Editorial Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock game logo

Published on April 1st, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Editorial: Eternity Clock Sequels Cancelled

Sad news for fans of Doctor Who videogames – BBC Worldwide has confirmed that plans to release content updates and sequels to The Eternity Clock have been cancelled…

Combining some stunning graphics never before attempted in a Doctor Who videogame with the ability to swap characters between the Doctor and River Song (Matt Smith and Alex Kingston recorded dialogue for the game) and the now-traditional “puzzle” element – not forgetting some platform leaping and jumping – The Eternity Clock is the latest in a long line of attempts to make a family-friendly digital gaming experience.

Speaking to Digital Spy at the Games Developer Conference, Executive Vice President of Digital Entertainment and Games Robert Nashak confirmed that a sequel was not currently under development.

We’re keeping it as an option moving forward, but we want to see where with Doctor Who we can reach the fans best.

On console is interesting, because console fans really love the game, but the expectations are for a lot of the development spent on console. So we’re trying to figure out what is the best route for reaching Doctor Who fans with really, really great content.”

We love the storyline we developed there, we love the feel of that game, and so we’re definitely thinking about it for the future, but there is nothing in the plans right now.”

Doctor Who videogames produced by BBC Worldwide have proven to be notoriously poor over the years, despite a clear desire among fans. It’s probably fair to say that Doctor Who: The Adventure Games have been the most successful, and this also-cancelled series was not without its problems and critics.

(Via Digital Spy)

Kasterborous Editor Christian Cawley Says…

This is a topic that is close to my heart. I’ve been playing Doctor Who games since the 1980s; our second edition of Kasterborous Magazine is already planned to heavily feature Doctor Who videogames. Additionally, my day job involves a lot of game play, reviewing and occasionally beta testing, and I have a strong desire to see a Doctor Who game that does more than tick the boxes of a shopping list.

I remain incredulous at how this very simple idea – of a time travelling adventure game – can repeatedly fail to hit the right notes again, and again, and again.

Everyone has an opinion on how a Doctor Who video game can be “done right”. Of course, for “done right” we should probably accept that this term describes a position somewhere between “true to the series’ ethos” and the ground occupied in the various Doctor Who table-top roleplaying games that have been released over the years.

Simply put, people want to play as the Doctor or other key characters and Time Lords. While the companion might be the viewer’s cipher in many ways, so many fans identify with or aspire to be like the Doctor that it makes the RPG approach increasingly obvious.

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Take Star Wars: Galaxies or Star Wars: The Old Republic as starting points. While these Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) suffer from some fan dissatisfaction in the gaming mechanics, the in-game worlds are consistent, engaging and most importantly allow players to become Jedi, Sith, bounty hunters, smugglers – all of the familiar and popular characters from George Lucas’ sprawling universe.

Alternatively, a Doctor Who real-time strategy (RTS) title might be the way forward. Am I alone in wanting to watch legions of Daleks fighting Sontarans on a planet by planet basis, or in dispatching Time Lord bow-ships and war TARDISes into action as part of the Time War? Disengaging from the character of the Doctor and taking a look into the deep, infinite reaches of the Whoniverse isn’t such a bad idea, is it?

Meanwhile there is one other key idea for a Doctor Who game which is almost achieved in The Eternity Clock, that of taking command of one of the Doctor’s more militarily minded companions (the Brigadier, Ace, Captain Jack or River Song) and sending them on an FPS mission of high danger, perhaps in a post-Dalek invasion Earth, battling Daleks, Robomen and turncoats, borrowing tropes from other post-apocalyptic titles such as Half Life 2 or Left for Dead while maintaining a strong narrative and giving John Barrowman some much-needed (!) work.

Now, these ideas didn’t take long to come to me – mainly because most of them have already been done by modders, people who create custom graphics and levels for existing games. Sadly BBC Worldwide have been waging way on these people instead of embracing their creativity, shutting down their projects while lumbering developer partners with games that are ultimately unsatisfactory. Are SUMO Interactive and Supermassive Games poor developers?

No, they’re not. There is only one common denominator between these projects, and those for the Nintendo Wii and DS, and that is BBC Worldwide.

Time for a change of tactic.

