Jared Gerritzen, Head of Design and Creative at Illfonic, joins me to discuss the new game, “Ghostbusters: Spirts Unleashed” and where this game fits in the Ghostbusters time line.
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Note: I received a code from IllFonic, INC. for review purposes
Jared Gerritzen – Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed Transcription
Mason Paine: Ghostbuster’s Spirits Unleashed was released on October 18th. Joining me to discuss the game and what fans can expect from this series is Head of Design and Creative at Ionic. Jared Garson, Thanks for joining me, Jared. Thank you for having me. So you’ve had a long career in video games. Like when did this start for you?
Jared Gerritzen: Technically it started as. Going to my cousin’s house and playing Atari. But you know, I would say, I would say it was, art school and I was a, stupid kid that thought I could make a. Could make money being an artist, . And, my roommate was going to school, trying to be a, 3D animator and he decided to slum it in video games for a while.
Jared Gerritzen: He’s still in video games right now, and I saw him play. he had me come to his office and he showed me this game called Counterstrike, and it was like a mod. And seeing people play together online was just this thing that. It was so amazing to me. And I remember going home and, having him show me how to make 3D models and I started using 3D to, for my graphic design stuff.
Jared Gerritzen: And then I just got good at it. And, he said, You should get into games. I could try to get you a job at the place. And I still remember saying, I don’t want to be an artist though. I want to be the guy that says what game we make he is like, Good luck, man. You have to really put work in and you have to do all this stuff. And, I still got a job and it took me, you know, 20 some odd years to be the guy that’s saying what you’re doing. But I got to it so long, long, long road for sure. But, yeah, it’s been an amazing road.
Mason Paine: I gotta know for you, What game was it that you’re like, this is, this is like peak career, right?
Jared Gerritzen: Honestly it’s Ghostbusters. I think that, you know, this was, a lot of my games that I’ve made that I was in this position, were a matter of like, Hey, someone’s looking for X, Y, or Z, or, Hey, we have this thing. Let’s do something with it. Predator was a game that we atonic decided to make, and so was Ghostbusters. But Predator was definitely one of those things where there was a lot of, lot of people that were saying what we can and can’t do. Ghostbusters was the very first game that we set out to make, and we decided to self publish. So by us self-publishing, we’re like the ones that shows everything. You know, we chose what, what we could do, what the budget was, where it would land, and all of that stuff. And we worked really closely with Ghost Core, but when we came in the game that we wanted to make, Is the game that we made. And, it’s, definitely Ghostbusters. It’s definitely one of those things where, you know, I saw the film when I was, a young kid in the movie theater. And I, and I, you know, that librarian seemed scared the crap outta me for years.
Jared Gerritzen: And I was like, jump to light switches because of that film. But I also was building proton packs outta cardboard. You know, for years. And, you know, I’ve always been a Ghostbusters fan. And so when, I joined El Phonic and we started talking about, you know, building our own, building our own thing, publishing our own game, and just the asymmetrical multiplayer thing that, that I, that I joined with El Ionic Ghostbusters was absolutely the top of my list.
Jared Gerritzen: And it was, you know, it’s just been amazing. You know, no one plays it. I still am, I’m beyond proud of what we’ve made and it’s, it’s great cuz people are playing it. So it’s, it’s really cool. And I feel like we haven’t let down any of the, the, you know, the Ghostbusters fans I feel like people are, resonating so well with it. It’s just, it’s just amazing.
Mason Paine: Now since you guys are self-published, when it comes to this game, Immediately, like you guys were like, Hey, we’re gonna do a four V one type of game, or did you throw around the idea of maybe, should this be like an action adventure, platformer? Was there ever ever those conceptual designs for that?
