QD & ME – AURÉLIE LE CHEVALIER – ASSOCIATE PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR
Quantic Dream: Please introduce yourself! What’s your name, where are you from, and what is your role at QD?
My name is Aurélie Le Chevalier, I’m from France, currently living in Montréal Canada, and at Quantic Dream I am an Associate Programming Director.
QD: How did you come to work in the video games industry? Was it a lifelong dream, or did you luckily stumble into it?
Growing up I always loved video games, but it took me a long time to realize that I could make a career out of it. After high-school, I wasn’t sure what to study so I went into management studies. I felt aimless and didn’t really like my courses. A few months after my 18th birthday, I had a revelation while listening to the soundtrack of one of my favourite games, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: there were game development companies here in Montreal, where I was studying! I quickly researched Ubisoft employees on LinkedIn to see what career paths they had taken so I could do the same. I wasn’t sure which path to take, between art, design, and programming, but after doing more research, programming really called to me (I was always good with computers). In the end, this new direction was so motivating for me that I immediately went to get a Zelda Triforce tattoo. After a few years I completed my university degree in Computer Science and joined Ubisoft Montreal as an AI programmer on Rainbow Six, and the rest is history 🙂
QD: Let’s talk about your job at Quantic Dream! Could you elaborate more on your role, and the role of your team?
As an associate programming director, my role is to lead the gameplay programming team on Star Wars EclipseTM. A big part of my job is to make sure the team has everything they need to succeed – clear goals, a good structure, a solid tech base, a reasonable scope, and high morale, among many other things. I’m also ultimately responsible for making sure the game succeeds on a technical level, so I always must keep a long-term strategic view on things – how is our pace, is the code base healthy, what technical goals should we set for ourselves along the way to be sure we hit our ship date? It’s a very collaborative job. As for my team, they get to implement all the gameplay for the game! They work closely with game designers to architect gameplay systems and implement the mechanics of the game. Currently we’re working on gameplay topics, AI, navigation and camera!
QD: Tell us more about the members of your team. Any fun story to share?
It’s not so much a funny story, as just a memorable event for the team. The day of the reveal of Star Wars EclipseTM, we got a sneak peak of the reveal trailer about 1h in advance of The Game Awards. The trailer had been kept super-secret, no one in Montreal had seen it up to that point, but of course we’d heard lots of rumours about it, so we were very curious. The CO-CEO, Guillaume, had come to Montreal to spend this magical moment with us, and he’s the one who organized the viewing in one of our big meeting rooms. The anticipation in that small room was wild! Everyone was holding their breath as the trailer played before our eyes for the first time. When it finished everyone was thrilled! It’s an incredible trailer, we immediately watched it a second time, and then of course, someone yells “we got Yoda!” and like half the room, me included are like “Whaaat? Yoda’s in this? Where? How did I miss Yoda?!” I had to watch the trailer 4 times before I spotted him, haha!
QD: Can you describe to us a typical day for you? Does a typical day even exist for you?
Yes, I do have a typical day! Quantic Dream’s approach to codev is “multiple locations, one studio”. We work very closely with the Paris studio, where the internal game engine is developed, but also where they have a lot of key people like animation leads, level artists, physics programmers, and camera specialists. Games are extremely collaborative endeavours, where different disciplines need to come together. This results in my time being almost completely booked in the mornings! Leads meetings on Mondays, syncs with other teams in France, following up on cross-continent technical topics, build reviews, sprint reviews, everything is in the morning. This leaves my afternoons fairly open, giving me time to reflect on ongoing topics, do 1on1s with my team, conduct interviews, catch up on my email, or dig into a technical topic.
QD: What are your external inspirations that are reflected in your job?
I’ve had the incredible luck of having amazing leads early in my career: Brie Code, lead programmer on Child of Light, and Louis-Philippe Dallaire, gameplay programming director on For Honor. They inspired me greatly, and I still message them for advice sometimes. Other than that, these past few years I’ve been getting into yoga for the physical health benefits, and into mindfulness to help me deal with stress (handling a team keeps me up at night sometimes, haha!). I find that mindfulness has helped me be more introspective and empathetic towards others, which in turn has made me a better manager.
QD: Be careful, BIG question… What are your favourite games?
The game that was most meaningful to me was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, it’s very hard to pick! Some of my favourites: Half Life, Rocket League, Darkest Dungeon, Divinity Original Sin.
QD: Tell us more about your hobbies outside of work.
I swordfight at a competitive level! Specifically, boffer sword fighting. I’ve won many troll ball tournaments, both in feminine and mixed leagues, and I won 2nd place in a 1v1 any weapon tournament (I used sword and shield). It’s a fascinating sport that demands a good mix of strength, dexterity, and tactical thinking (and in the case of troll ball, teamwork). Other than that, I love being active in general – walking, hiking, HIIT, biking, bouldering, yoga. I always have at least one Dungeons & Dragons game running and play a reasonable amount of competitive video games.
QD: All right! What does your perfect Friday night look like?
Date night with my partner! A friendly restaurant and a long walk outdoors, maybe a movie.
QD: Do you have a message for our readers?
Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. If you want something, prepare for it and get out there! And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
QD: Final question! Chocolate cake or Fruit pie?
Chocolate cake! More specifically, brownies with walnuts.