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Digital Eclipse is an American video game developer based in Emeryville, California. Founded by Andrew Ayre in 1992, the company found success developing commercial emulations of arcade games for Game Boy Color. In 2003, the company merged with ImaginEngine and created Backbone Entertainment. A group of Digital Eclipse employees split off from Backbone to form Other Ocean Interactive, which, in 2015, bought and revived the Digital Eclipse brand. Among its staff is video game preservation specialist Frank Cifaldi.

Digital Eclipse
Formerly
Backbone Emeryville
Division
IndustryVideo game industry
Founded1992; 27 years ago (1992)
FounderAndrew Ayre
Headquarters,
U.S.
Key people
Parent
Websitedigitaleclipse.com

Contents

HistoryEdit

Digital Eclipse was founded in 1992 by Andrew Ayre, a St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, native and Harvard University graduate.[1] The company's first offices were opened on a "nondescript, factory-filled" street in Emeryville, California, where Ayre had moved following his graduation to live with his girlfriend.[1][2] Initially a technology startup company, Digital Eclipse soon found that their software would be useful in the video game industry, and turned to game development instead.[1] Using their technology, the company opted to produce commercial emulations of arcade games, such as Williams Electronics' Joust, Defender, and Robotron: 2084.[3] For these games, Digital Eclipse developed a interpreter that emulated the games' arcade machines' chipset, including the Motorola 6809 central processing unit.[4] This approach was meant to have the emulations act true to the original versions of these games, and not carry any imperfections direct ports could have introduced.[3] All three emulated games were released as part of The Digital Arcade series for Mac OS in 1995.[4]

Digital Eclipse found further success when the Game Boy Color was released; the new handheld console included a central processing unit based on the architecture of the Zilog Z80, the processor used in older arcade machines.[3] While other developers were moving on to develop for the more powerful PlayStation home console, Digital Eclipse developed about 60 games for their niche market on the Game Boy Color.[3] These games included Klax, Spy Hunter, Moon Patrol, Paperboy, Joust, Defender, and 720°, as well as an original game, Tarzan, which Digital Eclipse produced for Activision.[5] Digital Eclipse also opened a second studio in Vancouver, Canada.[6] In February 2001, the company announced their move into the games market for wireless Web devices, hiring Scott Nisbet as director of wireless gaming, as well as Bruce Binder as Nisbet's consultant.[7]

In 2003, Digital Eclipse merged with ImaginEngine, creating Backbone Entertainment; while ImaginEngine remained an independent studio within that structure, Digital Eclipse's studios became Backbone Emeryville and Backbone Vancouver.[8][9] By this point, Digital Eclipse had produced 70 games on 11 different platforms.[2] In February 2006, Backbone opened another subsidiary studio, Backbone Charlottetown, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, under the lead of Ayre.[10] In May 2007, the new studio, including Ayre and several former Digital Eclipse employees, spun off from Backbone and became Other Ocean Interactive, aiming at showcasing Digital Eclipse's former traits in a smaller fashion.[3][11]

Backbone Vancouver was mostly dismantled in September 2008 and closed entirely in May 2009, while Backbone laid off the majority of its Emeryville-based staff in October 2012.[12][13][14] On June 8, 2015, after acquiring the Digital Eclipse name, Other Ocean's parent company, Other Ocean Group, announced that it had reformed Digital Eclipse as part of its Other Ocean Emeryville studio.[15] Co-founders include Ayre, Mike Mika—who had acted as technical director for the original Digital Eclipse—and former Gamasutra writer Frank Cifaldi.[5][15] The new Digital Eclipse laid its focus on video game preservation, and Cifaldi became the studio's "head of restoration", a title which Cifaldi noted was an industry first.[15] At the time, Cifaldi also stated that Digital Eclipse aimed at becoming the video game equivalent of The Criterion Collection.[16]

Eclipse EngineEdit

Part of Digital Eclipse's work include their own Eclipse Engine, a tool that allows them to decompile the code from older games into a machine-readable format that is then used by the Eclipse Engine to play them on modern systems. While it may take some extra work by the company to decompile the older game into the proper format one time, this approach allows them to rapidly port the Eclipse Engine version to any modern gaming system, including personal computers, consoles, and portable and mobile devices, with minimal effort. This engine has been used in Digital Eclipse's Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection.[17][18] The Eclipse Engine was primarily developed by Digital Eclipse's studio head, Mike Mika, and Other Ocean engineer Kevin Wilson, branched off from Other Ocean's Bakesale engine.[15]

