Moffat, Cecil And Many More On Dr Who

By Kieron Gillen on April 9th, 2010 at 4:25 pm.

I admit, I wonder how Karen feels knowing the entire world seems to be talking about wanting to hold her in a sexual manner at the moment.

Following on from Yesterday’s announcement, PC Gamer have published a mass of quotes that I didn’t have room to fit in my feature (Which is available in their current mag). Firstly, there’s a bunch from Simon Nelson, Multi-Platform Controller at the BBC, mainly talking about why the BBC is doing this. Clearly, worth reading for those wondering about the thinking behind it. The Second Article is cut from two conversations. One is chatting to Steven Moffat and Piers Wenger of Who fame on pretty much everything, including having Dr Who Doom Mods. The other is to Charles Cecil, Sumo and BBC Wales’ Senior Producer Mat Fidell. Lots inside each piece, but I’ll pull out some fun quotes beneath the cut…

Simon Nelson: We definitely see it as part of the BBC’s remit to introduce people to new technology or new aspects of of technology which they might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable. I always see it as a prime purpose of the BBC website to help people make their first steps to doing something online – whether it’s watching video or basic surfing. I’m very excited about the potential of what we’re doing with Doctor Who to introduce episodes of Adventure Gaming to a mass audience who wouldn’t normally dream of going to anything similar… and maybe a bit intimidated by it.

Simon Nelson: Everyone on the team made absolutely sure that we dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” of possible market-impact concerns or public-service justifications for what we’re doing. There’s no doubt that any time you’re doing anything on this scale, whether it’s actual drama, news… you have to. As the BBC, that you’re putting public licence fee money behind it, you want to make damn sure you’re convinced you’re building public value and you’re not damaging markets that are out there. We were pleased that the extensive and objective analysis we had done confirmed our core instincts – that this is something the BBC should be doing.

And read more here.

Moffat: I loved Tomb Raider at the beginning, but got increasingly bored by it, because you had to keep on shooting things. The shooting things was always really dull. It was always about trying to solve the problem of the big tomb that was great. How long must I kill this sodding lion for?

It’s not exciting, because you’re not really killing a lion. You’re just playing with the controls… but you are really solving a puzzle. And the Doctor’s a great character to be in the company of, to be part of or to be in that kind of an adventure. You’re solving puzzles. You’re being clever. And the best thing is that the Doctor sometimes just runs away.

PC Gamer: Violent games have traditionally tended to be the most popular, though.

Moffat: Is that WHY? I was playing Halo the other night… and I was more interested in how lovely it is. And sometimes I turn it to the easy setting and just see what new places you can crawl into. I’m not sure they’re always right. I’m not disapproving of violence but… it’s getting kind of boring.

Wenger: It’s not just Doctor Who trying to do a game which feels like a movie. The military games just offer the thrills and spills that a big, violent war movie would. And what we’re trying to do is offer the same thrills and spills that an episode of Doctor Who does.

Moffat: We do know about good stories. We do know about suspense and differing the payoff and all that. Suspense. Jokes! Good, funny jokes. Dialogue! Sometimes I’m sitting at a computer game and think… Good God, this is a horrible story. It really is terrible.

Millard: [On episode size] The same story it would take in 45 minutes, to play through it, to get involved in it, takes at least twice as much time to play through.

Cecil: And the stories are more ambitious than an episode. They tell more story. Tom Watson [MP] made a comment that the BBC should be investing in games development. It will be great to e-mail Tom to say… THIS IS WHAT WE’VE DONE. There’s that sense from him, and I hope others, that this is exactly the sort of area that the BBC should be getting into.

Millard: The closest comparison we’ve got in games in terms of being on the telly is something like Grand Theft Auto, which is on for the news for a negative reason for five minutes. And this is going to be so much bigger. There’s nothing in game terms which has that level of publicity within the public’s eyes. Nothing any other game has ever done compares.

It’s going to be brilliant for so many reasons, but the strength of the stories is… I was literally in tears at the end of one of them. I felt absolutely pathetic, but… I can’t wait.

And read more here.

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42 Comments »

  1. Ian says:

    What kind of weirdo wouldn’t want to run around shooting lions?

    Some sort of GIRLY-MAN?

