Stradley and Zerby Investigate the "Ghost" Video Game

It's funny how certain things make a comeback. The latest IP to rise from the ashes of time is "Ghost," a comic book series originally published by Dark Horse Comics from 1994-1998 -- but "Ghost" isn't returning to comics just yet. Instead developer Gamers Digital is reviving the property as an all-new video game for iOS and mobile platforms. It will once again focus on Elisa Cameron, a woman who spends her immediate afterlife searching for answers regarding her apparent death. It'll be played in a first-person perspective, as you navigate Elisa's world looking for clues and other pertinent items in search of the truth about her demise.

CBR News sat down with the game's writer, Randy Stradley, who also worked on the comics, along with Gamers Digital studio head Scott Zerby to discuss the new title and the process of adapting the comic into a mobile game.

It's been a while since we've seen "Ghost" on shelves.  What's been going on with the IP, and are you happy that its return comes in the form of an interactive game?  Why do you think it took so long?

Randy Stradley: Every character or property has its own life, and they tend to run in cycles. Ghost appears to be on a rising cycle. In addition to the game, Dark Horse is also planning new adventures for the character, and we are in negotiations regarding a TV series based on the character. Each of these things came about independently -- a serendipitous confluence of events. I'm particularly excited about the game, since it seems aimed at a different demographic than the comics. We're always interested in expanding our audience.

Was this an idea Dark Horse suggested to Gamers Digital, or was it the other way around?

Scott Zerby: Gamers Digital was looking for a seasoned comic book character to create a new series of interactive mysteries for the casual game market.  We suggested Elisa Cameron because of her complex relationships, and her very cool powers.

What kind of powers will players have in the game?  Will all of Elisa Cameron's abilities be intact?

Stradley: From what I understand, Elisa's ghosting powers are crucial to the game as she solves the many puzzles in front of her to discover her dark past.

Is Elisa's whole story being adapted for the game?

Stradley: We worked with Gamers Digital to distill the base storyline of how Elisa got her powers, and how her choices got her where she is. The story is a good introduction to "Ghost" for those new to the story and fans of the series.

How tricky is it to write a script adapting a comic book story into a video game?

Zerby: "Ghost" was a great fit for this genre of gameplay.  The screenplay really just took the story we had already laid out and focused on the mystery of her creation. We made sure we stayed within the "Ghost" universe. We collaborated with Randy Stradley at Dark Horse Comics to ensure that fans of the franchise would instantly recognize the storyline. At the same time, the story line is easily accessible for people who were not previously familiar with the franchise. Would you call this a paranormal action game, or does it take a different approach?

Zerby: This game is a paranormal interactive mystery game. When we were looking to categorize we came up with a new genre, which we are calling First Person Mystery game, set in a paranormal universe.

What would you say is Elisa's coolest ability in the game, or perhaps even one that you're happy to see included?

Zerby: The ghosting ability is the core of Elisa's powers, and rightfully so is the center of this game.

What inspired "Ghost's" game design?  It seems to take a much different perspective than most comic book releases.

Zerby: We liked the idea of reaching a new audience of game players.  The Elisa story is one that is a good fit for many types of gamers. Focusing on the characters in the story really made the game design come together.

How supportive is Dark Horse with Gamer Digital's development process?

Stradley: We've been as supportive as we can, given that Gamers Digital is taking the character into an arena (video games) with which we have had very little experience. One thing I told Scott early on is that he and his team should not feel constrained by "Ghost's" existing continuity. I know some of Eliza Cameron's original storyline got fairly complex, and we didn't feel like the game-playing audience needed to be saddled with all of that -- especially as it's likely the game will be their first exposure to "Ghost." Finally, do you play games yourself?  Anything you're currently enjoying?

Stradley: I admit I got hooked on "Quake III: Team Arena" a few years back, and recently I've been playing "Portal."

"Ghost" will be available for iOS and mobile platforms in 2012.

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