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How would a Doctor Who Game work?

Submitted by on Monday, 29 March 20107 Comments

Doctor Who was successfully resurrected in 2005, with the unlikely Christopher Eccleston in the titular role, after taking over from Paul McGann in the 1997 TV Movie.

After 5 years of success and a teary goodbye to David Tennant, the BBC have now announced that they are to push further into the video games market with more licensed games.

One of the franchises mentioned was Doctor Who, but how would they pull it off?

Doctor Who is a sci-fi show, featuring the mysterious Doctor, a Time Lord and his TARDIS, (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) a ship that travels through space and time disguised as a 1950’s Police Box.

“Great!” You think, “Going to alien planets in the future/past and shooting the merry hell out of everything!” Wrong. The Doctor never carries a weapon. The only remotely dangerous device he carries is his Sonic Screwdriver, which is more of a resonator/probe than a screwdriver, and is very good at opening doors.

Amy muses over possible uses for the probe.

“So how would gameplay work?” I hear you ask. In my head. Well, one possibility is to have large puzzle sequences broken up with running. Lots of running. This reflects the nature of the show, lots of figuring out alien tech, sticky situations and simple curiosity broken up with running away from the scary aliens.

However, this might not provide enough material for a full game. Different elements of gameplay could be added. For example, basic stealth to avoid enemies, time travel puzzles like in “A Crack in Time” and maybe even some chase sequences (the TARDIS can travel in space as well as time).

Collectibles and trophies can play a large part as well, unlocking bonus videos, sneak peeks, behind the scenes etc. as well as bonus character skins (the Doctor regenerates to prolong his life, and has had 11 incarnations so far, Matt Smith being the 11th and most recent) which add to the experience.

Amy is horrified at seeing the real face of the Daleks. Julie Peasgood.

The Doctor also has a companion or two from time to time, so local co-op is also an option for puzzle sequences, or stealth sequences, one acting as a distraction while the other unlocks a door or puts the enemy out of action.

The game doesn’t have to be on a disc either. I know I’ve been going on about it recently, but the Episodic format is really something that needs to be utilised on the PSN to greater effect.

There are many many possibilities to make this a fun and accessible BBC Game Franchise. Here’s how I imagine it:

The game would be released as a downloadable episode on the PSN every Thursday, acting as an introduction or backstory to the episode to be shown on the Saturday that follows. Episodes can be selected from a list in the main game client. The game starts with the Doctor Who logo and a Press Start prompt, at which point the title sequence will play, leading into the game itself.

The TARDIS materialises. A cutscene plays giving some context and the player ventures outside.

Depending on the story, gameplay would involve exploration, evasion, collection and/or puzzle solving.

Key components of gameplay would involve the Sonic Screwdriver. Mapped to a single button, the Screwdriver performs context-sensitive actions. For example, if sneaking up behind an enemy, it would send him to sleep. If in-front of a locked door, then it would unlock the door, or start a quick-time sequence or even a mini-game, depending on the context and level of security. It could even call the TARDIS.

"Whats happened? I'm all cartoonified!"

The TARDIS itself can even be a part of gameplay. If you come across a puzzle that has decayed with time or isn’t finished yet, you can travel in time to a point where you can do the puzzle, returning to your original time to continue the game, like the game mechanic in the upcoming “Singularity”. Puzzles could also involve multiple selves (provided they don’t come into contact, which would result in the end of the universe) like in “A Crack in Time”, eventually requiring complex movements through time in order to solve the puzzle.

The time travel doesn’t have to be limited to puzzles. It can be applied to many scenes leading to some truly mind-bending results.

The TARDIS could even be the entire episode. It has been known for the TARDIS to be the entire set at times, since the inside is bigger than the outside (hence Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which could provide for some more expository episodes, providing insight into the workings and layout of the magical machine.

With an episodic format, plot points and objects collected in previous episodes could also play an optional part in later episodes. There is so much scope for intelligent gameplay that fits into the Doctor Who universe, it would take some seriously unimaginative people to get it wrong.

There are some real possibilities for intelligent sets with the format of Doctor Who, and with Steven Moffat at the helm, I have no doubt that he would take to this format like a fish in water. With the only mainstream game even close to Doctor Who being the Top Trumps game, fans of this long-running show deserve a decent tie-in game. Of course, I doubt the BBC will find this in time, since rumours have already spread of a Wii game in the works.

What other TV shows would you like to see turned into a game? Post a comment below!