Dave Jones' Develop keynote Finished

Dave Jones took to the Brighton Develop Conference stage this morning to deliver his talk on how to make a successful game and take it online.

We reported live from the event, capturing a blow-by-blow account of all he had to say, offering you sense of Develop and what it's all about. And because it's just round the corner, clearly.

Why? Well, Dave Jones helped create Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings, before going on found Realtime Worlds and make Crackdown. Now, Jones works on APB, the ambitious and perhaps ground-breaking urban MMO with big veins and tattoos.

Read on for the full coverage of Dave Jone's talk, in which he discusses why APB went online and the benefits of it. The earliest entries are presented first.

Latest comments (9)

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  • glaeken 5 years ago

    APB sounds good but I would like clarification of what the business model is for the game before I get too excited. If its an MMO monthly subscription model that would probably mean I won't ever play it.



  • a8a 5 years ago

    I was there, it was good. Very interesting. Maybe not really keynote material though.
  • stoopidgreg 5 years ago

    damn i can't wait. even just the shooting aspect, if it's anything like counter-strike with players matched for skill, that will be sweet, but it's open world and there are cars! it just sounds immense fun
  • AphoticCosmos 5 years ago

    Is that a young Kenneth Branagh?
  • Britesparc 5 years ago

    Isn't that James Corden?
  • ChthonicEcho 5 years ago

    You know what these Live Texts need? A miniature chatroom to replace the comments section, which would close after the LiveText is over, when the comment section would be back. Would make it livelier, I think.
  • j-bo 5 years ago

  • ChthonicEcho 5 years ago

    You're late! Tsk, tsk.



    Oh, shark, that explains things. Perhaps Dave was in the shark, and that's why he's late?

Our live coverage has now ended. Here's what you missed: Updating...

09:29 By Robert Purchese

Ellie is in place. Her coverage will begin shortly.


09:30 By Robert Purchese

HELLO WEMBLEY. Here we are at the Develop Conference in Brighton, for the keynote speech from Realtime Worlds bigwig Dave Jones. Wonder if David Reeves has ever heard of him?


09:30 By Robert Purchese

His speech is titled Spare socks, a copy of Tricolore Book 3 and a pair of broken swimming goggles: Inside Dave Jones's Locker


09:31 By Robert Purchese

It isn't, obviously. It's titled Online functionality for your next game? Why not go 100% online!


09:32 By Robert Purchese

I was almost late because I got stuck in a lift with a man and a giant stuffed pirate shark. That is not even a lie.


09:34 By Robert Purchese

Still no sign of Dave Jones. Perhaps he's going to go 100% online for this keynote and just do it over the internet?


09:35 By Robert Purchese

There are so many people here they're having to put more chairs out. The tension is literally and barely palpable.


09:36 By Robert Purchese

Hello ChthonicEcho, thank you for going First. Please see previous post for explanation of lateness. Sharrrrk.


09:38 By Robert Purchese

Shall we play Conference Drinking Bingo? Prepare your vodka and shot glass. Knock one back every time one of the following words is mentioned: community next-gen digital revolution Twitter Facebook user-created content.


09:38 By Robert Purchese

Dave Jones is at the podium! His hair is shining under the spotlight like bronze in the sun.


09:39 By Robert Purchese

He's been in the industry now for two decades. Who would have thought it. He can probably remember when this was all cassettes.


09:39 By Robert Purchese

Part 1 of his talk is called Evolving Games; it's about his youth. Space Invaders, Pac-Man on the screen.


09:40 By Robert Purchese

"When you look back at classic videogames, I think they still hold a lot of good ideas and inspiration for gaming today."


09:40 By Robert Purchese

Space Invaders was a micro-transaction game, he says - 10p a go, innit.


09:40 By Robert Purchese

He didn't actually say "innit".


09:41 By Robert Purchese

It was a subscription in fact - 10p for three minutes. Gosh, imagine if World of Warcraft cost that much.


09:41 By Robert Purchese

Pac-Man was in fact cops and robbers, he says: the ghosts were the cops, chasing you as you ran over pedestrians.


09:42 By Robert Purchese

Pic from War Games on the screen. BRODERICK. He was so handsome then. Like a more sculpted Scott Baio.


