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Classic Games (Games)

The Making of Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64 89

Posted by Zonk
from the how-to-run-a-business-empire-on-ectoplasm dept.
Next Generation recently began running content from the respected British gaming magazine Edge, and today they're sharing The Making of Ghostbusters. The article is a look back to a barely-remembered but (for the time) forward thinking movie tie-in for the Commodore 64. Instead of a lame 'action' title following the movie's plot line, the game was set in the world of the Ghostbusters, and allowed players to build a financial empire through ghostbusting. "Crucially, for a game with so many parts - driving, simple resource management, shooting and trapping ghosts - the pieces snapped together well, and the money-making, business-upgrading elements gave the game a lasting replayability. Activision's Ghostbusters is polished, intelligently-paced, and suggests a measured and meticulous development approach: something which wasn't the case at all. 'A typical C64 game took nine months from start to finish,' laughs David Crane, the game's designer. 'Ghostbusters took six weeks!' Crane is one of the most prolific developers of the early videogame era. Creating titles such as Little Computer People and Pitfall made him Activision's star programmer."
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The Making of Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64

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  • 6 weeks?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:52PM (#19085529) Homepage Journal
    Ghostbusters took six weeks!

    And that was one of my favorites back on the C64. It was very addictive. This really shows it's the overall creativity and playability that matters most in a game, not necessarily the complexity or graphics.

    Interesting coincidence that it's posted on the same day as someone from Microsoft belittling the Wii for its lesser graphics and simplicity. Doesn't make it less fun!
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:59PM (#19085671) Homepage Journal
    Man, did I ever love this game back then! I still fire up the C64 or SMS emulators every so often to replay it. A full-page ad for the game, torn from some computer magazine, had a place of honor among the posters on my wall.

    The game gets a bad rep nowadays, usually because of the botched NES port made by a team of crack-smoking monkeys, but the original will always be one of my all-time favorite computer games.
  • by Lazerf4rt (969888) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:06PM (#19085885)

    It was an awesome game, but very challenging. I remember finally getting the hang of it after a few weeks. You really had to think fast to decide where to drive to next, around the city.

    I remember the marshmallow man would show up, too... What did you have to do with him again? I think you had to place a bait somewhere so he didn't smash a building.

    I also remember listening to the intro sequence for 30 mins straight, watching that bouncing ball. That was some fantastic C64 music!

  • Game Remake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by substance2003 (665358) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:32PM (#19086491)
    I used to love this old gem. Took me a while to get the hang of it I remember.
    Was pretty amazed to discover that someone made a remake of the game for Windows.

    http://files.filefront.com/Ghostbusters/;6357091;/ fileinfo.html [filefront.com]

    I didn't enjoy it quite as much but that's because somethings seem different than what I remember of the game play. Anyone else try this remake? Would love to get opinions on this.

  • a lesson for today (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acvh (120205) <geek AT mscigars DOT com> on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:49PM (#19086863) Homepage
    "First, if you want to design a game around a licence, you have to be very careful. The best strategy is to design an original game that would stand alone even without the licence. Our original theory was that a licensed game should be a great game first, and a licensed game second. The success of the Ghostbusters game reinforced our belief - that was clearly the right way to go."

    if only others thought this way...
  • by illumin8 (148082) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:19PM (#19087391) Journal

    Creating titles such as Little Computer People and Pitfall made him Activision's star programmer.
    Wow I remember Little Computer People [wikipedia.org]. This was an amazing game for it's time. It was like the Sims, only about 10 years before the Sims ever was released. The god complex you got from playing this game was amazing. I used to delight in torturing the poor little guy. It was very funny to watch.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:29PM (#19087587)
    Back then, you played a game longer than it took the people that made it to code it!

    Today, you can already feel lucky when you get a week of fun for every manyear invested.
  • Re:Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @02:47AM (#19093851)
    "I've always wondered how some of the greats (like Crane) would have fared had they grown up 20 years after they did."

    You make it sound like Crane and all his peers are retired or dead, but we're not.

    As a former Atari 2600 programmer (although unfamous and less accomplished than Crane), I can tell you that today's challenges are just different from the ones we faced back then.

    For the 2600 we had to have very precise timing (sometimes to an accuracy of 1 CPU cyle) in our display routines, but we never had to worry about programming style, compiler bugs, and (thank God) we didn't have to integrate a lot of third-party libraries into our games.

    It seems like integration of other people's code is becoming a greater and greater part of software "development". It's becoming rather boring in a way even as the amount of "stuff" you need to understand get's larger and larger.
  • Re:Time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @03:04AM (#19093905)
    One of the compromises made in adopting higher-level abstractions is the inability of contemporary platforms to support hard real-time programming. If you replaced the Atari 2600's 6507 CPU with a Pentium 4 and increased the RAM from 128 bytes to 1GB, but kept the original graphics system, it would actually be harder to write state-of-the-art (for Atari) games. The reason is that contemporary designs have non-determinsitic timing (at least to the extent a human could understand them) because of caches and other features. These systems were designed to make processing faster on the average, not to have consistent behavior.

    Of course, we can still have hard real-time systems, we just have to put the hard stuff in hardware. That's a reasonable solution, but it's narrowed the scope of problems that software can solve.

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