Merdeka Award Roundtable

Here's the line-up of videos from Merdeka Award Roundtable. In the 1st segment of the 12th Merdeka Award Roundtable, the panel discusses the role of creative industries in spurring growth, creating jobs and fostering cultural diversity.

Host Cynthia Ng speaks to:
• Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios
• Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, Director of the Creative Multimedia Division, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC)
• Low Ngai Yuen, President of Kakiseni
• Dato’ Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim, CEO Creative Content Association Malaysia (CCAM)

The 12th Merdeka Award Roundtable aired on January 17, 2016 on the topic, 'Create Malaysia: Harnessing The Creative & Cultural Industries To Spur Economic Growth.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqmXmRKm7yY&feature=youtu.be
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKkw1NPbAhM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AugYw4rt2bw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMJiaduURfk


Streamline Studios Joins Forces with Capcom for Creation of Street Fighter® V

Streamline Studios brings integrated outsourcing development and art expertise to classic fighting game series.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – February 15, 2016 – Streamline Studios has today announced its role in Capcom’s upcoming fighting behemoth Street Fighter® V. Throughout development, Streamline Studios maintained a close relationship with Capcom’s in-house art and game directors on a large-scale collaboration on design, concept art, creation and integration of content, ranging from fighting stages and characters to fashion design and costumes. In addition to producing readily usable assets, Streamline Studios also helped establish the technical pipelines that led to better optimized lighting, material and backgrounds. “Streamline’s dedication to technology, people and process sets a new standard for how global game development can be achieved, and the Streamframe platform made it possible for the Street Fighter V team to work from around the world as though we were in the same room,” said Bochan Kim, Sr. Producer of Street Fighter V at Capcom U.S.A., Inc. “Global IP development requires teams that push the boundaries of creative execution and Streamline did just that for us.”

“It is has been fantastic working with Capcom and an honor to work on such an iconic IP as Street Fighter. We’ve enjoyed every second of our collaboration,” said Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios. “A project of this scale requires innovation and seamless collaboration on all levels that doesn’t get in the way of development. Leveraging Streamframe, our technology platform designed for game development, we were able to directly integrate into Capcom’s development process and significantly reduce turnaround times and costs.” Streamline Studios worked on Street Fighter V with a large team of developers based out of its Malaysian offices. The studio continues to work with Capcom on Street Fighter V as well as another unannounced title. Street Fighter V will be released for PC and Playstation 4 on February 16, 2016.


About Streamline Studios
Streamline Studios is a next-generation content outsourcing studio and game developer under the Streamline Media Group, Inc. umbrella, which also includes the company’s proprietary pipeline management solution software, Streamframe. Based in Malaysia and the United States, Streamline Studios is a rapidly growing team of over 100 highly talented artists, designers and programmers, led by industry veterans and experts that bring clients’ visions into reality. With more than 200 productions completed, including Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War and Avatar, Streamline Studios is the go-to studio for discerning developers that require the best in creative execution. Streamline Studios website can be found at: Streamline-studios.com. For more information about Streamframe, visit: https://www.streamframe.com/. For information about Streamline Media Group, visit: https://www.streamline-mediagroup.com/

About Capcom
Capcom is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment for game consoles, PCs, handheld and wireless devices. Founded in 1983, the company has created hundreds of games including ground-breaking franchises Resident Evil®, Street Fighter®, Monster Hunter™, Ace Attorney®, Mega Man® and Devil May Cry®. Capcom maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Tokyo, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, with corporate headquarters located in Osaka, Japan. More information about Capcom and its products can be found at www.capcom.com or www.capcom-unity.com. Capcom, the Capcom logo, Ace Attorney, Devil May Cry, Mega Man, Monster Hunter and Resident Evil are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Capcom Co., Ltd., in the U.S. or other countries. Street Fighter is a registered trademark of Capcom U.S.A., Inc. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.


Streamline Studios Announces Major Expansion, Executive Hires

South East Asia’s biggest games developer doubles revenue and studio size in 6 months, expand Tokyo presence.

Kuala Lumpur, July 1st, 2016 – Streamline Studios today revealed revenue growth of 200% YOY, with studio size now exceeding 160 developers.
Fueling growth is Streamline’s continued commitment towards fully integrated partnerships with AAA publishers and brands, from earliest creative inception to distribution and post-launch live ops.
Recent co-productions include some of the world’s most beloved IP including STREET FIGHTER V, BIOSHOCK INFINITEPARAGON, and STAR CITIZEN.

