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.
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!”
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!