Q&A: Ghostbustin' with ZootFly

ZootFly CEO Bostjan Troha talks about crossing streams with a Ghostbusters game and upcoming projects for next-gen consoles and Xbox Live Arcade.

Over the weekend, Ghostbusters fans were aflutter with some videos that appeared on YouTube. The clips showed footage of a game based on the apparition apprehenders made famous in the 1984 sci-fi comedy film. But instead of featuring fish-out-of-water geeks awkwardly shooting from their proton packs, the videos showed Gears of War-style gameplay, massive destruction, and a gritty New York cityscape.

The videos were posted by the game's developer, Slovenia-based ZootFly, who later admitted that the Xbox 360 game was merely a prototype and that intellectual-property issues momentarily sidelined its development.

GameSpot pulled ZootFly CEO Bostjan Troha aside to talk about the possibility of the Ghostbusters game getting made and the buzz the videos made in the gaming world.

GameSpot: The first obvious question is, why release these videos of a prototype Ghostbusters game to the public? Was it designed to drum up interest in the game?

Bostjan Troha: We hoped the publisher would sort out the IP issue in a jiffy and we'd be recharging proton packs in no time. Unfortunately, they didn't push to untangle the IP hard enough and the whole thing stalled a bit. There's actually no insurmountable problem with getting the IP. It's just that extra mile someone needs to stride to get it.

As diehard Ghostbusters fans we somehow felt obliged to share the early prototypes with the public. Also, we hoped to show that the fan base is enormous and that there's a wide and genuine interest for a next-gen Ghostbusters game.

GS: What was the response to the videos?

BT: Absolutely unbelievable. I don't think anyone expected such an overwhelmingly positive response. We got countless e-mails from people of all walks of life, young and old. The fan base seems to span across generations, and it's not just us 30-something kids who loved the four crazy New Yorkers in overalls.

GS: How long was Ghostbusters in development? And how long ago did development stop?

BT: The development started in May 2006 and was put on the back burner in July 2006, at which point we shifted the focus to TimeO, a Ghostbusters-inspired game.

GS: Talk to us about the IP issues you are having. Who owns the license, and have talks to acquire the license started?

BT: As I mentioned, the IP issues are surmountable. I'd prefer not to go into details right now, I am sure you'll understand. I hope the buzz we created will create enough wake to resolve the issues.

GS: Has word gotten out to any of the potential cast members of Ghostbusters? The Peter Venkman cutscene was great...

BT: The publisher went through a Beverly Hills-based talent agency that represents some of the movie cast members, but I don't know whether the word has gotten to any individuals.

GS: Was the engine that the game is running on built for Ghostbusters?

BT: Actually, the engine is based off of a common code base we have at ZootFly. After our previous titles were released it was upgraded to next-gen to run a prototype of World War III, a game where the US and Europe duke it out. The Ghostbusters footage was running on an intermediate build of the engine that now powers TimeO.

GS: I believe this would be your first game based on an existing license. Why did you choose Ghostbusters, and are you worried at all about the game not living up to the hopes fans may have?

BT: Yes, Ghostbusters would be our first game based on a really cool license. It was a very obvious choice. Many of us were in their teens back in the eighties and just loved the coolest carefree geeks chasing ghosts.

But there was nothing new Ghostbusters-related out there: no movie sequels, no games, nothing. It was simply unbearable; we had to do something about it. It would be an intolerable loss for the Western civilization to let Ghostbusters slip into oblivion. I don't give a flying Wiimote for Kafka, but Ghostbusters...

Of course, delivering on par with the expectations of the fandom was our main concern. We wanted to keep all what's sacred intact, but put in a bit of that grittiness of the post-9/11 world.

GS: Would this game follow the storyline of the original Ghostbusters, or are you working on a new story?

BT: The story would follow the original, by all means. It's the perfect equilibrium of horror, action, and comedy with crazy New Yorkers dealing with crazy stuff. We would update some aspects of the IP, but only slightly.

GS: In the past, IP issues have caused some copyright owners to shut down operations of game development for infringing on trademarks. Was this ever a concern for you?

