developer interview

July 2004

Interview with Vince Farquharson

Following the success of the PC version of Ghost Master, a version of the game was developed for the Playstation 2 and Xbox consoles.

Just before this new version was released, we spoke to Vince Farquharson, the Senior Producer at Empire Interactive, to find out more info... Hi there, and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. 

The Sick Puppies team worked on the PC version of Ghost Master for about three years I think. Have Spiral House been working on the console versions for long?

Vince: Ghost Master on PS2 and Xbox has been in full-production for about a year now. So it must be good to finally have it ready for release?

Vince: It was very much a conscious decision to put additional time in to meet the demands of the new platforms rather than to do straight ports that could have been delivered quicker, but yes having spent that additional time it is now good to be close to release. Have you had much interaction with the original PC developers?

Vince: There was lot of interaction between Spiral House and SickPuppies initially but because there was a conscious decision to develop something specifically catered for the consoles, rather than being bound by the PC version, this was tailed off for full-production. This way we’ve been able to develop a new version of Ghost Master that owes a great debt to its PC predecessor and SickPuppies but has also been able to incorporate the lessons learned on the original product and the more console oriented skills of Spiral House. How has the game gone down at E3?

Vince: The title went down very well at E3, with praise most commonly being targeted at the titles premise and execution and the way an originally rts style interface had been re-engineered effectively for the consoles. So please give us a brief introduction to the game?

Vince: Ghost Master sees you taking control of a team of Ghosts as they attempt to frighten Mortals from a variety of locations.

As a Ghost Master you will have access to a variety of Ghosts and the Powers that they wield. By careful manipulation of the Ghosts and their Powers you will be able to terrify and manipulate the Mortals as you progress through a variety of locales and accumulate an ever-increasing hoard of ghastly servants with devastating powers.

Taking the original PC version as a start point, Ghost Master has made significant advances over its predecessor whilst adhering to the successful high concepts that made the original such a critical success.

Whereas the original title saw players taking a more hands-off, high-level approach to Ghost management, Ghost Master sees players getting down-and-dirty with the action as they take direct control of their team of un-dead henchmen. These new PS2 and Xbox versions are obviously based around the original PC version. Do we get to visit any new locations in Gravenville, or come across any new ghosts or powers?

Vince: Although based on the PC original you get a significantly different gaming experience that adheres to the same high-level concept as the original but uses a different control mechanism and underlying gameplay systems and logic. So rather than using the same game mechanics to explore new environments you get to explore familiar environments with essentially a new underlying game. It’s an unusual approach but based around delivering an optimal console experience that take the best of the predecessor and marries it to the best of console led gameplay. The new version boasts an impressive looking graphics engine. Does it differ much to that of the PC version?

Vince: The console version has been built from the ground up and uses Spiral House’s custom engine so your getting something completely different from the PC original, and optimised for the consoles. What other features do the console versions offer, which were not seen in the original PC game?

Vince: You get to get in the thick of the action with direct-control of ghosts and powers. You now have complete freedom to place and use ghosts anywhere in the environment. We’ve implemented simplified game rules to deliver more dynamic and compelling gameplay. The controls and UI have been optimised for easy navigation of the gameworld. Improved levels now offer a richer and more coherent experience.