RTA’s got game

Take a young peasant girl in a medieval era, sword-fighting and the avenging of her parents’ death by killing the king, and you have Heiress, an interactive video game created by a group of eight fourth-year students in the RTA School of Media.

The students call themselves Black Canvas Games and they are only the second group from the RTA program to risk going beyond radio and television to create a one-player, interactive video game for their thesis.


Black Canvas Games are the second group from the RTA program to create an interactive video game for their thesis.  (Courtesy Savannah Onofrey)

“We’re challenging ourselves by using what we’ve learned and translated those skills into game development,” says Amanda Barrios, the group’s project manager. “There are no other video games in our program… We’re proud to say our practicum project is unique.”

Heiress works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It takes its gamer into a two-dimensional reality that blends retro aesthetics and audio with fast-paced combat.

“We wanted to contribute to the gaming community as a nod to the games that were so influential in our childhood,” Barrios says. “Hopefully it’ll encourage other people in our program to start creating games.”

There are visual similarities between Heiress and Minecraft, a virtual Lego video game that allows players to construct their own universe in a 3-D simulation.The design of Heiress pays homage to Nintendo’s side-scrolling games from the early ’90s, such as Super Mario Bros. and Megaman. But the gameplay itself is very different, according to Shan Khan, Black Canvas Games’ creative director and executive producer.

“Ryerson’s media production program fosters a great deal of visual content like television shows and short films, but Black Canvas is one of the only teams creating something that demands audience interaction,” Khan says. “Our game is a linear experience that is much more guided by us, the developer. The focus is to take out enemies or sneak by them without being noticed. It’s your choice… Everything is left up to the player to determine for themselves.”

Khan also says that their video game is just a prototype for more developments prospects in the future.

Heiress is our first game but we hope we’ll be able to prototype some more unique ideas and develop even more projects in the future,” he says. “Only time will tell.”

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