Streamline Studios: A videogame industry success story
By Ajith Ram September 28, 2016
- Several high profile projects including Final Fantasy XV
- Company's game production tool now being licensed
Streamline Studios was founded in 2001 in the Netherlands, as a creative and engineering outsourcing provider for the film, television and videogame industries. Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, the company is one of the largest independent game developers in Malaysia. With over 100 employees, the company is now a well-known outsourcing and work-for-hire outfit.
Streamline has a string of high profile videogame credits to its name. These include Electronic Arts' James Bond: 007 Nightfire, Epic Games' Unreal Tournament and Red Storm Entertainments Ghost Recon 2. The company had recently announced that it was working with Square Enix on Final Fantasy XV, which is due to be released soon.
Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios
DNA recently met with Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios in Kuala Lumpur. During the meeting, Alexander was not too revealing about the company's in-house game projects. But he did introduce us to the company's in-house project management tool for videogame production, Streamframe. Streamframe's biggest claim to fame is that it is produced by a game developer for other game developers.
You can get a brief overview of Streamframe in the video below.
Streamframe has a number of interesting features for project management. One of this is the way it helps to setup team collaboration. As any experienced project manager or producer in the videogame industry would testify, getting team members to communicate effectively is one of the major production challenges.
Streamframe has a very intuitive GUI to make this possible. To be fair, other project management tools used in the videogame industry like Microsoft Project and Perforce, also now implement something similar.
Once you have setup a new project and invited team members, your next step is to setup deliverables. Streamframe defines deliverables as smaller objectives, steps or phases that make up the whole project. These can be anything you want. Deliverables hold all relevant tasks together. Hence, creating a deliverable is advised when assigning a task to the team.
After you have setup deliverables,, you can break it down into smaller tasks which can be assigned to the team. This task option works best for small jobs or as a reminder of what you need to achieve.
You can further refine this process by applying filters. Filters are built-in reports which can be applied to all areas which are shared by other users in the system. Every page in Streamframe has the filter option. So, you can easily do a quick filter or search of what you are looking for. Some of the available filters are deliverable, work type, assignee, milestone and due date.
Streamline says the software is not just for game producers and project managers, but also art directors. The poor overworked art director is one of the unsung heroes in the games industry. On a AAA game like Final Fantasy XV or Call of Duty, art directors have to cope with hundreds of thousands of assets submitted by hundreds of artists worldwide. The ability to quickly preview art assets and comment on each of them is absolutely critical to meeting deadlines.
These days, most game developers use licensed game engines like Unity 3D and Unreal Engine. These game engines come with their own art management tools. One of the most useful tools for an art director is the one which allows thumbnail previews of the entire project's art content. It also allows the art director to visually sign off on art assets which have reached their final quality.
See the image below for an example of the thumbnails in Unreal Engine's art browser.
Judging by the documentation that was provided by Streamline, one of the key missing features seems to be the ability to preview such art assets in real-time inside Streamframe.
It is also not clear if Streamframe currently has a deep integration with third party game engines like Unity 3D, Unreal or CryEngine. For instance, this would allow the producer or project manager to directly view a team member's desktop without the need to walk over and peek over that person's shoulder.
Despite its impressive project management features, it is clear that Streamframe is not yet a complete project management solution for large game studios. Alexander Fernandez is keen to point out that Streamframe is still a product in development. New features get added based on the feedback from existing users and studios. So it is likely that features like a content browser will be added in the near future.
With its outsourcing and Streamframe business in full swing, it seems that Streamline Studios is poised for greater success.