From retro to immersive

Christopher McHale
9 min readApr 26, 2023

Exploring 21st Century Game Dev through the evolution of tools.

In 2001, geo-political events rock the world. People line up for the first Harry Potter film. We’re trying to hide and celebrate at the same time. It’s crazy. The pace of the new century is circling the rim of an abyss.

What exactly are we facing in the newly minted 21st century?

Do you remember the way it felt?

It’s scary.

Streamline Studios Emerges in Amsterdam, entering FPS and 3D Gaming in the Era of PlayStation 2 and Xbox

In a small town called Hilversum, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, some guys get together.

They meet online.

They hang out.

They dream.

A small group of players with outsized ambition. They come up with a name, Streamline Studios, and they get to work.

These guys like to work.

They live for it.

This is the time of PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the latest video game systems. As fast as the culture is moving, game development is moving that fast, faster, leading the technology, coming up with innovations, new twists that make people line up to play the games.

Games like Grand Theft Auto III and Halo: Combat Evolved. Games like no one has seen before. Open-world and first-person shooter genres.

Where are we going with all this?

The possibilities seem endless.

Grand Theft dives deep into the rapidly emerging and seductive world of 3D, using the power of PlayStation2. You can drive anywhere! That’s how it felt. Hands on the wheel, the city is yours. The perfect meld of American freedom of the road, and action.

It’s a massive hit.

Halo: Combat Evolved modernized the First-Person Shooter era, becoming a massive success for the X-box.

This combination of FPS and 3D worlds becomes critical in Streamline’s growth. The studio takes to the tech like a rapper to a fresh beat.

They learn every new tech they can get their hands on.

They master the tools.

Every new game became a challenge. They used RenderWare 3D graphics in Grand Theft Auto III. Every developer jumps into the pool. You need to swim in these new technologies.

Streamline is literally growing up innovation by innovation. It’s the beauty of the industry. The learning never stops. The innovations keep coming.

Halo: Combat Evolved revolutionized RPG gaming with its pioneering blend of open-world and down in the mud crawler action. This game grabs you by the rucksack and won’t let go. The genius designers create an immersive experience for gamers, featuring cooperative campaigns, realistic vehicular physics, intelligent scripting — resulting in a stunningly detailed world to explore.

And a huge challenge. Suddenly, there’s a new mind-boggling wash of technology, graphics, animations, and players lying beside you in the muck. Bullets whizzing by your head. You are there.

Streamline Expands to Malaysia as Gaming Technology Booms: A Move to Boost Global Game Development

In 2005, Epic Games revolutionized the gaming industry with their announcement of Unreal Engine 3-an innovative graphics engine powering titles like Gears of War and Bioshock.

Streamline works on BioShock. A beautiful world of steampunk fantasy and mystery.

Every new game must get measurable results. That’s the expectation when Streamline gets the call.

What innovations are we looking at?

What new worlds will we create?

What life can we breathe into these characters?

And how does it deliver and retain the players?

Fast forward seven years to 2012: The next iteration, Unreal Engine 4, bringing significant advancements such a Blueprint visual scripting system aimed at making game creation more accessible for non-programmers.

This new technology produces games like Fortnite and Final Fantasy VII Remake. Video game development is a rocket ship now. There seems no end to the adventures ahead.

Developers must stay sharp. There’s no falling behind, but look, no one wants to fall behind, because it’s all about passion as much as business.

Streamline adapts and develops with the rapidly changing video game industry, leading to more success. Innovation and rising to the ongoing challenge of breakthrough technology become the fuel of the company’s rapid growth.

2012 sees the world come together in London for the iconic Summer Olympics. The Queen jumps out of a helicopter. The artist Psy dominates YouTube. Over 1 billion views of ‘Gangnam Style’.

Streamline is on the move. The company pivots from Europe to Southeast Asia. They literally put backpacks on their backs and travel all over Asia, looking for a new home.

It’s the best way to compete, the best way to grow, the best way to make the games they want to make. Gaming technology is exploding, challenging every video game developer to keep up.

What’s the difference between the sprawling studio in KL and the basement in Hilversum? There is no difference. The passion is to make a great game. That never changes.

Streamline’s Axon Runners Comes to iOS with Coca-Cola Content Factory Partnership

In 2007, Apple releases the iPhone, which revolutionizes mobile gaming. Angry Birds became one of the most popular mobile games of all time and showed that simple, yet addictive gameplay could be just as successful as graphics-heavy console titles.

Streamline jumps into the original IP fray.

Streamline Studios’ debut original IP gave players a taste of arcade-style basketball in July 2010 on Wii across North and South America. Months later, gamers at the other side of the world got their own version with an updated title — Hoopworld BasketBrawl.

Keeping up with changing times, Streamline establishes another successful partnership to bring life to Axon Runners for iOS users through the Coca-Cola Content Factory.

That’s a marriage made in paradise. A hot, young video game team and one of the world’s iconic brands. Streamline starts focusing on the intersection of games and brands.

