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The Develop Conference and Expo, set to become the largest event of its kind in Europe, is about to descend on Brighton with an impressive list of big name speakers and exhibitors. In all, there will be 70 speakers taking part in 47 sessions across three days. Speakers include Mark Rein, Phil Harrison, Chris Deering, Peter Molyneux, Ken Perlin, Tim Harrison, Jamie Macdonald, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Marty O'Donnell, Andrew Oliver, Miles Jacobson, Gary Penn, Jonathan Smith, Paulina Bozek, and Ernest Adams. The conference has six tracks covering coding, design, art, audio, business and next wave. There are also around 40 companies taking part in the Expo that is running alongside the conference, and is free to attend for industry professionals. In a survey of speakers, organiser Tandem Events has discovered that 2006 is set to be a pivotal year for the development community, and for some developers, it will be a make or break year for their studio. "The survey highlighted that 2006 is requiring a number of senior managers to make some crucial decisions. Over half of the respondents said that strategic directions taken in 2006 will have fundamental implications to the long term future of their businesses," commented event director, Andy Lane. The effects and costs of next gen development obviously played a major part in the respondents' concerns, but the vast majority were upbeat about the future of the industry as a whole. "Many of the sessions at the Develop conference have been designed to help the industry focus on the fundamental topics that are affecting the industry and give developers an alternative input into their decision making process. What's really impressive is that over 85% still found the industry exciting to be in, and wouldn't change their jobs," Lane continued. "There simply aren't that many industries where that level of passion exists." In addition to the main conference there will be an IGDA workshop, a Develop Mobile conference, The Develop Industry Excellence Awards, a Serious Games Workshop, GamesEdu - a day long event dedicated to the educational community involved with games related courses - and an ATI Developer Day in partnership with Microsoft and Intel. The Develop Conference and Expo is sponsored by Sony Studios, Philips amBX, Autodesk and Nokia. Full details are at NB Press passes to the conference are available to bona fide journalists who write about interactive entertainment. You may be asked to supply proof of published articles.

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