Interview: Develop:Brighton

Interview: Develop:Brighton

It’s almost that time of year again; the Develop:Brighton conference kicks off next month. Jem Alexander speaks to Andy Lane, director at Tandem Events, about the event’s legacy, this year’s format and its future

How and when did you first get involved with Develop:Brighton?

We launched Develop:Brighton back in 2006 so this will be our 12th year. I’ve worked within the games industry for many years and it came about from talking to developers and going to other events. I’d run ECTS & GDC Europe in London and while London is a great city, we felt that it lacked an element of community feel.

Creating an event in Brighton was a bit of a gamble but we reasoned that Brighton is a creative city, it’s not that much further to travel, it offers a relaxed vibe which is great for networking outside of conference sessions, there’s plenty of accommodation to suit all pockets, and it meant people could come, stay a few days and feel part of the whole community while they’re there. I’m pleased to say that all the reasons for taking a bit of a punt on Brighton back then are still true today and are what’s helped cement its reputation as the place to go.

We set out to create an event that’s relevant to everyone within games development

Andy Lane, Tandem Events 

How has the event changed since you started working on it?

We set out to create an event that’s relevant to everyone within games development from the smallest studio to the largest developer. We wanted it to be inclusive and that’s why the expo has always been free to attend. And it was essential that it mirrored industry developments & tackled the key industry issues. In those respects the event hasn’t really changed.

But in terms of the industry, it’s a very different place today than 12 years ago. And in the same way that the industry has changed, so has the content. We’ve seen two console cycles, the arrival of smartphones, the rise of indies, VR, AR & MR, the emergence of esports – there have been many, many changes.

As ever, it’s a balancing act to make sure we appeal to everyone in game development and to ensure we cover the latest hot topics but not to the detriment of anything else. We’re lucky that we’ve got a great team, we’ve got a lot of industry experience between us and we’ve got an active Advisory Board to help keep us on the straight & narrow!

Where do you feel Develop:Brighton is headed and what is guiding you there?

We’ll continue to evolve just as the industry evolves. We all know that 18 months can be a long time in game development so it’s hard to predict. What I can say is that Brighton & July won’t change ... but the content & format will do from year to year.

How is this year different for Develop:Brighton? What have you done differently?

We’ve introduced more ‘visionary talks’ from the likes of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Graeme Devine, Ken Purlin, Brenda and John Romero – some really great names with tons of experience behind them. We’ve streamlined the number of tracks to make it easier for people to pick out the sessions that are most relevant to them.

Seven years ago we introduced the Indie Dev Day along with the Indie Showcase and this year we’ve incorporated those sessions into the overall conference programme, plus we’ve introduced a Micro Indie rate for game dev studios of 4 people or less.

As I mentioned, the expo has always been free to attend and this year we’ve added some additional free talks within the expo alongside the Indie Bootcamp sessions, so there are now more reasons than ever to come down. 

What are your feelings about Develop:Brighton’s place in the UK and global games industry?

I think that’s for others to say rather than us. We get great feedback each year (as well as some constructive criticism!) and we take it all on board to help shape future events. We’ve seen an increase in visitors each year to the point where we now top over 2000 attendees making us the leading game developer conference in Europe.

This year we’ve introduced more ‘visionary talks’ from the likes of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Graeme Devine, Ken Purlin, Brenda and John Romero

Andy Lane, Tandem Events 

What is the most valuable thing that developers can gain from attending Develop:Brighton?

One of the great things about Brighton is the mix of people that come down each year. Everyone will have their different reasons for attending. Whether that’s indies looking for funding, seasoned developers looking to learn the latest tips & techniques to apply to their next game, publishers looking for content, studios looking to pitch their games, students looking for a career. The list goes on.

Develop:Brighton offers everyone the chance to share their knowledge and experiences, hear the stories behind creating some of the world’s bestselling games and learn the lessons of how best to market and promote your game in today’s market. 

How can developers truly make the most of attending the event?

Plan your time. It may sound obvious but make use of the website to work out which talks you want to see. We’ve got over 100 inspirational speakers over the 3 days so take time to plan your Develop so you don’t miss out.

Use our Meet @ Develop tool to get in touch with people you’d like to meet up with. Don’t leave it to chance. Although there are plenty of networking opportunities which are open to everyone, like the IceBreaker Drinks on Tuesday evening or the Expo Booth Crawl for the last hour on Wednesday, the more you can plan, the better your experience will be.

And most of all, enjoy it. There’s nowhere else in the UK that teems with so many like-minded creative & talented people. People constantly tell us it’s one of the friendliest events out there, so make the most of talking to and getting to know your fellow developers. We look forward to seeing you there.