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Enter the City Of The Daleks in Doctor Who's new adventure games

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Simon Nelson | 10:57 UK time, Friday, 4 June 2010

My kids love CBBC - they play it all the time. Sure, they like the TV channel as well, but it's the website and the games that come first. That's not to say that TV doesn't matter to them any more.

Once a week, the programme we all sit down for, as a family, is Doctor Who. But that's not enough for them - they want to play as well as watch. That's why we've created the Doctor Who Adventure Games.

Amy and the Doctor in the Doctor Who Adventure Games

In our house, given a choice, my kids will always head for the computer first, the games console second before turning on the TV - books sadly come a distant fourth, which is why they rarely do get a choice.

My four-year-old can easily navigate and play on the CBeebies site; the older ones choose the worlds of Little Big Planet, Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters over most the TV has to offer. When they do watch TV, they want to watch programmes which have games they can also play, such as the brilliant Horrible Histories.

Our aim with the Doctor Who Adventure Games is to enable all Doctor Who fans - kids and adults, experienced and uncertain gamers - to enjoy four new episodes where they can play and interact with the action, rather than just watch.

City Of The Daleks, the first interactive episode is available to play now on the Doctor Who website and will be followed a few weeks later by the second and third episodes. You'll get to play the fourth and final game later in the year.

City Of The Daleks

We know that our audiences are demanding and if we do something on this scale, it has to be high quality, it has to be innovative and it has to work as a game.

So we joined forces with experts from the games world. We put Charles Cecil, creator of titles such as the Broken Sword franchise, and Sumo, a Sheffield-based games development company together with the writers and producers of the new series of Doctor Who - Phil Ford and James Moran. They were overseen by Steven Moffat and the producers of the TV series.

The results have been extraordinary - both teams have learned from each other. The TV teams have had to learn about how storytelling works in game environments.

Trafalgar Square, London

The game developers have had to deal with a hero who breaks many of the rules of traditional game play - he won't use violence, must rely on ingenuity and stealth to achieve tasks and effectively already has a skeleton key to open every door he encounters - his sonic screwdriver.

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have learned all about rotoscoping, as their real-life movements and actions have been captured for use in the game.

Set designs on TV have been influenced by the game designs and within the Adventure Games we've have been able to take audiences to environments which would be impossible on TV - frozen worlds, underwater worlds, inside the Tardis and in the first episode, to a devastated Trafalgar Square in London and then to the Dalek home planet of Skaro.

You'll be able to download them, for free, from the Doctor Who website (unless you're abroad in which case we're making arrangements for other sites to offer them).

We've tried to make this process as simple and painless as possible and one that will work on as many computers as possible (the Mac version will unfortunately be a week or so late but be assured - it's coming!).

A virtual Cyberman in the snow

We think we've created stories and an extension of the Doctor Who world and mythology that can proudly sit alongside the best episodes and storylines of the past and present - but this time you control the action, you are the Doctor (except when you're Amy!).

I hope those new to games will take their first steps in an environment which will show that games are a wonderful creative medium in their own right.

And, a place where occasionally they might like to join their kids for some good, old-fashioned playtime.

Please do let us know what you think.

Simon Nelson is controller, portfolio and multiplatform, BBC Vision


  • Comment number 1.

    "We know that our audiences are demanding and if we do something on this scale, it has to be high quality, it has to be innovative and it has to work as a game."

    ... But it's poorly optimised, and the game has glitches which render it incompletable when they occur. If you do the visualiser thing before getting the components for the chronoton blocker thing, you can't progress at all.

    In other words, it's not high quality, and it fails to work as a game.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't know why people even play these computer games which present a world and story which are limited by programming.

    You should try doing it old school. The official Doctor Who Roleplaying Game: Dr Who - Adventures in Time and Space.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    All you need is dice, paper, pencils and your immagination.

  • Comment number 3.

    The current version is a test version before it is launched on the 5th after the tv episode. There currently are issues that they want people to report and help make the game as glitch free and enjoyable as possible while also giving those who love a sneak preview, funnily enough a sneak preview.

    Personally, you are getting it for free, not in a £30 game cassette for whichever £150 console that many people cannot afford. It is a fantastic accompliment to what has been a wonderful fairytale series, not die hard si fi that ends up being 'cult viewing' IE for a minority.

  • Comment number 4.

    My questions are on the BBC POV messageboard.

  • Comment number 5.

