Develop Brighton, 14-16 July 2015

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ArtGame visuals today span the artistic spectrum, from iconic mobile graphics to lush next gen productions on PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. Indeed, our medium has matured to the point where our audience applauds a game like the mobile smash Crossy Road, whose deceptively 'retro' visuals self-consciously play homage to the beloved arcade fair of the 1980s, whilst being slick and crisp enough to satisfy an audience born decades later. Changing business models are making a difference, too – with free-to-play there's little money to spend on blockbuster art, and catching attention is more important than total immersion. So are we witnessing the apex of creativity in our industry before a shift to virtual reality returns the focus to photorealism? Or can the indie scene keep experimentation alive? 


AudioNothing ruins a good game faster than annoying music or inferior sound effects. Game audio may never command the attention or budget of its visuals, yet players will always demand to hear the best, and reward innovation here, too. Getting the basics right is still a high hurdle, and then there's the latest challenges, from immersive 3D audio that bring to life VR experiences to interactive scores and real-time dynamic mixing. And while it's true there are fewer technical challenges to creating, processing, and outputting high quality sound in our medium today, new technologies and techniques will still be required to cross an 'uncanny valley of audio' that is just as daunting as that facing artists. With game scores being nominated for Grammys, let's also remember the eternal desire for music that strikes an emotional chord, too.



While what's left of the old games establishment is still picking sides in the latest console war, the new generation – indie developers, veterans gone back-to-basics, free-to-play merchants and online specialists – are capturing territory on all fronts. Is there room for all these players in the 21st Century, and how do you best place your bets while we find out? From new revenue streams and payment methods to new sources of funding – from public sector grants to crowd-sourced funding – today's commercial landscape makes the boxed copy world of yesteryear seem prehistoric. Yet some things never change: Good talent remains expensive and hard to recruit, outsourcing fraught with difficulty, and games are more hit-driven than ever. We'll navigate these conundrums and more at Develop, with the aid of some of the smartest brains in the business.


CodingEven as some of the industry's biggest brains start hitting the sweet spot in coaxing the best out of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo's next generation marvels, others look to master mobile devices, online, connected and streaming games, the PC and its myriad cousins, and even the Holy Grail of true cross-platform gaming – and that's before we even think about the second coming of virtual reality. Throw analytics, cloud computing, big data, and a new emphasis on security after a wave of breaches into the mix  – as well as perennial bugbears such as better-than-idiotic artificial intelligence – and the games industry clearly remains the most exciting and varied sector for a programmer to go to work in. At Brighton we'll show you exactly how others are rising to the challenges.


DesignCreativity in games has undergone a renaissance. Indie developers, new formats, smaller budgets, and online distribution channels have rekindled an appetite for experimentation. Mainstream innovations such as PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect have played a part, too, and we've only just scratched the surface with the VR experiences made possible by the likes of Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus, and even Microsoft's new HoloLens. Yet elsewhere designers are on the defensive. What place for creative flair in the face of data analytics and design-by-numbers? How do you balance a title that has a plethora of in-app purchases? And has the tyranny of the sequel given way to the never-ending trudge of software as a service, where once we aspired to create interactive art? We'll ask some of the world's brightest designers to light the path forward.


EvolveVideo games never stop changing, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks to a new generation of mainstream consoles, ever more powerful smartphones and other mobile devices, a VR reboot courtesy of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus and disruptive platforms such as Valve's Steam Machines, development's early adopters have not been short of kicks in recent years. Add in hardware agnostic experiences like location-based and browser-based gaming – not to mention the prospect of playing augmented reality games on your living room floor with Microsoft's HoloLens – and things have never been so exciting. Evolve is where the industry gathers to share our thoughts on how we will create new game experiences for the next decade.


ProductionAs game studios increasingly find themselves competing toe-to-toe for talent with the rest of the tech and creative sector, production today encompasses more than just getting things done on time and budget. Culture and mission are becoming as important as crunches and milestones. At the same time, the content itself is changing, thanks to the gathering shift from boxed copies to software-as-a-service models and free-to-play. And that's before you even consider the profusion of platforms! How do you schedule projects that never end? What are the deliverables for games in a state of perma-beta, and where are the lines of responsibility drawn when your title hooks up with external services and app stores, web sites, and second and third screen experiences? We have some ideas, but please come to Brighton and tell us yours.

Indie Dev Day

indieWhile competition is hotting up, the death of the indie developer has been greatly exaggerated. Fresh opportunities continue to sprout as fast as new studios, while ever more tools, services, and other resource are emerging to help turn your ambitions into reality. No wonder thousands of developers have gone independent over the past few years, while hundreds of newcomers to the games industry have skipped the old traditional route altogether and set-up for themselves from day one. To help you become one of the winners, the Indie Developer's Day brings together the community to share hints, tips, lessons, and dreams. Indie networking events and our Indie Showcase of independently developed titles make this a must-attend event.

Indie Boot Camp

indieFREE Indie Boot Camp 15 July – An afternoon of free sessions for students, start-ups, and anyone else looking to be the next big thing! Knowing you want to make great games is the first step. Knowing how to go about it is the next. Setting up as an indie developer gets you onto the ladder, but how easy is to break through to the big league and what does it take to really succeed? Whether you want to found the next Supercell or you're simply looking to pay your rent with your passion for games, you'll do yourself a big favour by finding out how to structure and fund your company properly, avoid the common pitfalls that befall indie studios, and make the right choices when it comes to monetization or pitching to publishers. Join us to hear straight talking from successful indie developers about how they started, what worked for them, and what mistakes they made – so you can avoid repeating them!


marketingHappily, the old stereotype of a video gamer is breaking down – though with sometimes combustible consequences, as we've seen over the past 12 months. Yet it's not just the target market that is changing. Thanks to free-to-play monetisation and crowded app stores, customer acquisition and gameplay has become entwined. Appointment mechanics might bring people back to your game, but in this new democratic and fickle landscape, a truly sustainable audience can't be bought. Today's developers soon learn that strong marketing is core to anything other than a fluke success, but what are the rules, and can they be broken? How do you engage with the millions of potential game reviewers on the App stores, as well as the tens of thousands of DIY bloggers? How do you send your game viral, without destroying its soul?

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