Ahead of Friday's remastered release, executive producer John Melchior shares stories from the original game's development.
Hello dear readers! I’m John Melchior, Executive Producer of the original Ghostbusters: The Video Game. With Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered set to launch this Friday, October 4, this was a great time to reflect on the timelessness of the beloved title, and how special creating a Ghostbusters video game has been.
The Cast in Ghostbusters: The Video Game
The personalities of the cast are so important to every aspect of Ghostbusters, and it was one of the first things we tackled. We really tried to capture all their quirks, traits and humor in the never released 10-minute prototype. It was the element of the pitch that won over Sony, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ivan Reitman to approve it and Vivendi to fund it.
Dan always described it as a family structure. To make it work, we had to follow that approach. Think of it like this: Bill is the father figure, the one who tries to take care of the family and keep the out-of-control kids in order. Dan brings a youthful Christmas morning approach to everything that happens. Like opening the one present you really wanted. Things like “This is great,” “I can’t believe it,” approach, even if the events are scary. For the most part, he sees the positive side to everything. Harold is the pragmatic child and the geek. Introverted and studies more than parties. However, when you put them together, they get into all sorts of trouble that requires them to be put back in line. Ernie’s character is really the perfect representation of the audience, seeing things the same way we do and calling out the obvious. Finally, William Atherton is the spoiled brat kid down the street who always gets what he wants.
So, knowing the above, Drew (Hayworth) and I worked hard to create environments and sets that showcased each of them and allowed setups for their humor and characters to shine. Then the vast number of writers we had trying to create this universe took those and created specifics to the characters, their motivations, and connections to each other. Dan and Harold took those and really created the humor you see in the game.
The New Recruit & World Building
The rookie (new recruit) was a massive fight internally at Vivendi and then even with Atari. They really wanted to “play as the cast.” This was something I really fought for and eventually won. The reason why was simple. I felt people wanted the characters to have the same chemistry as they did in the films. A pillar of this was timing. So, by playing a character that had no lines, we were able to craft that timing.
Dan, Harold, Bill, and Ivan created an incredible universe with the films. Most importantly, they create rules to the world and things that could and could not be done. This gave Drew and the design team a playground to build the levels out of. One of the most important things that they made a mandate was that one of Ghostbusters main characters is the city of New York. The city — its attitude, energy, and tone — needed to be front and center in creating this world. These are also things that helped the writers as they started to put details to the levels and dialogue.
One time, there was a debate about the museum location. I called Harold, who was on the set of The Office directing an episode, and he called me back from his break to weigh in and provide guidance about what would best fit the world. Dan was also always there. He would regularly see the game and review the levels we were creating to see how they played into the canon of their creation. The upstate NY location and boat were things that he had created in some form for the movie, but it never made it in. So, he really wanted us to put them into our game since it was canon and fit in to the universe. He has a lot of knowledge about NY’s history, locations, and people. It was amazing to work within his guidelines of where we needed to go in the game and how it played out as far as the ghosts, how they acted, and even what they were wearing.
Iconic Settings, Characters, & Weapons
First and foremost, we wanted to take players back to the Sedgewick Hotel. This iconic location from the film is a fan favorite. We wanted to re-create the ballroom scene, in part to gain the player’s trust. We felt strongly that if we can nail the look, feel, destruction, and rod-and-reel aspect of the game, we would have their trust for the rest of the game. That level was the focal point of our pre-production.
We wanted to bring back Stay Puft, and we were told that in order to do that we’d really need to put him in Time Square. So, we crafted an introduction that put him in familiar territory at first, but led to a boss combat sequence that was narrower and more focused for the players than a space that wide open.
The firehouse was a must for us. We wanted to create it and place a lot of elements from both films in there for fans to see and interact with. The best example of that is probably the Vigo Painting.
Picking elements and areas that were for the fans was important to us, but we did not want to overuse that approach. So, we worked with the team and Dan/Harold to create new locations that they hoped would become iconic for the fans.
The boat was something that Dan wanted. He always wanted a GB boat in the movies and really felt the game was the perfect place to introduce it. It was a great part of the story. We had early prototypes of driving the Ecto-1 and the boat but they did not end up in the game.
We sat down with Dan and discussed equipment classes. We told him we wanted GB equipment types for every type of gun that shooter fans would expect. He worked with the design team to create a vast number of weapons. They were all fun and chaotic. The Tether was a perfect addition as it played really well in the physics engine that we used for the game. In the early tests of that piece of equipment, fans just loved connecting two objects together and letting physics take over.
The Stasis mines were also a fun addition that forced the entity to freeze in place for a few seconds.
We hope you enjoyed this trip down Ghostbusters memory lane, and you jump in and experience the unique storyline and adventure in high definition with Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered on PS4!