Develop's interviews with this year's winners kicks off with Side creative director Andy Emery

Develop Award Interviews: Side

Side remains a huge name in the audio outsourcing business, having recently worked on titles such as Realtime Worlds’ APB and BioWare’s Dragon Age. The group’s triumph at the Develop Awards – picking up the Audio Outsourcing honour – solidifies its position as a key player in the European market.

Develop speaks to the firm’s creative director Andy Emery to discuss its future

Congratulations on winning the Develop Award. What does Side have at its disposal that convinced judges to award it the Audio Outsourcer category.
I believe – and hope! – that the judges’ votes reflect the quality of work Side has carried out over the last 12 months.

Side works in many disciplines, what service generates the firm’s main business?
Our specialty is working with developers to create engaging and believable character performances in games. The services we provide range from managing complex productions requiring the casting, directing and recording of multiple actors on a sound stage for Full Performance Capture through to directing a single voice in a recording booth for a cartoon character. We are always looking to achieve the same result – a performance that the player enjoys and engages with.

The group also works on high-profile titles, from APB to Fable 3 – how much do such AAA title deals help promote your own services?
High profile projects are very important because they enable us to showcase our work to a wider audience. It’s important to remember, however, that what starts off as a seemingly low profile title can turn into a huge hit.

Side’s focus will always remain on providing a high quality service, whether that’s for a AAA console sequel or a new, small downloadable title.

What are the challenges in promoting your business in an era of consumer-focused games journalism?
It’s increasingly difficult – which is why publications such as Develop are so important. Compared to traditional media, the videogames sector is very new and changes in the services Side offers to its clients happen regularly. That’s why magazine tutorials, making of videos, trade conferences etc are all incredibly important tools for us to promote new services or highlight changes we’ve made in the way we work.

What’s the split between Side’s overseas and UK workload?
In the last 12 months we have seen a big shift in this split with around 40% of our work coming from outside the UK. I’m very proud of the fact that SIDE’s reputation has resulted in leading developers and producers from overseas commissioning us to work on their projects.

As a company that works from both sides, what are your views on the current state of the UK?
Like much of the extended development community, I’m increasingly concerned about the lack of government support for the videogame sector. SIDE joined TIGA this year to support a single, united voice in getting this message across.

Side also has business in game narrative. How far developed is the practice of game script writing? How much has it progressed? Do we need specialist script writers?
As with the rest of game development, game script writing is constantly evolving. As the technology allows for more complicated settings and characters, the storylines and speech need to keep up. Professional writers are the story experts. Different members of a development team bring specialist skills to a game and the writer provides the expertise and support for story, character and dialogue in the game.

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