Streamline Spotlight: Art Quality Assurance

Welcome to Streamline Media Group’s ongoing blog series where we interview a Streamliner from one of SMG’s business divisions.

This time we spoke with a series of Streamliners, the Art QA team.

The internal Art QA team works across Streamline Media Group’s business divisions to assure that their art assets meet clients’ expectations. This unique team provides quality assurance across multiple business divisions.

From left: Mim, Adri, Samantha, Aaron, Arif, Andrew

 

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Can you please introduce yourself and your role(s) in Streamline Media Group?

Andrew: My name is Andrew James and I am the Art QA Team Lead for Streamline Studios.

Arif: I am Arif Abdullah and I am part of the Art QA team for All Pixels.

Mim: Hello, I’m Mim and I’m a Junior Art Quality Assurance for Streamline Studios.

Aaron: My name is Aaron, I am an art QA team member for Streamline Studios.

Adri: Salutations! My name is Adri and I am the Art Quality Assurance (AQA) Team Lead for All Pixels.

 

How long have you been in your current position?

Adri: I first joined the company back in 2015 as a QA Tester and officially became a team lead in early 2018.

Aaron: Just over a year.

Mim: I started on September 18th this year.

Arif: Five months.

Andrew: I have been in this job role for two years with Streamline Studios.

 

What does a member of the art QA team do?

Arif: We provide the best support solutions for the team to use so that everything is “Streamlined.”s

Mim: We check, pack, and deliver everything from the early stage of block out to the end of it, ensuring that the client can get the quality that they aim for. We prepare structures for internal and external conveniences too, going through the client's documentation and simplifying them for checklists together with leads. We train newcomers about SVN and always look for solutions to make the workflow smoother.

Adri: We provide the best support solutions and regulate quality assured practices to make sure that the art assets that our artists produce is of the highest quality and follows the client’s requirements.

 

What are your job duties and responsibilities? What does your day-to-day work look like?

Andrew: I start off the day by going for my morning stand-ups with every project team in Streamline Studios to have a better understanding and sync up with everyone. We then spend the day going through tasks making sure all the submissions on that day have met our client’s requirement. During the day, art QA leads would also join production meetings as well as team meetings. We would also go through our art QA council project space to make sure all our documents regarding client projects and checklists are up to date with the latest information for each project we are handling. Our art QA council project space is a space we have made in Streamline Media’s Streamframe site, that provides up-to-date documentation and checklists for every project that has QA involved. Think of it as a library of client’s requirements.

 

 

How does your role change throughout the production of a game or project?

Arif: Our role does not really change throughout the production as our goal will always be making sure that the client received the best quality assets from our artists. We do however have to adapt to the constant changes of requirements by the client.

Aaron: Over the course of my time working here I have grown a lot in the team and taken more responsibilities over the projects we work on, and I have gained opportunities to contribute to other aspects of production as well. Now that we have a new member of the team I have also taken on the role of a mentor which has opened my horizons further.

Adri: Our role remains the same - our main job is to check assets. However, what does change is the quality required for each asset’s work type. For example, a low poly asset submission would have a different set of requirements than a high poly asset submission. In addition to that, not every project has the same list of requirements so that is why we have checklists for each work type for every project.

 

What other members of Streamline Media Group (SMG) do you interact with the most?

Adri: We usually cooperate and interact with the head of production, project managers, lead artists, artists (both 3D and 2D), and occasionally general managers and members of the IT department.

Mim: QA mostly interacts back and forth with pretty much everyone in the production. I would meet the PMs to clarify anything that I need from the client’s documentation. I’ll meet artists and their leads too if there’s a problem with the assets and checklists.

 

What tools do you use?

All: Streamline Media’s Streamframe project management tool; Tortoise SVN; Autodesk software like Maya and 3DS Max; Adobe Photoshop; game engines such as Unreal, Unity, and Lumberyard; ZBrush; Microsoft Office software like PowerPoint, Excel, and Word; Substance Painter and Designer; and if provided, the client’s own dedicated game engines.

 

What skills are needed to be successful in this position?

Adri: Perseverance and determination as well as an eye to spot an incoming problem from miles away before bad things happen. This job can be stressful at times since we have so many requirements that we need to keep track of the number of projects we are handling, but if you are determined to see the assets you’ve checked is of the highest quality and see it being implemented in a AAA game, that’s the best success you can ever achieve.