    The main issue I've had with it, running Windows 7 on bootcamp, has been the camera. The moment you try and move it, the whole game goes choppy.

    However, leave the camera as it is, runs smoothly.

    Only tweak I'd personally ask for when it comes to the OSX release, is the choppy camera moments. They occur in cutscenes too when angles change.

  • Comment number 6.

    @3 - You clearly do not have any knowledge of actual video games, this much is obvious by the fact that you used the term "cassette".

    If this is indeed a beta test, the theory is that the problems will be fixed before general release.

    As for "Whichever £150 console that most people cannot afford"... Did you forget that you had to buy your PC?

  • Comment number 7.

    You also wouldn't expect a game to not be gold just days before its official release date. Such major issues really shouldn't be present now.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Our aim with the Doctor Who Adventure Games is to enable all Doctor Who fans"

    ALL? Don't you mean just the ones the BBC thinks have an ISP that's in the UK?

  • Comment number 9.

    This game feels (in gaming terms at least this game has been done on the cheap) saying that I like it. Yes, I'd like the ability to jump and to configure the controls to my own liking etc, but at the end of the day, it's free, apart from the few pence it costs each person from thier tv licence fee (at least in the UK).

    I can only assume that the developers will listen to the feeback that they recieve, both from the people who do the private testing for them and from those of us who are lucky enough to own a computer with an internet connection and can download the filese to play the game.

    Also people will (hopefully) post positive critisism/bug reports etc to help improve the game and not turn it into a beeb bashing.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well, I love it. Yes, it's quite short, but it is for free and is quite honestly brilliant. I've already played COTD 3 times... so hurry up with the next ones!

  • Comment number 11.

    Must not resent more of my BBC tax being wasted again - though was amused by the Heavy Metal joke considering none of the hundreds of BBC radio stations that play none of it...

    Well yesterday had a go as it was mentioned on a twitter post... my pc failed the requirements test - ok its a few years old but still a good spec (max at the time) - downloaded anyway and it was terrible - especially as I have two screens - not tested for that i think... once I eventually found the options and reduced resolution etc it seemed to work OK though being a console games player the controls and camera were too frustrating to hide from the daleks...good luck to those who are not pc savvy...

  • Comment number 12.

    Reading the comments on this board can only make me laugh at the misers. I downloaded this as soon as it was made available, and ran it on Windows XP via BootCamp on my iMac. I'm a big gamer, and was in the middle of replaying Half Life 2 when I heard this was available. I was so impressed, I played it twice, and sat through my friend playing it a third time.

    There were no technical glitches or faults (I had this running in full 1080p HD with High quality settings) , no silly camera movements or control issues (the entire game can be played as point and click - keyboard not at all needed) and the Doctor's pacifism made the game incredibly refreshing and unique against the backdrop of most other games, where violence is a necessary (and unfortunately predictable) element. It looks stunning - the use of colour is sublime - and the story is even one I'd want to see on TV. The games and game elements are challenging both for kids and myself, and ultimately very enjoyable. Also, to see a wonderful return to a "Genesis" style story was incredible.

    Then there's the price. Indirectly funded through the licence fee, let's look at what we're getting it for on top of that: absolutely zilch. For a free game, it is incredibly well crafted, written and executed, and I doubt I won't play it again sometime. I'd be happy if this were it on the DW gaming front for now, but we are still to be blessed with three more episodes to come.

    Both myself and a friend of mine, both very interested in gaming and especially interested in Doctor Who, were completely impressed with the whole experience. I couldn't fault it, frankly, and cannot wait for the Cybermen in the Arctic, presumably referencing their first serial.

  • Comment number 13.

    My mouse cursor is diabled as soon as the game starts, so a review of it is impossible.

  • Comment number 14.

    Despite having a low amount of disk space (which i blame for the slight joltyness of the graphics and out of sync voiceovers) I thought that the first of the Doctor who games was pretty damn awesome. I liked that you had to use different objects on other things because it meant that it wasn't just a point and click + everything happens kind of game and the creeping around bits with the Daleks were challenging and quite scary. Completing the mazes without a mouse & just a laptop was hard!! but all the more rewarding when completed. Can't wait for the new one!

  • Comment number 15.

    As usual with the BBC, this game is "free" only to people who have already paid a small fortune to Microsoft or Apple for a "supported operating system". Many Linux and UNIX users like Doctor Who too, you know.

  • Comment number 16.

