The digital art created by Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Emma Perretta is being enjoyed by video game enthusiasts around the world.
Perretta, who turns 25 in June, is part of a team of Niagara College students who created The Fallen, a new fantasy melee combat game that is now available on Steam, one of the world’s biggest and most well-known video game platforms.
It’s a feather in the cap for the St. Michael Catholic Elementary and Holy Cross Secondary School graduate, who just completed her studies in the Game Development program at the college. She plans to pursue a career in the gaming industry, either on a freelance basis or as part of a development team working for a studio.
“From starting to make characters around 2013,” she says, “I knew I kind of wanted to go further into making games, and being part of the game industry.”
Perretta was the only woman on the team of nine, now known professionally as Six Pillars Studios.
The Fallen is the result of the students working together on their third-year Capstone project, which challenges them to take a game from concept to completion. Though their project was finished in April, 2019, Perretta and the others worked through the summer to make changes and additions. Their aim was to have it ready for a School of Media Studies showcase last October.
According to Perretta, it was after that showcase when professors decided to encourage the group to move forward under an incubator project, giving them more time, and some grant money, to prepare it for the March 4 launch on Steam.
Modelled somewhat after a popular franchise called Dark Souls, The Fallen requires the player to assume the role of a disgraced knight, who has awakened within the Land of the Fallen, a desolate realm of purgatory. The user must defeat the Fallen Guardians in order to reclaim his or her honour, and to find long-awaited rest.
One of six artists who worked on the project, Perretta worked primarily on environments for the visual elements of the game. Though her interests usually lean toward character creation, her role on The Fallen forced her to draw on some new skills in 3D modelling to create props and artifacts.
“I created what are known as assets,” she explains. “I made some skulls, and some statues that are in the crypt, that helped me practise getting into more character design.”
Perretta credits the Game Development program, and the Capstone project in particular, for building her collaboration skills.
“The program teaches you step-by-step how to be a professional game developer,” she says. “I learned how to work together with a team. It started with some brainstorming, and we tried to communicate a lot, and there was a lot of negotiation involved.”
The overall goal, she adds, was to make a game that would be a memorable experience for the player.
In a press release from Niagara College, professor Conor MacNeill noted that, “putting the final touches on a game can be daunting, (so) the fact that the students took their project all the way to distribution, and a launch on Steam, is an amazing accomplishment.”
“In the gaming world, all it takes is for one influential streamer to play the game and you could see a massive spike in interest from their followers,” he added.
Another artist on the project, Andres Coimbra Castedo, originally from Bolivia, says, “weve been hitting social media, spreading the word ourselves on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We’ve actually had a few streamers and YouTubers make videos, who have discovered the game on their own.”
He adds that, as a team, they continue to collaborate and to look for new ideas that perhaps Six Pillars can pursue in the future. COVID-19, of course, means they can’t collaborate in person, but in the game designing world, that’s not a huge roadblock to progress.
The current situation, however, did mean that an official launch of The Fallen, scheduled originally for late March, had to be cancelled.
Though she didn’t reap the attention amid the pomp and circumstance that would have accompanied the in-person launch, Perretta is happy to know the game she helped create is available on a popular worldwide platform.
“When we started the project, I never expected we would see the game on Steam,” she says.
With the success of The Fallen, she can now make a direct link between her long-time love of drawing to a future career in game development.
Reviews for the game on the Steam online platform are unanimously positive thus far, which bodes well for the Six Pillars name.
The other members of the development team behind Six Pillars Studios includes programmers Andrew Chiarelli (Dunnville), Philip Ellis (Niagara Falls), and Duncan Brudlo (Oakville); as well as artists Kristopher McArthur (St. Catharines), Doug McKay (Dunnville), Cole Robertson (Greenbank, Ont./Claremont, Ont.), and Mathieu A. Chartrand (Lafontaine, Ont./Gatineau, QC).
For more information about The Fallen or Six Pillars Studios, visit thefallengame.com.
The Fallen is available for free download on Steam. To download, visit store.steam