Aaron: An eye for detail is extremely important, as well as good organizational skills, eagerness to learn and good communication skills (which all jobs require, to be honest) and fundamental knowledge of 3D software, game engines, and MS Office Suite.

 

What are some misconceptions others may have about your job?

Mim: Time per task to be QA-ed. It’s always different per assets and there’s a lot of things to consider before deciding whether it’s ready for submission or not.

Adri: Art quality assurance gets confused with game quality assurance most of the time (even with software testing to some extent). While game QA is the usual job that you can find in almost any game company, art QA is a bit more exclusive here in Streamline. To differentiate, game QA usually involves playing a very early prototype (and up to the final build) of the game and find bugs that might break the game. Art QA checks the art assets of the game before it is implemented in the game. In short, art QA involves in the art pre-production/production of the game while game QA involves in the production/post-production of the playable game.

Art quality assurance gets confused with game quality assurance most of the time (even with software testing to some extent).

What was your favorite project or title to work on?

Adri: My favorite title to work on would be Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite because it was one of the first titles I worked on and a game I played during my childhood. At that point, I didn’t know a new MvC game would come out soon and knowing that we will be working on it (before it was even announced to the public!) just made the child and fan within me so excited again.

Andrew: Personally, Street Fighter V, it was a very smooth project with detailed guidelines on how everything should be set-up.

 

Can you share any of the projects or work you are currently working on?

Adri: Unfortunately, NDA prevents me from saying what we’re doing now but I can assure you, they are amazing projects! Some are even announced to be in development.

Andrew: All I can say is it's amazing.

Mim: I’m sorry I can't say it but I know that they are all amazing!

 

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in doing art QA?

Adri: If you are interested in video game art production, want to be part of it but not that great in doing artsy fartsy stuff, you can join the AQA team and have a ball of a time!

Aaron: Always do the best you can but never forget to take care of yourself first.

Mim: If you love art and games, hunger to learn new things in every different project, and love to socialize with many interesting, talented people, grab the chance!

Arif: They must be passionate about what they do and able to work under pressure.

Andrew: Have a strong passion for games and an undying will to push yourself to be the best that you can be.

What’s the best part of being on the Art QA team?

Arif: The team itself. We are a pretty small and tight group. Each of the members’ antics is the stuff that keeps me going every day.

Mim: They are like real brothers, a family. It doesn’t feel awkward to talk to them about many different things, silly issues or not. When I don’t understand stuff, they are like the tank for a noob. They’re the best support team. They’ll explain stuff until I’ve fully understood it, assuring me when anxiety hits, and joke around, creating a friendly atmosphere. I don’t even feel like I’m working for eight hours, I have so much fun.

Anything else you would like to add?

Adri: The team lives by the slogan; “High-quality Assured Game Assets for You!”

Aaron: High-quality Assured Game Assets for You!

Mim: High-quality Assured Game Assets for You!

Arif: High-quality Assured Game Assets for You!

Andrew: Our teams' slogan would be “High-quality Assured Game Assets for You!”

 

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Special thanks to Andrew, Arif, Mim, Aaron, and Adri from Streamline Media Group’s internal art QA team for lending their time for this interview.

If you are interested in learning more about Streamline Media Group’s art outsourcing or art QA services, please reach out to us!


Streamline Spotlight: Sabine Ong, Project Manager for Streamline Studios

Welcome to Streamline Media Group’s ongoing blog series where we interview a Streamliner from one of SMG’s business divisions.

I spoke with Sabine Ong, a project manager at Streamline Studios (SLS), to discuss what exactly a project manager does, especially for a studio such as Streamline Studios.

Streamline Studios is Streamline Media Group’s business division that covers a multitude of aspects of games development, from pre-production to post-production, and everything in-between. Since its founding in 2001, SLS has worked with international clients of all sizes to help them achieve their vision and accomplish their game dev goals.

 

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Can you please introduce yourself and your role in Streamline Studios?

Hey there! I’m Sabine, a project manager here at Streamline Studios. I have always loved video games and film since a young age so it’s a privilege to have been given the chance to work here.

 

How long have you been in this role? Approximately how many projects do you estimate you have worked on since becoming a project manager?

I’ve been here for a little over two years now and have worked on approximately fourteen-to-sixteen projects. Some projects are long-term while some can be as short as a month. In fact, there’s a project that I’ve worked on since I joined and it’s still ongoing!

