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

Friday 4 June 2010, 11:57

Simon Nelson Simon Nelson

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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

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  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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.

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    Comment number 4.

    My questions are on the BBC POV messageboard.

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    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.

  • rate this

    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?

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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?

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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!

  • rate this

    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...

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

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

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    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!

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.


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

  • rate this

    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.


  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

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


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