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Interview: BBC Worldwide's games head gives us hints about Doctor Who: Worlds In Time

Fans of the nearly 50 year old BBC sci-fi TV series Doctor Who got some good news last week when it was revealed that a free-to-play MMO, Doctor Who Worlds In Time, was being made by developer Three Rings. The BBC previously brought the series to the PC in 2010 with four downloadable episodes of Doctor Who The Adventures Games, with a second "season" planned for release later this year.

Big Download decided to contact the BBC to get more info on its plans for Doctor Who PC games and got a few answers from Robert Nashak, the Executive Vice President of Digital Entertainment at BBC Worldwide. We even managed to sneak in a question about a possible game based on the Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood.

First, how did the idea for turning Doctor Who into a free-to-play MMO come about?

I came on board at BBC Worldwide last year and from day one, I knew that making a ridiculously fun browser-based free-to-play Doctor Who game would be a chief priority. The Doctor has fans around the world so we wanted to reach them in the most accessible way possible. There's also such a huge variety of Doctor Who enthusiasts and we wanted to create a way for fans of all stripes to have a social experience around their favorite hero. I was in London last week and visited the Doctor Who Experience that BBC Worldwide recently opened. Part theme park, part interactive museum - it's incredible. I wish everyone could buy a ticket to London tomorrow and go see it. The idea of creating a similar online experience where fans can come together and share their passion for all things Doctor Who - it's simply too good to pass up.

Why was Three Rings selected as the developer of the game?

They were the only choice and we never really considered anyone else. Daniel James, the CEO of Three Rings, is a legend in the business and has a world-class team of dedicated Doctor Who fans. We knew we could trust them to deliver a quality game that fans deserve.

In the game itself how will the player interact with The Doctor himself?

Really sorry, but we're not discussing any details of the game just yet.

What sorts of quests will players have to go on in the MMO?

In general, players will be able to help the Doctor stave off the forces of evil by thwarting the plots of classic villains from throughout the show's history. There will be a variety of quest types requiring different skills to keep the game constantly fresh and exciting.

Will there be any support for multiplayer quests in the game?

You bet. The game will allow for collaboration on quests and encourage social play at every turn.

The Doctor doesn't normally use violence. How will this attitude affect the gameplay in terms of how the player deals with challenges?

The acronym in the name "Worlds in Time" says it all. The game embraces the Doctor's philosophy of using cleverness and wit above violence whenever possible. This allows us to create an innovative and interesting gameplay experience where players have to work together and be creative to solve problems, battle the forces of evil, and help save time and space. They also get to have a laugh.

What sort of social features will there be in the MMO?

As an online social game, Doctor Who: Worlds in Time has social gameplay at its core. The game will not only foster collaboration and cooperation inside the game, but integrate with social platforms. We can't reveal too much right now about how these mechanics will unfold.

Will the game focus on Matt Smith's Doctor or could there be appearances by previous Doctors and companions in the game?

Fans of Doctor Who will be excited, that's all we want to say right now.

How much input does current Doctor Who's executive producer Stephen Moffat have in the making of the MMO?

Sorry for the nonresponsiveness, but we don't want to discuss any detail right now, except to say that fans of Doctor Who will be excited.

When will the game be made available to play ?

Fall 2011. In the meantime, check out Doctor Who: Mazes in Time on your iPhone and iPad. And if you're in America, tune into BBC America, the awesome home of Doctor Who for those of us on the other side of the pond.

Last year the BBC teamed up with Sumo Digital to release Doctor Who The Adventure Games. How well did the series sell outside the UK where the episodes were released for free?

We don't release sales numbers, but I will tell you that we're bringing the game to multiple distribution partners in the coming months to ensure every single fan outside the UK can play the game.

There will be a second "season" for Doctor Who The Adventure Games later this year. What hints can you give us about what players can expect for the new season?

We can't discuss that right now.

Any plans for Doctor Who PC games to be released to retail stores at this point?

No plans to do so right now.

We've heard rumors of plans for a Torchwood game. Can you give us any info on that front?

I can only say that it is always our goal at BBC Worldwide to do as much possible to extend the experience for our viewers wherever it makes sense. TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY is going to blow everyone's minds. That much I can say for now.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the Doctor Who MMO and Doctor Who games in general?

As we look to the future and the amazing potential of Doctor Who games online and on all game platforms, our biggest concern is quality. That's why working with a partner like Three Rings is so important. Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is being developed by fans for fans. Our ultimate goal is to make games that please the fans, while also introducing a unique and fun gameplay experience for people new to the amazing world of Doctor Who.


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