Sun, sand (well, pebbles), British seaside tradition and a whole big bunch of videogame developers. That was Brighton for the last few days with the advent of the Develop Conference, bringing together what we're told was over 1,000 of the games industry's best and brightest to talk development and business and enjoy the odd jar of ale. SPOnG was on hand, even if we can't quite be included in the category of 'the games industry's best and brightest'.
Following Develop Mobile and Develop Online on Tuesday the conference proper got underway on Wednesday. It was unnaturally, swelteringly hot, with the assembled industry happily switching from complaints about rain to complaints about the Hilton Metropole's apparent feeling that air conditioning is an unnecessary expense.
Still, the conference got off to a good start (the bar at the Develop pub quiz the night before shut at 10pm, so not too many hangovers) with a keynote from 2K Boston. While it wasn't the most keynote-y of keynotes - it was basically a panel discussion between Ken Levine, (studio founder and creative director),
Nate Wells (lead technical artist), Chris Kline (technical director and lead programmer) and Bill Gardner (level designer) about the making of BioShock
- it was well recieved. Plus, Ken Levine compared BioShock
to a porn movie.
The rest of the day saw talks from Chris Satchell (chief technology officer at Microsoft), David Braben (founder of Frontier Games and 'the Elite
guy') and Alex Evans (co-founder of Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet
) among many others.
Evening rolled around, the heat dropped off a tiny, tiny bit and the Develop Industry Excellence Awards. It turned out that it didn't matter too much that the outdoor temperature had dropped off slightly, since the awards were held in the hottest room in the history of hot rooms. There were sauna-goers cooler than the European games industry on Wednesday.
Still, Rockstar managed to keep things at least a little cool as they accepted somewhere around a billion awards (OK, four) without a word until the Grand Prix rolled around.
The awards ended, the bar didn't. Carnage ensued. SPOnG refuses to name names...
The Awards successfully softened everyone up for a slightly more relaxed day two. There wasn't even too much ranting when a fire alarm interrupted the morning sessions (including the keynote by Richard Lemarchand, lead designer at Naughty Dog of Uncharted
fame and possibly the nicest man in the games industry). There was something ethereal about seeing the entire European games community slightly hungover, congregated on the pavement outside the Metropole, overlooking the sea.
The rest of the day brought talks and appearances by Damian Isla, lead AI programmer at Bungie, Chris Deering, Harvey Elliott, head of Electronic Arts' Bright Light studio and Charles Cecil, founder of Revolution Software. SPOnG could go on, but the list's as long as three of your arms (if your arms are the length of a giraffe's leg).
Oh, and there were free ice creams.
Keep an eye on SPOnG for interviews from Develop.