BT: We worked very closely with the publisher from the word "go," and they in turn worked very closely with the IP holders to avoid any infringements.

GS: What are the chances of this game being made?

BT: I believe the chances are great. It's tough to imagine letting such an opportunity [go] to waste. In the Land of Lost Opportunities this would be the One to Rule Them All. We will do all we can to make it happen and would like nothing better than to be able to finish this game we've come to love.

GS: Let's talk about TimeO for a second. Can you give us an overview of the game?

BT: It's a third-person action game for the Xbox 360, PS3, and hopefully for the Wii. It's an upbeat story about two diehard urban explorers who got trapped deep in the shadow world of a parallel New York. The city itself is a war machine threatening to wipe out our world. Zed Condor and Violet Munro have three days to stop it.

TimeO is in part based on a true story about two urban explorers that disappeared in New York City in August 2006, while exploring a Harlem basement rumored to house an ancient portal into the parallel world.

GS: How long has it been in development, and when do you think it will be complete?

BT: We started prototyping in summer last year. The development of a 20-minute vertical slice of TimeO started in late October 2006. Right now it's hard to tell when it's gonna be complete. Currently, we are actively looking for a worldwide publishing deal for TimeO.

GS: You've told us that in addition to the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, you may bring the game to the Wii. What are your thoughts on that system?

BT: I love the Wii. And I have enormous respect for the courage Nintendo showed by going ahead with such a revolutionary concept and the most incredible name. In my view, the Wii is not in competition with either the Xbox 360 or PS3. It's a complementary platform; it seems to be more a toy than a console, which is great.

GS: Do you have any other projects currently in development?

BT: We're working on an Xbox Live Arcade/E-Distribution title called Toy Wars. This time it's about toys that have taken over the house and the backyard. It's a multiplayer-only game where players control a variety of toys--from bulldozers to robots--and fight it out in sandboxes and living rooms.

GS: Japan and North America have traditionally been identified as the powerhouses of game development. What are your thoughts on the state of European game development, specifically in Eastern Europe?

BT: Europeans--Eastern and Western--acutely suffer from quasi-intellectualism. It seems we just cannot grasp the concept of entertainment. We keep getting bogged down with weird games about micromanaging a hotel chain, or setting a gun on a tank for 10 minutes and then eventually shooting once. It's a tremendous handicap that we'll have to get rid of as soon as possible if we want to compete with North American and Japanese developers. It seems European designers are creating games for themselves, not for the playing public. I guess it's the egocentrism of Europeans--that's why we have 10 different types of wall sockets.

GS: If you are able to resolve the issues with Ghostbusters, would your team immediately get back to work on it and put TimeO on hold?

BT: If the Ghostbusters issues resolve before we sign TimeO, then absolutely. If not, it's hard to tell. TimeO is a great concept and we enjoy developing the game very much.

GS: Thank you very much.

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115 comments
ise1880
ise1880

Since, Zootfly isnt making the Ghostbusters game, which is a shame, but at least Atari's efforts seem really good. I want to know what happened to Time0, really? the game trailers looked very good. Reminded me of shadow of the colloses with the giant robot enemy, and the setting being in a city and in present day time. I want answers!

alayeesquire
alayeesquire

I have to ask myself, "do I really want to play as the Ghostbusters after all these years?"

henry_the_horse
henry_the_horse

Ghostbusters is Sony copyrighted. This should be an interesting story as it unfolds... And to add to the shelving of future Ghostbuster movies by Sony discussed below, the reason new Ghostbuster movies aren't being made is because Bill Murray has moved onto bigger and better things and doesn't want to reprise his role. I think this is respectable because the first two movies are so good and why gamble on adding a lemon to the series? I believe Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd already have a potential script written up to use if it does end up getting the green light. I guess everyone else involved is willing to do it (probably because they're all hard up for new work) and there was a rumor they'd use Ben Stiller. Sony isn't holding anything back with future Ghostbuster movies. Although I think they should because it's just too much of a risk to taint the Ghostbusters name. I'm glad I just realized Sony owns the GB name though, being a PS3 owner this would've been the first Xbox 360 game I would be jealous over. This game will happen though, there's just no way the 360 will get it exclusively (maybe not even at all) or any exclusive content or get it first (at the same time at best).

