Looking forward to Develop:Brighton — our schedule highlights

The MCV/DEVELOP team has packed its bags for what will be, for its editorial crew, a first outing to the Develop Conference. Of course, long before any toothbrushes or emergency game t-shirts were thrown in a bag, we’d already marked out our highlights among the 100+ talks taking place – a selection that we share with you here.

As befitting your status and position you may have other priorities. Our recommendations reflect merely a broad selection of presentations and panels for those of a slightly less technical mindset, or those who might seek different perspectives on old or persistent issues. Whatever you hope to get out of this year’s conference, we insist that you take in as much of the conference as you can – we certainly will – even if it means taking in rather less of the expected sunshine beating down from outside.

TUESDAY

Building a Creative Culture, Together
09.45 – 10.45, Room 1

Lisa Opie, MD of Ubisoft Reflections and Ubisoft Leamington, opens the conference with a keynote that focuses on diversity and inclusion in recruitment, wellbeing and empowerment in the workplace and transparency in studio leadership. If you missed her appearance in the last issue of MCV/DEVELOP, you should not avoid her debut at Develop Conference.

How Making Blockchain Games Has Changed the Way I Think About the Internet
11.00 – 11.45, Room 1

If the supposed benefits of the blockchain are something you continually wrestle with, stay seated in Room 1 to hopefully receive some enlightenment from Animoca Brands’ Robby Yung, who aims to explain what the tech can allow that has hitherto been out of reach, while making the case for some much-needed quality and creativity in web3 game design.

Downward Spiral or Mega Viral: 10 Lessons From a Year on TikTok
14.00 – 14.45, Room 3

Likely to prove an excellent follow up for those attending the 12.00 in Room 2 (“Forging Meaningful Connections With Audiences Through Marketing”), with a focus on a discoverability platform that many might not equate with authenticity, but that actually thrives on it like no other – albeit rather briefly.

Can the Games Industry Save the Planet?
15.00 – 15.45, Room 5

A potentially uplifting roundtable, looking how the games industry can do its bit in helping to prevent the end of the world as we know it. It starts with being able to quantify emissions, using offsetting schemes to counter them and learning how gaming and conservation organisations can work together to help avert catastrophic climate change. Don’t have nightmares.

Building a Contented Game Community
16.00 – 16.45, Room 1

No, we’re not recommending this one because our community management skills are non-existent (though of course they are), but because it’s one of those areas of the industry where many people have a tendency to instinctively think they know it all and thus avoid knowing anything.

I Don’t Want to Make Another Game – Crunch and Best Working Practices
17.00 – 17.45, Room 2

ROLL7’S Simon Bennett and Tom Hegarty told the story of the making of OlliOlli World in MCV/DEVELOP recently and it was a game that could only have come about after dealing with the debilitating crunch that had defined the studio’s previous games. It’s a story and an outcome that everyone can learn from.

WEDNESDAY

DEATHLOOP: Looking Inside a Design Loop
9.45 – 10.45, Room 1

Last year’s Deathloop was one of the most innovative shooters in years, which, coming from the award-winning Arkane Lyon team, is perhaps par for the course after similar critical success in the past with Dishonored and Prey. How did they do it? You only have to claim a seat at their keynote session to find out.

The 4-Day Week: Is It Time for Studios to Re-think?
11.00 – 11.45, Room 6

After the need for remote and hybrid working practices over the last couple of years, the viability of the four-day week has come into focus as a means to not only to improve the work-life balance, but also to address the persistent skills shortage that continues to impact recruitment across the games industry. Amiqus’ Liz Prince has the latest thinking around the hot topic of flexible working.

Injecting Innovative Ideas into Your Games Through Working with the IGGI Centre for Games Research
12.00 – 12.45, Room 2

The UK Games Industry is built on innovation and continues to be transformative, but perhaps we rely a little too much on instinct? The IGGI games research centre appears to think so, and is pitching to work with more games companies through research placements to inspire more innovation and take the industry to new heights.

Ahead of Its Time: Why is PlayStation Home One of the Most Talked About Games of 2022?
14.00 – 14.45, Room 4

While not wanting to miss Mike Gamble’s presentation in Room 3 at the same time (“Punching Above Your Weight”), the argument that Playstation Home (which was closed back in 2015) might have inadvertently set the template for the imminent arrival of the ubiquitous metaverse is one not to be missed. A lively panel discussion is guaranteed!

Accessible Accessibility and Designing for Dyslexic Players
16.00 – 16.45, Room 4

Any design talk that drives forward the need for greater accessibility in games is eminently worthwhile, and this one focuses on the issues that face dyslexic players and how to address them – which has only recently become a focus for studios.

20 Lessons from 20 Years
17.00 – 17.45, Room 3

Celebrating 20 years of GamesIndustry.biz, editor-in-chief James Batchelor delivers a retrospective of the site in the context of how the games business itself has evolved, with a focus on the lessons learned (or not) and pointers on where the industry and it’s premier site might be headed next. And yes, MCV will be on its best behaviour.

THURSDAY

Wolfenstein 3D Postmortem
10.00 – 11.00 : Room 1

It’s 30 years since the release of the original first-person shooter and its most recognisable creator has plenty to say about its development and what’s been happening in the genre since. Indeed, he said some of it in last issue’s magazine, but we’re always eager to hear more from John Romero about his Wolfenstein days at id Software.

Keeping it Simple: Creating a Tutorial for a Grand Strategy Behemoth
11.15 – 12.00 : Room 2

The days of the 180-page spiral-bound manual packed into a big box are long gone, but we still enjoy the challenge of getting to know complex games that in the past might have been impenetrable without one. Games like the Total War series, for example, that use clever prologues and tutorial campaigns to coach the player sufficiently without putting them to sleep.

AI Supported Tools for Game Development
12.15 – 13.00, Room 2

Procedural generation techniques have been with us for years and AI-assisted development is becoming widespread, but is there an argument for moving away from referring to AI as mere tools and thinking of it as more a part of the team? Not so much in terms of consciousness, of course, but as a source of creativity and a means of improvement.

How to Protect Your Players from Online Abuse
12.15 – 13.00, Room 5

In an era when we are more likely to ignore online abuse rather than actively challenging it, there is a danger that we start not to recognise it or be selective when we do. Step forward Gwen Taylor of Glitch, to remind us of what online abuse is, those who are most affected by it and how we can start to eliminate it for the good of all gamers.

12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Making User Interfaces for Games
14.00 – 14.45, Room 4

The days when gamers would put up with terrible user interfaces are long behind us. Players have evolved to not only understand much of the language common to UX and UI design, they are aware of the principles that guide it. In this talk nDreams’ Henry Ryder goes through twelve theories that help when designing the user interface of a game.

Terminal Velocity: How Backend Game Services Power Our Titles
15.00 – 15.45, Room 2

There’s plenty of talk at Develop:Brighton this year on how to get noticed – which is not to diminish its importance – but not so much on how to scale services when the popularity of your game goes into orbit. Edwin Jones of Mediatonic goes into how its game services team managed to keep up with demand when the popularity of Fall Guys went nuts.

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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