What did Atari do with the extra development time for "Ghostbusters"? They made the game more accessible. Here's how.
Last week, I got a quick demo at the Atari offices of the Times Square level of "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" on the Xbox 360, which had the apparition-chasing teammates trapping various enemies and avoiding flying cars thrown by a giant Stay Puft Marshmellow Man. Garrett Moehring, Atari's senior producer for the game, told me how they've made it more accessible along with developer Terminal Reality since the game's had extra development time.
MTV Multiplayer: With all the extra development time, what changes have you made?
Atari senior producer Garrett Moehring: One of the main things we did when we got the game was that we realized that there were a lot of things that needed to be polished. So overall, the main thing we're doing is polishing. We didn't add a ton of new features, but we did add some and change some original weapons, or pieces of equipment as they'd call it in the Ghostbusters lingo. And we just felt we needed to make the game much more accessible.
We're trying to make this pretty mainstream as far as a third-person shooter goes. Because that's really what it is for the most part, it's an action-shooter -- "Gears of War" Lite, in a way. But it's not as complex.
Since we've gotten the game, we've made whatever strides we can to make it more accessible. So controllers, layout, and what the actual player felt like when they were moving the character around was one of the hallmarks of where our focus was. And we had the play-testing results to really support all of those decisions that we made, and that's helped them form a lot of the things you're seeing in the game now. We had probably 70 different people playing the game; obviously we're QAing now an still making a lot of tweaks to fine tune it.
MTV Multiplayer: Do you have any specific examples of changes you've made in terms of player accessibility?
Moehring: Well, I think the original control mechanic that we had for wrangling [ghosts with the Proton streams] was like a two-button one, and right now it's an auto-wrangle. So as soon as you put your Proton stream on a ghost, you're going to see the health bar go from green to red and as soon as it gets to red -- boom! -- it auto-wrangles them. You don't have to initiate them or [use] that cage that you put around them. It does it by itself.
We felt that that was going to be a lot easier, even for hardcore players, because you already have a lot going on. You've got aerial enemies, you've got ground enemies, you've got ranged attacks, close attacks, melee stuff and things flying at you from all over the place. So there's a lot to manage already, and we wanted to make the experience of trapping ghosts fun and easy and not a laborious task.
One of the other things we did was, now you don't have to manage how many traps you have. We could've said, "Okay, you get three traps and that's it, and you have to pick them up, lay them down and keep track of them or if you don't you lose them." So you have unlimited traps, really. [The developers] had it in there at one point.
MTV Multiplayer: So did you ask Terminal Reality to make the game more accessible or...
Moehring: They see all the same things that we do, and we're totally on the same page with them. They're like, "Yes, let's make it more accessible" because obviously they had more time to do it as well. [laughs]
The PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions developed by Terminal Reality will be released on June 16.