OmegaDark
OmegaDark

I hope the hype alone is enough to help them get their licensing issues straightened out. If anyone knows how to get a hold of Dan Akroyd or some of his "people". Send them the link to this article, that way they can see 1st hand what kind of support the name "Ghostbusters" has, even now-a-days. Now for some quotes: "Still making headlines all across the country, the Ghostbusters are at it again. This time, at the fashionable dance club, "The Rose." The boys in gray slugged it out with a pretty pesky poltergeist, then stayed on to dance the night away with some of the lovely ladies who witnessed the disturbance. This is Casey Kasem. Now, on with the countdown. " "Hey, wait a minute. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hold it. Now, are we actually gonna go before a federal judge, and tell him that some moldy Babylonian God is going to drop in on Central Park West, and start tearing up the city?" "What are you supposed to be, some kind of a cosmonaut? " "Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big! "

jeffar77
jeffar77

I see alot of talk about the ghost traps and containment unit. After watching the videos, I could see how they could work those things in. First of all, your proton streams would kill weaker enemies as shown in the vid, but mid-bosses and bosses would have to be worn down then trapped. Then perhaps, you would have to take the ECTO-1 back to headquarters to deposit the ghost into the containment unit before it could get loose. Or perhaps a driving level with the ECTO-1 where you trap multiple ghosts and drop them off in the containment unit in a set amount of time. Im very excited about this game, I hope it gets made.

dark_link_777
dark_link_777

Toy Wars sounds cool, I hope it turns out like Gotcha Force, which was a GOOD game GS so why did it get a crap review?

jburks
jburks

OK, I couldnt find where anyone had said this. However, I have never heard a thing about sony pulling the plug on ghostbusters. From what I have read Dan Akroyd had a script together but Bill Murray refused it saying that the first two were good and he didnt want to ruin it with another one. From that point Dan Akroyd basically gave up on it. However, as of late it seems that he might want to go ahead without Bill. As a huge Ghostbusters fan I couldnt really see the series without Egon, Ray, and Vankman. However, I could be wrong

FoxExecutive
FoxExecutive

One thing that bothers me is that Sony Pictures has pretty much shelved any hope for a Ghostbusters movie. However, success in the game may rekindle the idea of producing another movie. But in order for this game to be successful, the game has to be taken seriously and funded correctly. Otherwise, I believe Ghostbusters will just be another Jaws. Sad but true. Two scenarios could come from this game. It becomes a seller for the die hard fans and makes Sony Entertainment a quick couple million dollars and Gamespot gives it a maximum of a 5.0 on their gamescale chart. Or Sony could actually put some time and effort into this game, do some research, get either the voice actors or cartoon actors to reprise their roles, and make a tremendous, refreshing first person game. And quite possibly open the door for a sequel of the beloved movies. I would love to live in a dreamworld called the second scenario, but considering that we live in the real world, I think Sony will take option A of cheating many out of their money and not taking this project seriously. I would love to see this game on the Wii, but considering Sony owns the rights I don't see that possibility happening.

boo_dat
boo_dat

Man...Ghostbusters...YOINK! It would be so amazingly delicious. I'd love to have Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis voice again!!!

Zoidberg54
Zoidberg54

Hmmm.... I wonder if they can get the voice for Slimer back? :)

DeathmageMokey
DeathmageMokey

Liscensing blocking genius is, quite truthfully, a sad thing, and a load of bull. Whether I'd actually get to play this game is irrelevant (i don't have a 360), it seems ike a great idea.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

I think it's high time we welcome the 4 of them back into the current gaming universe ... time to give Dante a run for his money in chasing the demons!

theKSMM
theKSMM

I don't think talented developers like this are going to let some little licensing issues stand in the way of them making good games. I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.

