HoopWorld benched until 2007

Xbox Live Arcade basketbrawl game delayed as second studio chips in to help it meet Microsoft content guidelines.

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Originally expected to be hitting the Xbox Live Arcade court sometime this year, Amsterdam-based Streamline Studios' HoopWorld has been benched until 2007 to allow for a bit of development teamwork.

Streamline Studios told GameSpot that it has entered into a partnership with Spanish studio Virtual Toys to finish up development on the Unreal Engine-powered HoopWorld. Work on the game between the two studios has already begun, according to Streamline cofounder Hector Fernandez.

Over the past five years, Streamline Studios has made a name for itself as a development support house, assisting in the production of games such as Unreal Tournament 2004, Ghost Recon 2, and the recently released Saints Row. Last year, the studio announced HoopWorld as its first original game, and the over-the-top basketball game was shown off both at the 2006 Game Developers Conference in San Jose as well as at the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Virtual Toys, characterized by Fernandez as a "hardcore engineering house," has been charged with making sure HoopWorld conforms to the guidelines set forth by Microsoft for Xbox Live Arcade games, including a 50MB size limit. The Madrid-based developer previously worked on Torrente for PC (which was released in the US in 2004), and was one of the first European developers to work on the PlayStation 2.

"We're basically looking to have their engineering expertise to make sure we get all our content within [the mandated] limitations," Fernandez said.

According to Fernandez, this won't mean a dramatic rethinking of the basketbrawl concept that is at the heart of HoopWorld. As for whether the additional development time will result in new content for the game, he's keeping his options open on that as well.

"It's speculative," he said, when asked if the game will include addition content. "We'll have everything we intended and then we'll see."

When asked about the experience developing for Xbox Live Arcade, Fernandez was enthusiastic, especially in light of the recent release of the XNA Game Studio Express development platform. "It really empowers a lot of next-gen developers," Fernandez said. "When we first started [HoopWorld], we didn't even have final hardware. Now [developers] have a general idea of the framework. It's beneficial for everyone."

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