Long-time readers of my work may remember I once wrote for a now-defunct video game news and reviews outlet called Kombo, and when I learned that developer Terminal Reality was working on a new Ghostbusters game featuring most all of the cast of the original films, I pushed hard to convince the staff that we needed to cover this game with all the resources we could muster. That led to a great working relationship with Terminal Reality's Environmental Lead / Senior FX Artist Glenn Gamble who became a good friend of the Kombo Breaker podcast, who over the course of several episodes told us lots of inside dirt and fascinating secrets and stories about the development process. It broke my heart that we weren't able to get the Internet at large to care about the coverage, and while I've read retrospectives about the game over the years, I've never seen anyone reproduce the stories we had on Kombo all those years ago. Now with a resurgence in Ghostbusters interest thanks to the new Paul Feig-helmed film due out soon, people are starting to wonder about the 2009 game and how it all came to be. Matt Paprocki has written a brilliantly detailed look at the game's history from initial idea to finished product that corroborates much of what I was told both on and off the record back in 2009. This is excellent work and digs deep. For instance, here's a bit on the difficulty of working with actor Bill Murray who reprised the role of Peter Venkman for the game:
There was a problem: for reasons known only to Bill Murray himself, Murray had planned only to do some of his lines to get started, and to return later to do the rest. “He thought he would give us lines to get started,” said Melchior—but development time was short at this point. “Well, the game ships in June , so, no.”
Melchior recalled the stressful days that followed. “We went through as many lines as we could on Saturday, took a lot of breaks. We kept him engaged because he likes baseball, I like baseball. Every time there was a dead period where it looked like it was going south, I just started talking about baseball. He recorded [a] few lines but delivered them well then said we were going to do the rest tomorrow because we had two days. There was a sleepless night between me and the associate producer Ben Borth in New York because there was a chance he was not going to show up for day two. True to his word, he showed up.”
The problem was Murray never finished. How many lines Murray completed is unclear—Melchior claims it was half of his scripted 750-800 lines, while Haworth hesitated to give a number. Regardless, Murray’s work was done. He wasn’t coming back. “I’m not going to judge the way he works because it’s how he probably works on everything,” said Melchior.
If you're hungry for more Ghostbusters game stories, then you'll be happy to know that I've republished most of my old Kombo coverage here on PTB over the years along with some new material that was exclusive to this site because, well, to be honest I think I made my Kombo co-workers sick of the topic and they were tired of indulging my interest. There was just so much to tell! Settle in and consume as much as you like. Covering the development of this game was the absolute highlight of my years with Kombo.
First up are the actual interviews with Glenn Gamble recorded for the Kombo Breaker podcast. Episode 19 is our first meeting with him from March 2009 and he became a recurring guest to talk about non-Ghostbusters topics as well. This episode covers what Dan Aykroyd thinks of the upgraded design of the iconic proton pack, which quips Bill Murray brought to the role of Peter Venkman, why the librarian ghost from the opening scenes of the original film returned, and much more. Then in June 2009 Glenn joined us for the big Ghostbusters blow-out interview on the eve of the game's release for Episode 3 of Kombo's E3 coverage. He opened the vault and told us all the secrets behind the making of the game without spoiling anything too significant. You'll learn about how the game's backstory came together, what it's like to visit the real Sedgewick Hotel, which levels were cut from the finished product (such as the infamous Thanksgiving Day parade sequence), and so much more. No Ghostbusters fan can afford to miss the tantalizing tales in this hour of storytelling.
Meanwhile, back home here at PTB, I summed up the game's development history when it released on June 16, 2009 backed up with lots of links to interesting anecdotes and minutiae. Some of it is very inside-baseball, but if you're a Ghostbusters fan like I am, then you'll eat it up. If you're ready for intense spoilers, I chronicled the many references and shout-outs to the films seen in the game from reused props to story beats all backed up with screenshot evidence. Finally, just for fun, here's a look at the different versions of Vigo the Carpathian seen across games spanning 1989 through the 2009 title.
If you have anything to share about the development of the game, I'd love to hear about it. I'm ready to believe you!