Designing Zara: Creating a Character Steeped in Personality

Welcome to Streamline Media Group’s ongoing blog series where we interview a Streamliner from one of SMG’s business divisions. Recently, Streamline Games, a business division of Streamline Media Group, soft-launched their newest game, Nightstream, in Malaysia.

Streamline Games is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in the heart of Southeast Asia. For the initial launch, it was important for the team to represent Malaysia and its cultural identity – including the different faces of Malaysia.

We spoke with Lynette Wong from Streamline Games about her work on Nightstream, how the design of one of Nightstream’s more prominent characters, Zara, came to be, and what the reception to her has been like.

 

 *****

 

Can you introduce yourself and your role on Nightstream?

I’m Lynette Wong, a 2D artist in Streamline Games. I concept characters and am a story writer on Nightstream.

 

What is Nightstream?

Nightstream is a runner mobile game set in the world of Persepolis. It’s a game like Temple Run and Subway Surfer, but the difference being you’re not running on your feet, instead, you’re on a hoverboard with full freeform movement.

 

Can you tell us about Zara? How would you describe her and her personality?

Zara is an uprising musician who is haunted by the death of her younger brother. She’s the sort of person who seeks justice. She’ll do everything in her power to protect her family and friends. She has a serious, cool and collected front, but to anyone who’s close to her, she’s a total goof. Oh, and she’s also a part-time barista.

 

How long did it take to finalize Zara’s design, from concept to finished design?

It took about a couple of weeks, maybe a month. Design wise it was me, with inputs from the art director. Story-wise, there was at least seven to eight of us.

 

What rules and guidelines did you have in place for designing Zara?

From the get-go because of religious reasons, her design had to be modest. But at the same time, it had to evoke a fresh, modernized, sci-fi feel fitting into the world of Nightstream. Since she had to cover up most of her body with clothing, I took some inspiration from Nike Pro’s hijab campaign. I tried to be sensible about the amount of clothing she wore since our characters wear active wear.  I couldn’t pile clothing on her since she’d be riding a hoverboard and basically be moving a lot.

We had to make sure the back was also interesting since the player would mainly be viewing the character from the back most of the time.

 

“Audiences feel more connected to characters when they have flaws. Otherwise, she’d just be a fantasy with no characteristics. There aren’t many characters in current media that look like Zara.”

 

What was your workflow for designing Zara?

In the beginning, we didn’t know if our character was going to be male or female. Once we decided on her gender we started working on her backstory. It’s important to know who she is first to be able to successfully translate that into the design. Once we had that down, I did a ton of research on real-life fashion and active wear. I came up with a couple of designs, and our art director, Renier, picked the one he liked most. Initially, I tried to mix batik into her capelet, but it ended up being too distracting design wise. But If we had gone with batik, it would’ve been a nightmare to draw it into every single panel of our comics. After refining the design further, I started on color combinations, and finally, we settled on the default color scheme you see in the game.

[Editor’s note: batik is a technique of dying cloth that results in elaborate patterns and designs. It’s especially popular in Indonesia and parts of Malaysia.]

Around the time I was designing her face, I was watching Netflix’s Punisher in my downtime. I really liked watching Dinah Madani, played by Amber Rose Revah. I felt that some of her personality matched Zara’s. I wasn’t so much inspired but influenced. I was also looking at Overwatch, to study what makes their characters so popular from a design standpoint.

  

 

What do you think makes Zara appealing?

She’s relatable; she has flaws. One of those being headstrong and stubborn. Audiences feel more connected to characters when they have flaws. Otherwise, she’d just be a fantasy with no characteristics. There aren’t many characters in current media that look like Zara, especially role models to look up to. Many western kids have a variety of superheroes they look up to. There aren’t many (if any) for young Malaysian girls to look up to, and even though Zara isn’t a superhero, I hope that she inspires Malaysian youth.

 

How do you define good character design?

There are many factors that play into this. Research is one good reason for good character design, that and of course, readability. When I talked about Zara’s background that also played into her character design. Her personality must show in her design. Her silhouette should also be unique from the other Nightstream characters. It should set her apart as an individual. I think I accomplished that by sticking to a lot of the rules we placed for Zara. A good character design makes for a memorable character.

 

What were some of the design challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge about Zara was mainly getting the dress code of a Muslim woman down. Since I’m not part of the religion I had to do a lot of research and collaborated with people from the faith to nail down a modest and modern outfit for her. Checking in with people often served as a sanity check, they’ll often tell me if something wasn’t modest.

 

What has the reception and feedback been to Zara’s design?

From what we see when we attend events, people like her. It’s something new that they’ve never seen before. It’s not every day that you see a hijabista as the main character of a video game. We’ve had tons of people taking pictures and selfies with the life-size standee of Zara.