    • Vague-rant says:

      The same sort of GIRLY-MAN who is literally in tears at the end of a game.

      Hmm, I wonder who I’m referring to…

    • Wulf says:

      John Walker! :D

      I wonder if he regrets this reputation or whether he embraces it?

    • Vague-rant says:

      Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner. I was trying to mislead with the quote from Millard in the article, but apparently subtlety isn’t my strong suit.

      Also, I like to think he embraces said reputation in a care-bear style hug.

    • Urthman says:

      What kind of GIRLY MAN twiddles his thumbs on a gamepad for a few minutes and things he’s REALLY SHOOTING A LION?

      It’s not exciting, because you’re not really killing a lion. You’re just playing with the controls… but you are really solving a puzzle.

    • Wulf says:

      I think he’s making the point that console violence is a girly thing, actually, and not at all like real violence. This is something I could agree with, the same is true of film violence, and in some cases televised violence and book violence as well. When you experience it in reality, it’s… hard-edged, terrifying, real and yet unreal to an almost abstract degree, it does interesting things to the mind and triggers one’s fight or flight mechanisms.

      Whereas in a game you don’t get that, you get this pansy version of violence which isn’t really violence at all, it doesn’t really do anything to the brain, it’s just an expression of gore and death. Sometimes we’ll even use innocent civilians just to try and disgust people to get some kind of response, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty piss-poor. In a game, you can’t interact with violence in the same way that you can in reality. But in a game you can interact with a puzzle in the same way as you can in reality, since a game can be a puzzle.

      i think that if games ever managed to accomplish real violence, it would reduce the hardcore gamers of today to weeping manbabies, just as real violence tends to do if you’re in the thick of it. This is why soldiers probably find videogames a laugh, but also laughable at the same time, because it’s fun to have a bit of a shoot around but it’s never really violence. Therefore, it’s just some distant, dulled, diluted representation of violence. You don’t feel any fear from the Lion, because in reality the fear might freeze you, and the Lion would maul you before you had a chance to shoot, but in a game…

      *blam blam blam blam blam…*

      Really, I’d rather be solving puzzles.

    • Robomutt says:

      So “I’VE BEEN IN A REAL FIGHT” is the new version of “I’VE GOT A GIRLFRIEND” on the internets then?

    • Vague-rant says:

      Um, Most of the above was meant as simple banter rather than any actual insult…

      Wasn’t that the point of the over emphasis on the words GIRLY MAN? Or have I missed something?

  2. M says:

    Not sure about the “You’re not really killing a lion, but you are really solving a puzzle” argument – your brain is still working through a process, and you can reduce puzzle solving to iterating combinations of actions and targets if you really want to.

    However, the earlier bit, about introducing people to new things, is a lovely thing to say. And why the Beeb is so frequently lovely in general.

  3. jsutcliffe says:

    It was always about trying to solve the problem of the big tomb that was great. How long must I kill this sodding lion for? It’s not exciting, because you’re not really killing a lion. You’re just playing with the controls… but you are really solving a puzzle.

     
    That is a good observation. I approve, though I don’t agree 100% — I know I’m not really shooting something, but I am making use of hand-eye coordination, reaction times, planning, etc.

    • DMcCool says:

      The missing premise in his arguement is “I’m not actually experiencing the danger, the fear,the excitement and the unpredictabilty of fighting a lion” which is really the point. He’s just going “Bang bang bang” like he’s learnt to long ago in the game, its all automatic and, as he knows things like health bars and how many bullets it’ll take and attack cycles (subconciously at least) there is no risk of failure (and even if he DID fail he’d just play it again). So really its nothing like killing a lion

      On the other hand, solving a puzzle is really solving a puzzle. You are working it out just like Lara would have to.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Yes, but…

      You’re not actually solving the puzzle — you’re just manipulating the controls. You’re not actually moving a series of troughs to fill some magic jug that opens a door (imaginary TR puzzle woo!). If Lara can’t solve the puzzle, maybe she’ll die starving and alone in the middle of an Angolan ruin. I don’t see that consequence for the gamer.

      So yes, you are solving a puzzle, but it is not the puzzle Lara is solving, because the rules for the gamer are different.

    • Wulf says:

      Maybe he’s talking about puzzles in a different sense.

