Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? is many things. Part amateur ghost hunters, part filmmakers, part video game designers, part jerks.
Sure we've got official webpages and all that junk, but we like the Destructoid Community so we've decided to share our posts about our movie and awesome XBOX 360 game that is in development with the community. I can assure you, Cblogrecap-ers, this ain't no spam.
As filmmakers and video game designers we like viewer and player interaction, we want to know what you guys are thinking and want to answer any questions you may have about the process of turning our movie into a game and beyond!
Maybe you know, maybe you think you know, maybe you don't know. Either way, we're sharin' it.
Our video game, Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game! is being handled entirely by us, a four man team, under our game studio Odd Man Out Studios
Synopsis: Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? is a documentary feature film that follows the mis-adventures of two guys, bored out of their minds, who decide to take up ghost hunting. The only problem is they have no idea what they are doing! Whoa! Hilarity most likely ensues.
Because there was some confusion from our earlier posts on who we are and what we're doing here, we'd like to take the time to tell you a little bit about who we are, and what we're posting here on Destructoid.
Last June my brother Danny (GoS-CPT-Stewart) and I, Joey, premiered a mockumentary titled Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? The movie is about our attempts to become amateur ghost hunters by traveling to several locations across the U.S. to see if we could actually find any ghosts (especially because we don't believe in them).
Now, Danny is attending Full Sail in Orlando, Florida for videogame programming and we decided that we were going to put his skills to the test and make a videogame, loosely, based on our movie. The game (Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game) is now in production for the XBOX 360 and PC platforms. We are using the Destructoid Community Blogs to showcase all the behind the scenes info about our game including what goes into it, how we made certain decisions, as well as updates to the game (images, videos, etc.)
We hope that cleared up any misunderstanding and we assure you that we are not spam, and we apologize if that is what you thought it was or how it came across. The Destructoid Community is a valuable tool and we do not want to anger or upset anyway. If we're stepping out of line please don't hesitate to contact us.
It is not our intent, nor will it ever be, to create information that is not relevant to our game. You can read all about what we're doing here and on our official websites. You can find links to them on the right side of the page.
Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? Team
We hope that you enjoyed Developer Diary #1 about our upcoming game Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game! We're back with another look into coming up with enemy ideas and how we try to fit classic enemies in with new twists.
Developer Diary #2: The Enemy of My Enemy is A Giant Octopus Wearing a Rainbow Afro
by Joey Rodriguez
Because most games tend to take place in a relatively current or realistic environment they are sometimes limited to enemy choices. Game such as Call of Duty or Medal of Honor take place in specific eras, decades, or years limiting to them to, if taking place in 1943 for instance, German, Japanese, and maybe Italian enemies. And even at that, every other enemy is really just another human with a different look. You're not fighting Germans and then Molemen, for instance. Their intent is realism.
Role-Playing Games are granted a wider range of varied enemies mostly because they are set in fictional times, areas, universes, whatever. A lot of times though the enemy really doesn't matter, the design that is. You may be fighting a dragon one instance and a giant tank the next, but because a lot of these games depend on turn-based attacks or gameplay it could really be any enemy staring you back in the face. Most of their attacks tend to be large physical attacks or magical attacks with, sometimes, no rhyme or reason for a particular skill or attribute. Why can a giant toad attack you with robots without any reason? Well, it's fantasy, deal with it. If the game explained to me that maybe the toad was a robot himself or he had robot masters then I'd play along. But because the game might take things a little too seriously sometimes in ends up just confusing us (by "us" I mean myself and Danny. This article is in no way meant to represent what anyone but us thinks).
From the beginning we knew that because we were over exaggerating the style and story of our game, that we could pretty much do whatever we wanted and get away with it. From the outset it is no mystery what the content of the game will be. As our last Developer Diary stated, fun and ridiculousness outweigh realism and attention to detail.
Our biggest challenge was creating enemies that were justified, yet still wacky. So we made a list of enemies that are classic not only to games, but film as well.
Then we came up with some enemies that were, though well known, not exactly the best or coolest to have as enemies in a game:
We had a hard time deciding if the game should involve just ghosts, I mean the movie is about ghost hunting, or if we should completely nose dive. We could go the Call of Duty (for arguments sake) route and center on a specific enemy and make the objectives and gameplay overshadow the enemy. But in a 2D side-scrolling game there is very little to do in terms of objectives, especially when your main combat is blowing up everything on screen as fast as possible.