[Editor’s note: hijabista is local slang, a combination of the words hijab, a traditional head covering for female Muslims, and fashionista, a follower of fashion. Think hipster with a hajib – after all, Zara is a part-time barista and musician.]

 

What aspect of Zara’s design are you the proudest of?

I don’t have really have a favorite design aspect about her, she was just fun to create. The idea that she culturally represents a lot of people in Southeast Asia takes the cake.

 

*****

Special thanks to Lynette Wong from Streamline Games for sharing her thoughts and design process on designing one of Nightstream’s playable characters.

Nightstream is available now in Malaysia for iOS and Android devices. For more information on Nightstream, including upcoming content releases, visit our website and follow our Facebook page.


Streamline Media Group Announces New Organizational Structure To Expand and Enhance Game Development as a Service and Drive Growth

Four New Business Divisions Announced Under Streamline Media Group Umbrella to Provide Better Products and Services to the Videogames Industry and Beyond

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- March 13, 2018 -- Streamline Media Group, Inc., today announced a new organizational structure to provide more targeted products and services across the games, entertainment, government and finance industries worldwide. Under the new structure, Streamline Media Group will be organized into four new divisions based principally on the product and services they will provide. The divisions will be known as Streamline Games, All Pixels by Streamline Studios, Streamline Studios and Streamframe, all of which sit under the Streamline Media Group heading and are designed to further the company’s mission to evolve the craft of video game development and the application of video game technology in non-gaming fields.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of 17 years of making games and providing game development as a service to the industry’s best. Our new brands streamline the process of engaging with our teams while focusing in on critical areas and challenges the industry continues to face,” said Alexander L. Fernandez, CEO. “Streamline Media Group and its brands are already involved in groundbreaking projects worldwide in games, entertainment, government, and finance sectors.”

Directly managed by Streamline co-founder, Stefan Baier, Streamline Games provides AAA cross-platform game development and game creation services, offering clients with a great idea a full-scale development solution that sees a project from start to finish and delivers all of the work in-engine. Based out of Streamline’s state-of-the-art development facility in Kuala Lumpur, Streamline Games leverages proven AAA development experience with the advantages of its Southeast Asia headquarters. Streamline Games is also focusing on designing, building and launching the company’s own original IP for consoles, PC, and mobile platforms.

All Pixels by Streamline Studios, managed by former Streamline Studios Project Manager, Yea Ji Oh, offers no-nonsense, scalable expert content creation for AAA blockbuster games and mobile games, in the areas of 3D asset production (modelling and texture work for in-game items such as props, weapons and level parts), as well as character modelling, texturing and basic rigging/skinning. All Pixels is designed for discerning game developers that know what they need, have a plan and want flawless execution that is transparent and ready to go at a moment’s notice. All Pixels provides the same services that Streamline Studios has always offered in terms of quality, QA support, IT support and in-house Japanese translation/interpretation support, and all deliverables are handled seamlessly through Streamline Media Group’s proprietary pipeline management software, Streamframe.

Headed by Richard Cheah, former Senior Production Manager, Streamline Studios thrives on challenging productions that require expert thinking, flawless execution, and long-term partnerships. Streamline Studios was built from the ground-up by game developers, for game developers and has been the games industry’s creative vanguard for more than 17 years, delivering on more than 300 AAA games, films and advertising projects worldwide and will continue offering the same world-class external development services for the likes of Capcom, Square Enix and countless other developers and publishers, large and small.

And, finally, Streamframe the worlds first external development platform for video games, emerges from Streamline Studios’ more than 17 years of hard-won video game development and production experience. Streamframe is a unique platform that combines team collaboration, client management, production management, and security in an easy to use social network-like experience. The division will be jointly managed by Razlan Saharudin, Tyson Tiatia and Mahdi Saemi.


Streamline Studios Announces Collaboration with Arcturus to Breathe Life into VR Experience: ‘The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains’

New Video Reveals Details of Cooperation to Bring Brandon Sanderson’s Bestselling Fantasy to VR


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 9 March, 2018 -- World-class external development studio, Streamline Studios, today announced its partnership with Arcturus to help bring the upcoming VR experience, The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains, to players in early March. In a new video released today, Arcturus and Streamline discuss the mutually beneficial collaboration to create high quality art that matched the look and feel of the characters, enemies and environments.
Watch the “Behind-the-scenes” exclusive here:

The Making of "The Way of Kings: Escape The Shattered Plains"

“From start to finish, working with Arcturus on this title was an absolute pleasure”, said Richard Cheah, GM Streamline Studios. “It was exciting to see ‘The Way of Kings’ IP come to life in a new medium beyond the books, and in general it was just fun to work and create so closely with such a talented group of developers”.
"Working with Streamline was a great experience. The team has a great artistic sense backed by strong communication skills and a deep sense of collaboration. Working with them was as fluid and seamless as if we were in the same room" – Ewan Johnson, Chief Creative Officer at Arcturus.

The Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains is a virtual reality experience for fans and newcomers to discover the world created in Brandon Sanderson’s bestseller, The Way of Kings, the first in a series of novels. Players assume the role of Kaladin, a young man who discovers he has magical powers. After being swept up by a powerful storm, Kaladin finds himself deep in a rocky terrain with a fairy-like character named Syl who helps him learn more about his abilities. Players must use Kaladin’s magic to move boulders, defend against mystical beasts and eventually escape to freedom.

About Streamline Studios

Streamline Studios is a world-class external development studio focusing on video games, founded in 2001. The studio boasts a pedigree of high quality art production for some of the world’s most beloved video game IPs, including Street Fighter V, Gears of War, Final Fantasy XV and much more.

 

About Streamline Media Group

Streamline Media Group is a global entertainment and technology company deep-rooted in video games. Working through its business divisions, Streamline Studios, All Pixels by Streamline, Streamline Games and Streamframe, Streamline Media Group provides the infrastructure and solutions that drive its clients' business forward. For more information, please visit www.streamline-mediagroup.com

About Arcturus

Arcturus creates stories, games and live-action immersive experiences. Comprised of pioneers who crafted the creative and technology that propelled Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Google and YouTube, the extended reality studio also has an extensive history developing vanguard technical products for clients like Bjork Digital, With.in, Lytro, PlayStation, and others. In addition to creating content, they support the XR industry by building and releasing tools and sharing knowledge. Arcturus is one of the brightest stars in the northern hemisphere and represents the studio’s mission: to create stellar experiences while helping others navigate extended reality. For more information visit www.arcturus.studio.


Streamline's Role in the SEA Games Industry in 2017

The games industry continues to amaze us with its innovation and continued ascent towards becoming the dominant medium of consumers around the world. This year has proven that the appetite for games cannot be satisfied and opportunities across platforms and countries have only just begun. Whether it was the release of the Nintendo Switch that stormed through the industry or Sony’s 70M install base and groundbreaking program to cultivate AAA games in China, through its China Hero Project, video games are on the rise as an industry, profession, and medium.

From our corner of the world in Malaysia, Streamline has taken part in the explosive growth of Southeast Asia’s games industry. Currently valued at US$2.2B*. We’ve witnessed the transformation of the region from a consumer to a development market. Ushered in by savvy studios, government support, and a large talent pool. This growth has translated into net positive value for our partners worldwide, and we are honored to have worked with the brightest in the industry like Square Enix, Sony, and Capcom.

Streamline has led the co-development movement that’s now speeding across external development studios. We are happy to see other studios take note through their own efforts to grow or acquire development teams. What’s clear is that co-development isn’t a tip-in, but a fundamental rebalancing of development resources globally. With top publishers and developers continuing to devour talent in their markets, external development becomes the only sane way to scale while keeping development KPIs and consumer expectations inline.

In 2014, we identified co-development as the next evolution of external development and pioneered the process with forward-thinking publishers and developers. Streamframe, the industry’s first external development platform was built and refined with co-developments in mind.

Streamline’s phenomenal growth continues with co-developments, AAA content creation, and original games. As a leader in AAA development, we’ve become more integrated with our partners than ever before. This translates into turnkey teams that are constantly advising, developing, and executing on our partner's most ambitious projects. This means full source and SVN access while defining development plans together in concert. It is the only way to make co-developments work.

History and experience show signs of early preparation for the upcoming platform transition. This is led by an incredible uptick in merger and acquisition activity in the external development sector. Consolidation is good if value remains and hopefully, it doesn’t mean the commoditization of engineering and design talent the way it took place for artists over the past decade. Fingers crossed.

As 2017 comes to a close, we wish to thank our wonderful partners, colleagues, and friends for their support and wish everyone a great holiday season. May 2018 be the best year yet for your team, studio, and family.

Best,
Alexander L. Fernandez,
CEO, Streamline Studios


*Source: Newzoo Report: $1.1bn Southeast Asian Games Market To Double By 2017


Streamline Joins Forces with Square Enix for Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV

Streamline Joins Forces with Square Enix for Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV

Kuala Lumpur, November 21st 2017 – Streamline Studios, the largest game developer in South East Asia, today announced its creative collaboration with Square Enix on the PlayStation VR title, MONSTER OF THE DEEP: FINAL FANTASY XV.

