How Digital Eclipse aims to preserve classic games for future generations

In a chat with USGamer, Other Ocean's Frank Cifaldi shares some of the technical challenges Digital Eclipse has faced in recompiling classic Mega Man games for its cross-platform Eclipse engine.
"'Can we do something like scanning a film in 4K, but for games?'...There's no real magic bullet solution to that, but our approach to it is: We set up our Eclipse Engine, and we set up hardware simulation modules, and we convert using source elements provided by the publisher."

- Frank Cifaldi speaks to Digital Eclipse's strategy and overarching goal in developing the Mega Man Legacy Collection.

Video game history buffs, take note: industry historian (and former Gamasutra editor) Frank Cifaldi recently sat down with USGamer in his role as Head of Restoration at Other Ocean's newly-resurrected Digital Eclipse to detail some of the studio's work on its upcoming Mega Man Legacy Collection, and how it hopes to keep games playable in perpetuity via its Eclipse Engine.

"The games themselves are safe. The Eclipse Engine, at its core, is fairly simple and easily portable. The philosophy being, when PlayStation 5 comes around, Rey [Jimenez, of Capcom] can call us and it won't be that hard to get these games running again," Cifaldi said. "We think it's a solution. I dont know if it's the ultimate silver bullet solution...but I don't think anyone's taken that particular approach."

Studio representatives previously told Gamasutra that the Eclipse Engine was developed by studio chief Mike Mika and engineer Kevin Wilson to serve as an easily portable virtual environment, and Cifaldi now points out that while recompiling old games into a format that runs on Eclipse might make them less perfectly accurate than emulating them directly, it ensures they'll be more easily available for people to play. 

"Cycle-accurate [emulation] is a phantom we'll be chasing for decades...we're nowhere near that," he said. "Given the modern hardware, we're really pushing it as far as we can to deliver a product that people can actually download and play."

It's an echo of what archivist Jason Scott said at GDC earlier this year: games are more readily appreciated for their historical and cultural value when they're easily available for future generations to play and study.

Both Cifaldi and Jimenez seem to share a similar passion for game preservation, and you can read more of how their work collaborating on the Mega Man Legacy Collection reflects that in the full USGamer interview.

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