Since 1983’s Doctor Who: The First Adventure, Doctor Who has tried hard to break into the gaming industry in a big way. We’ve had Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror, Destiny of the Doctors, The Adventure Games (RIP?) and The Eternity Clock is imminent. But the BBC’s Worlds in Time is something completely different…
Three is the magic number
Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is BBC Worldwide’s first free-to-play online multiplayer in which you can board the TARDIS and become the Doctor’s companion. Announced just before San Francisco’s Games Developers Conference in February 2011, it launched earlier this month after an open preview in late 2011.
World in Time has been developed with Three Rings Design as a puzzle-centric game in which fans of the show can socialise whilst battling the universe’s most dangerous villains.
Robert Nashak, EVP Digital Entertainment at BBC Worldwide says:
“Three Rings is the ideal team for this groundbreaking creative partnership. Not only are they visionaries in the online gaming space, they are lifelong Doctor Who fans with a passion for delivering the level of quality that our players will expect and deserve.”
Based in San Fransisco, Three Rings was founded in 2001, and launched their first game, Puzzle Pirates, two years later. They have since been acquired by gaming-giant, Sega.
Daniel James, CEO of Three Rings, adds:
“Three Rings is delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to create an online game based on Doctor Who. Our goal with Worlds in Time is to capture the imaginative spirit and depth of the series, whilst being fun and easy to play for all ages.”
The Pixelated Whoniverse
Caroline Skinner, Executive Producer of the series, has a hand in Worlds in Time, aiming to give players a game firmly rooted in the Whoniverse. She told SFX:
“The thing that I’m really excited about with this game is that it does a really brilliant job of bringing a lot of the magic of Doctor Who into a completely different platform for the fans. I’ve been working on the show for about six months now, but the game has been well over one and a half years in the making and so my predecessors Piers [Wenger] and Beth [Willis] and members of the production team have been working in a very hand-in-hand way with the gaming team and the BBC Worldwide developers to make sure every storyline, every detail, every monster and the tone and the essence of the game feel as if they’re as Doctor Who as they possibly can be.”
Skinner adds that the show and the game were “always going to work hand-in-hand.”
Like many other Doctor Who games, puzzles are an important part of the tapestry of Worlds in Time. As Nashak told MCVita, “its name is an acronym for ‘WiT’ – it’s a game that’s about brainpower, not firepower.” And this is certainly reflective of the Doctor’s attitude. He never carries a gun. Because ‘if people see you mean them no harm, they never hurt you. Nine times out of ten.’
Players must battle various infamous monsters from the TV series to eventually earn themselves a sonic screwdriver. So far, we’ve seen Daleks, Ood, the Clockwork Droids, Silurians – and even Zygons!
But Robert Nashak maintains that it isn’t just long-time Whovians who can enjoy the game:
“We’ve created a game that is accessible to non-fans – all the narrative can be played whether you have a working knowledge of the show’s stories or not. The important elements are the social mechanics and the narrative and puzzles.”
Worlds in Time uses Chronons as in-game currency. And with a target demographic of ages 13 and up, parents need not worry about their children spending all their money – well, not too much, anyway. Gamers receive a certain amount of Chronons free every day, but can choose to pay for more, if they want to.
It’s important to remember that the ‘worlds’ in the game’s title is, indeed, plural; the multiplayer is built to be expanded upon. Caroline Skinner told SFX that the first addition is ready for release:
“They’re bringing in Skaro soon and I remember first seeing it and the inner fan in me thinking, ‘wow, that looks cool!’ It’s a whole lot of fun, but it’s also the kind of game that you could imagine you’re going to play for about 15 minutes and solve one of the fairly small puzzle elements and you suddenly find you’re still there two hours later, running round the worlds.”
However, plans aren’t set in stone for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who just yet:
“I’m not quite sure exactly what we’ll do with the game yet to be honest, but we’re in conversations about that at the moment, so I’m sure there’ll be lots of exciting things for us to add in for November 2013.”
Delving into the show’s history must be a hugely enjoyable task, but that hasn’t stopped the makers looking to the future, and its reliance on its TV counterpart. As Nashak tells MCVita, plans are afoot to create a brand-new villain for Worlds in Time, who may also be seen on the small screen:
“That’s the vision, long-term. We didn’t come here just to deploy the content across platforms – we want to interact with what’s happening with a show. It’s definitely our aspiration. In this newer media landscape, we’re all expected to push the envelope and keep our properties relevant – and the BBC is well placed to do that.”
You can play Worlds in Time – alongside fans worldwide – at www.doctorwhowit.com.