Continuing the collaboration which started with Final Fantasy XV, Streamline worked with Square Enix advanced proprietary software suite, solving creative and engineering problems for a modern VR experience. Focus included UI/UX design and implementation, as well as extensive content support based on photogrammetry, and creature creation including the famous “Boss Fishes.”

“We’re honored to continue our long-term collaboration with Square Enix for MONSTER OF THE DEEP: FINAL FANTASY XV” commented Stefan Baier, Chief Product and Solutions Officer at Streamline Studios. “We appreciate the support and guidance from our partners in Tokyo, and continue to learn more about the vast Final Fantasy XV universe.”

Tabata Hajime, Director, Final Fantasy XV said “MONSTER OF THE DEEP: FINAL FANTASY XV is the first genuine VR game developed by the FFXV team. In an extension of their work for the FFXV main game, Streamline’s development team provided us with the essential details of this VR project. Once again, the Streamline team provided us high-quality support for this title during our most critical moments to help improve the overall game experience.”

The project utilized Streamframe, a cutting-edge management production tool which provides full workflow transparency, and rapid real-time feedback between studios. Daily workflow between Streamline and Square Enix is facilitated by dedicated, onsite bilingual project managers, and Streamframe is fully localized in Japanese for partners in the region.


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!


Streamline Studios presents VR fishing game to the PM of Malaysia.

On Thursday 19th October 2017 Streamline Studios did something momentous; we joined our partners Square Enix to present our co-development VR project ‘Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV’ to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

That is not an ordinary sentence for us. Or many others in our industry. Government support is not a common theme in the gaming industry, but Malaysia is at the fore-front of this unchartered venture. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is the lead agency in driving the digital economy in Malaysia. They work directly with the government to ensure the tech industry is appropriately represented, talent is nurtured, and the growth strategy is sustainable.

Streamline Studios was lucky enough to partner with MDEC early in our arrival to Southeast Asia. In MDEC we found that elusive, often mythical creature, a partner that brings out the best in us, expands our vision, and shares our values. Through this partnership we continuously work towards building the SEA gaming hub, right here in Malaysia.

Our collaboration with SQEX is a major part of this work. Bringing one of the largest game developer and publishers to these tropical shores, and showcasing the talent available in this region is one of Streamline’s greatest achievements. Having this recognised by the Malaysian government shows the commitment of our partners to showcase the regions progress, and ensures we continue to move in the right direction.

As our CEO, Alexander Fernandez shared the stage with SQEX (Shinji Hashimoto, and Wan Hazmer) and MDEC (Hasnul Hadi Samsudin) the message was abundantly clear: Together we can make great things. The irony of this event culminating in a fishing game experience was poignant; the skills of a successful fisherman are patience, resilience, and determination. All traits we and our partners have drawn upon in the process of creating this game. And all lead towards the big win; catching the big fish. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was coached towards his big catch in the ‘Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV’ demo. We’ll take this as a good omen for the future of #MYGameOn.


For more info check out News English video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mkEDThGlqU&feature=youtu.be
(Tip: we’re featured at 00:49)


Recapping DNA Serverware – A Gathering of Gamers

With hundreds of participants flooding the scenes of Four Points by Sheraton Puchong, DNA Serverware achieved their set aims to reach and unite key players of the gaming scene in Malaysia by showing strong numbers at the second edition of the gamers’ gathering.

The event united prominent game developers, exotic cosplayers, famous gaming personalities that brought vibrant energy to the event. Some key players in the games scene shared their journey in games and provided interesting perspective citing where the industry is headed to. Among the participants, Streamline Studios was represented by Learning & Development Manager, Azlan Ismail who rocked the stage with strong energy while he shared about key opportunities that exist in the games industry with an attentive audience.

All in all, the event served as a great platform where many business relationships were built, great ideas and knowledge shared. More importantly, we witnessed a strong sense of unity between the different players in the industry that came together to grow, play and share which was the big win overall.


 


Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates from the studio!


https://www.streamline-studios.com/events/


Streamline celebrates Deepavali!

Streamline Studios is one big family with over 32 nationalities, so when it comes to celebrating our differences and culture, we do it the Streamline way! Recently, Streamliners celebrated Diwali or Deepavali, a Hindu festival of lights celebration all around the world that signifies victory of light over darkness.

Many Streamliners dressed up in Indian traditional clothes, adorned the office with cultural decorations and celebrated the occasion with a potluck style get-together to share a great variety of scrumptious, mouth-watering Indian cuisine. Here’s a sneak peak of what went down:



It was a fun experience for everyone!


Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates from the Studios!


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.

[foogallery id="1785"]


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