Chitown_lova
Chitown_lova

-----QUOTE------ "That scares me so much! But "Harlem basement"? Does this mean that they're already now in a Harlem Globetrotters world? What does Harlem mean? I guess we'll never know about how they've disappeared, but I think I'll go find the meaning of Harlem." -----QUOTE------ You've got to be kidding me! You really don't know what Harlem is??? It's a borough in New York...like Manhattan, Bronx, Staten, Queens, Harlem. So when they say a Harlem basement they mean a basement of a building in Harlem. Harlem Globetrotters are a basketball team that originated in Harlem.

ibsrfn
ibsrfn

one last thing...kudos to tim surette for hookin us all up with this story...thanks dude you rock !

ibsrfn
ibsrfn

after reading other posts I feel I need to submit a few more "statements." obikka - Kafka is actually a world reknown writer who authored "Metamorphsis" I will leave you to figure out the reason behind the interviewee's acknowledgment... to redsyrup and grimbee: I like both of your ideas whether based on "OG" ghostbusters or the "real" ghostbusters cartoon series you can't go wrong...so much can be implemented into the storylines it would be a gamecreator's dream with this IP...Other than that...let's hope the game comes out period....yes I do hope this game won't suck...but don't we all? There definitely should be some implementation of the trap and/or containment unit...also just an idea...how about an "evil" sidemission where you are the terror dogs and need to "possess" dana and louis? what do you all think?

ibsrfn
ibsrfn

that venkman sequence was classic.... a few other quotes.... "back off man, I'm a scientist" "ok...so...she's a dog" "im going to take ms. barrett back to her apartment and check her out" "yes its true...this man has no d**k" I hope this game rocks...the videos were enough to get me psyched... I still remember the coin-op ghostbusters that was like a top down 2'D shooter like ikari warriors...if there is some petition or anything i need to sign please let me know

tridak3
tridak3

Wow...people really don't do their homework...For all those who accused me of being a Sony hater and looking for any reason to hate Sony...lol...kinda funny. Listen...the Ghostbusters movie was produced by Columbia pictures...they were bought out at a point...by somebody...let me think....OH YEAH, IT WAS SONY. It would be a dream come true if this game is produced. I'm pulling for it with every inch of my soul. But it's being made with the 360 in mind, with a possibility of being ported to the other systems. sean_de_retro and LuminosityBlaze, I applaud you for taking up for Sony, but in this case, it really does appear to be in their power to let this come to light or to squash it. Sorry if I offended you or Sony, I'm as big a fan of amazing frying processor as the next guy that's willing to sink $700 into nonexistence. I'm begging everyone here to make as much noise as possible to help the game stay alive. Ghostbusters hasn't had anything major be released in a good number of years, and this could snowball into keeping the entire franchise alive. It would be a system seller for me regardless of which system it was produced for. Including Sony.

thefjk
thefjk

I don't give a flying Wiimote for Kafka! BEST QUOTE IN GAMING HISTORY!

OmegaDark
OmegaDark

Yea, the GHOST TRAP & the Containment Unit are both very necessary in this game. In the prototype video, it shows you randomly blasting ghosts until they...died? You can actually see the ghost drop dead after being blasted. Thats a big TABOO in the GhostBuster world! TEAMWORK! Is the name of the game when catching ghosts, they never did it alone. Sure, they can go with the premise that they have new proton packs....but thats kinda straying from the movie. GB & GB2 are my favorite films...and believe it or not, even if I hear this game sucked I WILL STILL BUY IT! Why? Because at least an effort was made to produce a GB game. If me buying 1 crappy game is the difference between another GB film, or another GB game...then I can afford it for the greater good.

GrimBee
GrimBee

obiKKa, I have had praise for my posts ;) Athankyou. After all, they are my thoughts, and they are on topic. You can always skip, I mean if you actually read my post then you counteracted your own quibble! Anyways - To keep a long story long - This game should be great, if they stay very close to the sourse material. I played a version of ghostbusters on Doom. It was pretty good, however that game only really had the locations down. The whole "treating ghosts like random monsters" is stuff that I hate. I loved the original resident evil game, because it was quite slow paced, you read a bunch of notes which opened out the plot to you - And then a zombie comes at you out of nowhere. Resident Evil 2 kind of exploded everything out with having more of what the series is known for - zombies - the third game did this even more, with less emphasis on the enclosed thoughts of others to bring out the plot. The game should not take the franchise, and turn it into a game where you just blast as many ghosts as possible. It should keep the gameplay and story progression very tight. And make the presentation JUST like the movies. I would hate for this to be a gears of war, with ghosts. Now all that is needed is a definitive Back to the future game! ;)