Games developedEdit

As Digital Eclipse (1992–2004)Edit

Year Title Platform(s)
1994 Joust Mac OS
Robotron: 2084 Mac OS
Defender Mac OS
1995 Activision's Commodore 64 15 Pack Microsoft Windows
1996 Williams Arcade Classics Dreamcast, Game.com, Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Ms. Pac-Man Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1 PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1997 Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Midway Collection 2 Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
1998 NFL Blitz Game Boy Color
Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 PlayStation
Rampage World Tour Game Boy Color
1999 Knockout Kings Game Boy Color
Disney's Tarzan Game Boy Color
Atari Arcade Hits: Volume 1 Microsoft Windows
Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 Microsoft Windows
Arcade Classic No. 4: Defender / Joust Game Boy Color
Klax Game Boy Color
Arcade Hits: Moon Patrol / Spy Hunter Game Boy Color
Rampart Game Boy Color
Rampage 2: Universal Tour Game Boy Color
Arcade Party Pak PlayStation
Mortal Kombat 4 Game Boy Color
Marble Madness Game Boy Color
Ghosts 'n Goblins Game Boy Color
2000 Dragon's Lair Game Boy Color
Little Nicky Game Boy Color
Alice in Wonderland Game Boy Color
2001 Batman: Chaos in Gotham Game Boy Color
X-Men: Wolverine's Rage Game Boy Color
Rayman Advance Game Boy Advance
Spyro: Season of Ice Game Boy Advance
2002 Spider-Man: The Movie Game Boy Advance
Disney's Lilo & Stitch Game Boy Advance
Spyro 2: Season of Flame Game Boy Advance
Disney's Kim Possible: Revenge of Monkey Fist Game Boy Advance
Phantasy Star Collection Game Boy Advance
2003 Lizzie McGuire: On the Go! Game Boy Advance
Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs Game Boy Advance
2004 Spider-Man 2 Game Boy Advance
Grand Theft Auto Game Boy Advance

As Backbone Entertainment (2004–2012)Edit

As Digital Eclipse (2015–present)Edit

Year Title Platform(s)
2015 Mega Man Legacy Collection Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2017 The Disney Afternoon Collection Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2018 Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c McGillivray, Jim (2009). "From St. John's to California Gaming ... and back". The Andrean.
  2. ^ a b Feldman, Curt (April 23, 2004). "Q&A: Death, Jr. developer Chris Charla". GameSpot. Archived from the original on May 20, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e VB Staff (September 22, 2017). "Other Ocean: Building the past, the future, and the present". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Donaldson, J. Caleb (August 1, 1995). "They Do Make 'Em Like They Used To". Wired. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Schneider, Peer (July 16, 1999). "Lords of the Jungle". IGN. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Harris, Craig (May 28, 2002). "Spyro 2: Season of Flame". IGN.
  7. ^ Goodman, Peter S. (March 21, 2001). "Playing for Keeps". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ Takahashi, Dean (October 12, 2012). "ImaginEngine game studio shuts down (exclusive)". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on December 1, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Adams, David (August 19, 2005). "Foundation 9 Goes Next-Gen". IGN.
  10. ^ Carless, Simon (February 6, 2006). "Foundation 9 To Open New Canadian Studio". Gamasutra.
  11. ^ Boyer, Brandon (April 7, 2008). "Other Ocean: iPhone To Be 'Major Player' In Handheld Market". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Kyllo, Blaine (January 28, 2009). "Vancouver's video game family tree". The Georgia Straight. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  13. ^ Lavender, Terry (November 18, 2009). "Is it Game Over for Vancouver's Video Game Industry? Not quite yet". Vancouver Observer. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  14. ^ Rose, Mike (October 9, 2012). "Layoffs at digital game studio Backbone Entertainment". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on December 1, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c d Wawro, Alex (June 8, 2015). "Digital Eclipse is back with a new mission: preserve classic games". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Schilling, Chris (August 28, 2015). "How 'Mega Man Legacy Collection' Is Teaching the Video Games Industry to Respect Its Heritage". Waypoint.
  17. ^ Orland, Kyle (August 27, 2015). "The new tech making game preservation more authentic and future-proof". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  18. ^ Watts, Steve (March 23, 2017). "Disney Afternoon Collection Producer Talks Challenges and Nostalgia". Shacknews. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.

External linksEdit