      Then we’d be getting to the point where we’d be saying that using a gun in a game has the same requirements of mental faculties that solving a good Myst puzzle would.

      And that would be silly.

    • Mman says:

      It probably isn’t fair to pick on an argument who isn’t too big a game player (at least I’m guessing so), but still, that interview answer involves the kind of reasoning that irritates me because it derails an otherwise solid point. I could get right behind the basic point of “games add too much combat a lot of the time, that can distract from potentially more interesting bits”, but then it suddenly goes off on this wild tangent that amounts to “shooting in a game isn’t real, but solving a puzzle is!” and completely loses me.

  4. Reverend Speed says:

    YES.

    I’m very excited about the potential of what we’re doing with Doctor Who to introduce episodes of Adventure Gaming to a mass audience who wouldn’t normally dream of going to anything similar… and maybe a bit intimidated by it.

    BBC behind Adventure Games (arguably lagging behind Channel 4, but hey)? YES.

    My only worry is how they’re handling the inevitable Adventure Game Rage when you’ve tried all the CLEARLY LOGICAL actions and there’s still no progression. Hint system? Multiple routes? Involuntary progression tied to content consumed? Huh? Huh?

    Not a huge fan of Cecil’s games (though Lure & Beneath were very forward-thinking designs), but he’s a pretty good guy to oversee a project like this.

    AND STEVAN MOFFAT IS VAGUELY AU FAIT WITH COMPUTER GAMES! YES! I LOVE PRESS GANG MR. MOFFAT! LYNDA IS LOVELY BUT SHE SHOULD BE LESS CRUEL TO KENNY–

    …and…

    …good grief, regressing here.

    God, I want this to be good. Please let me send you money so I can play your computer game, BBC.

    • Gabe McGrath says:

      (*slaps forehead!)

      He’s the Press Gang guy! Awesome!

      Hmm, if only a clever RPS reader (& Press Gang fan) could make a a great PG game using AGS.
      Now *that* would make my day/month/millenium.

      PS: Mind you, it’s weird to see ‘Spike’ again on Press Gang DVDs, after his appearance in the Doom movie!

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      phuzz says:

      From TFA:

      Moffat: “I mean, I played stuff like Tomb Raider and thought “I wish this was Doctor Who”. In fact, I once had a little software patch which turned Doom into Doctor Who.”

      I’m so glad he’s now the head production blokey :)

    • Andy says:

      He also wrote Coupling (loosely based on his real life apparently) and Murder most Horrid (that great 90′s comedy with Dawn French) and he’s done the screenplay for the new Tin-tin movie.
      He’s got heaps of experience so with a touch of luck the screenplay and dialogue will be worth something.
      Only problem is that he’s so undeniably British.
      That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I simply mean that Americans tend not to get the humour in quite the same way which surely will only harm sales of a title like this.
      Still, it’s about time this Universe was properly tapped for some adventure gaming and Charles Cecil is a fantastic choice to be at the development helm.

  5. Rich says:

    OK, only two pictures so far but I’m not impressed. Puzzles, narrative and characterisation may be the core of this game, but the art direction is bland bland bland.

    • Rich says:

      Assuming the those shot have come from the embryonic game itself of course. How much have they actually done?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Wurzel says:

    Hmm, the interviews make me far more interested in this than any Telltale adventure game; maybe because they have writers I like on board and sounding enthusiastic?

  7. greenB says:

    Does the “bigger than GTA” comment re:media presence mean they’re just going to plaster this all over everything BBC?

  8. FP says:

    Moffat man crush increasing…

  9. Wulf says:

    MOFFAT, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!

    D:

    This isn’t the first time I’ve thought this, either, but sometimes when I’m reading Moffat it’s really disturbing. Our brains must’ve been manufactured in the same brain factory, because we like the same stories, the same approaches to stories, and we like the same things about games, to a point where it’s disturbing.

    The whole thing about Tomb Raider? Didn’t we have this conversation recently? Here? On RPS? I mean… I know we did, over that NU NOSTALGIC APPROACH game, and I remember saying as much in that comments thread, that I’m totally not into the shooty bits of Tomb Raider, but I’d love a game where you just explore and solve puzzles. That I’d rather have Lara the Intrepid Explorer than Lara the Disturbed Mass Murderer. And what does Moffat say?