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.



7 Responses to Editorial: Eternity Clock Sequels Cancelled

  1. avatar Paddy says:

    I agree – it baffles me that the idea hasn’t been picked up on. For my money, though, Doctor Who should try and look to games like Mass Effect for inspiration. Story-driven, but with action sequences, and a whole universe to explore. Even take cues on the character customisation front – how awesome would it be to create your own Doctor, design your own TARDIS, and take it around exploring the universe of space and time? Just like the adventures themselves, the levels/planets could be infinitely variant – action-packed Dalek invasion of a space station, Rome at the fall of the empire… and your actions in one story affect the way future stories play out. Meet potential companion characters on some planets, decide which to take with you, their skills then compliment yours…

    Honestly, if it was done right, it would be the greatest game ever made.


  2. The problem with the Doctor Who games, is that they are made for families, or are at least family friendly, just like the series. This usually makes them rather simple, not very interesting for ‘real’ gamers and frequently a mish-mash of different styles of ideas. You won’t see a Doctor Who RTS or Mass Effect type shooter, sadly enough, because the target audience is too young for it.


    • Can we change that to “perceived” target audience, and then compare this with Star Wars?

      I agree with you to an extent, but the different really is that the BBC’s PR and audience appreciation is very different to Lucasfilm’s (as an example). Should BBC WW wake up in this area, then things will change – but until then, they’re going to hit failure after failure.


      • I think you hit the nail on its head there.

  3. avatar Stonefish says:

    I was hoping that they might have used the adventure games to reintroduce a few of the classic series doctors again. All they have to do is write a good adventure story and get them on board for the voice work on the game; I mean, they’re already doing the audio adventures.

    (I secretly had hopes that this might have been happening for the anniversary…)


    • That’s a very good idea, Stonefish. Sadly, I don’t think the thinking is all that joined up when it comes to video games.

      Or, regrettably, the 50th :(

  4. avatar Derek Metaltron says:

    I often think that the best things for inspiration for any Doctor Who game would be:

    Tell Tale’s Walking Dead Series: I would love these guys on the Doctor Who Licence since they’ve done such a great job with Walking Dead, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park in the past, and it looks like Fables might well be getting the same care. Imagine a game where you play as the Doctor across five to six separate adventures which make up a ‘Season’ of stories, the actions of which impact your equipment, companion choices and relations with them. After the first story where you might have about three possible companions to join you in the TARDIS with different skills and knowledge, you might find adventures change completely on each run through, indeed the idea that at the start of each episode you can in some cases choose a time place from two possible options to travel to – Victorian London or an abandoned space station in the 25th Century? Each story has different threats and aliens to battle, indeed there might even be a pure historical as per the days of Hartnell! With classic villains like the Daleks and Sontarans or new creations. But there would be an on-going plot which runs through the stories and builds to a final, epic adventure by the end! With a focus on conversation, investigation and some puzzle solving, and some more frantic moments like getting chased by a Slitheen or Krillitane!

    Mass Effect/Dragon Age Origins: Similar idea to above but here you play as the newest companion of the Doctor throughout, and you can create them to appear as you like and fit a range of templates or characters, similar to how DA Origins had six different storylines to start you off into the main plot. You might be a scientist, soldier, schoolteacher or engineer. You might come from the Present, a historical era of Earth’s past or a futuristic space colony. In some cases you might even have the chance to be a species other than human! Your personality could fit a range of types – are you single minded but brave, kind but a tad naïve or intelligent but often arrogant? All those pull you into the world of the Doctor, who you might meet under various circumstances depending where or when you come from. And then wham, you’re in the TARDIS, the Normandy of Doctor Who, which you can explore, do your room up, and have suggestions for the Doctor on where you’d like to go. There’ll be troubles of course which will affect matters and a overall plot which you and the Doctor will investigate, but ultimately there’s a great range of places across Time and Space for you to visit!

    Eternal Darkness: Bit of a nice option for a multi-doctor story, have a overarching enemy or evil which affects the lives of multiple Doctors or their Companions, leading to a story where you guide each of them to investigate matters and defeat this multi-spanning adversary.

    Those are my ideas as of now.

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