#103: Alex Schwartz on developing Job Simulator for SteamVR & HTC Vive


Alex Schwartz is the Chief Scientist and Founder of Owlchemy Labs, and he talks about the process of developing Job Simulator with Valve’s SteamVR and the HTC Vive. They wanted to create a series of mini games like the WarioWare of VR, and he shares a bit more of the backstory for Job Simulator. They have a number of different experiences planned beyond the chef simulator and bartender that include engaging two-handed interactions.

Some things that didn’t work include locomoting the player without them walking around, and so they had to design the spaces so that they could walk around in them. They had to figure out how to grab objects, and simulate reality like object penetration without feeling like it’s fake, the downfalls of infinite chopping, and adding conservation of angular momentum to objects that are thrown.

I asked about the Chaperone System, but he couldn’t talk about more details about that yet. Some of the other open questions are how to adapatively scale the room size, but also account for the ergonomic and structural design problems that come up in walkable VR experiences. The goal is that it should be fun in a wide variety of spaces.

Alex said that the experience and crunch leading up to GDC felt like a war with all of the API updates, iterations, and fixing various bugs. It was like “a band of brothers coming out of the other side coming out of a traumatic experience”, but that at the same time it was the coolest thing that he’s ever done in his development career.

Alex also helped to organize a positional tracking VR game jam, and Valve came out to preview some of their hardware prototypes.

He’s very grateful to have been a part of the process of developing a demo for GDC, and he sees the potential for VR to change every industry and in the end change the world.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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