 

Prior to becoming a project manager, did you have any other roles at Streamline Studios?

Nope, this is my first role in Streamline Studios or even in the video games industry.

 

What does a project manager do? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

We do many things! Ultimately our goal is to make sure that the projects run as smoothly as possible on all fronts. Some examples are making sure that information is being communicated to and from all parties involved, keeping tasks on schedule or rescheduling if necessary, making sure the team has the hardware or software they need, and troubleshooting. We’re the bridge that connects and facilitates everyone in the whole process.

On top of all that, we’re working with teams that are made up of complex individuals in many different roles. We’re very entrenched with running the company so we also get involved with reviews, promotions, acclimatizing new employees, and even performance issues.

 

What tools and software do you use on a regular basis?

Here at Streamline, Streamframe is our go-to project management tool. We use it every day to keep track of all progress and communicate within the organization. It really helps that we have a central tool considering the number of projects we work on.

Other software we mainly use to help with our work is Microsoft Office: Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. We do occasionally use other tools which are project dependent and based on what the clients need.

 

What are some of the skills that are needed to be a good project manager?

The most important skills are people and communication skills. We’re constantly having to interact with all kinds of people across different languages, cultures, and regions. It’s important that we know how to listen, to communicate, and to relate to others, from clients to artists to managers on a professional level. We also need to effectively convey vision, ideas, goals, and issues as well as produce reports and presentations.

Other essential skills would be leadership, time management, planning skills, negotiation, risk management, and subject matter expertise.

The most important skills are people and communication skills.

 

 

How is the role of a project manager different when working for a studio that does co-development?

We have multiple projects and shorter timeframes. We tend to be involved with several projects at any one time so keeping a cool head is important. The pace at which we work also greatly differs; some things are more urgent and need to go at a faster speed. Because of that changes happen very often, we have to be constantly on our feet and adapt quickly to the changes that happen. This means we gain experience faster by going through more project cycles.

We also have better insight into the market as we work with multiple clients. We can see what they are doing and how different each company manages their projects. This gives us the opportunity to take the things that work for us and implement it into our own workflows.

 

How does your role change throughout a project, from pre-production to production, to wrapping up a project and submitting the final assets to the client?

I’d say that differs with the working style of each project manager. For me, I like to get my hands dirty and get involved with the team in the pre-production and production phases. I love to collaborate with the art director, leads, and artists on the creative process figuring out new ideas or techniques to solve the needs of our clients. Everyone involved can have great ideas so it’s up to us to facilitate that and ensure we’re all contributing to make it better.

Nearing the end of a project, we must ensure that everything has been delivered to the client, so we’ll need to facilitate the submission process. You could say that we’re a collector at this point as we gather all the work that has been done, whether it be documentation or source files, and deliver it to the client. At the same time, we would have to work on finalizing various reports and analyzing the results. It’s the time when we can look back to see what went right, what went wrong and how we can improve for the next round. Think of it as a kaizen process where we are always continuously learning and improving.

[Editor’s note: Kaizen is a Japanese word for “improvement.” In business terms, it refers to the practice of continually improving one’s business processes.]

 

What have you learned about being a project manager?

The key is communication. We often say that this is important but it’s also the hardest thing to do or make happen on all levels. It is the thing that drives the work and makes sure things are running smoothly. Whenever a breakdown happens, a problem tends to pop up and time is needed to fix it. One must have lots of endurance and discipline to avoid that as much as possible.

Another thing would be that to it’s okay to make mistakes. To err is human but it’s more about how we turn things around and do better. If we make a mistake, we should own up to it and avoid excuses or lay blame. We deal with the facts, see what can be done to avoid this happening again or to mitigate it as much as possible, and move forward.

 

Are you working on any projects that you can talk about publicly? If so, can you elaborate on what those projects are, and when we can expect to hear more about them?

Unfortunately, not now. Most projects I’m involved in are in the pre-production phases, so it’ll take a few years before I can even talk about them. But I can say I have worked with clients from all over the world like Japan, USA, and China, so that’s what’s exciting!

 

What’s the best part about being a project manager at Streamline Studios?

The diversity. Diverse cultures, people, and projects. I’ve worked with many people across different cultures and many different projects in scale and genres. There’s never a dull moment!