    Then he talks about Halo… and… this reminds me of a very recent Guild Wars play through, where I grumbled at a friend about one area and how crowded with mobs it was, and he was sympathetic because he knew I liked getting the chance to stop and look at the lovely graphics rather than just being rushed on. I’m very appreciative of the art in Guild Wars, so many times I’ve just stopped to look at stuff and explore, and really, looking at stuff and exploring in Guild Wars, and learning the lore is even more exciting for me than the combat. And what does Moffat say about Halo?

    I’ve had this experience before with him, like I said, but seeing him talk about games is thoroughly disturbing. I really must meet the man at some point, have tea with him, talk about the future of games, and introduce him to VVVVVV.

    • Oddtwang says:

      I did that in GW too – messing about with dye and armour and hiking to the middle of nowhere (clearing the odd irritating mob out of the way) to take dramatic screenshots with the UI disabled was great fun. Plus there were those titles for exploring lots of the world to work on.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, that title was fun.

      I had a laugh in GW though, I even became known to a friend as: The one who always finds absolutely epic dead ends. I would always lead us off somewhere that looked interesting, only to reach a cliff-edge overlooking a beautiful vista, and I’d hang around there, taking it in.

      Good times.

  10. Jahkaivah says:

    Something I said a while back, a small first-person game (not necessarily a shooter) with the weeping angels would be fantastic.

    In the meantime, I will have a similar kind of fun with this companion cube mod.

    http://www.facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=493321

  11. JonFitt says:

    I’m solving a puzzle. i’m solving the puzzle of: “how do I make this lion more dead”.

    That being said, I am actually with him on this one. I found the climbing sequences in Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, and Ass Creed way more entertaining than the combat.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      The answer is almost always MOAR BULLEET.

    • Wulf says:

      And that’s boring!

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who falls asleep in the middle of mindless action films, I instead find myself at the edge of my seat due to riveting dialogue and an involving story.

    • Taillefer says:

      Everybody knows to kill a lion you run away, leap off the edge, swing on the vine, then keep running back the opposite way until aliens shoot the lion for you.

    • Wulf says:

      @Taillefer

      Funny thing is is that with its giant girth, roar, and movement, I always thought that was an alien bear. But the teeth do make it look like a big cat, yup!

    • Taillefer says:

      Wulf, it always looked like it had a mane to me.

    • Wulf says:

      @Tal

      Black Lion then! What a bizarre, alien world.

      Of course, I’m now reminded of a latter part of the game where the Lion things got their revenge, thanks to Lester mischievously pulling a lever and setting them all free. That was fun to run through.

    • Wilson says:

      @Taillefer + Wulf – I always thought of it as a cross between a gorilla and a dog, a gorilldog if you will.

  12. Mungrul says:

    Gawd bless Auntie.
    She cops a lot of flack from media that have to rely on sources of revenue other than public funding, but this kind of thing is what endears her to me so much, and why the rest of the world look at her with a bit of envy.

  13. TeeJay says:

    I seem to remember that “BBC Multimedia” made a series of games between 1997 and 2002, before being disbanded: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Multimedia

    (including “Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors” (1997) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destiny_of_the_Doctors )

  14. Moocher says:

    Is it bad that the first thing I thought of when I loaded the article was, “Oh wow, it’s all on one page”?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’ve been totally distracted from any point he may make by going over to Wikipedia and seeing that his first work was a comic with Rich Elson, who I’m doing Thor with for Marvel currently.

      KG

    • Wulf says:

      The biggest problem with that is the vibe I get from it. Basically, it seems like a thesis at first, and then you tip your head to the side and squint a bit and you actually realise that it’s composed of the sentence “I am a luddite.” over and over and over. He must really have a technology hate hard-on.

      What’s worse is that he goes on to say how poor the third Spider-Man movie was, not for it’s badly written dialogue, but because instead it actually embraced the comic book nature of ludicrous origin stories. I’ll quote to show you what I mean by this:

      “In fact, the script managed this quite simply: it turned the alien git-costume into a meteorite full of goo, which conveniently happened to crash into a field right next to Peter Parker. The ineptitude of this was probably inevitable, but tragically I kept watching,”

      I take umbrage at this because he claims to be a comic book fan and yet he’s overlooking the obvious. The obvious is that Peter Parker actually encountered the self-same ‘ineptitude’ in his origin story. What am I getting at? Oh, a spider conveniently happened to wander through a radioactive field, then with the same amount of deus ex machina it dropped onto Peter’s hand and bit him. Many comic book origins are like this, and to cite that it’s a movie problem is short-sighted and–if he realises this himself–actually quite intellectually dishonest.

