Behind-the-Scenes of ‘Death Lap’ with Jocelyn Weiss, Technical Director at OZWE Games
From books to pen and paper role-playing games, Jocelyn Weiss always imagines himself in different environments and situations. Imagination is what fuels him. When Jocelyn saw all the possibilities a computer could bring, it’s all-natural that he came to programming. He started basically on Amstrad because PC was unaffordable. There was no course for game programming, so during his BBA, Jocelyn looked for a job in the game industry.
In 1995, he started an internship in the French company Coktel Vision as a programmer for the ludo educative game Adibou. From there, Jocelyn walked his way in the game industry working as a game developer, graphic developer and consultant on different projects like Economic War, Le secret du Nautilus, Gauntlet, Stranglehold, Mortal Kombat, OneOnline, The The Witcher,Race Driver Grid, many other not-published projects and finally, Death Lap in VR.
Jocelyn joined OZWE Games as Technical Director in 2018. For Death Lap, he was mainly in charge of the AI, and physics as well as concentrated on making the game playable for anyone. Still, HDM’s owners are looking for more sensational emotions, and this is why we later updated the game with advanced camera settings for those people who can handle it.
We sat down and talked about his work during the development of Death Lap.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Working with VR is a real challenge, and it is a bit like coming to a new console, especially when you have constraints close to mobile games. Performances and memory become a real issue that pushes you to get the best out of the platform. It’s sometimes frustrating to cut in graphics or even in features just because you don’t have the horsepower to do it, but I would say that it resume my life as a programmer, we never have enough to realize our dreams. Game programming has always contributed a big deal in pushing the hardware higher. That’s why I love it.
What role did you play in the development of Death Lap?
Working in the game industry has always been mixed between self engagement and team building. I try to give the most to get the best. As you give advice, you learn about listening and playing. So managing the team while listening to their wishes to get the best of them was my priority.
And as I was in charge of the AI, I spent a lot of time trying to build something fun for every level of players.
Could you describe your general workflow?
Managing, coding, testing, coding again, documenting, and handling the QA.
Could you tell us more about Death Lap, and what makes it such a unique project?
A racing game in VR is a real challenge because it is what causes nausea in VR. That was the real challenge, and as I love racing games, since my childhood, I wanted to make it fun. Being able to fire at opponents finished making it so unique. Now you can drive, aim and fire all in VR, looking all around you while doing barrel rolls. This is so much fun in multiplayer.
Could you explain some of the aspects you’ve worked on? Could you share some challenges and things you loved about working on Death Lap?
Working on the AI of the game was a real challenge for me. I am more of a graphics programmer, so making the right choices was crucial, and I think we achieved something really neat. I struggled to keep all the cars grouped. But at the same time, they needed to have different behaviors depending on how players are racing. For instance, if a player wants to finish the race without firing, the opponents will be less prompt to attack and might even not fire at all for the whole race.
What’s your favorite part of the game and why?
Aiming at the rear while driving and drifting at the same time, this is so gratifying. Even more, while jumping. Hearing players laugh while they are doing stunts or kills is super fun too.
Any takeaways? Valuable lessons?
Real physics is an enemy in gaming. It doesn’t work with gameplay rules and mechanisms. Although it is amusing to play with real physics and this is how you make things live, you can’t go without it. And when you add networking to the equation, you enter a real nightmare.
Video games programming is what pushes the limits in so many areas. This is why it is the best job ever.