Streamline Studios today also announced two new additions to its global executive team:

  • Justin Keeling, former GM & founder of IGN International at News Corporation and Head of Product & Strategy at UTV Games joins as Global Head of Corporate Development, leading Streamline’s worldwide business development and new corporate acquisitions, based in Tokyo.
  • Chase Payne, former Electronic Arts marketer and Lead Producer at Zynga joins as Head of Marketing, leading Streamline’s global marketing and brand management.

Announcing the organizational ramp up, CEO Alexander Fernandez commented; “As we hit our 15th year anniversary Streamline has held steadfast in our dedication to quality, people, process, and technology, changing expectations of AAA external development industry wide. We’ve never wavered on this and are excited to take the next leap forward with the addition of two industry veterans to our executive team.”

In addition, Streamline Studios revealed it is currently also in production on a slate of unannounced original IP for PC, consoles, and VR. The studio is aggressively hiring for new team members to join its state-of-the-art studio facility in Kuala Lumpur.


Streamline Studios Delivers Premium Development Services To Final Fantasy XV

Publisher engages Kuala Lumpur based premium developer, Streamline Studios, for external development on upcoming mega-franchise.

TOKYO / KUALA LUMPUR (July 12, 2016) –STREAMLINE STUDIOS today announced a collaboration with FINAL FANTASY® XV, the highly anticipated upcoming installment of the mainline FINAL FANTASY series from SQUARE ENIX®.

FINAL FANTASY XV is the 15th and latest installment of the iconic “Final Fantasy” game series, which takes their “fantasy based on reality” credo to the utmost reaches of technology and the imagination. In Final Fantasy XV, the player embarks on a journey full of exhilarating adventures with fantastic characters and creatures amidst settings powered-on by the series’ first use of “open world” environments and action-based combat. This is a game for newcomers to Final Fantasy, and one that will no doubt set a new standard of RPGs for future generations.

STREAMLINE STUDIOS is the leader in premium external production solutions for the world’s best entertainment IP, with over 200 AAA creative collaborations over 15 years including AVATAR, BIOSHOCK INFINITE, STAR CITIZEN, and STREET FIGHTER® V.

“Our team are big fans of Square Enix and their games, and we’re honored to have worked with them on the upcoming release of such a cherished series as FINAL FANTASY.” Said Alexander L. Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Studios. “We look forward to applying our years of production experience and state-of-the-art technology, Streamframe to this new collaboration.”

From realizing abstract concepts to fully integrated in-engine content and builds, Streamline Studios delivers customized premium solutions for many of the most advanced and complex projects in gaming. The studio has pioneered integrated, high-end global external development since its founding in 2001.

STREAMLINE STUDIOS also operates the real-time, SaaS based global production platform STREAMFRAME – used by hundreds of content-driven organizations, including governments, AAA developers, and advertising agencies.

STREAMLINE STUDIOS is currently hiring aggressively for top global engineering and creative talent to join its award-winning studios in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Full benefits, perks and relocation assistance will be provided for successful candidates.

For more information visit: https://www.streamline-studios.com/careers/


ABOUT FINAL FANTASY
Since the release of FINAL FANTASY in 1987, this unique RPG series continues to showcase the spectacular visuals, highly imaginative worlds and rich stories leading the industry and earning the highest accolades from users around the world. Titles of the series have so far achieved a cumulative shipment of over 110 million units worldwide.
http://www.finalfantasyxv.com/


What Video Game Developers Learn From Toru Iwantani, Pac-Man Creator

A project lays out in front of you, perhaps without shape, but with a goal. And some will start down a path with just that. If the goal is compelling enough, the process can be chaotic or highly organized. 

 

An exciting goal draws divergent streams together until everything flows in the same direction. 

 

1. Acknowledge your limitations

Can limitations in a process serve to focus results? In her book, Susan Lammers, Programmers at Work, Susan Lammers interviewed Pacman designer, Toru Iwatani.

“There’s a limit to what you can do with a computer. Hardware limitations become my limitations. They restrict me, and I’m no different from any artist–I don’t like constraints. I’m also limited because the only place the end result appears is on the screen. Turn the computer off, and the images vanish.”

