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New Ghostbusters The Game Dev Diary

April 8, 2009

New Ghostbusters The Game Dev Diary

Red Fly Studio, developer of the Wii version of Atari's upcoming Ghostbusters game, has released a new developer diary on the progress of the game. In it, Jeff Mills, Director of Production, lays out the weapons and items in the Ghostbusters' arsenal. You can read the whole diary below.

The Gadgets and Gear of the Ghostbuster

Jeff Mills
Director of Production
Red Fly Studio

Tools of the trade

Since Ghostbusters Wii follows the storyline written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, a specific stockpile of gadgets and devices are required to match the dialog and story elements. The default Ghostbusters gear (proton pack, trap and PKE meter) were a no-brainer, but some of the newer, cool gadgets developed by Terminal Reality and Dan Aykroyd for the Xbox360/PS3 version weren’t specifically tailored for the Wii. Therefore, we decided to focus on the Wii's one-of-a-kind controller that offers more natural-feeling control options not only through a few simple, well-placed motion-based gestures but also by aiming directly into the game with an on-screen targeting reticule.

Standard equipment
Of course we couldn't make a Ghostbusters game without the most basic tools in the paranormal investigators toolset. Anyone who has seen the movies will recognize the proton beam, the default tool for any Ghostbuster. Its signature orange and blue lightning spills uncontainable from the tip of the Neutrona Wand and destroys just about everything it hits. Against ghosts, it weakens their spectral energy. Once the ghost's energy is exhausted, the beam wraps around it like a lasso, giving the player a chance to wrangle the ghost into a trap.

An upgrade to the original proton packs comes in the form of the boson dart, a super de-polarized burst of boson particles that overcharges the beam briefly, sending a miniature sun along the length of the beam to destroy anything it touches. It can drain a ghost's energy in one or two shots, but it overheats the pack very quickly. It should be used with caution. (But it usually isn't.)

The ghost trap hasn't changed much since it was last seen in the movies. It still performs its intended function admirably. Any time a weakened ghost is dragged above it, it automatically triggers, opening its tiny gate and emitting a ghost-pulling cone of energy that can suck any ghost into its mysterious core.

Every Ghostbuster is equipped with the standard PKE Meter and Ecto-Goggles (also called Para-Goggles). The distinctive handheld ghost-sensing device alerts the player when ghosts are near and can be used to track ghosts. The Goggles are a separate view mode, giving the player a first-person perspective through his avatar's eyes into the ghost world beyond. Ectoplasmic residue and other details, hints and clues are visible only through the lenses of this paranormal tracking device.

"He slimed me"
The player's upgraded prototype proton pack has a slime-launching mode that not only harms negatively-charged enemies but also coats targeted objects with positively-charged slime. He can then "wrangle" the goo-splattered object in much the same way ghosts are wrangled. This gives the player a certain level of control over the environment in ways that don't involve just running and gunning. Using the Wii's pointer, the player can manipulate elements in the world to solve complex puzzles that challenge the mind as well as the reflexes. Adding to this mechanic, the player can also fire a boson dart into a wrangled object to launch it like a missile across the environment, so the player can expect some challenging dual-stage puzzles which require him to not only find and acquire a critical object but also line up a shot like a billiards ball to plug his wrangled object into a distant socket.

The secondary mode of the slime blower traps an ever-expanding gob of positive slime at the nozzle of the modified proton wand. The player fills that wobbling lump of slime as much as he can before releasing it as a slime mine. One well-placed slime mine can splatter an entire area with positive slime, washing away any traces of the negative black slime that protects certain enemies.

Hold still
Another new device Egon invents during the course of the game is the Stasis Beam which allows the player to immobilize specters. When swarmed by ghosts, the player can lock all of the ghosts in place temporarily while he deals with one specific threat at a time. The stasis beam's effect is short-lived, so players must cautiously juggle the tasks of keeping some ghosts immobilized while trapping others.

If the player is feeling overwhelmed by swarming wisps or other small, non-trappable monsters, he should activate the secondary mode of the stasis beam: the Shock Blast. Not only does this concentrated pulse of stasis energy blast ghosts back, it deals tremendous damage to any nearby monsters or the highly destructible environment. Simple wisps pop like balloons when caught in the blast radius of this tool, and it also eliminates the small objects (furniture, appliances and the like) that phantoms will otherwise possess and use as weapons against the player.

Ready to roll
Equipped with all of this gear, the player is ready to take on any supernatural challenge thrown at him. The PKE meter and Ecto-Goggles lead him to the ghosts. His proton beam and other tools weaken and stun the ghosts. His trap finally locks the ghosts away for good. It's simple in concept, but utilizing the right tools at the right time in the worst of conditions is more than challenging enough to keep the player's pulse racing. It's a good thing he's not going in alone!

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