09:42 By Robert Purchese

Now there's an Amiga on the screen - Dave bought one of the first to arrive in the country and a couple of books about how to use it.


09:43 By Robert Purchese

Now there's a picture from 20 years ago with the man who founded Psygnosis, Martin Edmondson from Reflections, Tim Ansell from Creative Assembly - "All people who went on to do great companies and good games."


09:43 By Robert Purchese

Martin Edmonson "was the Swiss Tony of the games industry - he could sell games to anybody".


09:44 By Robert Purchese

Now we're looking at Dave's second ever invoice, in 1988 - he got 75 pence per copy sold of his game Menace. That amounted to £3750.


09:45 By Robert Purchese

Nowadays, Dave says, developers can do the same sort of thing by developing games for iPhone. "I never thought that would happen again - that we'd be presented with all these unique new models."


09:45 By Robert Purchese

Dave dropped out of university in the end and got himself an office instead, then started to program games full times.


09:46 By Robert Purchese

We're seeing a prototype for lemmings - tiny figures walking across the screen, falling under 10 ton weights, being eaten by a monster. This was created over the course of a lunchtime, says Dave, and inspired Lemmings.


09:46 By Robert Purchese

A screenshot of a more advanced version of Lemmings, now. "Although it was simple on the surface, it was quite a complex game underneath."


09:47 By Robert Purchese

Those were the days when there were 20 formats out there, different territories, d-pads for the first time - "It was a tremendous learning curve."


09:47 By Robert Purchese

Lemmings 3 - "We did that for the sake of the franchise, not really because we had an idea for the game, and I think that showed in the product." Dave "didn't really enjoy" working on that one.


09:48 By Robert Purchese

Then came Body Harvest, "kind of a precursor to GTA, really". He had to learn a new platform in the N64 "so we never really delivered on the openworld vision".


09:48 By Robert Purchese

Thinks got better with GTA though, "It was very refreshing and very new. We were very nervous - would people accept a 2D game in a world of emerging 3D?"


09:49 By Robert Purchese

But they did, of course.


09:51 By Robert Purchese

Then came GTA 2, Walker, Tanktics - "I basically tried absolutely everything. It was about trying things out and learning."


09:49 By Robert Purchese

When he left DMA, he sat back and looked at his design principles and what he'd learned.


09:50 By Robert Purchese

The biggest one, he says, is attention to detail. "That is paramount. You have to have a love for what you do and be honest about what you're creating."


09:51 By Robert Purchese

"I am not a fan of deeply complex games... I like games that let players use simple building blocks." Lemmings is a classic example, says Dave - there were just eight skills. "How the player compound uses those together creates thousands, if not millions, of combinations... It's really the player's experience that's making the game deep."


09:51 By Robert Purchese

The next principle is keeping everything "as contemporary as possible", so you don't have to teach people about stuff - like alien vehicles in landscape in Body Harvest, for example.


09:52 By Robert Purchese

"There's obviously a great market out there for sci-fi games, but keeping it contemporary has always worked for me."


09:52 By Robert Purchese

The next one is humour. "If someone laughs in the first five minutes playing one of my games, I've accomplished something. It breaks down barriers hugely."


09:53 By Robert Purchese

The last one is to try to innovate and create a genre, rather than follow one. That's getting harder and harder, just because there are so many games out there.


09:53 By Robert Purchese

But the online space opens a wealth of opportunity - "It's very, very much untapped."


09:54 By Robert Purchese

Now Dave's going to talk about applying all this knowledge in practice when designing games. And Realtime Worlds. (For the benefit of David Reeves: RTW is Dave's Scotch development company, currently working on MMO APB.)


09:55 By Robert Purchese

Dave's talking about other early influences - Populous, Stuntcar Racer, Command and Conquer, Counter-Strike... These all fuelled his passion for multiplayer. Codename Eagle. Dark Age of Camelot.


09:56 By Robert Purchese

And so Dave came up with Crackdown, "a carefully crafted kind of game. It's hard to say we were trying to invent a new genre, but I certainly felt we could create this living city and create a new experience inside it".


09:57 By Robert Purchese

The player could "experience the city as a 3D platform game", was the point


09:58 By Robert Purchese

He's talking about how Crackdown let you develop weapon, driving skills etc., then compound them to do exciting stuff.