We could go the Role-Playing Game route and just throw everything but the kitchen sink in there and then just not justify it. But we had 12 different levels that varied greatly from the last, could we stick in the giant toad spitting out robots inside of a haunted house and have it be funny and cool at the same time?
So we decided to combine both ideas. Because each level takes place in a specific location (Sorrel-Weed House, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, The Bone Church) we could put different enemies into each level (Call of Duty) and before it got old you're already on to a new one. It was just a matter of matching the enemies up with a location. Well, The Bone Church could have skeletons and the Fishing Docks could have the Pirates and so on.
However, after about level 5 we realized that things weren't matching up so good. We were kind of stretching things out. Alabama's Sloss Furnace could have werewolves because...there's a full moon...and steel...did they have silver there? No...
We realized that, at least in our minds, we were granted a little leeway with making the game a little more out there because of our ridiculous, barely strung together plot. So we came to a compromise. We'll put all the enemies into the level they most closely fit first and then randomly throw in the rest and we could rewrite the script to accommodate the changes. Because we had not started the coding aspect of the game, changes like this were easy to make and more appropriate in the game development timeline.
Borrowing from both genres of games, First Person Shooters and Role-Playing Games, allowed us to better craft justification for certain enemies as well as writing the story to convince the player that the already ridiculous nature of the game COULD lead to robot, monkey butlers named Jeeves.
We now had all 12 different enemy types assigned to each of our twelve levels. But would the player enjoy shooting the same generic zombies or werewolf for over an hour on a particular level? We had to expand, there had to be variations, but what kind? We debated how many different styles of one enemy there could be on a level. Finally settling on three ranks for each enemy we could now have 36 different enemy types plus 12 different bosses, so 48 variations in all. Certainly a lot of variation but not so much that the player would only see what kind of enemy once.
How could we differentiate inside of one class of enemies? Each enemy was different, with a unique set of attacks. For this example I will be using the Pirate enemy class.
Rank 1: Fat Pirate with Sword
From watching a lot of cartoons about pirates we noticed that there is always that token fat pirate who is rather lazy or hilarious as he waddles toward battle. We decided he would be Rank 1, or the easiest of the pirate class. There would be variations, artistically, to his outer image such as shirt color, presence of beard, skin tone, pirate hat, peg leg etc. In all there could be tons of variations, and at most there will be around 7 or 8 different looking pirates in Rank 1. His attacks could range from a belly hit to his rusty sword, simple yet hard to block or avoid.
Rank 2: Giant, Human-Sized Parrot with a little pirate that sits on his shoulder holding a tiny rocket launcher
Really the next step up from a fat pirate is either a thin or muscular pirate. So we thought what if it's the captain? Well the captain still has the same moves as the fat pirate, he swings his sword around. Well what about a captain with a parrot that does something? Well, the parrot is pretty lame as it is, what could it do? Poop on you? So we thought what if we switch roles? What if the parrot is huge and can hit you with it's wing or flap them to create wind to push you back? Perfect. But what about the pirate? Well, shrink him down and sit him on the parrot's shoulder as if HE was the parrot. What does he do? Rocket Launcher? Perfect. Visual variations could include accessories of the parrot, number of pirates on his shoulder or even the color of the parrot itself.
Rank 3: Pirate with two peg legs and a jet pack.
After the giant parrot we were pretty stumped. What could be funny, still stay in the realm of pirate but add that last little bit that puts him over the top as the hardest enemy variation? Jet pack, of course. After burner attacks, picking the player up and slamming him down and the potential to blow up the jet pack into a radial explosion were just to awesome to pass up. Put a sword in his hands or some grenades and he was ready to become a pest and a hilarious enemy.
We were able to differentiate one enemy class (First Person Shooters) from itself by going outside the norm (Role-Playing Games) and bounding it to the already wide universe we had created.
There you have it, easy huh? Not really, it took us three weeks to come up with our 48 enemy list, but it was fun because each idea topped the last. We'd like to think that nothing is set in stone when making a game and welcome the idea that creativity can easily overshadow realism, and vice versa.
Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game! is a new videogame based on the mockumentary Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? (www.superghostsnghosts.com). The game is being developed by myself, Joey, and my brother, Danny (GOS_CPT_Stewart). We shot and edited the movie ourselves and we're looking to put Danny's new programming skills to the test by creating a movie tie-in game that deviates just a little from the plot of the movie.
Don't forget, you can watch Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? for FREE (yes, the whole thing for FREE) on our website at: www.superghostsnghosts.com
Developer Diary #1:..and the Octopus had a racecar...From Idea To...Well...
