Brighton up

The De­velop con­fer­ence broad­ens its view with a new fo­cus on VR

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Vir­tual re­al­ity, un­sur­pris­ingly, will be the main fo­cus of this year’s De­velop. The con­fer­ence, which takes place in Brighton from July 12–14, is in­tro­duc­ing a sub­stan­tial VR track, while pre­cur­sor event Evolve will also train its sights on what the ar­rival of VR and AR means for the future of game de­vel­op­ment.

Van­guard’s Martin de Ronde, co-founder of Guer­rilla Games fore­bear Lost Boys Games, will de­liver a ses­sion on the pit­falls and op­por­tu­ni­ties in­her­ent in con­vert­ing es­tab­lished gen­res to VR – the short­est route to getting a project up and run­ning per­haps but, as we’ve seen from the first wave of VR ti­tles, not nec­es­sar­ily the best one. Mean­while, Tri­an­gu­lar Pix­els’ John Camp­bell and Katie Goode will ad­dress the iso­lat­ing ef­fect of HMDs by talk­ing the au­di­ence through what they learned while cre­at­ing their own lo­cal so­cial vir­tual re­al­ity games.

Else­where, the need for more pre­cise physics to make the most of po­si­tion­tracked con­trollers will be cov­ered, along with the sur­pris­ingly tricky task of mak­ing an ef­fec­tive VR UI. More ses­sions will be added over the com­ing months, but this track is al­ready shap­ing up to be a use­ful re­source for both new and es­tab­lished de­vel­op­ers as the in­dus­try fum­bles its way into an era of mass­mar­ket vir­tual re­al­ity.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing new ideas is also the fo­cus of this year’s Fund­ing track, a topic that spills over into the Indie track and which will be ac­com­pa­nied by an in­au­gu­ral Fund­ing and Pitch­ing Work­shop – aimed at mi­cro stu­dios and star­tups – as well as a Games Fund­ing Fo­rum. Head­ing up this thread, for­mer SCEE di­rec­tor of strate­gic con­tent, and newly minted indie de­vel­oper, Shahid Ah­mad will share his in­sight into what com­pa­nies look for in de­vel­op­ers and their pitches. His talk, Pitch­ing Is Courtship, will lean on the ex­pe­ri­ence he gained while work­ing for Sony, dur­ing which he com­mis­sioned over 100 games, in­clud­ing VR ti­tles.

Italic Pig writer and di­rec­tor Kevin Beimers also sees the ro­man­tic side of pitch­ing. An­other de­vel­oper who has been on both sides of the pitch­ing process, Beimers will de­liver a talk ti­tled Pitch­ing, Pick Up Lines And Polyamorous Mar­riages that looks at how you can start build­ing a long-term busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with po­ten­tial part­ners from first con­tact. Other fund­ing and pitch-re­lated ses­sions will talk at­ten­dees through the specifics of ac­cess­ing tax re­lief, how to put for­ward suc­cess­ful fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, and how in­de­pen­dent de­vel­op­ers can make the most of crowd fund­ing.

The Indie track will cover a range of less zeit­geisty top­ics, too. Among these, Ma­chine Stu­dios’ Si­mon Roth will ex­plore how crunch has be­come as com­mon­place in in­de­pen­dent de­vel­op­ment as it is in big-bud­get projects, and dis­cuss ways to en­sure that meet­ing mile­stones doesn’t have a neg­a­tive im­pact on your team. Ex­tra Mile Pro­duc­tions’ Max Videaux will look at ways to avoid crunch al­to­gether – or at least try to min­imise it – by re­duc­ing red tape and stream­lin­ing work­flow. And James Parker, from Ground Shat­ter, will of­fer up a can­did look at the strug­gles ex­pe­ri­enced by third par­ties when bring­ing PC games to con­sole.

Away from the nitty gritty of nec­es­sary ad­min, build­ing busi­ness acu­men, and keep­ing the lights on, con­fer­ence key­note ses­sion Leg­ends On The Future: Hideo Ko­jima In Con­ver­sa­tion With Mark Cerny should pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of nostal­gia and spec­u­la­tion. The pair will first dis­cuss Ko­jima’s three-decade­long ca­reer in game pro­duc­tion, be­fore mov­ing on to what they be­lieve the future holds for the videogame in­dus­try.

Mean­while, Funom­ena CEO Robin Hu­nicke will de­liver the Indie track key­note, us­ing Wat­tam to il­lus­trate ‘feel en­gi­neer­ing’, the art of teas­ing out novel emo­tions from play­ers while en­sur­ing that every as­pect of a game re­in­forces its un­der­ly­ing themes and nar­ra­tive.

And Bossa Stu­dios takes a sim­i­lar tack for its De­sign track key­note ses­sion, cel­e­brat­ing its pas­sion for es­o­teri­cism by ex­plor­ing how tech­nol­ogy has sur­prised, in­spired and even an­noyed dur­ing

Worlds Adrift’s de­vel­op­ment. For an event that seeks to pro­vide prac­ti­cal take­aways, this year’s De­velop ap­pears to ful­fil its re­mit. But more than that, its ex­panded scope rep­re­sents a con­fi­dent, and en­er­getic, start to the UK con­fer­ence’s sec­ond decade.

Evolve will also train its sights on what the ar­rival of VR and AR means for the future of game de­vel­op­ment

FROM TOP Un­seen Diplo­macy, from Tri­an­gu­lar Pix­els, com­bines Vive and Rift; Hideo Ko­jima

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