 

2. Promote an active naïveté

Frontiering in an industry can create an organically uninhibited process. There’s lessons to be learned from this kind of informed naiveté and the inspirations it can produce.

“I had no special training at all; I am completely self-taught. I don’t fit the mold of a visual arts designer or a graphic designer. I just had a strong concept about what a game designer is–someone who designs projects to make people happy.”

3. Define a goal, with a strong pull

It’s possible an absolutely irresistible goal will organically create the process needed to achieve it.


No Man’s Sky: How To Be God And Have Fun At The Same Time

Okay, everybody is going to play this game. It's a single player game. It's a game you'll never finish. And you get to play God. Not bad.

Having god-like powers is no new thing in video games, but having accidental god-like powers is. I couldn't help but think I'm creating this as I went toward new planets. Is this how God felt when he was spending the 7-days making everything? Was it just like this? By being and going, the universe unfolded beneath his/her/gender-neutral feet? No Man's Sky is THAT kind of game, pushing video game development into far reaches of the galaxy.

It isn't exactly beautiful because the scale of play is something like 18-quatrillion planet possibilities and not everything can be beautiful. It has Minecraft-like features. It's not really finished either—it has the feel of work in progress in places, but man, they have made some serious progress. But it does evoke a mood, a feeling, a reflection of the meaning of things, the meaning of existence and I mean that in a literal sense. That's a pretty impressive result, wouldn't you say?

I'm not expecting a mainstream pop hit here. This game will appeal to a particular crowd - the kind of people who think intergalactic terraforming and random alien encounters is their idea of a good Saturday night. But it is captivating in an experiential sense. You kind of vibrate with expectation with this game. It's the ultimate explorer's thrillgasm, like you're Livingston AND Stanley AND Captain Kirk all at the same time.

It will grow. That's key to this whole fantastic venture. The longer people play this game, the more interesting and varied the No Man's Sky universe becomes. It's like we're all Einsteins with our little relativity sandbox to play in.

And maybe we bump into somebody's warped world on the way. Though that appears unlikely, like in, you know, the actual real universe.

And you can name things.

Of course, for me, that means a bucketful of worlds and places named after existential philosophers, like Kierkegaard Gardens, Heidegger Canyon, or Kafka Lane (No Outlet.) Yes, kitschy, but No Man's Sky evokes a combination of kitsch and metaphysical musing that would have made Satre proud. Well, maybe less depressed.


Do You See The $30 Million?

Pokemon Go is video game development on steroids. Where's this new technology taking us?

You're walking around the streets, you're gathering in parks and people without a screen in their hands side-step around you like you're a gang member. And in a way, you are.

Yes friends, Pokemon Go dropped $30 million bucks to develop their amazing game and judging by the hordes walking around the world with their noses buried in a screen, it was worth every cent.

Here's a quick synopsis of the whole Pokemon Go story from our friends at Federator.


TPP & Video Game Development

The largest trade agreement in human history is veering toward the finish line.

Gobierno de Chile @ Flickr

"For America's friends and partners, ratifying the TPP is a litmus test of credibility and seriousness of purpose."

Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have been on-going since 2011. Five years of off-the-record meetings and negotiations involving a dozen economies scattered around the Pacific Rim. (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.)

Now American President Obama has 100 days (give or take a day) to get this done. Congress is ready, but a lot of folks are nervous about signing off. And if you think reading and absorbing 6000 page legalize text and all around global is fun, or a beach read, think again.

To me, the subtext of the Prime Minister’s statement gets it done now because the next American president might kick it to the curb, and with it all the work and plans the region was counting on for the next fifty years. Whoever the next president might be (Clinton 76% chance, Trump 22% chance) the TPP is in serious trouble in the US. Say the word 'globalization' in a place like Ohio (a battleground state in the November election) and you’ll get yourself turned into a full-time mascot at a local bar league softball game. 80% of American politicians are up for election in November. Take a guess at how many of them are stomping around their district singing praises of the TPP?

So much has been written about his thing, and I have to say, about 90% of what I read is essentially bullshit. How could it not be? First, nobody even had the document until six months ago. Second, it's a hard slog getting through it. I'm enough of politico-geek to try it, and my hobby is arcane language written by low-level staff members of economic ministers. But wow. What does it all mean? Does anybody know? And is this thing even legal?