For those unfamiliar, a Developer Diary (in the world of video games) is basically a little behind the scenes article about certain aspects of a game such as art, code, music, etc. The diary explores how they are made, implemented and how it fits into the final game. The will be a continuing series until the game is released (whenever its done). For our first Diary we've done a little write up on how we came up with the idea and the story. Enjoy!
Developer Diary #1:..and the Octopus had a racecar...From Idea To...Well...
by Joey Rodriguez
Since Danny started attending Full Sail for videogame programming it has always been a dream of his to finally start making his own game. We had jokingly suggested turning our movie into an over-the-top action game just for kicks. But as we started "pitching" funny ideas to ourselves we started to think that maybe making the game wouldn't be such a bad idea after all. Danny could use it as his resume for getting a good job after finishing school, and maybe we could make some money in the meantime. Thus Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game! was born.
And we've decided to share the making of the game with anyone interested. These diaries are meant to serve as a glimpse into an independent developer's inner-workings. This particular diary is how we came up with the crazy idea to turn our movie into a game and what we wanted the end product to feature. Enjoy.
For those of you who have watched our movie Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts? (and if you haven't, watch it NOW!: www.superghostsnghosts.com) you know that Danny and I are grounded, somewhat, in reality. The movie is just a documentation of our "wild and crazy" adventures in ghost hunting. It's not fiction, none of it is rehearsed, it's all just spontaneous. So, naturally if we were to make a game that was a straight adaptation it would simply be a Text Adventure in which you had to say witty things and were never, EVER rewarded. Sounds great, right? We did too, but sadly the days of Text Adventures have died a horrible, bloody death. So we had to ask ourselves: What are the kids playin' these days? Huh? Are they gettin' riled up over their Hoola-Hoops and their Pac-Man videogames?
Being children of the early 90s, Danny and I were exposed to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) early in our lives, letting us partake in such great classics as Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Super Castlevania IV, Contra 3: The Alien Wars, Turtles in Time, and yes, even Bayou Billy. It was sort of the "glory days" of gaming where just beating a particular game was enough to have you become a legend among your friends. Where difficulty was ratcheted up to 11 and saving your place was a pipe dream. Where two-player games were really about teamwork and not falling behind and being killed the edge of the screen (and whether or not the "0" counted as an extra life or not). Even though we have a PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, Wii, and two beefed up computers between the two of us, Danny and I still constantly go back to playing our SNES, NES, or even Dreamcast. We knew what we had to do.
We knew from the beginning we wanted to tap into what made those games from our youth so damn fun.
We took the game Contra III: The Alien Wars and broke it down:
-1 or 2 Player Modes
-Frenetic, non-stop, action
-Tons of unique, interchangeable weapons
-Each level was differently stylized
-Enemies and bosses were more creative and COOL! with each level
-Scripted events: riding on motorcycles, hanging on missiles
-Intense difficulty that made you want to replay
-Does not take long to beat
Then we took Super Castlevania IV (as well as the DS version of Castlevania) and broke it down:
-1 Player Mode
-Calculated, slower action
-One main weapon with a small set of throwable items
-Has a very cool back story
-Each level was differently stylized and used a darker approach
-Enemies and bosses were straight from monster movies, also highly stylized
-Interacting with the environment to swing on objects and avoid pitfalls
-Difficulty was fairly easy, but multiple bosses at the end made it hard to finish
-DS Versions: Exploration and rewards for going off the path
-Does not take long to beat
We had never been blessed with owning a Neo-Geo in our lifetime, but we had known the Metal Slug series to be a brutal and beautiful display of action. Having been able to play them through Emulators we broke the series down:
-Brutal, over the top action
-Insane amounts of firepower and destructibility
-Exciting boss battles with explosive finishes
-Large body count
-Does not take long to beat
We had our basic design. We knew that we wanted our game to have:
-1 or 2 Player Mode
-Intense action with tons of enemies on screen
-Characters that were high-def pixel art (throwbacks, but updated)
-Detailed backgrounds done in a more hand painted style that really stood out
-More than 6 levels
-A huge variety of enemies: 40 or more
-Brutal arsenal of weapons from pistols to rocket launchers
-Over the top boss fights
-Environment interaction and intense vehicle or scripted events
-Punishing difficulty that keeps you coming back for more
Basically we took what we thought worked from these games and crushed them into one SUPER GAME. On the surface it seems easy, implementing them effectively is the real problem. Now, these of course are just generic features. We were coming up with these as we were hucking it across the U.S. filming the movie and basically we were just excited to even be coming up with ideas. The only problem was that we were naturally not serious enough to make the game "serious". We had to add humor, after all the movie is a comedy. Plus it was the only way we could actually make the game about us and still have people interested in it rather than blowing it off 'cause we were a couple of egotistical douchebags who were so full of themselves they had to make a game glorifying themselves.