 

Anything else you would like to add?

It all sounds rather stressful, but I want to say that it’s been a very rewarding experience working here as a project manager. All the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it when I see what the team here at Streamline has constantly achieved and continues to strive for.

 

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Special thanks to Sabine Ong for her insight on being a project manager for Streamline Studios.

Sabine is just one of the many experienced creative team members at Streamline Studios who dedicate themselves to helping bring their clients’ projects to completion.

If you’re interested in knowing more or would like to work with Streamline Studios, please reach out to us -- and we are hiring!


Streamline Studios' attends the largest Level Up KL to date

Level Up KL 2017 brought together an amazing collection of video game executives and talent. An array of compelling speakers, a hall of young eager developers, and food! What would a big event in Malaysia be without food?!

Networking opportunities were well organized and plentiful. The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) worked hard to deliver networking opportunities and to showcase the rapidly growing Southeast Asian games industry. “It’s about letting people do their thing,” said Hasnul Samsudin, MDEC Creative Content & Technology Vice President, the godfather of Malaysian Games.

The opening keynote was delivered by Luis Cataldi, Director of Education Learning, Epic Games, who took us on a quick tour of the technology available in the Unreal Engine. Other speakers included Danny Koo, Senior Producer at Marvel Entertainment, Hector Fernandez, Director of International Third Party Relations at Sony Interactive, Shota Nakama, CEO of SoundTrec, Alitt Khaliq, Art Director at EA Ghost, and of course, our very own CEO, Alexander Fernandez, Streamline Studios.

This was the biggest Level Up to date. Every year this event grabs space on the busy video game show calendar. But this year marked something else. The world is beginning to take notice of the SEA games market. More media traveled here from the US and Europe. More developers arrived from faraway shores. The SEA games industry has arrived.

Cataldi said in his talk “great ideas come from happy accidents.” He was talking about the flexibility in the Unreal Engine. But what happened at Level Up was no happy accident. It came about as the result of hard work on the part of dozens of dedicated MDEC workers. Streamline stepped forward with a Platinum Sponsorship, but without MDEC, the SEA games industry wouldn’t be evolving as fast as it is and for that we thank them.

Streamline Studios opened its doors to a parade of visitors. The studios are located right across the street from the event, so it became a major stop for visiting developers, writers, producers, composers, all the great talent of the video game world. A special treat for us was a chance for our Streamline team to quiz Marvel Entertainment, Senior Producer, Danny Koo on the challenges and decisions that go into developing games at the iconic brand. “Do you know how many characters Marvel has in its universe?” Danny asked the team. “8000!” I guess it is a while before they run out of game ideas.

Thanks again to MDEC for Level Up 2017. See you next year!


Recapping Gamescom 2017


With hundreds of thousands of gamers, journalists, developers and exhibitors descending on Cologne, Gamescom is a must-attend in the video game industry. This year was no exception.

We love going to the convention. It’s great place for us to take the pulse of the industry. And this year we sensed something exciting.

Games are in full dev. Incredible titles are in the pipelines of studios worldwide. Technology is advancing in huge leaps. An industry is rapidly evolving right before our eyes and rising to new heights.

Europe’s development scene is in full-up mode, including a strong focus on mobile. Products are starting to flow into the marketplace. As the complexity of games increases, co-development projects are starting to become the norm, partnerships forming to create solutions from multiple levels of expertise.

We’re also seeing the emergence of new players entering the space. Brands and industries are sensing opportunities to use games to forge connections with consumers and expand the scope of games in multiple directions. The focus is not so much on how to get into games, but how to join game projects as a multi-touch experience, increasing a game’s value by creating experiences around a game. An example would be Rockstar’s promotion tie-in with Gears of War.
As these ideas flowed across our Gamescom meetings, the idea of co-development emerged as a logical response to industry trends. There appeared no better way to alleviate risk and promote participation than by redefining partnerships in the external development space. Streamframe, our development management software system, is custom built to ease the workflow in the co-development process and response to the platform at the show was terrific. It confirmed our thinking on the evolution of the industry and made us excited at the possibilities on the horizon for the entire industry.

With the games industry heading north of $100 billion dollars, the technologies and stories to be told are boundless. And so was the palpable sense of excitement on the floor of Gamescom 2017.

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Gamescom Official Website: http://www.gamescom-cologne.com/gamescom/index-9.php