    I thought it was a decent enough game. It was a little repetitive, but it killed an hour. Seemed very much like the sort of game you'd expect to pay a few quid for on Xbox Live Arcade or Playstation Network so I'm not going to complain about a free game.

  • Comment number 17.


    Yeah when are they going to bring out the ZX Spectrum version, the cheek of them!

  • Comment number 18.

    "Many Linux and UNIX users like Doctor Who too, you know."

    It runs on WINE I believe, personally I have not tried it as my OpenGL drivers are playing up.


  • Comment number 19.

    Why is does the BBC get involved in computer games? Why should the licence fee subsidise or pay for these things. There is a huge British commercial computer games industry which would love to be able to licence Doctor Who to make games - and the BBC could earn money to put into TV PROGRAMMES rather than spending money frippery which is outside its remit.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why was my licence fee wasted on this buggy piece of software that does not work at all?

  • Comment number 21.

    Hehe, at first I thought JonA was about to open up into some luddite rant about video games not being a valid artistic medium compared to the TV or some such. The reality made me smile. I've got fond memories of helping my friend plan for the game he was running.

    The thing about games - speaking as a developer myself - is that bigger budgets very frequently mean better games, which isn't true of TV or movies. As a rule, the most enormously successful games of our time - GTAIV, Modern Warfare 2, the Sims, and so on - have all had immense budgets with which to hire the best talent.

    Doctor Who's traditional shoestring budget has never been an obstacle to good storytelling in the show (just good special effects), but it isn't going to be able to produce the quality in a game that the franchise deserves.

  • Comment number 22.

    It was decent. Main problem was horrible mouse controls. The mazes were a nightmare - the cursor moves like a tank.

  • Comment number 23.

    Don't you just love some people? Oh it doesn't run on Linux/Un*x; Why has my license fee been wasted; It's just not upto the same standard as other games (the type of which you pay £39.99 for!).
    I guess to these people it's just much easier to complain than to compliment the efforts made and make suggestions for improvement.
    I personally think it's a great little game. Graphics look good, gameplay is reasonable. Yes it has a few little quirks with the mouse controls and a few skipped frames here and there in the in-game movie scenes but all in all it's very enjoyable.
    So well done to the folks who put it together! Hopefully you'll have some positive feedback with some constructive comments which will allow you to iron out the kinks ready for the next installment.

  • Comment number 24.

    19. At 11:49pm on 05 Jun 2010, James Rigby wrote:

    Why is does the BBC get involved in computer games? Why should the licence fee subsidise or pay for these things. There is a huge British commercial computer games industry which would love to be able to licence Doctor Who to make games - and the BBC could earn money to put into TV PROGRAMMES rather than spending money frippery which is outside its remit.


    You are joking of course. At last the Beeb is making an interactive episode that takes away from the vegetative state that most people sit in front of the box in, and given the means to be part of the story. Since stopping watching live broadcasts of TV programmes altogether,( no need at all with iPlayer etc). I realised how bad it really is to sit and pretty much do nothing for the amount of time the average viewer spends on the sofa watching the TV. If you don't like it, don't play. If you don't like the way the Beeb spend "your" licence fee. Don't buy one and boycott TV. Also, there is not a huge British commercial game industry. Not any more. The one's that are left, have no heart for games any longer, and are flagging behind with every release.


    As for the game. For a freebie, it's not bad. Graphics engine is a little dated now, but runs very smoothly, (AMD 64x2 - ATI HD4800 - 2GB RAM). Sound quality is not really up to scratch, but can be forgiven in the drive to keep the size of the download to a minimum, same applies to the graphics, just. My main faults is that I hate stealth games. We can't have the Dr running around shooting guns, not on. But there are many other game modes that could have been used other that stealth. The puzzles are a tad too childish. Trust me, kids can do much more complex puzzles and handle much better challenges.

    Overall though, it's a good little game. It's Dr Who. It's a PC game. It'll do for me cocker! Keenly looking forward to the next part.

    Oh, by the way. BBC...PLEASE DO NOT LICENCE THIS IP, (intellectual property), TO ONE OF THE MAJOR DEVELOPERS. These days, they will kill it, dumb it down, and sell it half finished and bug ridden to the console gamers market in time for the Christmas deadline, (or whenever). The big names in games have no inclination to make quality titles any more. Especially don't let the UK based Codemasters Software Company get hold of the Dr! Keep Dr Who for the Beeb thank you very much.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nice little game, especially for free, albeit a tad easy for me, but the kids loved it and thats what matters.