Streamline Taps into Growing Southeast Asia Market for Video Game Development with Kuala Lumpur Studio

One of the most significant technological breakthroughs in video games comes with the release of Minecraft. This game allows players to build their own virtual worlds using simple block-based graphics.

I mean, this game takes over your mind. Minecraft’s success proves gameplay and creativity are just as important as graphics in making a successful video game.

People build a new world one block at a time.

Another innovation comes along, though. It always does, right?

The release of virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. These headsets allow players to fully immerse themselves in virtual worlds and open a whole new realm of gaming possibilities.

The release of Unity 5.0, featuring a new scripting language (C#) and improved graphics capabilities, enabled new dynamics in game design in 2015. Pillars of Eternity. Ori and the Blind Forest. Our imaginations set loose by engines like the amazing Unity 5.

Streamline taps into the booming Southeast Asia market to uncover new talent and drive growth

Alright, we’ve made it to 2016. Check it out. Like we said, Streamline goes global, and they set up shop in Kuala Lumpur. KL is a city on the move. It’s remaking itself. Skyscrapers are going up everywhere. It’s a construction zone from one end to the other. And it’s a multicultural stew.

I’ve never seen so many cultures mushed together in one spot. Streamline instantly becomes a company that speaks a dozen languages. We’ve artists from the States and Europe, programmers from the Mid-East and Africa. It’s a game-squad of mad-talented artists, animators, and developers cooking up some fresh video game jams.

You need to step to the side when this crew gets going. This bold let’s-leave-the-west-and-go-to-the-far-east move lets Streamline tap into the booming Southeast Asia market for video game development, mine a whole new seam of talent for the company, find some real gold, artists, and programmers, producers, gamers. It’s a rich vein of talent.

Streamline Contributes Art, Engineering and V/R Tech for Expansive Contribution to Final Fantasy XV

Clients respond. Square Enix knocks on the newly polished door of the studio. Streamline helps with the production of the complex and technically challenging Final Fantasy XV, one of the most anticipated games, anteing up art, engineering, and even nascent V/R technology for expansive DLC. The production of Final Fantasy is intense. It’s takes every tool, VFX, Unreal, Maya, Oculus, the whole gamut of breakthrough tech to make it to the finish line.

In the first decade of Streamline’s existence, games blew up in a big way. The scale of these projects is now off the charts, demanding an insane amount of content, art asset creation, engineering, and level design. They reach a technology peak. Square Enix and Streamline Studios collaborate on Final Fantasy XV is next-level challenge.

A long, long way from the tiny room in Hilversum.

All this work leads straight to the promised land. Streamline is officially named an Unreal Engine Authorized Services Partner by Epic Games.

They honored Streamline and blew them away. The hard work and passion paid off. Big time.

Streamline Produces at the Forefront of Video Game Development: Embracing the Revolutionary Metaverse

Way back in ’92, some genius named Neal Stephenson comes out with this book called Snow Crash, where he drops the concept of a Metaverse on our unsuspecting future. The Metaverse lurks for a long time before it sneaks into our imaginations.

This is a virtual space where customers immerse themselves in digital worlds and interact with each other using digital wizardry.

Sound familiar?

It should because video game technology has been building this idea for over twenty ideas. We just didn’t have a name for it. Well, Neil did.

The Metaverse is adopted by heavy hitters like Second Life, Minecraft, and Meta, but it’s only recently that the technology has caught up and these virtual worlds are coming to life. Companies like Epic Games and Roblox are going all-in on creating new versions of this once-fantastical Metaverse, and they’re bringing us closer than ever before to a fully realized version of its potential.

It’s like science fiction becoming reality right before our very eyes. HG Wells move over.

Streamline steps into a metaversey world of revolutionary fashion exploration with Balenciaga’s immersive digital playground.

Afterworld: The World of Tomorrow invites customers to create avatars and embark on their own adventure, uncovering new looks and concepts from the brand in carefully crafted immersive environments, featuring upcoming trends and styles.

Customers access this experience through a mobile or PC console where they discover twists in design as well as models wearing Balenciaga’s distinct vision — allowing them an unparalleled way to interact with style aficionados everywhere.

The models are suitably fashion dark, waifs walking through a dystopian world, posing, and prancing and allowing people to peek at the fashion of tomorrow.

It’s a revolution in gaming, and another breakthrough step on Streamline’s long journey developing tools for video game development, from early 3D open worlds to the infinite horizons of V/R and the unfolding Metaverse.

Streamline has been riding the video game development wave since the early days. Now they’re charging headfirst into the infinite horizons of V/R and the emerging Metaverse.

Streamline has a pioneering attitude, always finding new ways to do things, and venturing into the unknown. And with the industry constantly developing, Streamline keeps pushing the boundaries, mastering new technologies, using the latest tools, and embracing the future of gaming.

Wherever that future takes us.

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Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher writes about creativity, culture, technology, music, writing.