09:58 By Robert Purchese

Drop-in drop-out co-op was "extremely hard to pull off", says Dave, but it was very well received.


09:58 By Robert Purchese

Come on Dave, show us something of your new game. Even if it's that tattoo designer thing again.


09:59 By Robert Purchese

InFamous and Prototype have touched on the same areas as Crackdown, says Dave. Which is a polite way of saying...


09:59 By Robert Purchese

He's going to show us a video now, it's a YouTube film of Crackdown with a voiceover by co-op players. One of them's a lady!


10:00 By Robert Purchese

The players are laughing as they go around smashing stuff up, flying off ramps etc.


10:00 By Robert Purchese

Actually one of them might just be a young boy.


10:01 By Robert Purchese

People sound like they're having the times of their lives. Nothing funnier than blowing up a car, apparently.


10:01 By Robert Purchese


10:01 By Robert Purchese

"I have no idea what game they were playing but it wasn't Crackdown as we designed it," says Jones.


10:02 By Robert Purchese

It's about letting players create their own story and play the game they want to play, he reckons.


10:02 By Robert Purchese

Aha! APB is on the screen! Only the cover but still.


10:02 By Robert Purchese

Crackdown sold 1.5 million, "which is pretty good".


10:04 By Robert Purchese

But it's an expensive industry to develop in - even if you sell 5 million you might only break even. Also, publishers are hesitant to sign sequels till they know how well the first game has done.


10:04 By Robert Purchese

"That's no good to independent developers like us."


10:04 By Robert Purchese

Resales of pre-owned games were also affecting developers - Crackdown might actually have been sold 2.5 million times.


10:04 By Robert Purchese

Then there were loads of new things to consider like the Wii, iPhone, social gaming, digital distribution, etc... What no Facebook?


10:06 By Robert Purchese

MMOs "are associated with RPGs", and that's a tough market to go into, says Dave. "The behemoth" has that sewn up really.


10:06 By Robert Purchese

He mentioned MySpace and Facebook. Two shots.


10:06 By Robert Purchese

"It's hard with social games to feel anything back from them. They're interesting, they're fun, but..."


10:07 By Robert Purchese

iPhone "is really for the up and coming guys". It's still a tough market, says Jones. "It's an interesting market, it's a great one, but for us as a big studio we felt it's not something we could get into."


10:07 By Robert Purchese

Flash and casual gaming - "Just not us," says Dave. Blimey, it's a wonder they ever decided to make any more games at all.


10:08 By Robert Purchese

Digital distribution - "It's coming, but it's not something we'd ever try to develop a product around."


10:08 By Robert Purchese

Online - has done nothing for the music and film industries but create problems. "But for games, online creates new opportunities"


10:09 By Robert Purchese

So they decided to pursue an online, next-gen project. YES DAVE WE KNOW SHOW US A VIDEO OF IT PLS.


10:09 By Robert Purchese

He's talking about the benefits of next-gen and online now. Honestly Dave, even the character creation tool again would do.


10:10 By Robert Purchese

Huge scope for innovation, everyone loves the internet, client piracy not an issue, etc etc etc.


10:11 By Robert Purchese

"APB is a highly dynamic action game, but it runs on a server. That's probably the biggest thing about it."


10:11 By Robert Purchese

It has to be something "players perceive they can't get anywhere else", so that's what RTW is trying to do.


10:12 By Robert Purchese

They want to give players Creativity - freedom to play, Conflict - great combat, and Celebrity - "For the first time ever we wanted players to be instantly recognisable, and make themselves famous to all the other players in the game."


10:12 By Robert Purchese

You're going to show us the character customisation tool, aren't you Dave?


10:13 By Robert Purchese

No, back to Conflict - online persistent living citites (sic), no lobbies, 100 players per city, dynamic matchmaking, "players as content".


10:14 By Robert Purchese

The game watches what you do and starts to match you with other player. "It's what we call asymmetrical matchmaking - it looks at your skill level and can bring you together temporarily into a group of players, roll out big matches so it's 2 vs 2 then 2 vs 4 then 2 vs 8... It's very new."


10:15 By Robert Purchese

"We removed AI completely, because real people are a thousand times better than AI." I.e., players as content.


