Develop in Brighton 2012: The Editor's Choice
Heading down to the south coast next week? Here's Matt Martin's pick of the sessions to attend
Now in its seventh year, the annual Develop in Brighton conference has become a fixture of the video game business in the UK, a welcome catch-up on the state of affairs between the madness that was E3 and the looming Gamescom show. As much a social event as a learning opportunity, the venue may creak and the weather might be awful (welcome to England, Americans!) but there's fresh faces, bright minds and new hands to shake over the three day event.
Tuesday, July 10
9:30am: Keynote: Everyone's business is your business
Tuesday kicks off with the most important session of the week: Valve's director of business development Jason Holtman discussing how the flat management structure affects products made for and sold through Steam. That might sound stiff, but as Valve rarely speaks publicly about its business, all ears will be pricked towards the latest stats and data from the market-leading online sales service. Expect controlled release of numbers, but insightful content nonetheless.
11:20: HTML5 is a gaming platform for today, not tomorrow
Has high quality HTML5 gaming really arrived on web browsers? Turbulenz co-founder Gavin Sheilds thinks so, and in this session will be looking at the evolution of web standards over the past 12 months and why HTML5 is now a worthy gaming platform for developers.
12:10: In a world filled with mobile games, how do you make yours stand out?
This is a subject that becomes more and more relevant as app stores grow (and it's subject rolled out for every games conference), and I'm not sure I've heard much in the way of solid action that will put an indie game on the same level as a well-marketed iOS blockbuster. A panel consisting of Flurry, Papaya, Appy Nation and Appromoter will discuss success and failure in mobile discovery, and how indies can work to get as much coverage as publishers with a big budget. We're all ears.
14:50: Learning the lessons of Kickstarter
Zombies, Run! stands out as one of the few games that has reached funding targets without being a) developed by a team with extensive experience (see Tim Shafer and Double Fine Adventure) or a retro reboot (people actually funded a new Leisure Suit Larry game?). Adrian Hon and Naomo Alderman raised $75,000 through Kickstarter for their game so if anyone knows the ups and downs of crowd-funded development it's these guys.
Evening: GamesAid Charity Poker
Help raise money for charity and if you're feeling really lucky gamble your company at the Texas Hold Em tables. Sign up here.
Wednesday July 11
9:30: Keynote: A survivors guide to 30 years in video games
This should be a nice kick off for the event proper, a look back from Eugene Evans, once whizzkid behind Imagine Software and now VP of BioWare Mythic, at the last 30 years of the games business. One for nostalgia but hopefully lessons learned, best practise and survival in a constantly changing business.
10:30: Five industry pitfalls for 2013
It's a toss up between this and David Braben's talk on the Raspberry Pi journey taking place at the same time, but my money's on Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard speaking candidly in this session. With a company built on the success of one game, it should be interesting to see how Gerhard's mistakes will form his views for the next year or so.
12:00: Why the UK is being left behind and what we need to do to catch-up
Here's hoping for a provocative and honest account of where the UK games business went wrong. According to Ed Daly of Tenshi Ventures, tax breaks and the brain drain to Canada aren't the problem, it's the investment sector and the strategies of the UK games business that's holding the country back…
16:45: Meet the Steam team
You wait around all year for a Steam session and two come along at once. Again, this should be pretty essential whether we get full insight or just scraps of info on how the business operates. This is an informal Q&A with four Steam team members and it's not likely to happen again in a hurry, so get your seat early.
Evening: The GamesIndustry International Summer Party 2012
Get yourself to the GamesIndustry International Summer Party. Tickets are here. We'll be there, come and say hello, give me your business card and buy me a drink.
Thursday July 12
10:00: Carma-chameleons: Why funding flexibility is the name of the game in 2012
There's a cool story here. A studio 20 years strong, with major success under its belt through Magic: The Gathering digital releases, now crowd-funding its own reboot of the Carmageddon franchise. Apparently Stainless Games' Neil Barnden and Patrick Buckland are a little nervous about speaking publicly, but I'm sure they'll receive a warm welcome and feel the love of a hungover UK crowd. Also hosted by our boy Johnny Minkley, so expect intelligent grilling from the only games journalist who looks good in a cardigan.
14:00 Wellcome Trust workshop: How do you make science, play?
A hidden gem, this is a practical opportunity to explore how science can be used to fuel game ideas and take them from concept to design. The Wellcome Trust has funding for projects so find out more about that here, too. There are limited places, so mail email@example.com to attend.
16:30: 8 out of 10 developers
If you're still hanging around and you need hair of the dog this session includes free beer. Aside from that it's some sort of informal quiz with people from Epic, Eurogamer, Spilt Milk Studio, Premier PR and Relentless being funny, whimsical and (in Mark Rein's case) loud.
And the rest: Thursday is Indie Dev Day from 11 until 4 with the likes of FuturLab, Playniac, White Paper Games, Full Moon Studio and Toxic Games tackling the indie issues, and ends with a game being created and launched in an hour with help from Big Pixel Studios and Spilt Milk. Good luck with that.
GamesIndustry International will be recording daily podcasts from Develop in Brighton. If you're interested in taking part, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know.
The full line-up for Develop in Brighton can be found here.