      I’ve always loved how silly superhero origins are, and it’s usually what happens to a hero later in their story that matters, not what happens at the start. This is something that Grant Morrison and I agree on, there’s a certain… romance about the superhero origin, and there’s no harm in having a little fun with that. The setup doesn’t matter, it’s the story, the ongoing dialogue, the relationships between characters and so on, those are the things that matter. Had he criticised those, I would have agreed.

      “Spider-Man acquired a telepathic bodysuit from a bio-tech-happy uber-civilisation [...]”

      This is also an assumption, I read that saga way back when as well. The interesting thing is is that that could’ve been a prison of sorts, designed to keep the thing inside. There’s no saying that the device manufactured a suit especially from Peter Parker, that was left up to the imagination of the reader, I remember that clearly. But what he’s done is said that his remembrance of the story is actually the correct one. I don’t accept that. It could’ve been one of any number of scenarios that people could have dreamed up, the comic was set up that way and it should be left that way and respected as such.

      Comics always left a lot to the imagination.

      “In Spider-Man 3, and all its bastard kin, there’s a simple pattern. There are Big Events. You can tell the Big Events, because they’re denoted by computer-generated action sequences.”

      How is this any different from the mechanic that comic books use with splash scenes? A lot of comics that I’ve read have used a double-page spread to represent an action scene, and you know there’s going to be trouble following, this is a Big Event, too. This is what gets on my nerves with what he’s written, he’s pointing at things and saying they’re bad but comic books do exactly the same things. The only difference he’s making between the two is that he has a massive anti-technology boner.

      “It’s the in-between scenes which interest me. Nobody involved with the film seems in any doubt that the Big Events are the point of the exercise, yet spacing these out are the “slow” moments in which – ooh, let’s say – Peter Parker talks to his Aunt May about something sentimental that no-one will ever remember, or goes through Relationship Problems with Mary-Jane that look exactly like the Relationship Problems you might get in an episode of Dawson’s Creek, or goes all broody and starts to ask himself what he’s doing with his life. Scenes which don’t exist because any viewer might be capable of caring, but which instead act as a sort of Pavlovian buffer. I find myself remembering the extended schedules in early ’70s porn cinemas, when audiences were required to sit through several hours of slightly pervy “documentaries” before the main feature, partly because it allowed the cinema-owners to appear legitimate and partly to make sure the punters were salivating by the time they got to see the first nipple.”

      I just had to quote the entire paragraph, this time. Again, his only problem seems to have something to do with CGI and technology and he’s unable to see past his own hate. The thing is is that comic books have done this as well, so why pick on movies for it? For example, in many eras of the Avengers the big battles were the draw, and sometimes you had so many Avengers on the pages that it was hard to figure things out. Then you had small relationship pieces in between, small bits of calm time, and I suppose if I were trying to prove a point I could say that these existed to give the Avengers comic some credibility, I suppose I could say that they were there so that the Avengers could pretend that they were just as good at dialogue as anyone else, I could say that these emotional scenes are just filler. But I’m not going to say that. Sometimes that’s just the way the story goes, and comic books are just as responsible for that kind of story as the big screen.

      After this, he started beating on Doctor Who and he brushed all the well written episodes under the rug. The thing is, Silence in the Library (the two parter) wasn’t CGI heavy, quite to the contrary, it was actually very much a character based episode, the same was true of Girl in the Fireplace, and Blink, but he can’t see past his massive anti-technology hard-on to actually realise this. And to be honest, beyond that point I just couldn’t stomach reading it any more. It’s all whitewashed in pseudo-intellectual pap to justify the statement of “I hate technology, technology has ruined culture.” I couldn’t stick reading it any more.

      To be honest, I like movies, comics, games, and most of them fill me with joy. Usually if I take umbrage at something it’s poor writing, and has nothing to do with the special effects.

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