Develop Conference has been happening for a few years now and this was my first visit to one. I went along to meet people and gain information about what is happening in the games development world at this time. I managed to achieve what I set out to do, and had fun whilst doing it!
I went to the Wednesday and Thursday sessions of Develop. There didn’t seem to be a need for me to attend the Tuesday Develop Evolve sessions this year, maybe once I’m a bit more established!
Upon arrival my printed reservation was scanned and a pass given to me. “Paul Rayment, Shadowpuma Games” it said. I was really happy to have it say that instead of “Student”. Then on a table just over from the registration booths was a goody bag! Full of magazines, leaflets, and other bits of information. The gentleman behind the table said “Would you like a t-shirt?” and of course my response was “Sure” not trying to sound too eager to get free stuff! The t-shirt came across and on it was the Develop conference logo along with PS4 written on it! Awesome!
There were numerous conferences happening through out the days. Each one was about an hour in length and tackled their topic very well. There was only one or two out of the ten+ I went to that could have been better, but the information was fed back through the develop app session feedback forms.
Some that stuck and were memorable included:
Opening Keynote: Mark Cerny talked about his history in the PlayStation development over the years and what was next for the PS4 development. I loved this one since it was topical and was a great inspiring opening session for the day.
Forward+ Rendering for Next Gen GPUs: Gareth Thomas gave his presentation on how the rendering techniques of Forward+ and Tiled Forward Rendering impacted the way in which rendering takes place. The presentation was very structured and interesting for coding rendering functions in my own projects.
Indie Keynote: Barry Meade previously from Criterion, now from the studio Fireproof Studios, spoke about how he left a large corporate games development environment where deadlines and figures were more important than allowing for development of the skills of employees, to now working in an environment where the game is complete when it’s ready and the team had fun doing it. Before attending this session I had not heard of The Room, but after I felt it a requirement to play it and find out what the experience was. I’m glad I did because the puzzle game was an eye opener to puzzle games. I finished it quickly, but the path you take through the game is very pretty along with making you think about what it is you are clicking on and opening, turning, pushing, twiddling, and any other descriptive word used to move things around.
Coding Keynote: Tim Sweeney talked about his history and how he made it into the world of Epic Games and the development of the Unreal Engine.
Git Off My Lawn: This talk was all about moving from existing control management systems over to Git. The guys from Sega Europe, creators of Sonic Dash, gave their overview of moving over, the tools used, the good and bad points from the users point of view, and other areas of the team’s work flow changes. Since I use Git on my own, it was good to see how it is used within a corporate environment.
During the whole event there was the Expo taking place up at the top of the venue. A large room with stands for various companies to show off their latest developments and to take any questions that people may have. I found just looking around was a great way to see what was going on with the various organisations. Standing chatting to people was a great way to see where they had come from and to hear their tales of progress.
The Expo was a great place to hang out and meet people. Even if you just wanted a break from it all you could easily find a comfy seat and take in what had been going on.
I did most of my greeting of new people at the Expo between sessions.
The atmosphere was very much a buzz throughout, and you could literally just say ‘Hi’ to anyone and a conversation was started.
Down at the bottom of the venue, The Hilton Hotel Bar was buzzing again with people there to have meetings and drinks and chat. A very friendly but busy atmosphere. Of course, the drinks weren’t free, the free drinks were back up at the Expo!
The hotel bar was to play it’s part though at the end of the days. It seemed to be the meeting place of everyone to show off their bar skills and buy drinks for their friends. The drinks were running out fast so getting in early was a must!
Over the course of the two days, being social and meeting lots of new people and taking in the information that was being given at the conferences was starting to be very draining. The walk back up the hill to the station on the first day was ok. The walk back on the second was near impossible. But a good nights sleep sorted it out.
Shadowpuma Games got treated to a curry at the end of the first day. A nice treat.
What have I taken away with me?
I took away the fact that it was a fantastic time to network and meet new people along with old friends (who then introduced me to more new people). The atmosphere at these events is that everyone is there to talk and have a great time sharing what each other are doing. There may be possibilities out there for change in circumstance
If I ever get the chance to go again then I would love to. It really is an event to network with the people and find out the latest in development.