The UK’s lead­ing in­dus­try event cel­e­brates its tenth an­niver­sary

Bri­tain’s lead­ing in­dus­try event cel­e­brates ten years in Brighton with an un­prece­dented range of ses­sions

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As game devel­op­ment be­comes an ever broader church, it’s fit­ting that this year’s De­velop, tak­ing place July 14–16 in its tra­di­tional home, should en­com­pass an ex­tra­or­di­nary di­ver­sity of ex­pe­ri­ence, its lineup de­signed to cater to all who make the pil­grim­age to Brighton.

Take, for ex­am­ple, the ever-popular busi­ness track. This year, Google’s Ross Brockman will wade into the murky wa­ters of mon­eti­sa­tion, dis­cussing how to make the most of in-app pur­chases and ad­ver­tise­ments to keep the money rolling in. On the other hand, de­sign and pro­duc­tion con­sul­tant (and UKIE board mem­ber) Ella Romanos will de­liver a talk with a dif­fer­ent fo­cus: how to get fund­ing to make your game in the first place.

Google is rep­re­sented else­where, too, as part of the event’s open­ing Evolve day, which is, as ever, cen­tred on the tech­no­log­i­cal fron­tier of game devel­op­ment. The com­pany’s in­ter­nal startup, Niantic Labs – re­spon­si­ble for a se­ries of aug­mented re­al­ity games, in­clud­ing Ingress – will ex­plore how to blend vir­tual ex­pe­ri­ences with real-world ac­tiv­i­ties ahead of the re­lease of its am­bi­tious Endgame: Prov­ing Ground. And what could be more per­ti­nent to the fu­ture of games than their youngest play­ers? The Uni­ver­sity Of West Eng­land’s Esther MacCal­lum-Ste­wart will dis­cuss tak­ing de­sign cues from feed­back pro­vided by chil­dren.

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful launch at last year’s event, the Indie Boot Camp re­turns, with Dan Da Rocha from Mud­vark and Toxic Games ( Hue, Qube) out­lin­ing his years as an in­de­pen­dent de­vel­oper, while To­tal Monkery’s An­drea Chan­dler will ex­plain why mak­ing a game is the easy part and sell­ing it is the chal­lenge. Ma­chine Stu­dios’ Simon Roth, mean­while, is keen to dis­pel the myth of the ‘lucky indie’, ex­plain­ing the hard work that goes into build­ing a sus­tain­able mi­cro-stu­dio.

If there’s a re­cur­ring theme among this year’s tracks, it’s how to stay prof­itable in an un­pre­dictable mar­ket­place – and, per­haps, that it’s not enough to sim­ply make a great game, but equally cru­cial to en­sure that word gets around. To which end, the mar­ket­ing track will dis­cuss crowdsourced pro­mo­tion, while for­mer game jour­nal­ist Mike Rose, now of Tiny Build Games, will ex­am­ine the in­flu­ence of Twitch, YouTube and Vine on video mar­ket­ing.

At­tract­ing an au­di­ence is one mat­ter, but for an in­creas­ing num­ber of pub­lish­ers, player re­ten­tion is even more vi­tal. Me­di­a­tonic’s Ed Fear will be ask­ing whether nar­ra­tive can be a sig­nif­i­cant hook – a key con­cern, par­tic­u­larly as more games move away from the tra­di­tional re­tail model and to­wards ser­vice-led en­ter­tain­ment.

“It’s heart­en­ing to see the UK’s pre­mier in­dus­try event work­ing so hard to re­main rel­e­vant”

Away from the busi­ness and mar­ket­ing spheres, de­vel­op­ers from award-win­ning stu­dios will be dis­cussing their artis­tic achieve­ments. State Of Play’s talk should be a popular draw, the Lon­don-based indie set to de­tail the mak­ing of the gor­geous, BAFTA-win­ning Lu­mino City. And as the bonds be­tween games, films and graphic nov­els grow stronger, at­ten­dees will hear in­sights into the cre­ative process from Ron Ash­tiani of Atomhawk, which was re­spon­si­ble for con­cept art for the likes of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Ryse:

Son Of Rome and En­slaved. There’s plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind the au­dio track, too, a new ad­di­tion to this year’s event. Side has been sup­ply­ing cast­ing ser­vices to the game in­dus­try for some time now, work­ing on a range of projects, in­clud­ing the likes of Dragon Age: In­qui­si­tion and Alien: Iso­la­tion; com­pany co-founder Phil Evans will de­tail the lessons he and his team have learned from 15 years of di­rect­ing, voice pro­duc­tion and per­for­mance cap­ture. Along­side Evans, Ciaran Walsh from Hor­net Sound and Sound Cuts’ BAFTA award-win­ning Adele Cut­ting will dis­cuss the changes in the free­lance au­dio game.

De­velop’s cod­ing track will in­clude a talk from Per­force Soft­ware’s Tulin Green, who will dis­cuss the mer­its (or oth­er­wise) of trunk-based devel­op­ment. Mean­while, the pro­duc­tion side will be led by two post­mortems. In­dus­try vet­eran Jamie Firth asks ‘Whither the mid­dle­man?’, de­liv­er­ing an epi­taph for ex­ter­nal pro­duc­ers, while Hen­drik Lesser, from Re­mote Con­trol Pro­duc­tions, will take a look at the lessons learned dur­ing pro­duc­tion of Rovio’s well-re­ceived RPG spinoff, An­gry Birds Epic.

With a head­line key­note from Vlam­beer’s seem­ingly ubiq­ui­tous Rami Is­mail, it’s an event clearly keen not to rest on its lau­rels as it en­ters a mile­stone year. The third day’s ac­tiv­i­ties, fo­cused on smaller stu­dios and in­clud­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to net­work along­side a prod­uct show­case, are tes­ta­ment to De­velop’s com­mit­ment to the de­vel­op­ers look­ing to shape gam­ing’s im­me­di­ate fu­ture. It’s heart­en­ing to see the UK’s pre­mier in­dus­try event work­ing so hard to re­main rel­e­vant in the face of a con­stantly shift­ing land­scape, en­sur­ing this tenth an­niver­sary will be one to cel­e­brate.

Con­sul­tant Ella Romanos and Re­mote Con­trol Pro­duc­tions’ Hen­drik Lesser are among this year’s pool of speak­ers

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