Jared Gerritzen: I joined LP Phonic, shortly after, they launched F 13 and I’ve known, I’ve known, Chuck the CEO for many, many years. And when I joined, I was playing a lot of Friday the 13th, and I, and I’ve always, I’ve always been a multiplayer, person. Like I, I love multiplayer games because you can play something over and over and over again. And I feel like single player action adventure games, those are amazing games. Like I Metal Gear Solid till I die. You know, It’s like I will play every version of metal gear solid as long as they put. and I love that game so much because it has such a cool story and it’s so much fun to play.
Jared Gerritzen: But I don’t go and play it every day after work. And I feel multiplayer games are those, those games that you can play every day, You could play it, you know, before you play another game. You, you can, you can, at the end of the night, you just wanna play a quick match. And so, like, multiplayer for me is just so special where every single time you play it is different.
Jared Gerritzen: So when we thought of Ghostbusters, It was just that perfect scenario because when we start off with a game, I really kind of just kind of focus on something that can resonate the team and everyone with it. And so it was the hotel team in Ghostbusters one where, you know, they split up and, and they come across silmmer. They rally up and they use their teamwork together and they use all their tools to get slammer in the ghost trap. That was the scene, the three to five minute scene that we really looked at over and over again to go like, This is what we want to do.
Jared Gerritzen: And it’s so cool when we were playing the game in early phases where, I’m running around with a PK meter by myself, kind of like Egon. Coming across this civilian and it kind of startled me. And then I turned the corner, and then one of the, one of the team has a ghost and just like running at me and there’s nothing I could have done, I could do.
Jared Gerritzen: And he just slammed me and he, and he takes off. I’m like, Holy shit. That was the scene from the movie. We like unintentionally had that happen. And it was just such a cool thing that, that is why, you know, we chose to do this asymmetrical multiplayer thing where, you. Really have these, these crazy experiences, every single time you play versus like, you know, a single player game.
Jared Gerritzen: You, you play it and you could, if there’s dynamics and if there’s things that the team decide to do to change the way that it could play, sure, you could play it a few times, which you can’t play that over and over and over again. And, you know, that’s why we went for multiplayer and plus the, the 2006 Ghostbuster’s.
Jared Gerritzen: Pretty amazing. It had all, it, it, it had everyone from the Ghostbusters in it. And so, you know, unfortunately just with the time and era of, of everything, we wouldn’t, we couldn’t get all four Ghostbusters though. You know, what we were able to make is by far the best thing that we, you know, as fans, wanted to make and could make. We got Dan and Ernie that, and that was an amazing childhood, experience for myself too.
Mason Paine: Yeah. I’m curious, how were you able to get Dan Akroyd and Ernie Hudson to join the cast? Was it easy or was it kind of hard you had to convince him a little?
Jared Gerritzen: I feel like both of them just love it as much as everyone else does. The difficulty with Dan is Dan’s just like, he’s out in like, Canada and , he’s, you know, it was during Covid as well, so we didn’t want to have anyone go into any form of, questionable scenarios. So we just worked with them and we found. A time where, you know, they were Ernie’s, Ernie’s acting.
Jared Gerritzen: He’s in Quantum Leap. He’s doing a lot of stuff. And so we were able to find a time that he was able to do it. We found a, a studio that was, that was to all the qualifications that everyone wanted to do. And then of course we did a lot of testing and quarantine. We were able to record Ernie and then Dan, was up in Canada and, in Kingston and he has a studio that he uses. So we were able to do stuff with him on Zoom. But it was like in winter. So it was kind of one of those just timing things. But you know, as soon as we spoke to them, they said like, you know, what are we doing? What is it? And we gave them all the information and they, they came in and, and really they killed it.
Jared Gerritzen: I mean, honestly, Ernie came in and he has essentially two parts, uh, in, in the game. He gets, uh, he, he has to use a different tone and kind of like pseudo character. And he absolutely killed it. Like, I didn’t know that he had such a booming voice. That, you know, is definitely like your Disney villain or your Star Wars villain of just like his voice gets so freaking awesome.
