Degenerating: Doctor Who – Worlds In Time Shutting Down

By Adam Smith on January 16th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

I don’t keep up to date with Doctor Who but when the nature of your job means that you follow a bunch of geeky McNerdsters on Twitter, it’s impossible to avoid the basics. It was impossible to avoid the revelation that the new Doctor is the sweariest man on television and I couldn’t ignore the fury of the people who were annoyed by the episode in which the Doc’s most faithful companion got married and the show turned into a bit of a sitcom. Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this. Despte being one of the internet’s most popular franchises, with all kinds of ready made scenarios and villains, Doctor Who hasn’t made a comfortable switch into the world of games. The latest evidence? The BBC’s puzzling MMO is shutting down on Feb 28th.

Microtransactions have been disabled and the lithium crystals have been removed from the phone booth. Again, correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t think many people around these parts will mourn the passing of Worlds In Time and the last update listed on the official website is from April 2013 so it doesn’t appear to have been a hive of activity.

Surely it wasn’t as bad as the Wii’s Doctor Who: Return to Earth though?

Or how about Destiny of the Doctors? A game so bewilderingly bad that it’s not entirely clear what was happening or why.

The best bet at the moment might be Doctor Who: Legacy, a mobile game that is basically Puzzle And Dragons with Matt Smith’s face in it.

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37 Comments »

  1. The Random One says:

    Just get Telltale on it, BBC. Or Wadjet Eye. Or hell, even Double Fine. Someone who knows how to make talky-talky heroes instead of punchy-punchy ones.

    The Whoest choice of dev would of course be Lucasarts circa 1995.

  2. planetxxx says:

    Believe it or not, there has been a great Doctor Who game (or least i remember it to be great). In the mid 80s there was a computer game for the zx spectrum called ‘Doctor What’ (i’m guessing they didn’t have licensing from the BBC) …it did exactly what any young Doctor Who computer-game-lovin’ kid wanted. i found some more details here: http://www.arowe1.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/spinoff2.html

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      phlebas says:

      It actually came out? Goodness, I remember seeing a couple of previews and then never hearing of it again. Might have to hunt it down for emulation sometime.

  3. mukuste says:

    This Destiny of the Doctors game looks somehow fantastic in a “WTF is going on” way. No way I would subject myself to it, though.

  4. planetxxx says:

    Ok i’ve just read the reviews of Doctor What from the computer magazines of the time (see the link above) and guess what? yes they all hated it…i was just a kid what was i to know!

  5. Ich Will says:

    “I don’t keep up to date with Doctor Who but when the nature of your job means that you follow a bunch of geeky McNerdsters on Twitter, it’s impossible to avoid the basics”

    I watch the damn show and I find it impossible to keep up with much more than the basics. Which would be pointless anyway because every show seems determined to contradict something previously established.

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      DrScuttles says:

      Yeah, with 33 seasons spanning 50 years, hundreds of audio plays and more books and comics than you can shake the Great Key of Rassilon at, it’s all going to stop making much sense of continuity rather quickly. I like that in a way.

      • Stardreamer says:

        Hehe. Part of the fun of being a fan is trying to make it all fit together. For instance I’ve just listened to an Audio Play that had the Seventh Doctor and Mel running around Pompeii the day before it erupted…as did the Tenth Doc and Donna in season four of the TV series. As the Audios are Canon now (or is that just Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor adventures…?) that presents some interesting problems. It’s not inconceivable for both Doctors/Companions to be there and not see each other but it stretches believability just a bit. What totally torpedoes it, however, is 10 apparently not remembering that his earlier incarnation is there as well. While I was enjoying the play I was also having fun trying to reconcile everything; it’s just what we Whovians have become accustomed to!

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      Yeah, while I love the show, I have to admit that it just keeps on piling up contradictions all the time – and I’ve only watched the first two seasons of the “new” series yet (you know, the one starting with Christopher Eccleston) and a couple of episodes into season 3.

      It’s generally a very weird show in many ways, what with regularly replacing main characters and/or actors, weird inconsistencies in rules and continuity, genre being anything from horror, drama or comedy depending on the episode and all that. My favourite example of “wait, what?” was at the finale of season one. Rose goes “can’t you just travel to a few hours back and warn yourself?”, which is a great suggestion actually. But that would destroy the plot, so the Doctor says “something something I’m part of events now, I can’t cross my own timeline” or something to the effect of this. Which would be fine, if we hadn’t had this exact thing happen only a couple episodes earlier, in the one with Rose’s dad, where in the beginning Rose screws up and they then go back to five minutes ago, complete with seeing their earlier selves standing there.
      I have learned to accept all those things and I love the show on a whole, but I can certainly understand that some people don’t want to put up with this.

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        SuddenSight says:

        The complete lack of consistency is actually one of the reasons I like it. Especially when David Tennant was the doctor, because the way he acted encouraged me to think of everything that happened as completely farcical.

        I just love the technobabble in Doctor Who because it makes no attempt to relate to real science in any way whatsoever. “Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey” reasons are very common (that’s a quote).

        • bill says:

          Me too.
          I was never hugely into old who, despite enjoying it from time to time, but I just loved the whole attitude of the recent show. (Up until the last half season where it, inexplicably, suddenly became very dull).
          That was a huge part of it’s charm… i was kind of shocked to stumble on some serious sci-fi geek websites where they analysed every detail in minute, er, detail and kept complaining about continuity errors.