So first we had to come up with a story before we could move ahead. Without a good, or interesting, story most games are just aesthetic, you're there just for what you can blow up, not why you're blowing it up. But we didn't want to be philosophical and say, "Why are these characters acting like this?" We decided that since the game is being based, and I use that term loosely, on the movie, that it should be making fun of the movie as well as other games, especially games that are made to tie-in with theatrically released movies. Most of these games tend to take the plot of the movie and add more to the beginning or middle in order to have it actually be playable, or even cohesive.
The plot of the movie is that my brother and I drop what we're doing and become amateur ghost hunters, so the game starts out with us getting ready to go on our first ghost hunt. But this is a movie tie-in game, we have to make it more exciting. Prickley Pete, our ghost mascot (who is plastered everywhere), suddenly became our third roommate. We gave him a voice and a distinct Homer Simpson-type intelligence. Then, in our minds at least, we would go on a shooting rampage across the U.S. hunting ghosts. But that was too simple. There wasn't enough to string along each of the six locations we had in mind. There had to be something that triggers our somewhat murderous rampage.
So we took a look at our competition: Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted..., and Paranormal State. What did they all have in common? Well, for one thing we hated all of them, that's why we did the movie in the first place. So we had out enemies. But who would be the Supreme Leader? Well, Ghost Hunters was the most popular of the four so we made their hosts, Jason and Grant, the head honchos. So now we had:
-Joey, Danny, and Prickley Pete go on an adventure
-Jason and Grant are the Bad Guys
Pretty good, huh? Yeah, we thought so too. But since we were going to only six locations that would only make for six levels, which was way too few. We had to expand. When we had first started planning our movie back in March we had a list of over 100 different locations we could ghost hunt in. Sadly the ones used in the movie were the only ones they would allow us in. So we picked six others that we had truly wanted to visit, six that were also visually striking such as the Bone Church in the Czech Republic and the USS North Carolina Battleship. We had all our locations now.
Although ghosts was the main focus of the movie, we just couldn't see a player blasting ghosts for twelve levels. Again we started to deviate from the movie. We started to throw out clacsic enemies such as zombies, vampires, werewolves, ninjas, robots, pirates, etc. Enemies that gamers will list as being AWESOME and a great addition to any game.
In-Game Screenshot from Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game!
We knew that some games tend to have a powerful weapon, item, or artifact that must be obtained or put together in order to do something. We decided on two objects: a magical amulet and a powerful sword called The Sword of Mystical Ninjas. With these two our character would be able to defeat Ghost Hunters (which is changed to Spirit Stalkers for copyright infringement purposes). Enemies, important item, levels. We were getting close. Of course we had to string all of this nonsense together.
Stringin' It All Together:
It was more important for us to string the plot along rather than string each location along. All the locations were so unrelated it became comical, so we ran with it. There is really no reason to go from the Stanley Hotel in Colorado to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, it was just funny when we added vampires and aliens in between. And basically that's what we did, we took this idea from Ninja Gaiden on the NES. There was a particular mountain level that had football players charging after you. Who even approved that?
"Football players you say? Well that doesn't belong. Well, I get a paycheck either way. How about an eagle that keeps appearing and can knock you off the ledge in an annoying fashion? Oh, we've already got that? Hmm. It's the greatest game ever."
Whatever we thought was ridiculous went in. Eventually we shaved it all down so that it would sort of make sense.
We don't want to give away too much of the plot of the game, because that would ruin the fun of it but I will say that the dialogue script alone is 48 pages of pure comedy gold. And when you see the finished product in motion you will not be disappointed.
With the script done, we were able to take all of our locations, enemies, ideas, jokes and create even more features and gameplay ideas than just mish-mashing previous ones from other games. The script was defintely as great tool because it was a manual of sorts, that, if we wanted, could be tweaked to fulfill any hilarious idea that we had.
I hope you've enjoyed this little slice of the making of Super Ghosts 'n ... Ghosts?: The Movie Colon The Game!. Our second diary on the programming process is coming soon, so be on the look out!
Oh, we've also been graciously allowed, by Niero, to use Mr. Destructoid as a playable character in our game. Here is an artist rendering of what that could possibly look like: