Ghostbusters Project

Third encounter

When I re-watched Ghostbusters a few years ago I felt that something was missing. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, so perhaps it just couldn't live up to the impression it had made on me then. This time around I understood the adult jokes, so it really should've been more enjoyable! A little let down and confused, I stowed the DVD away and forgot about it.

Now a new movie draws near so I decided to look into the franchise yet again. The animated stuff probably never aired here when I was the right age. Suddenly when going through related search results, BAM, there it is! The toy skeleton with the rib-cage and weird claw foot! Memories of all the toy figures came flooding back. This was why I had such fond memories of the franchise. Somewhere along the decades I had forgotten that the toys were a part of the universe I had experienced.

As a kid I mostly had construction toys, so I got my impressions of action figures over at friends' and neighbours' places, and through much thumbed toy catalogs. I think this added an imagined depth to them, not having experienced them daily, first-hand. It was these toys that had defined the Ghostbusters universe for me - not the movie. Thinking back, I probably didn't even care much for the main characters back then, or the scarier creature designs. At some primal level, Ghostbusters to me was just about someone catching various colourful creatures with teeth. Perhaps the appeal is a little similar to that of Pokémon.

Needless to say my compulsion to start a new project got the upper hand again so here I go!

I'll be drawing inspiration mainly from the toys, but also the early animated series (including the Lovecraftian influences) and the movie. Movies? Well, I don't remember much about the second and can't find it anywhere at the moment. I'm sure I saw it recently though. I think anyone who experienced Ghostbusters did so in their own way because of the amount of source material available to draw from. Ghostbusters is both humorous and serious, cute and scary, science'y and occult.


Ghostbusters art by Arne

One problem with both the cartoons and toys is that a lot of the designs are humanoid wacky heads, so I tried to nudge them a bit towards the alien and unsettling, but I want to keep the lighthearted style somewhat intact. I'm still having trouble with a few of the ghosts bundled with the heroes (Grabber & Gruesome Twosomes).


Ghostbusters art by Arne

I managed to find some pretty strange designs in season 1, so I pounced on those and left the aforementioned humanoid wacky heads out. My redesigns are maybe... 70 percent faithful, but colors plays a huge role and I haven't gotten there yet. A lot of these ghosts are from S1E12 where Janine has to clean up some rowdy ghosts on vacation. It appears they had model sheets in place for those ghosts as most are reoccurring, but I can't find any.

Ghostbusters art by Arne

I didn't watch the cartoons as a kid but apparently some of the "This Week's Bad Guy" made quite the impression on people. I picked a few of those. I quite like the mosquito-fireflies myself (S1E07), especially the scene where they are seen flying from the side. Boogieman turned into a Boogiemam... The library lady had her floppy tits out btw, just cropped out of view, but visible in the Making Of. I guess there will be regular undead but I haven't drawn any as there's not much design to them.

In my mind, there's some sort of realm, or realms where these ghosts come from, so some of them are creatures native to their realm, plane, whatever. Undead humans wouldn't be of course, though they may be powered by some disturbing power from beyond (nothing science'y). The Cthulhu design in the cartoon is the best Cthulhu design I've seen, by the way. Very original, yet oddly faithful. Anyways, perhaps some of the Ghostbuster bosses are powerful entities like in the Lovecraft universe. I think they are classified by power.


Ghostbusters art by Arne

Gozer is a bit of a strange design, but I think I like my sketch here because it reminds me of an 80's White Dwarf cover. I'll try structuring the blisters along the side of the body (as if a suit design) because it was the randomness which bothered me. I thought the hounds were a bit dull/stiff - I don't know what to make of them. Slimer is certainly the star of the ghost cast (but he (it?) is best used sparingly because he got really(!) annoying in the later cartoon episodes). I think I prefer Slimer's toy debut look over the more disgusting fat chin version. I like his antics & voice in S1E3 the best.


