The conference, which takes place between July 14th and 16th at the Hilton Metropole hotel in Brighton, will see its first day’s conference plan revamped, swapping the Develop Online and Develop Mobile industry-specific tracks for the all-in-one Develop Evolve, a series of sessions focusing on the evolutions taking place in games development.
New frontiers such as console digital distribution, gaming on social networking sites, and the ever-growing casual gaming industry have changed and broadened the playing field for developers, and Develop Evolve seeks to inform and provide a forum for those at the bleeding edge of these new markets.
“Things that were fringe just a couple of years ago – such downloadable content, microtransactions, social gaming, and meshing your game with Internet services from Facebook to Youtube – are moving to centre stage,” explained Develop Conference advisory board chair Owain Bennallack.
“It no longer makes sense to ghettoise sub-sectors like online, casual and mobile. In the post-LittleBigPlanet world, we’re all mainstream game developers now.”
The Tuesday, July 14th event is split into three strands – coding and production, art and design, and business – with more general interest and cross-discipline topics taking place on the Wednesday as a track within the main conference itself.
The changes have come from discussions with the conference’s advisory board, which includes some of the UK’s biggest and brightest development studios, including stalwarts such as Traveller’s Tales and new game-changers like PlayFish.
“There’s a tectonic plate shift going on in the games industry. As the latest generation of consoles are approaching maturity, there is a behind-the-scenes explosion going on in connectivity, social game play, games-as-a-service and new kinds or platforms like social networks and the iPhone,” said Kristian Segerstråle, CEO of PlayFish.
“Games have always evolved – with new technologies and platforms, new audiences and new ways to play,” added Jonathan Smith, head of production at Giant. “The Evolve stream acknowledges the dramatic wealth of opportunities and challenges opening up with the escalating interconnectedness of our networked lives.”
Something of a brave new world for developers, embracing connectivity brings up not only considerable design challenges but also requires a knowledge base and skillset far beyond any traditional boundaries, meaning that studios can be left feeling lost with their current ways, explains MGS Europe’s Kieran Connell.
“How do we integrate our games with sites like Facebook in a meaningful way? How do we create compelling mobile experiences that keep our players interested and involved in our games wherever they are? These are all interesting and challenging questions for developers and publishers but we’re not necessarily equipped to answer them on our own.
“The Evolve strand of the Develop Conference is a chance for those people at either ends of our industry, and everywhere in between, to come together and learn something from each other and, hopefully, be inspired to start crossing that gap to create the next iteration of online, social, connected gaming.”
The range of passes available for Develop 2009 has also been revamped and simplified, with one, two and three day passes now available to provide the most flexibility.
"Video games are evolving, which means the way they are developed is evolving,” said Andy Lane, managing director of Tandem Events.
“The Develop Conference philosophy has always been about helping today’s developers to make better games and reflecting what’s happening in the market place. As organisers, we’re keen to ensure that the issues and topics addressed at the conference stay every bit as relevant and inspiring as they always have been.
“We’ve worked closely with our advisory board who represent some of the best of UK developers, plus taken on board feedback from delegates themselves, to come up with some exciting changes for Develop 2009.”