Christopher Dring, editor of Develop sister title MCV, on why this year's conference and networking event should be on the calendar of every studio
We are probably setting ourselves up for a fall here, but we think the Interface conference might just be the best conference we’ve ever done.
Interface – if you’ve never been – is an independent games development event. The main part of the show is a meeting system, where indie developers get to meet publishers and pitch to them their games. We’ve got Sega, Channel 4, KISS, Plug In Digital, Green Man Gaming, Curve and Soedesco on the schedule so far, so if you’re a studio with a game you want to pitch, sign up here. Publishers, drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line.
But we’re not talking about that bit here. We’re talking about the conference we run alongside the event. The conference is free to attend for small studios and students and it’s filled with games veterans from publishing and development, to share their advice and expertise in a relaxed environment.
It kicks off at 10am, with a panel dedicated to crowd-funding (and also a bit of funding in general). We’ve called it The £6m Panel, because those on it have raised at least that in recent years. Thomas Bidaux from ICO Partners is on it, he’s a consultant that has worked on numerous Kickstarter campaigns and is viewed as an authority in successful crowd-funding. As is Charles Cecil, the brilliant mind behind Broken Sword, who raised almost $800,000 on Kickstarter for his latest game in the series. In addition, Andy Robinson – the talented writer at Playtonic – will be able to discuss the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee, which raised an enormous £2.1m. And finally, Chris Meher of Edge Case Games – the team working on Fractured Space – can discuss how that company has raised millions via Kickstarter and other means.
Straight after that, at 10:45, we have Sander Den Boer of Euromonitor taking to the microphone to talk about Going Global. Den Boer will look at markets indie devs may want to release their games.
We round off the morning with a second panel session at 11:10, which will look at game testing and ensuring your title is ready for release. We have speakers from Testronic, Testology and Universally Speaking to discuss Is Your Game Really Ready?
After the break, at 12, we are back with our first big keynote speaker. It’s Dan Pinchbeck of The Chinese Room, the BAFTA Award-winning team responsible for Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and Dear Esther. He will be answering your questions about games development, publishing and the pitfalls of being an indie in our Indie Studio Surgery. You can submit a question to Dan on the day, or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Dan will then make way at 12:25 for a triple-threat of speakers to discuss Working With Tax Breaks. Andy Tomlinson of UKIE will explain why every UK dev should use tax breaks, before Anna Mansi from the BFI will talk developers through managing the cultural test. Finally, Moses Nyachae at accountancy Saffery Champness will discuss the rules of the tax breaks and how much you can expect back. This 30-minute session will end with a brief Q&A.
At 14:00 (which is after lunch) we ask: Is Self-Publishing dead? We have indie publishers and developers discussing this hot topic, including Jason Kingsley of Rebellion, which has just launched its own publishing division. Plus publishing experts Garry Williams of Sold Out, Colin MacDonald of Channel 4, Martin Mathers of Rising Star Games and Darryl Still at KISS.
Unity’s Andy Brammall will then discuss analytics and how best to use them at 14:35 in his Made With Unity Masterclass, before video games legend Debbie Bestwick will come to the stage at15:00. The Team17 boss will advise indie studios on How To Sell Your Game To A Publisher/Investor just like her.
Three more talks follow the break. At 15:40, Roy Meredith will give an incredible talk (we’ve heard it, it’s great) on The Biggest Pitfalls of Games Publishing, before our final panel begins at 16:00:The PR Power Panel. We have award-winning and nominated PRs who have worked on games such as Battlefield, Pokémon, LEGO Star Wars, Eve Online, Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry – namely Caroline Miller, Stefano Petrullo, Tracy McGarrigan and Lauren Dillon.
To end the ‘best conference ever’ at 16:35, which you’ll hopefully be calling it by then, we have indie games development hero Mike Bithell deliver a speech entitled: 10 Surefire Ways To Maybe Do Interesting Stuff That Could Work, Possibly. Which sounds like a reason to attend the whole day alone.
Want to come along? Just sign up here.
Here is the schedule in more ordered fashion:
Registration & Coffee & Networking
Opening Keynote Discussion: The £6m Panel
Thomas Bideaux, ICO Partner
Chris Mehers, Edge Case Games
Charles Cecil, Revolution
Andrew Robinson, Playtonic
Leading crowd-funding experts who have together raised more than £6m via the likes of Kickstarter discuss the merits and dangers of this method of raising money.
Sander Den Boer, Euromonitor
The games industry is an international business. So Euromonitor discusses the other markets in the world where you may want to look at expanding.
Panel Discussion: Is your game actually ready?
Andy Robson, Testology
Edd Buffery, Testronic
Loreto Sanz Fueyo, Universally Speaking
So you’ve made a wonderful game and it’s ready for launch… but is it really? Will it pass certification? Have you checked for bugs and spelling? How do you make sure your game is good enough for the consumer? QA specialists discuss the challenges they frequently face and how you can avoid them.
Coffee, Networking & Exhibition Visit
Indie Studio Surgery
Dan Pinchbeck, The Chinese Room
Your questions about starting-up and running a small game company answered by Dan Pinchbeck, studio head of successful UK studio The Chinese Room. He's actually a doctor too, so the analogy holds (OK, so his doctorate is in first-person shooters but it still counts, right?).
Working With Tax Breaks
Andy Tomlinson, UKIE
Anna Mansi, BFI
Moses Nyachae, Saffery Champness
Three experts in UK Games Tax Relief discusses how to make the most out of the Government’s support for games developers
Lunch, Networking & Exhibition Visit
Panel Discussion: Self Publishing Is Dead?
Jason Kingsley, Rebellion
Garry Williams, Sold Out
Martin Mathers, Rising Star
Darryl Still, KISS
Colin McDonald, All 4 Games
Leading publishers and developers discuss the merits, and pitfalls, of using publishers when releasing a game
Made With Unity Masterclass
Andy Brammall, Unity
The firm will discuss how using analytics during QA and even in Early Access can aid developers in fine-tuning their game and improve their design process.
How to sell your game to an investor/publisher
Debbie Bestwick, Team17
One of the most experienced and influential indie games leaders offers her tips, advice and support for small developers on how to pitch and sell their games to potential partners.
Coffee, Networking & Exhibition Visit
The Biggest Pitfalls in Games Publishing
Roy Meredith, Senior Business Development Manager, Business Birmingham
The PR Power Panel
Caroline Miller, Indigo Pearl
Lauren Dillon, Premier PR
Stefano Petrullo, Renaissance PR
Tracey McGarrigan, Ansible Communications
Leading PR experts from Indigo Pearl, Premier PR, Renaissance PR and Ansible Communications will discuss working with the media, utilising video and how best to use social media. We will also discuss pitfalls for studios to avoid when trying to sell their game
Closing Keynote: 10 surefire ways to maybe do interesting stuff that could work, possibly
The creator of Volume and Thomas Was Alone discusses his influences when creating his hit indie games.
Closing Comments & Takeaway Tips