10:15 By Robert Purchese

A tech video now - some coloured dots moving around the screen. Looks like a simplified overhead map.


10:16 By Robert Purchese

"For the first time ever, when we say a persistent world we mean a persistent world. Crackdown and the GTAs are not" persistent - "If you drive round a corner then drive back again, the cars that were behind you aren't there now."


10:16 By Robert Purchese

We're seeing street-level action now. A couple of players are driving round in a van. They jump out and steal a car by jimmying the window with a crowbar.


10:17 By Robert Purchese

But here come the police, because the game has dynamically matched the crim players with some po-po players.


10:16 By Robert Purchese

"We're always pitching players against players, but we've no idea who that's going to be."


10:17 By Robert Purchese

If crims keep getting away with it, the game will keep sending in more police - so two players could end up on an hour-long killing spree with 10 police after them.


10:17 By Robert Purchese

Just walking around you'll see action; we're watching a character walking through a gunfight, basically.


10:18 By Robert Purchese

"You give a hundred people and you throw them into it... It's not as much fun as you might think, it quickly turns into anarchy, so we've done a lot of things to" sort that issue out.


10:19 By Robert Purchese

Creativity now - it's about being able to make your player look unique. YES IT'S THE CHARACTER CUSTOMISATION TOOL


10:19 By Robert Purchese

It's an avatar in her bra and knickers. Boobs growing and shrinking.


10:19 By Robert Purchese

A muscly man in boxers now. You can even expand or contract veins. NEVER HAS THIS BEEN SEEN BEFORE


10:19 By Robert Purchese

Skin pigmentation, hair colour, scars, etc.


10:20 By Robert Purchese

It's the tattoo design tool. Who would have thought it.


10:21 By Robert Purchese

You can make your own decals yes yes very good.


10:22 By Robert Purchese

Who will your APB character look like, readers? I will go for either Princess Diana or Ben Fogle.


10:22 By Robert Purchese

You can customise and upgrade vehicles too.


10:22 By Robert Purchese

They've made an Obama avatar, wearing a "Yes We Can" badge. The resemblance is yesweuncanny.


10:22 By Robert Purchese

Music now. "We ship 100 tracks with the game."


10:23 By Robert Purchese

But they did a deal with Last.fm so you can import your own music and that data is pushed out to other players. So if you have the same track in your libraries, you'll hear the same tracks. If not, you'll hear something similar - maybe something by the same artist, or something from the same genre.


10:25 By Robert Purchese

Audio now - Dave's showing how a basic music program can play Another One Bites the Dust. "We're giving players the option to attach anything they compose to anything in the game."


10:26 By Robert Purchese

When one player kills another player, you can take any music you've designed and attach it to that death. On-screen, a character is gunned down and Another One Bites the Dust plays. People in the audience laugh and someone even claps.


10:26 By Robert Purchese

Annoying death tunes are possible - e.g. Super Mario. More laughing.


10:26 By Robert Purchese

You can even attach tunes to your car sirens if you're a po-po.


10:27 By Robert Purchese

Celebrity now. "We want APB to be a different kind of game; it's not just about being the winner, it's about being the coolest fashion designer, composer..."


10:27 By Robert Purchese

You can group together with friends and even win statues in your honour in the city.


10:28 By Robert Purchese

To end, Jones is showing us a video of APB. Rockin' music. A man pulls a man out of a truck. Hooded figures walk through the city with guns. Girls in vest walk across a pedestrian crossing. One of the girls picks up a gun from a dead body.


10:28 By Robert Purchese

A gang now, armed with machine guns and tattoos.


10:29 By Robert Purchese

Police cars leap out of an underground carpark. Lots more striding around, masked figures shooting, rocket launchers, a truck driving off a bridge.


10:30 By Robert Purchese

Two whole armies of characters are shown facing off with each other. "Let's do some business." The end.


10:30 By Robert Purchese

"It's hard to classify what APB is," says Jones. You can play it as a single-player game if you want. "Hopefully there will be something for everybody in there."


10:31 By Robert Purchese

"Hopefully people will see it and say wow, I can see why moving onto a server will bring me all these advantages as a gamer."


10:31 By Robert Purchese

And it's all over. Thank you Dave Jones.