagined things would play out so literally. But don't worry, it doesn't mean that Josh won't have time to lead development on the next Pillars of Eternity game.


May 25, 2006
Mr. Sawyer is a very talented man and I look forward to seeing his impact on design in Obsidian's games going forward. We're going to have a lot less fun!

Doctor Sbaitso

Oct 22, 2013
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Prime Junta

I fully approve this development. Congrats Josh, use your stern German will to keep the peasants in line.


Oct 12, 2008
Isn't he at least partially responsible for Obsidian's focus on organization and proper workflow and shit? That should be a good thing.


Sep 20, 2014
He should start lobbying for a Darklands sequel.

If (or when :troll:) it turns out to be bad, I can keep playing the original like I did for 20 years.

Plane Escapee

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Sep 11, 2015
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Putting Josh in that position is a badly balanced move on Obsidian's part.

The only person capable of realising Josh' visions and ambitions to the extend that they work is Josh himself, therefore having him in a position where he has to impose them on others who lack Josh Sawyers superhuman ability to do things the way a Josh Sawyer would do things is bound to fail.

This is very inconsiderate to Josh Sawyer, the man has enough failures on his hands that were no fault of his own.

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