Eighth Wonder and 8th Wonder Games

A quick post on two similar sounding studios that I did some research on.

This is something I quickly started (and finished) researching today. I was interested in the topic because of an article on Waypoint about three Net Yaroze developers. I won’t go into what Net Yaroze is if you’re not familiar, and will instead point you to this interesting and recent video covering the subject.

Anyway, the main point of interest was hearing about how Chris Chadwick, the developer of one the most noteworthy Net Yaroze titles, Blitter Boy, ended up joining a little known studio called Eighth Wonder. Eighth Wonder never properly released any titles but it was notable as it was comprised of former Rare employees.

It was in researching this studio that I accidentally came across a very similarly named studio by the name of 8th Wonder Games that also seemed to be developing a cancelled title in the same time frame. This lead me to believe the studios were one and the same. This was incorrect and a quick look at the facts should have made that rather clear (Eighth Wonder as a European Studio developing for the PS1, and 8th Wonder Games as an American studio developing for PC) though to be fair, the chances of two very similarly named studios having their titles canned within the same time-frame is quite the coincidence.

This post is just a quick compilation of the information I found regarding the two studios that I figured was worth mentioning.


Eighth Wonder
Most of Eighth Wonder’s history was covered in the opening post (there isn’t a lot of information on the topic) so here’s just a quick timeline + findings

IGN, Rare Staff Defects To Sony
-22 April 1997
–Group of developers from Rare approached Sony Europe
–Eighth Wonder / 8th Wonder is formed
–Deal for three games, possibly three afterwards
Members At This Point
-Oliver Davies (Game Designer)
-Oliver Norton (Software Engineer)
-Steve Patrick (Software Engineer)
-Jeff Stafford (Software Engineer)
-Chrisopher Gage (Artist)
-Adrian Smith (Artist)

Popcorn / Short Fuses (first Eighth Wonder title)
Unseen64 Article / Jamie Hemmings post
-Title In Development from 1997 to 1998
–Bomberman Clone with shades of Atic Atac
Adrian Smith leaves Eighth Wonder at some point
Andrew Wood and Jamie Hemming brought on board
-Title appeared at Sunsoft Booth at E3 1998
-Popcorn canned at least after E3 1998 occurs
-Eighth Wonder is gone by 1999

Net Yaroze Developer Interviews on Waypoint
-Blitter Boy: Operation Monster Mall released in 1998
–Chris Chadwick, Net Yaroze Developer of Blitter Boy
Blitter Boy was released in 20 August 1998
–Chadwick won Game Developer UK Competition in 1998 after Blitter Boy
–Chadwick joined Eighth Wonder possibly around / after the award
–Eighth Wonder closed before releasing any titles
-Eighth Wonder mentioned as second party studio

This is about all there is to the subject of Eighth Wonder. It’s interesting to hear that some of Rare’s members in the 90’s migrated towards Sony, though it’s unfortunate to hear what became of the collaboration. The exact reason for the title’s cancellation was never made clear, though speculation points towards internal problems.

 


8th Wonder Games
This studio has a little more history but I’m only really interested in showing that 8th Wonder Games and Eighth Wonder are not the same studios (and also showing the title they developed that was cancelled in the same time period as Popcorn).

Early 8th Wonder Games
Partnership Between 8th Wonder Games and SouthPeak Interactive
-8th Wonder Games began as Interactive Education Inc. in 1993
-President of 8WG was Clement du Toit
-8WG consisted of 18 creative professionals
-Featured prominently throughout 1996
-Developers + Multimedia Producers
-Old Site: http://www.8wonder.com

Bob Chase Interview on Drachen Zor
(Exact Date Unknown, possibly around May 20 1997 or later)
-Bob Chase is the Media Relations Specialist at SouthPeak Interactive
-Drachen Zor is a collaboration between 8WG and SouthPeak Interactive
-Drachen Zor is a PC fighting game with multiplayer aspirations set for October 1997
-Fantasy themed setting of Drakkor; 8 planned characters
-Uses proprietary V-Engine for multiplayer

Further Information on V-Engine
(Exact Date Unknown)
-Drachen Zor would have been a 3D Game
-Voxel-based engine for landscapes
-Adaptive AI

Announcement of Infinity Game System
(Exact Date Unknown)
-Occurred during the development of Drachen Zor
-Lead Designer is Sean Patrick Fannon
-IGS is multiplayer title / toolkit for RPG’s

Drachen Zor’s Delay and Later Cancellation
-September 28, 1998
–Title missed release date of October 1997
–March 1998, title was revealed to be pushed back for 1999
–September 1998, Drachen Zor was officially cancelled
–Cancellation reason; “[it] didn’t meet [our] high standards”

I didn’t keep track of anything after this. I should mention that the information on 8th Wonder Games being formed in 1993 was very obscure information (it was the very last bit of information I found in my search). Not knowing when 8WG was specifically formed was why I wasn’t sure if 8WG and EW were the same studio, though knowing that it was formed a good four years before Eighth Wonder helps clear things. The only thing I have left to mention is this link. It mentions a demo of Drachen Zor possibly being emailed, but I am not sure if this demo was ever released (and if so, when that occurred).


Final Thoughts
I don’t think I’ll be adding Eighth Wonder to my extensive list (just because they didn’t officially release any titles at all), though some Rare employees falling into the lap of Sony (and Sony seemingly not making any use of it) is something to definitely think about. As for the point of this all, I found this to be a fun refresher in tracking down information in old video games.


List of Sources

Unseen 64
https://www.unseen64.net/tag/eighth-wonder/
https://www.unseen64.net/2011/07/21/popcorn-psx-cancelled/

Wikipedia, Rare article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_(company)#cite_note-84

IGN Articles
http://au.ign.com/articles/1997/04/23/rare-staff-defects-to-sony
http://au.ign.com/articles/1998/09/29/drachen-zor-dumped

Waypoint, Net Yaroze Developers Interview
https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/meet-the-devs-who-made-indie-games-on-the-original-playstation

Net Yaroze Page
http://www.psxdev.net/yaroze_2.html

GameSpot Articles
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/8th-wonders-rpg-toolkit/1100-2467030/
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/8th-wonder-games-touts-new-engine/1100-2466725/D

Jamie Hemmings
http://jamstains.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/playstation-years.html?m=1
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-hemming-a08780b

Drachen Zor Demo
http://www.edharriss.com/dzwebsite/Default.htm

Bob Chase Interview
http://www.thecomputershow.com/computershow/interviews/southpeakbobchaseint.htm

Sean Patrick Fannon (Lead Designer) on Gamasutra
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131631/where_we_should_be_going_with_.php

V-Engine / 8th Wonder Games details
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/V-engine
https://www.thefreelibrary.com/8th+Wonder+Games+Announces+Partnership+with+SouthPeak+Interactive+for+…-a019430270

 

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