    Would have been nice to have a Linux version as thats what's installed on the laptops the kids use (much faster than Microsoft's Windows, and safer from viruses and malware). Fortunately I have both Linux and Windows XP using the latter to play 'PC' games only, but I really shouldn't have to. It would be better if the BBC did not pander to the Monopolies of Apple and Microsoft and be Operating System independent, like Runescape which runs on any machine.

  • Comment number 26.

    @#24 - No I'm not joking. There are loads of independent commercial companies who would love to be able to buy rights to the Dr Who franchise for gaming. The BBC constantly creeps into areas beyond its public service remit - and every time this is to the detriment of the commercial sector. 80% of the website is another example - how are other web service providers supposed to stand a chance when the BBC gets £140 from every householder in the country? It is not right, and verging on the illegal for a broadcaster funded by the licence fee to behave in this way. The BBC should get back in its box - and if it doesn't the new government will force it to.

  • Comment number 27.

    "You'll be able to download them, for free, from the Doctor Who website (unless you're abroad in which case we're making arrangements for other sites to offer them)."

    This doesn't affect me, but I do feel for non UK residents. I don't really understand why 'arrangements' need to be made....unless someone has decided to block it, or course.

  • Comment number 28.

    I too have the problem mentioned above. The mouse cursor does not appear so we can't even get past the menu screen.

  • Comment number 29.

    i personally love this game. its nice that the bbc are contributing back to the fans a free game to get stuck into inbetween episodes.

    the graphics are nice although i wish i could jump and use the sonic screwdriver whenever i like - im not complaining thou cause its free :D i only wish people outside the uk could have this opportunity to download it. hoping one of the episodes will let me nose round the tardis but i doubt it - i want to find the swimming pool lol.

  • Comment number 30.

    This design game's a very interesting concept. Too many games nowadays place a major amount of emphasis upon shooting other players in the game with a gun or some form of weapon. It's nice to see a game that's not as violent :D.

  • Comment number 31.

    'CITY OF THE DALEKS' ....Well you get what you pay for! Remember this is a free game! The sound is good and graphics are fair with nice intro sequences.
    BUT I felt a little short changed. The gameplay is just awful with not even no joystick to make controling the Doctor easier also the game is just far too short! It could have been 'FANTASTIC' .
    Why didn't the BBC Licence this game out to a major software house who could have made a better job. Now I know we would have had to pay for it, but this kind of game would have been great on the PS3 or XBOX 360. The BEEB would have made some money too to make future Doctor Who Episodes even better! Come on BBC think about it!

  • Comment number 32.

    Since this blog is run by a controller I'd like to lodge a complaint from Canada. I understand all the stuff regarding licence fees and the like. Frankly, I don't even bother visiting the BBC's Doctor Who website anymore because it's useless if you're not in the UK. But all (and by all, I mean all) the publicity I saw for these games, both from the BBC and from other media sources and fan sites, indicated that this game would free internationally. The first I heard anywhere of the restriction was when I saw the "sorry, you can't download" screen. I entertained the possibility that I missed something -- but when the official blog of Space Channel, the Canadian broadcaster of Doctor Who, also missed the fact it wouldn't be available here, clearly there was insufficient communication. We'd also appreciate word as to exactly how much we're going to have to pay for these games that everyone here on this blog seems to suggest are barely worth downloading for free. Will we even be able to download them, even? Or will be have to wait and hope that a games retailer stocks the physical media (at a time when most, at least here in Canada, are actually going out of the PC/Mac game business in favour of consoles). Will it be all the games at once or are we going to have to wait months between releases?

  • Comment number 33.

    it is not a very good game although could be. The movement is Very Jerky and glitchy and the daleks are Laughable infact it is a bit like the New Tv series... also remember it's not free... we pay for the bbc!! I like the idea of BBc computer games :D buut honestly puzzles are suppost to make you think NOT endless glitchy wires and Mazes

  • Comment number 34.

    So what if the plot is a bit short? For something that didn't cost me a penny, I thought the game was Brilliant! Seriously, big thumbs-up to all who worked on it.

    Fair enough, moving the characters with the mouse took some getting used to and the camera was a bit dodgy, but overall I thought the game was really good.