Jared Gerritzen: And then, Dan. Dan is, it was shocking to have him, come in. We had these really great lines for him and he added little things that just made it like more complicated to say is, is the best way to describe it. But he did it in a single take. And it was like things that, like if I were to have written it down and read it every day, and if you were to.
Jared Gerritzen: Okay, say the line. I would probably have to take six take because it, it was just so, such a big tongue to tongue twister of crazy, you know, science words and all of this great stuff. And, and I was just in awe the entire time. He was, he was going and it was just super cool just because like, as we’re working on like, Oh my God, this is Dan Akroyd.
Jared Gerritzen: Like this is just like my, I grew up. With an uncle that was just infatuated with sml, that, that, that era. And so I think that I watched every single Dan Aykroyd movie, correct or not as a kid, with him in it. And so it was just really amazing being able to meet him and, have him say the stuff that me and the team worked on.
Mason Paine: Not a lot of people know, but Dan Aykroyd comes from a family of like Ghost Hunter. I think he’s fourth or fifth generation, I think fourth anyways. Did he have any influence with the game storyline at all because of his, background?
Jared Gerritzen: A little bit because when, once again when we started recording, we sent him all of this, all of the, everything ahead of. And so he came in and kind of punched some things up and he kind of, twisted some things around. But it was really cool because he said how happy he was of the script and how happy he was of what we had done. It was definitely felt like a collaboration. But, as far. What the script, what the story was? it’s definitely more like an episode of a cartoon of the Ghostbusters versus like a big long thing that you would get in like a God war or something like that where there’s hours and hours of cinematics, you know, this is, you know, definitely more a smaller thing. So, there wasn’t a lot for him to kind of like, Oh, this doesn’t write and this isn’t right. It was just pretty much like he is Ray, he’s at the book. He has a dilemma that he helped out with, and these were the things, so there wasn’t like a big, you know, massive hero’s journey that he needed to kind of like, help us oversee.
Mason Paine: Now, where does the game fit within the Ghostbuster timeline?
Jared Gerritzen: Right after, after life. In, it was really kind of cool because, when we pitched this in 2018, We had no idea after life was coming, we had no idea what, was the future of Ghostbusters. And so when we started working on the game, we were able to get Dan and Ernie.
Jared Gerritzen: So it’s like, okay, we’ve got Dan and Ernie and we started to build the other supporting casts of different characters that we brought into the world. And, then. The movie got announced or they told us the movie was coming and we’re like, Oh boy, what, you know, what is this gonna be? And started to get, you know, more and more information about it and we got the script and honestly the script was really amazing. So it helped us kind of get excited about just Ghostbusters being more and more supported. and then they had a meeting with us and said, Hey, we want to bring the game into the timeline of the movie and. That was pretty scary because we had a bunch of other stuff and we just had to slightly change some things.
Jared Gerritzen: And, it just showed that like Jason and Gill were thinking of it, you know, in the way that they were, that we were on the same wavelength, I guess would probably be the best way to describe it. Because the things that we had to do just literally slightly changed our. And then the movie just rolls right into the game.
Jared Gerritzen: At the end of the movie, Winston comes in with Ecto-1 in, the firehouse, and in the beginning of our game, we take that scene and then we elaborate, and then we kick the game off. So it’s roughly like maybe, a month or two after the movie.
Mason Paine: Now, is ghostbusters a cross-platform?
Jared Gerritzen: Yeah, so, Xbox Series X and S and one and PlayStation four and five, and the Epic store on pc.
Jared Gerritzen: And, when you, connect your, you need to make an epic id, you can then, cross play. You can cross play, match make with everyone, but you can actually match, make, , with your friends across using cross. Oh
Mason Paine: that is cool. Will there be any DLC for this game in the future or any other cool stuff to be added to the game?
