How Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis helped make Ghostbusters: The Video Game an authentic movie tie-in

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How Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis helped make Ghostbusters: The Video Game an authentic movie tie-in

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, 4th October, 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 humour 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 humour 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 humour 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 favourite. 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!

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  • I was hoping for Kirsten Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Less ghosts, more bust.

    • I really hope you are joking, that remake was horrendous. An insult to the legend.

    • The remake with girls was rubbish THAT wont be happening no more because any developer wat makes a ghostbusters game with girls will be sued ghostbusters are men and will stay that was for ever

    • @Shazam-Superguy. Ghostbusters are always men huh? So Janine strapping on a proton pack in the real ghostbusters changed her gender, who knew? Also what about Kylie, or does she not count despite being trained by Egpn?

      Ghostbusters 3 has 2 females in the new group. I can’t wait for the scene where Ray tells them to leave and the gets sued for discrimination.

      Seriously, Ghostbuster is the job title it can be done by anyone. It wasn’t the actresses fault that Kate Dippold can’t write a good Ghostbusters movie.

    • @link1983 Ah, someone who knows their stuff. :) Yes, Janine did put on a pack and help/save the guys and yes Kylie was a full time member too. I brought this up during the whole fuss about the 2016 movie a few years ago. We’re not against there being female Ghostbusters. That wasn’t one of the many, many problems of the 2016 version. The fact it was a badly written, unfunny mess that didn’t even get the tone right of the previous movies was more the issue. :P

    • To be fair, the hate train against the movie began as soon as it was announced that it was was going to have an female cast. The movie was boring, I agree. But the old Ghostbuster movies weren’t that funny either, at least I never thought of them comedy movies. They’re cult classics, ok. But if you forced me right now to watch one the 3 movies, I’d watch the third one. Though I’d rather not.

    • They’re not wacky comedies or anything. More dry wit and sarcasm but I still do laugh out loud at them more than most supposed comedies. And I like that. They feel grounded in a gritty reality of sorts despite the obvious supernatural element. I love those first two films and the animated series. :)

    • Maybe I was too young to get the humor when I watched the movies. I mostly remember them as being spooky and sci-fi.

      I just think the female Ghostbusters never got a fair chance. I kinda like those girlpower movies like Rough Night and Ocean’s 8

  • I’m just happy to see this return, loved it back in the day.

    Hoping to see some sort of dedication to Harold Ramis in there too.

  • I’ve missed this game. I hope the loading time (when you fail and gotta restart) has been improved cos that was a tedious wait on the original. But yeah I’m looking forward to strapping on my proton pack and getting back in there. :)

    Only just occured to me I’m still using the GB no-ghosts avatar from when i switched back to it when Ecto-1 became a car in Rocket League. :)

  • Fantastic game, one of my PS3 favourites. Really fun and good story that actually feels like a Ghostbusters 3. Totally worth it for any GB fan

  • The films and the game have not aged well… let them die.

    • no sir. i watched the original film again just last week and still enjoyed it far more than a lot of recent movies. And so did my friend who had never actually seen it before. Classics don’t age. :)

    • Yes they have PlayStation wannabe gamer we all know u have a xbox

    • If you think Ghostbusters is a classic then your film/videogame opinion is irrelevant.

    • Of course it’s a classic. It’s widely regarded as one even by many snooty film critics. To deny that makes YOUR opinion irrelevant…

    • Deny it? Pfft these so called “snooty film critics” aren’t worth their salt trying to deem this a classic. You are either hilariously old and are out of touch or hilariously young and have zero experience, in either case pipe down!

    • If you DON’T think Ghostbusters is a classic then your film/videogame opinion is irrelevant.

  • Why does this game only have audio in English? The original PlayStation 3 had Spanish among other languages. Some explanation?

  • If you think Ghostbusters is a classic then your film/videogame opinion is irrelevant.

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