Ghostbusters art by Arne

I do not care who the ghost catchers are, so I'm just going to draw girls as it's more fun and I also wanted to draw a skirted-uniform. Rather than arming them identically, I'm playing with the idea of "classes". It gives each character something unique to do, so they're not all interchangeable in combat (bit of a problem with the original cast, I thought). The placeholder nicknames are:

I guess, in my mind, with the toy-verse taking precedence, anyone could be a buster. GI-Joe, Barbie, StormTrooper with Greedo's head, Evilynn or the weird-arse figure you don't know where it came from could all as easily don the Proton Pack. This is very different from the monopolised use in the movies with just four jumpsuit characters. Maybe my four characters here are from a Silph Co. type gang who wears uniforms? Team Proton?

I also want to explore the idea of Pokémon/Digimon mechanics. Slimer is a bit like Pikachu - a mascot character, caught and (sort of) tamed. Toys were bought and collected, so that is the appeal I have in mind here, not the movie plot. Being a fan of Hellraiser, I was thinking that ghosts are caught using cubeoid traps. If set in the future Buster tech could be commonplace and a bit less clumsy.

Ghostbusters art by Arne

I guess I'm not a big fan of shape-morphing, possessed designs, so for the haunted humans I'm thinking that they are absurdly shaped creatures which can pose (literally) as humans (possibly wearing clothes), but won't hold up to a closer inspection. The Lady (Granny Gross) is the most interesting out of these I think.

To-Do / Assorted

I haven't gone through all of the early material, but here are a few ones in the pipe.

Ghostbusters art by Arne

Flying polyps and Banshee and a certain pantyclad heroine, and also I don't like cocksure grinning cartoon characters so stop that, Slimer!

Ghostbusters art by Arne

Barrow Wight thumbnail sketch.


I don't want to, but I'll have to make a stand on how my Ghostbusters universe relates to the canon material. There are a few options.

On the Origin of the Ghosties

I don't want to suggest that the ghosts are mere creatures who evolved naturally. That would make them too plain and science'y, like virus zombies. No, there's clearly some kind of magic at work here. However, I'd like to give them some structure still. Perhaps ancient powers of old (Cthulhu, Gozerians, whatever) created these otherworldly entities or inadvertently sponsored the foundations of their creation because some system had chaotic effects. Many now emerge out of ectoplasmic energy concentrations and thrive on their own. Certain configurations might be more likely due to convergence. Some entities might be underlings generated when needed, like the Shoggoths of the Elder Things.

Dead humans are perhaps a source of ectoplasmic energies (making graveyards a gathering place for all sorts of spirits). Undead humans (and human ghosts) may appear under certain conditions, but I think these should look fairly human. A human directly becoming something creature-like the Gooper, Bugeye or MiniTrap just feels... weird. It's evident that only certain humans become ghosts, so the rest of the dead might play a different role in the eco system. Some sort of naming convention could clear things up. Human ghosts, inhuman spirits, magic-driven undead & creatures?

Mass death might cause a temporary realm merge, and all sorts of ectoplasm* overspillage related effects.

* Ectoplasm = Spirit energy. "Ectoplasm is said to be associated with the formation of spirits." I don't want to get too close to midichloriansplaination, but Ectoplasm is pretty well integrated into the world mechanics of Ghostbusters. It's not understood well, but can obviously be detected and contained.

Ghostbusters art by Arne

More exploration. I had the idea that if Doomsday happened, I can use the warped terrain (suggested in a cartoon episode) as a fossilised background element for the recovered Earth. Perhaps old ruins and artefacts got preserved in these peculiar rock (amalgam... metal?) formations, petrified. I'm thinking concrete and such wouldn't survive well. If Doomsday was unleashed, realities would twist, so it wouldn't be like a natural apocalypse with neglect over time. It might be an extreme version of what happened to the Derelict ship in Alien.