Jared Gerritzen: Yeah, there’s gonna be a lot. With it being a week, we’ve, we’ve been kind of holding back what we’re doing, but we have a lot, a lot, the entire team’s working on, more dlc, more content, more ghosts, more maps. And the really exciting part is we’re not making anything premium. Everything’s gonna be free. It’s gonna be, just we’re, we’re gonna support the crap outta the game, this next year and really, make it even bigger and better.
Mason Paine: Wow. That’s amazing. I love when, you know, publishers and developers do that stuff because, you know, the fans help push this stuff and, you know, I’ll, I’ll buy the hell out of a dlc, but, you know, I love it when I get some love right back to me
Jared Gerritzen: That’s the big thing is Ghostbusters is not a hardcore shooter where you’re trying to, you know, do. The, you know, the DLC and all, all the big stuff. Like really we made this game for families and for younger players and for, you know, the hardcore, But you know, the big thing is really we want to support it. And, you know, I think that, What we’re doing with this and the working directly with goco, it was just kind of a decision that, that we, that we decided it’s just like, let’s just support it. Let’s make sure that people to buy it, have fun with it, and let’s just keep on going, over the, over the next year and really add as much as, as we, we can.
Mason Paine: And, you know, it’s, it’s kind of true of being kind of, family oriented. One of the games that I always rage about is dead by daylight, and I rage like crazy when I lose. But with Ghostbusters I don’t get upset. It was like, this was fun. There’s a lot of little stuff you can collect, like the mushrooms and whatnot, and I, I enjoy it and I enjoy my time playing it rather than raging, even if I do lose. So you’re right about that. It’s a way more fun, .
Jared Gerritzen: It’s such an interesting thing because, you know, with, we did Friday the 13th, and we did, we did, predator and the goal for this was fun. Like we wanted to make it fun. I think with, with the idea of the ghostbuster. Don’t die. they get slimed. So they get downed and then they can come. They’re constantly in play. The ghost has these rifts that if it gets trapped, if there’s still rifts in play, those are kind of like continue token. It allows the game to kind of be a lot lighter and a lot less, I don’t wanna say it’s, it’s not hardcore because I, I get into crazy matches where I’m yelling and screaming the way I do with Call of Duty or, or any other game.
Jared Gerritzen: But I think with this game, because the ghost is more mischievous versus an evil monster trying to, you know, take people’s souls or rip out spines, I think that it definitely changes your gameplay. I feel that it’s a lot of fun and it’s a lot less stressful, because you’re having fun with it and because it’s so absurd.
Jared Gerritzen: And that’s the thing about Ghostbusters is like, I don’t, like, it’s a air quotes spooky movie, and I, you know, watch, watch it all the time around Halloween and, and you know, it’s, it’s, but it’s not like an F 13 or a Predator where it’s like, You know, ultimate like, depth and destruction and if you mess up, you’re done. And that’s over. With this, you have, as a ghost, you have multiple, scenarios that you can do. And you have all of these other mechanics and gameplay pieces that allow you to kind of have fun with it. And honestly, I’ve played where I just find myself playing for fun versus to win. To mess with the Ghostbusters and with like, on PlayStation, we have a localized voice, actually.
Jared Gerritzen: It’s with all of the systems. We have localized voice where if you have a microphone and you’re a ghost and people are trying to hunch you and you jump into an object and as they walk by you, you kind of make fun of them or something like that, and they turn around like, it’s just, it’s, it’s just a hilarious game, you know?
Jared Gerritzen: And that’s, that’s the big thing about it is Ghostbusters is a comedy. A spooky comedy. And that’s what we really wanted to make is, is make a game that’s fun and kind of funny and spooky, but it’s not, you know, that, that like UL Ultimate, you know, your death’s done. You know, we wanted to make it so little kids could play and not get nightmares.
Mason Paine: Well, Jared, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. For those listening, where can they find more information about your game and where to.
Jared Gerritzen: It’s Ghostbuster’s Spirits unleashed and, yeah, just Google it or use whatever, search you use. Just type in Ghostbuster spirits unleashed.
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