Streamline Studios is a company that the gaming, broadcast, and film industry insiders know well. The casual gamer may not be familiar with the name... but they should. Streamline Studios have perhaps the most interesting, exciting, and stressful business model imaginable as you'll read below.

Having credits on games such as Gunman Chronicles (for which they won the 2001 Best Game Intro at the European 3D Festival), 007: Nightfire, Dead Man's Hand (Unreal Engine), and most recently Unreal Tournament 2004, the studio obviously have capabilities that are extremely diverse. I urge you to check out the Streamline Studios website for a wealth of media and resources.

BeyondUnreal recently had the opportunity to bring this fascinating story to you and give you a little insight at the making of a map that at any given time of day, over 7,000 people have been playing for a couple of weeks now, Unreal Tournament 2004's ONS-Torlan. Streamline Studios' Alexander L. Fernández (Managing Director) and Stefan Baier and Renier Banninga, two artists who worked closely on Torlan and Dead Man's Hand (U-engine PC/Xbox), were kind enough to provide the answers.

BU: Tell our readers a little bit about Streamline Studios.

Alexander: Streamline Studios is a creative and engineering outsource provider for the film, television, and video games industries. We have been working closely with the games industry for over two years where we have built a solid reputation for providing emergency services for teams who are facing tight deadlines or projects have fallen behind. Basically we’re the fire fighters of creative projects.

BU: Working with very demanding deadlines must yield some very interesting stories. Can you tell us one of the best?

Renier: Hmm that’s tricky… All of them actually, because its always a crazy deadline, new tools to learn, crazy work hours, all new tech and just cool projects that keep life at streamline a never dulling affair. I would have to say our latest project with Epic was the most fun for me, but I can’t say much more then that. :)

BU: You've been involved with such projects as Gunman Chronicles and 007 Nightfire, what brought you to the Dead Man's Hand project?

Alexander: Our relationship with Human Head Studios goes all the way back to our first year in business. We met Tim at ECTS and kept up relations and when they needed cinematics they came to us. It was an amazing chance to work in genre seldom done these days.

BU: The Intro that you created for Dead Man's Hand has a very unique style. Was there an inspiration for it?

Renier: The one thing Human Head wanted was for the intro to come across with a distinct montage theme. So we sat down one day and got our hands on all the Western movies we could find trying to get into the old west mindset. I think the final look we went for was to make the intro feel like those old west photos and newspaper articles. One of the rules we kept to was the sparse use of animation. So instead we opted to use fading between poses. It was important to only use the most key moments and gestures to capture the plot and emotions of the scenes.

BU: Did you contribute any other assets to Dead Man's Hand?

Alexander: Well we did end up using some of the art produced for the intro to make some nice desktop pictures. :) But we were not involved in making any in-game assets.

BU: How did Streamline Studios get hooked up with Epic Games and what did they want you to do for Unreal Tournament 2004?

Alexander: Jay was one of the first contacts we ever made in the industry. We met him at ECTS and kept up relations. We then came to Epic with an idea for a game we wanted to produce with their technology. Their tech had never been used for the type of game we were proposing so we began a relationship that’s been going on ever since. Our studio has created a variety of things for them and we enjoy working with them quite a bit.

BU: How did you come to work with Sjoerd de Jong? What aspects of the project was he responsible for?

Stefan: We hired him on to help create meshes and textures on a racing game outsourcing project. Later we joined back together when Epic approached us in need for a demo level ASAP to show off the new prototype vehicles. We were caught up in another tough-deadline project, so we needed to complement our internal team quickly to finish the level. Internally we created most meshes as well as all new textures, foliage, rock and skybox, while Sjoerd de Jong created the terrain and set up all meshes into UnrealED. The layout of the level was determined early on as a very open space with some large tech meshes and base pieces. A far viewdistance was also essential so flying vehicles could come to use properly. Sjoerd had a great deal of suggestions for the visual look of the level, such as the idea of the dried up riverbed.

BU: Were you previously familiar with the Unreal Editor and how does it stack up against any previous level development tools you may have used?

Stefan: We have experience with Worldcraft and Radiant, but we’ve already been working with UnrealED for several years now. The editor has its quirks no doubt, there’s some stability issues and the interface could be a little more user friendly, but then you look at supremely powerful visual capabilities and artist-friendlieness of the engine and UnrealED well definetly well beyond any Level Editor we worked with before. It kind of grows on you…

BU: Creating a showcase map such as Torlan for Unreal Tournament's new gametype, Onslaught, must have been quite a challenge. Was the design philosophy in place for this new gametype or did you have to redesign as playtesting took place?

Stefan: The Onslaught gametype was not yet realized when Torlan was finished. The layout of Torlan back then was identical to what it is now, however there were no network nodes and in the landscape. The Gamemode was more of a Base vs. Base Vehicle CTF

Renier: We just had 2 criteria we wanted to meet, firstly a huge expansive terrain for cool vehicle combat, secondly fortified bases ala starship troopers. Once we established the basics we then went for an art style and mood of the level.

BU: The link node editor was a brilliant idea, allowing for infinite customization of the map. How did you decide on the final "official" setup and do you have any tips for people designing their own setup?

Renier: Actually we had nothing to do with the link node system when we created the level.

BU: I understand that you have a license for the Unreal Engine. Can you tell us anything about any of your future U-Engine (or otherwise) projects? Do you plan to create a game or are you using it for other types of projects?

Alexander: There’s a lot more coming from the studio.

Renier: Yes we do… But As for games, who says we haven’t been going at it already? All I can say is where using the unreal engine for something it was never designed for. :)

BU: Looking through your portfolio, you must have worked in nearly every genre by now. Is there one you would like to return to, or one that you haven't explored but would like to?

Stefan: Being a passionate fan of Homeworld, I wouldn’t mind creating a space RTS, but that’s just me.

Renier: I love fantasy and science fiction, so I’m always open to any project in those genres. As for which one I would like to do again? James Bond! Nothing more fun then working on the British super spy license. As for unexplored? Hmmm well anything really, it’s the challenge that we like. Getting a new project with an insane deadline and magically finishing it on time and budget. Its fun to pull of the impossible and we seem to have the uncanny ability to keep doing so.

We would like to thank Alexander L. Fernández, Stefan Baier, and Renier Banninga of Streamline Studios for talking with us. Be sure to check out their work at the website such as several top notch cinematics like the Dead Man's Hand intro. Keep your eyes open for any new Streamline Studios efforts and, if you haven't already, you'll want to download the Unreal Tournament 2004 demo containing their showcase map Torlan.

Dead Man's Hand Dead Man's Hand ONS-Torlan