J.E. Sawyer off Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Action RPG's top designer follows John Romero out the exit of Midway's San Diego studio to work on Neverwinter Nights 2.

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Last week, the game industry was abuzz with word that John Romero had left his latest gig. The job in question was at Midway Games' San Diego studio, where Romero was overseeing development of the action role-playing game Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows alongside J.E. Sawyer, formerly of Black Isle Studio and the Icewind Dale series.

While certainly big news, it wasn't terribly surprising, given the Doom cocreator and Daikatana designer's turbulent career. What garnered more interest were the causes behind Romero's departure. Off the record, many speculated he had been let go by Midway, while others speculated that he had lost out on a power struggle with Sawyer.

Now, the latter theory can be put to rest. Late last week, Sawyer used the forums of the Mistress' Lair Web site to quietly announce he was leaving Midway. In a discussion thread about Romero's exit, the designer matter-of-factly said, "Friday [the 15th] is actually my last day at Midway."

When contacted by GameSpot, Midway reps confirmed Sawyer's depature. In a statement virtually identical to that released in response to Romero's exit, a spokesperson said simply that "Josh Sawyer is no longer employed with the company" and that "development on Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows has not been impacted in any way as a result of his departure." The rep said the game was "still on schedule to ship this fall."

While Sawyer declined to answer fellow forum posters' requests to explain why he left Midway, he did reveal what his next gig would be. "I am going to work for Obsidian [Entertainment], starting Monday," said Sawyer, who also said he would be working on the developer's highest-profile project, Neverwinter Nights 2. Obsidian cofounder Feargus Urquhart was all too happy to confirm his reunion with Sawyer, whom he worked with at Black Isle. "Yep, Sawyer has come to work for us at Obsidian," he told GameSpot. "He's going to be working on NWN2 for the next while and then will most likely become the lead designer on one of our future projects."

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