VincentV21
VincentV21

Ghostbusters is my favorite movie of all time....I can only hope...and hope it's a good game

Enigma2K99
Enigma2K99

Big, living, breathing city.... full of ghosts... you ride from one hot spot to the next trapping them... then you hit the firehouse to empty traps and collect cash... maybe fight the occasional big baddie... Boogeyman, Samhain, Phantom, etc... buy upgrades... INCLUDE ECTO 2 FOR FLYING MISSIONS, the occasional overloading of the Ecto Containment Unit... Decent voice actors... including Bill Murray, since we lost Lorenzo Music... keep Dave Coulier the heck away from this thing. I can honestly see a GTA-style game more than I can a Gears of War-styled one.

DrCLos
DrCLos

Hey mike-oxbig. You said, "what next? GOONIES game?? just make another film." Ummm.... There WAS a Goonies game back on the NES. I actually liked that game a lot so I always say let them make the game since there is always a chance it could be good. If it stinks then I just won't buy it. But if it's good then I will revel in it :D

Sonicgod
Sonicgod

The ghostbusters arcade game ruled . I am going to be playing this one.

sean_de_retro
sean_de_retro

yes this is about the Ghostbusters not sony read it right.

LuminosityBlaze
LuminosityBlaze

[whispers...] if you make it, they will play... (myself included). P.s. to last poster, Wtf?! This article had nothing to do with Sony. I swear that people look for ANY reason to find fault with Sony.

tridak3
tridak3

I swear, if Sony manages to screw this up, I will never buy another Sony product long as I live...

jarrodt
jarrodt

Id give this game the benefit of the doubt, it could be cool to shoot my ecto blaster.

sean_de_retro
sean_de_retro

Give them the licence or Mr. Stay Puft will get you or Slimer will eat your food all of it (lets hope Slimer will be in it)

kenshinhimura16
kenshinhimura16

Ghost Buster is a Sony IP(Since they bought Columbia pictures and all their movies), no wonder they are having trouble. They will have to make it for the PS 3 or change the name, change lots of things and names and pack it as something else, which may cause them looses since it wont be Ghostbusters related.

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

A Ghostbusters game would be sweet! :D

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

Oh, and GrimBee, does 100% of your posts have to be as tediously & painfully long as that post of yours? No one is gonna read your posts, get it? Coz it's so incredibly boring to read, and we don't understand one iota of it. One word of advice - post them to the DEVELOPERS' WEBSITES instead!

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

"I don't give a flying Wiimote for Kafka, but Ghostbusters..." LOL! This swear words is da new black! BTW, what is Kafka? "In the Land of Lost Opportunities this would be the One to Rule Them." LOL again! The premise of TimeO is incredibly cool! And this... "TimeO is in part based on a true story about two urban explorers that disappeared in New York City in August 2006, while exploring a Harlem basement rumored to house an ancient portal into the parallel world." That scares me so much! But "Harlem basement"? Does this mean that they're already now in a Harlem Globetrotters world? What does Harlem mean? I guess we'll never know about how they've disappeared, but I think I'll go find the meaning of Harlem. "I guess it's the egocentrism of Europeans--that's why we have 10 different types of wall sockets." LOL! The multi-region socket gadgets that can be found at the electronic shops in airports are a must-buy. Some of them have so many sockets in one palm-sized gadget. Me likes the Toy Wars idea. Possibly a much more fun form of the Battlefield series with colourful settings & major appeal to all ages - kids & adults! Hehe. You'll return to being kids, lol.

ryanwh
ryanwh

The idea behind Ghostbusters is absurd which is why the comedy worked so well in it. Im hopin' they dont turn this into some 'serious business' BS like Bomberman was. I'd love for it to be made though, Ghostbusters 2 is my favorite film ever.

