CrunchArcade: BBC Getting in the Game, Doctor Who Title in Development

Last week rumors began circulating that the BBC might be in the process of developing a video game based on the long running Doctor Who TV series. While the original series ran from 1963 until 1988, a new version of the sci-fi drama just concluded its third season on the BBC, and is currently running on the Sci-Fi Channel in America. This isn’t the first time the infamous Time Lord’s adventures were made into a game. In addition to a silly board game and a paper and pencil roleplaying game from FASA, there was a little known action platformer in the 1980s featuring the Doctor in his fifth incarnation. However, the idea of the BBC bringing out a Doctor Who game sounds very cool (if they do it right). Plus, being the ultimate Anglophile there are a few other BBC series that this reporter would love to see in game form. Let’s face it, the BBC has some really cool series and hopefully some of these will be developed into games.

Doctor, Doctor
First things first. If the BBC is really licensing a Doctor Who game, let’s hope they do it right. What we do know is that the game is being developed by Ironstone Partners and will be published by Eidos. So far that doesn’t instill the utmost in confidence given the track record from Eidos, but we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
What we would love to see: An adventure game that is heavy on adventure. The Doctor should go up against a worthy opponent, notably the Daleks, the Cyberman or the Master.
What we don’t want to see: A first person shooter. First, the Doctor rarely resorts to using weapons and shooting Daleks and Cyberman is too easy. Instead the Doctor should have to rely on the usual trickery to outsmart the villains. Second, the Daleks, the Cyberman and the Master make worthy advisories on their own. So let’s hope the game developers don’t try to squeeze in too much into the game.
Chances of it being good: Iffy. Most Doctor Who stories are really ensemble adventures with the Doctor, his companion(s) and other characters getting to do a bit.

    Other Doctor Who Games Possibilities:

U.N.I.T. Stories (not to be confused with the American series The Unit)
Any long time Doctor Who fan knows U.N.I.T. This is a secret military organization that is devoted to protecting Earth from alien invasion. The United Nations International Taskforce first appeared in the 1969 Doctor Who story The Invasion, and was at the center of numerous Doctor Who stories during the Doctor’s third incarnation (1970-1973). There have been various U.N.I.T. spin offs, including novelizations and even a comic strip. There are plenty of stories to tell, since defending Earth from invasion isn’t easy!
What we would love to see: Here is where the big guns could come out. While most of the time the Doctor warned that mere bullets wouldn’t stop most invaders in a UNIT based game players could find out the hard way what it takes to stop an invasion by Daleks, Sontarians and IceMen.
What we don’t want to see: A real-time strategy game! OH god no! For some reason game developers think anything can be made into an RTS. Let’s hope they never read this and try to prove me wrong.

This Doctor Who spin off (Torchwood is an anagram for Doctor Who) will debut on BBC America in September. Having seen the full season I can say that it is grittier and darker than most American shows. Think of it as the British version of The X-Files, where the key is keeping the truth from getting out there. The leader of the group, Captain Jack, is a man from the future, who lived in the past, can’t die and has crossed paths with the Doctor. Yeah, there is a video game character!
What we would love to see: A game that tries to fill in a few pieces of the puzzle while still asking more questions than it answers.
What we don’t want to see: A first-person shooter, or even third-person action game. Torchwood is about mystery and once again the adventure formula would work very well.

    Other BBC Series We’d Love to See as Games:

Blake’s 7
blakes7.jpgLong before there was FarScape, FireFly, Andromeda or LEXX there was Blake’s 7. Set several centuries in the future this story was a far cry from the uptight utopia of Star Trek. Instead the Terran Federation is a fascist dictatorship, while Blake was a freedom fighter and former leader of the rebellion. Sentenced to life on a prison planet, Blake and several other criminals managed to escape and took command of a powerful starship known as the Liberator. From here they plotted, robbed from the rich and kept it for themselves and spent countless time arguing among themselves over petty issues. This wasn’t a happy go lucky crew that always got along, rather it was a den of thieves where most of the time they’d be just as happy to see the others go away.
What we would love to see: A game that mixes space combat with adventure, and where players can make choices. The crew of the Liberator had some tough choices and sometimes they made the wrong ones, but still managed to just barely get by with the skin of their teeth.
What we don’t want to see: A game that turns Blake’s 7 into a Star Trek clone. Blake was the leader but he had a hard time keeping everyone in line. If you play as Blake this should be part of the experience.

Red Dwarf
reddwarf.jpgAnother sci-fi series from the BBC, this one was actually a comedy set 3million years in the future! The series begins after low ranking technician Dave Lister wakes up, after being put in suspended animation, to find that it is in the far future. His ship, Red Dwarf, had a radiation leak and it is finally safe. His only companions are the hologram of his bunk mate (who he loathes), a neurotic android and a cat, who have evolved into a sentient lifeform (or at least as much as a self-absorbed cat could evolve). It has been a long time since the smash text-based adventure game Planetfall, and a game based on Red Dwarf could certainly fill the void. The original cast is still around (and not facing any criminal charges these days), so a wacky adventure game could work.
What we would love to see: A Planetfall style game that mixes the humor and morbid backdrop of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
What we don’t want to see: A game that would take itself too seriously. This needs to be fun, not Myst.

What would you do if you suddenly realized you were carrying a possible anti-Christ in your womb? Or were a several hundred year old anointed one for all that was good, but still managed to look about 17 years old and perpetually? Or were a lesbian goth chick who also happens to be a ghost that only the other two can see or hear. If that all sounds a bit surreal, well that’s Hex, which just concluded the second season on BBC America.
What we would love to see: A game that stays true to the series. Hex is about pulling back the layers. There are no massive fights or explosions. It is subtle, dark and a bit strange.
What we don’t want to see: A game that focuses too much on the sex. Yes, this is a show about a teenage girl getting knocked up by a fallen angle and having his kid, while sharing a room with the lesbian goth girl who had a crush on her. Scratch that. Hex: The Game would need to be heavy on the sex.

Life on Mars
lifeonmars.jpgAnother question. What would you do if you woke up 40 years in the past? And to make matters worse what you do if you were a police officer used to modern forensics and knew the meaning of the words sexual harassment. Well, for Sam Tyler this meant getting back to work and trying to get back to 2006. An American version of the series is debuting this fall.
What we would love to see: A crime drama along the lines of the CSI game series, but where the individual cases were part of a bigger story.
What we don’t want to see: A game heavy on action. Again, as with the other series Life on Mars is about the investigations not the shootouts.

Any BBC series we missed? Feel free to add your suggestions.