Let's start with that last question first. The short answer is no, the TPP is not law, not binding even. It's an ‘obligation.' An 'obligation' can go all the way from 'you have to do it', to 'it’s a favor', and that’s a lot of wiggle room. You leave that kind of wiggle room in a document and you can count on a lot wiggling; especially, when your ‘obligations’ stretch across a dozen borders and cultures and languages. The TPP is like retirement savings for lawyers. Disputes in this thing are going to keep judges pounding gavels for years at a time. So there’s that.

But what on earth can all this fret and worry have to do with Pokemon Go? Or any video game development?

I'm glad you asked. This is, after all, a post about that very question. So here is my dollar store explanation of a single critical issue put together after too many hours in the coffee shop reading. The whole treaty affects everything to do with the video game industry, but one particular article hones in on the matter (and fears).

First, here is the TPP. Read it yourself. Good luck.

Okay, finished? Here we go.

Copyright.

Nail me to a tree, right? The copyright discussion usually turns into a bloody hack fest when discussed by video gamers. Me? You don't want to know what I think because I'm most likely on the opposite of everything in your religion. I like copyright. I've made a good living from copyright. I want it to last forever. So yeah, let's keep it civil and say this: The TPP doesn't change a damn thing about copyright. I mean you didn't think it would, did you? Or even could? It levels the playing field in that American practice will most likely be the ‘obligation,' which means the life of the IP owner and 70 years. I say obligation because it's not the law to do that. Here's an actual quote:

Each Party shall endeavour to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system, among other things by means of limitations or exceptions that are consistent with Article 18.65 (Limitations and Exceptions), including those for the digital environment, giving due consideration to legitimate purposes such as, but not limited to: criticism; comment; news reporting; teaching, scholarship, research, and other similar purposes; and facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

Note ‘digital environment.’ That’s the footprint of Microsoft and Sony and every other heavy hitter in the video game industry. Do I think this is a lethal spear into the gut of data miners and modders? Nope. The laws in place are the laws in place. I see this as global ass-covering, mainly. It was uncool (and illegal) to rip off somebody's work before, and it's still uncool. Keep calm and play on. Wear your cos-play outfit in peace; especially if you're blind.

And then there’s the DRM issue. Check this out.

Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied if any person is found to have engaged wilfully and for the purposes of commercial advantage or financial gain in any of the above activities.

A Party may provide that the criminal procedures and penalties do not apply to a nonprofit library, museum, archive, educational institution, or public non-commercial broadcasting entity. A Party may also provide that the remedies provided for in Article 18.74 (Civil and Administrative Procedures and Remedies) do not apply to any of the same entities provided that the above activities are carried out in good faith without knowledge that the conduct is prohibited.

For greater certainty, no Party is required to impose civil or criminal liability under this subparagraph for a person that circumvents any effective technological measure that protects any of the exclusive rights of copyright or related rights in a protected work, performance or phonogram, but does not control access to such that work, performance or phonogram.

They should have paid me to write this thing up. I see all that as reducing to something like this:

If you break DRM, and you don't re-sell stuff, it's between you and whoever, your choice, but the TPP police aren't coming for you.

More pithy, right? Look, I can be as naive as the next guy with a laptop and a basement, but so far the TPP is not tying my whitey-tightys into a knot.

More to come, I'm sure. There are issues around trade secrets and corporate law-bending, and evil mega-corporation with appetites for your babies. Massive, clumsy free-trade deals are on the I-hate list of every blogger and social media maven from here to Alpha-Centauri. But unless you think somehow we're going to end globalization and return to either a Games of Thrones world (unlikely) or a Walking Dead world (more likely) we need to figure out how to trade. Just like Louis Ambroise did. (Look it up.)


Confirmation Bias or How To Trash Your Game Dev

You're not so smart. And if you need proof, read on about confirmation bias.

Okay, I'm not looking for a fight, but in an industry loaded with geeks, let's be honest--everybody's an Einstein.

Or at least dresses like one.

Come on, I've been to GDC. There's nothing like a convention hall teeming with unbridled geekery to reveal what's at the core of our industry.

So it's no surprise on video game development teams there's no shortage of passionately voiced opinions. That 9 AM stand-up can be like discussions on a Reddit thread.