As indicated by the cartoon, many entities had been wanting to claim Earth for some time, so when the wall broke there were a lot of fights. How did humans survive? Maybe as slaves to one of the victorious entities (not Cthulhu - an upset of this scale is not worth lifting an eye over so he probably slept through the thing). For some reason the wall was almost healed, leaving the humans more or less to their own devices for six centuries, rebuilding.


I prefer the look of the original Pokémon games, perhaps because the lack of definition and color leaves spaces to fill in. With more defined graphics it sometimes feels like, "oh, this is all there is to it". Also, for some reason I dislike medium-value ground/grass in games and the later games use that. So, for this reason, and ease of asset production, I'd probably make a low color count, pastel'y mockup (8 colors total?).

When it comes to Pokémon as a game, I don't really like the linear story progression puzzle pathing, but randomized Nuzlocke runs partially solve this problem. You encounter random monsters and aren't allowed to capture everything which comes your way (adding replay value). On the other hand, a randomized world can feel like it lacks foundation, and Nuzlocke runs can be frustrating.

Using different starting positions is another way of adding replay value (A, B or hidden hard C). There could be certain zones (near C) where the monster (ghost/entity/spirit/creature) fauna is random, too. Each starting area would come with a short linear get-started story/game area, then the rest of the early-mid-game is open. The late-game area near the epicentre is more linear again to tie the story up. The edges of the map are easier, so this is where the starting areas are located.

Instead of permadeath, defeated monsters could be "banished" until their worth in EXP has been somehow re-accumulated. This means the player must at least move around in the world a bit and do stuff. When the monster returns from banishment it's no longer as relevant due to other monsters having level'd up, but it could be a positive surprise to see an old friend again.

I'm thinking there is no beam weapons for capturing monsters, because then the trainer/tamer/buster would have to be involved. Instead, monsters can do submission moves, which brings a submission meter up (more so if HP is low). Monsters are then trapped in a cube/trap thrown by the player. There should a limit to the amount of monsters which can be tamed, because I want to avoid a "catch-em-all" ultimate state. I don't mind there being a databank for say, scans though, perhaps shared between all player character slots.

I guess the cubes could be found like the heart containers in Zelda. A few are on set locations, in caves or given by NPCs. There could also be a few randomly placed ones to mix things up.

If there is a limit to the amount of monsters which can be tamed, then I guess random stats bothers me less, because there can be no boring grind to capture 100 Digletts to find one with good/ideal stats. You'll simply have to go with what you get. The EV training system in Pokémon really feels like an afterthought so I'd prefer to just be able to raise the stats (partly) on my own. It makes leveling a little fun event, like in Diablo. When a monster levels up, there is a small, predetermined chance that it becomes (is revealed as) a "shiny"/special.

Ghostbusters art by Arne

Random thoughts

To suggest that not much is known about the history of the world, old terms can have become corrupted. Dollar/Bucks have become Bugs, a coin minted with a bug.

There are petrified artefacts buried in the stones, and guessing what they might be could be a puzzle to the player. The ingame characters can have funny, bad theories.

It would be fun to hide little jokes about how the world operate in the description of tiles (seen when examined). For example, a wall mounted AC/heat exchange unit could have an actual "Maxwell-Demon" working inside.

Natural animal life as we know it might have been more or less extinct. I suppose everyone are vegetarians, meaning, have to show off crop fields and hydroponics on the game map.

No monsters in tall grass. Maybe use miasma? Buildings, ruins and cemeteries might be more haunted than wilderness.

I can't really do regular creatures like ostriches, wolves, and a lot of the Ghostbusters toys were wacky head ghosts, which can get monotonous. Well, there's also the Lovecraftian entities, but perhaps I can fill things out with more traditional mythological magical creatures, such as dragons, vampire bats, spiders, and possibly haunted things such as golems (possessed things) (human remains?).

Ghostbusters art by Arne

Project started 16 Feb, 2016.

Art by Arne Niklas Jansson