    The biggest criticism, however, is how little variety there is in the puzzles. All I seemed to ever do was avoid being seen by the daleks, point the sonic screwdriver at doors and occasionally be faced with a click-and-drag puzzle/match the symbols puzzle.
    Here are a couple of suggestions as to new puzzles to improve the variety in the game:
    - A "Space invaders" style shoot-em-up with the trap in the ruined Kalaan (where the Daleks scroll towards the Doctor and Amy and the player has to press the correct button to destroy them).
    - A puzzle where the Player can fly the TARDIS through the Vortex to get to the city (perhaps similar to 'Into the Vortex' on the DW website).

    But this is just my opinion, and apart from the last comment I thought the game was really really good (especially since it was FREE!)

  • Comment number 35.

    Hey i'm happy with it since it's free. I can't really complain that much because of it. Keep it up!

  • Comment number 36.

    Me a dis-appointed Linux and Windows user and Doctor Who watcher.
    I really don't want my license fee being tipped into Microsoft's pocket.

    I cannot get this to work on XP or Win2000 or Linux (under wine).

    Why wasn't this written in OpenGL? then you would have not had to spend extra time and money re-doing all the different platforms - AND you would have been able to make the download size smaller because you can detect (apparently) the system compatability AND it could have been more extendable AND you could have made it run on several different vintage of computer with out any extra work.

    Kind of thought BBC going the right direction with iPlayer desktop.

    I am itching to play this and I feel that someones really mucked it up.

    I feel like I did when iPlayer launched and I didn't get broadband for another 2 years......

  • Comment number 37.

    As a gamer and a real Doctor Who fan I have to say I loved the game - and I'm not a stealth game fan at all!! I would say that my main points for improvement are as follows:

    1. Controls were a little clunky and this made some of the puzzles, not to mention moving around at the required speed, more difficult - died needlessly a couple of times! So maybe making the movement a bit more quick off the mark would be good. Also movement could be improved when using the arrow keys.

    2. More variety with the puzzles - 34's ideas are brilliant! That would have made the game much more enjoyable from my point of view. More variety generally would be brilliant. :D

    3. Perhaps different levels of difficulty for different age groups.... actually I haven't checked if you've already got this so if you have I apologise... really should check these things first.

    Other than this I was really impressed, especially as it was free! I like how it was a proper Doctor Who story as well and ran like one. More please!!

  • Comment number 38.

    How do you get the thing to run? It just hangs on the splash screen (where it says 'Loading') and won't go any further. I have to switch my computer off to get out of it. I know it was free, but I still expected it to work. (I'm running Windows Vista on an 8-month-old laptop with a pretty normal spec, if you're wondering.)

  • Comment number 39.

    Looked interesting, but it won't install. My in the UK, and my IP address works for both iPlayer and for downloading the game, but running the install it says I'm NOT in the UK. No remedy suggested except to ask my ISP to register, which is silly because they obviously already did.

    Something is broken here.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi all and thanks for your comments. A few responses which I hope are helpful.

    Andrew no.7 - The version currently live is the finished version. We did soft launch a test version though.

    Mouse controls feeling "clunky" - Turbohat no.28, Riftywynde no.13, The Elusive Man no.22 - I'll feed this back to the games developers and we'll see what we can do. We have a detailed FAQ which may be of use to you - http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw/faq/category/tag_broken_game

    International availability - Hi PAW no.8 and Polly no.27. We'd love to make our content available internationally but we have to make sure that UK licence fee payers, who fund the BBC, are not being asked to pay for international rights and distribution. We are trying hard to make it available in some other way and will keep you posted.

    Other Versions - The Mac version is now available but unfortunately we haven't been able to develop Linux or other versions.

    Finally, thanks for all the praise and other comments - we love to get feedback so keep it coming.

    Simon Nelson

  • Comment number 41.

    Hi Simon

    Having similar issue to others who are unable to install the Dr Who game 'City Of The Daleks' on my mac. I live in the UK but the installer states that I need to be connected to the internet. I have broadband, so the computer is always connected, strange.

    I've tried to find some information on the internet and I read on a Virgin Media site that there has been previous issues, which are very similar to the one I am experiencing. Virgin Media stated that some people in the UK were unable to connect to the BBC iPlayer. They were adamant that it was a verification issue for the BBC to address.

    Is there problems with the verification software in the installer? I am sure if the BBC posted a feedback button on the Dr Who website, they would be informed by their disappointed gamers and fans that they are actually having problems installing the games on their computers.

    I would welcome your comments or resolutions.


  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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