On the John Swartzwelder question, the name that immediately came to mind was Chris Sawyer (of Roller Coaster Tycoon fame). He was fresh on my mind because I had just watched a Noclip documentary on the game over the weekend while dealing with vaccine #2 fatigue. Felt to fit too much to not chip in on this one.
Outside of some relationship with ports and advisory roles on a couple of the sequels it sounds like he largely has stepped out of the business after Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 in 2002. His Wikipedia says Transport Tycoon (his first Tycoon game) is “one of the most important simulation games ever made.”
Just off personal experience I feel like there was a Tycoon ‘boom’ after his first couple titles, and some simulation games since have probably been influenced by those initial games in some shape or form. I also feel that their inclusion in some cereal box promotions led to their footprint being larger than the typical game in the early 2000s–by that I mean in terms of a more casual audience.
Sounds like Mr. Sawyer is a pretty tough ‘get’ for an interview these days, in part from stepping out of the industry for a long time, but also maybe because of some legal disputes that had arisen as Atari took over the Tycoon series when he was done with it.