gmg157
gmg157

this sounds amazing.. i cant wait

GKBeetle
GKBeetle

I haven't seen the videos, and can't because my computer at work where I'm at won't let me. However, Gears of War style gameplay for Ghostbusters just sounds wrong. This should be more like a series of boss battles where you have to use the tools of your trade to find and capture each individual ghost. It could be kind of like Shadow of the Colossus where each mission is really just a big boss battle. You have to figure out how each ghost operates and figure out the best way to find and capture the ghost. That would make for an awesome game. Something like Gears of War where you're just walking around the city encountering and blasting ghosts would not be right. It's not even close to what the movies were like.

ryan71889
ryan71889

I WANT A GHOSTBUSTERS GAME......NO TimeO

GrimBee
GrimBee

There is a lot of things that they need to tweak. First and foremost the whole ghost catching thing. Ghostbusters was never about blasting as many ghosts as humanly and non-humanly possible. It was about getting in over their heads, and doing their best to sort it out. A perfect example - When they meet slimer in the hotel for th first time. Although the youtube video shows destruction from the blast of the proton packs, I think that destruction should actually be costly. As in, you have this job in the hotel, to remove slimer from the hotel. If you randomly blast away, it will cost a LOT of damage. I think this is an excellent way to take away the "gears" feel of the game that it has right now. Fear of crossing the streams, fear of damaging too much stuff etc can cause concequences. Concequences aren't really there in most shooters. And they catch ghosts by using the traps, and storing them in the containment field - not zapping every ghost that you see. Some ghosts can be friendly. Maybe each mission (for example, a perfect re-creation of the slimer encounter) will have a set bill for you to earn, you have the option to deal with the ghost however you chose - but the more damage you cause, the less money you will earn. Etc. If you get into debt, you have to ease on the luxurys, and get in on the ghost hunting to progress further. I think that the movie is FULL of wonderful concepts for gameplay, the quicker they stay away from gears - the better. Although, walking around looks like a good mechanic, the overall "shoot" will be incredibly boring. Slap some rpg elements in there - such as getting money, buying upgrades (you start out with a clapped out ecto 1, for example, no money, no ecto 1 bling!). The less money you have, the less ghost capturing equipment you can get. This means "boss" characters need a little more firepower. Meaning you have to earn your way through the game, just like the ghostbusters did. Enfusing things like this, is great. walking through the streets of new york with nobody around except you and ghosts - terrible idea - However, sticking at what the movie did was great - I would love a re-creation of the "river of slime" discovery, walking down that subway, encountering the train.. etc.. travelling down the river of slime... things like this could be really cool, set apart from the rest kind of cool I think they should ease up on the whole "gta" idea, cause too many inconsitencies with the plot and the feel of the movie. But generally, agreat game engine which enables you and 4 friends to team up in one hotel and catch slimer - could bring together some epic boss and ghost capturing events. Half of the greatness of the movie is down to the fact that you watch these guys do their jobs - i think that if they can get that part down, and get you to do exactly what they do - its going to be great.

Doolum
Doolum

Well lets hope the game surmounts the issues its facing.

juggalo
juggalo

What happens if we cross the streams in co-op?

mike-oxbig
mike-oxbig

i dont like this.. ghostbusters is OUR childhood film! dont destroy it with this game. what next? GOONIES game?? just make another film.

zelaskjd
zelaskjd

One thought: Ghostbusters for the Wii!!! I really wanna see this happen, but I don't know how long I'll have to wait for a game development company to pick up the idea or how bad the game might be if left in the hands of the wrong development team. As for Gears of War, FPS style? Think Zelda: Twilight Princess action/adventure style and join in on my excitment at the possibility of a GB game for Wii!

Enigma2K99
Enigma2K99

A Gears of War- looking Ghostbusters game? Even if they get past the legal issues to greenlight this... something just seems ehhh about that idea....

PantsOfFury
PantsOfFury

Toy Wars sounds a lot like Toy Commander for the Dreamcast... They better have some sweet Stay-Puft action going on if the game gets the green light.

cobrax80
cobrax80

that would be interesting