But here's something to consider: What if all those opinions are not a matter of right or wrong, or even (gulp) knowledge, but are a matter of something else--like a lifetime of assumption?

What if what you hear from the programmer in thick black-framed glasses at the end of the distressed communal table is not in fact 'fact', but confirmation bias?

But the guy is a certified code warrior, right? He invented that app that--well, we don't remember what it did, but he flipped it 50 million on his 13th birthday.

Here's the rub: Even a super-geek can fall victim to this insidious symptom.

What is confirmation bias?

Kevin Hendzel, on his blog Word Prisms, states about confirmation bias:

"It's deadly in scientific research because it drives well-meaning and quite dedicated researchers to interpret evidence in a way that's unwittingly partial to existing beliefs or theories, which skews results, blocks valid conclusions and often points in the wrong direction."

Oh, that's wrong, I mean that's plain wrong. Scientists! We count on them! How can they fall victim to this?

con·fir·ma·tion bi·as

noun

The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories.




Charles Lord, Lee Ross & Mark Lepper wrote:

People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while subjecting "disconfirming" evidence to critical evaluation, and, as a result, draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings. 

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 37(11), Nov 1979, 2098-2109.
Now you understand the comments section of the internet. Thank you. But we have a different concern here.

Imagine you and your team are in the middle of an incredibly complex video game production.

The scrums are no fun, the sprints needs splints and agile is just a dream. In other words, pretty much industry-standard. But another manager's nightmare is loose. The information you get is not accurate, or turns out not quite the full story, something is off, and the production veers out of control no matter how many state-of-the-art management software platforms you deploy.

Is the faulty intel the result of confirmation bias?

How can you tell?

Is there a test you can apply to your process to weed out the broken, erroneous or misinterpreted data?

Not a test, but there is confirmation of confirmation bias.

Watch this:

Okay, that wasn't too hard. But it was a spiffy example of following rules no matter what, and in the experiment, Peter Wason, an English psychiatrist, demonstrated people are biased towards confirming existing beliefs.

Why are people that way?

Wason concluded they focus on the cost of being wrong, rather than following scientific methods to reach a validated conclusion. People have a natural inbuilt fear of embarrassment. Have you ever done a piece of creative work and twenty people say it's great, and one person says it sucks? Which opinion lingers?

Wason demonstrated instead of trying to falsify a hypothesis, people try to confirm a hypothesis.

Wason used the same test as is in the video. And the results were the same too.

People made a rule then couldn't bring themselves to break it. In the video, people looked confused the rule wasn't their rule!

They were wrong. People don't like to be wrong. Hence, confirmation bias, which can be a frantic hunt for facts to support their wrongness.

And another link of this chain; you find what you want to find, or see what you want to see;  a twist on this is one's person's history becomes another person's conspiracy theory.

What does this have to do with video game development?

It's something to keep in mind for any business management, something to understand.. The wrong decision in business can be the last decision a company makes. Commitment to a strategy, tactic, plan, or even a product, in the face of evidence things are not going all that great, becomes a business Hail Mary. Personal belief, misleading personal experience, or worse of all, a manager afraid of being wrong can be a lethal dead-end for any business or production.

Do you have any examples to share of how confirmation bias might have messed up your development?


The Beautiful Process of Digital Art at Streamline

In our digital art, we seek mystery and depth.

We endeavor to break new ground, wander new realms, find our way to something new every day.

It is an artists' charge to do no less.

An artist strives to stand away from society. To be different. The rest of us - the bankers and politicians and scientists and teachers - are under no such obligation. But an artist stands alone by choice, becomes their own testing ground, their own experiment, creates their own path and rules. Not that any of this process is all that considered or fits any pattern or route. The best art surprises the artist as well. It is unexpected. All revelations are.

Experience in art only means experience in discarding and choosing, no experience in the process, and every master will tell you the life of an artist is losing all technique until all you are left with is the core of your inspiration.

So most of us take it for granted the life we have, the nuts and bolts of it, but an artist recasts it, approach the mystery beneath, not to solve it or find any great answer there, but merely to point and say all may not be as it seems.

In digital art, in the complex collaboration of video game development, this dance toward art is the greatest challenge. It requires a process that is rigorous and free at the same time. It requires a depth of communication between different teams. It 's hard. But it's possible. And the result can be translucent.