        • Spoon Of Doom says:

          Exactly. It’s like the show is saying “Yeah, we know you expect some technobabble. Here is some, but we don’t really give a crap about the science behind this, because it isn’t real anyway. Just accept and enjoy what’s happening in this episode”. I like that approach, and I find it much easier to swallow than some of the babble in some “harder” sci-fi, where often it seems really complicated and plausible to the naive, but as soon as you know even a tiny bit about physics and the universe and the terms they’re using, you know that it’s actually complete bullcrap but said in total seriousness. There are many episodes of Star Trek Voyager for intance that I would have liked a whole lot better if they just said “WE DON’T KNOW WTF IS HAPPENING OR WHY!!” instead always going “yeah, of course X is happening because of the reversed polarity of the dark energy’s gravity affecting our photon refridgerator. We need to divert energy into the kitchen, but our energy remote control is posessed by a space whale ghost”.

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        Bluerps says:

        In general I agree with you, but at least that particular instance of weirdness mostly made sense to me. Yes, they went back to redo something in an earlier episode, but the Doctor was very reluctant to do so, and warns Rose not to interact in any way with her previous instance – and when she does anyway, it has horrible consequences.

        As far as I know (I’ve only watched up to the beginning of new season 5 so far), this is something that is consistent in all Doctor Who stories: the Doctor never goes back to change events he has participated in.

        Also, what am I talking about. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE, ALL THE TIME! Just see this explanation:
        http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lb7h95OJLo1qzxfyto1_500.gif

        • Spoon Of Doom says:

          I thought the bad things happened because Rose changed this Event which wasn’t supposed to change (staying vague because I don’t know if it’s of an appropriate age to spoil the important details)? I never thought it might be connected to them crossing their own timeline, but that might be what has escalated events. Interesting.

          Also, thank you for this glorious gif! I have sorted it neatly into my bookmark folder and will use it at appropriate occasions.

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            Bluerps says:

            Well, it might have been both. It’s not like there is a detailed explanation about what happens.

            (You’re welcome! It’s from an episode later in the third season.)

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    phuzz says:

    The Register did an article on all the different Who games over the years here.

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    FunnyB says:

    Never forget Hugo 2: Whodunit?

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    AlwaysRight says:

    “the episode in which the Doc’s most faithful companion got married and the show turned into a bit of a sitcom”

    I see what you did there.

  9. Nevard says:

    I kind of liked their Dalek flash game but that was because it was actually designed around a character who shoots things rather than a (usually) pacifist whose best weapon is more suited for assembling ikea furniture

  10. DrollRemark says:

    I tried one of the recent adventure games after it was linked to in the Bucket, and it was horribly tedious. No puzzles, no real challenge (dodge these terribly simplistic daleks), and no plot to speak of. I gave up quickly.

    The Google Doodle is the best game Doctor Who has ever had.

  11. Wulfram says:

    This existed? I’d have thought I’d have known that.

    • Themadcow says:

      Given the incesent and undeserved hype that the BBC gives DrWho (and other Saturday night guff) on a frequent basis, I’m pretty suprised that this game hasn’t made one of the top 5 news items on Breakfast on at least 10 occassions. It’s a pretty terrible show nowadays…

  12. Scurra says:

    So I’m one of the few here who did play it then? I played it pretty much non-stop for about six months in 2012 before they shifted to an overly absurd microtransaction model that meant that it was no fun. I understand they saw the error of their ways, but by then I’d seen most of the content (which I believe was about three-quarters of what was eventually available) so I didn’t go back.
    As a very long-standing player of Puzzle Pirates (Three Rings’ first big game) which was – and is – one of the best MMORGs around, Worlds In Time had a pretty good stab at translating the minigame concept that Pirates does brilliantly to a more distinctly quest-based format. But it never felt quite “busy” enough to be sustainable, so I’m not surprised that it is closing. Which is a shame.

  13. tinyrebelgames says:

    Susan Cummings here, Exec Producer on Doctor Who: Legacy. Yes, it’s certainly inspired by Puzzle and Dragons but we’ve been working with puzzle mechanics for years, having worked with Steve Fawkner after he made the brilliant Puzzle Quest which PND was itself inspired by. I hope those of you who are into Doctor Who or into puzzle mechanic RPGs will check us out. We’re very involved with the community, its an indie game and very much a labor of love from its creators :) (www.doctorwholegacygame.com)

  14. RProxyOnly says:

    That’s stretching the definition of RPG far too much, an RPG isn’t just a numbers system to kill things.

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yes it is, the modern definition of computer RPG is a spreadsheet with a visual representation and some sort of story bolted on top (optional). Many earlier RPGs were different but the wrong lessons were learned. It’s all, more or less, Blizzard’s fault.

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    JamesTheNumberless says:

    In my childhood it was Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy who were current, but it was the repeats of Tom Baker episodes from the 70s that really caught the imagination. There was a fearlessness about it, able to do completely alien settings with alien characters and off-the-wall space opera. A continuation of the optimistic futurism of the 1960s – but in a British way. The writers each tried to stamp their own ideas on the series’ direction but the Doctor himself was the constant, and Tom Baker defined the character in a way that overshadowed, and set the expectations for, every subsequent regeneration until Eccleston

    I got behind the new Who at first but just found it increasingly difficult to convince myself that this was the genuine Dr Who I was watching (watching a bootleg downloaded avi of the first episode, before it aired on TV was the most excited I’ve ever been about a TV programme) I actually really liked Eccleston’s Doctor but it was the rest of the show that was the problem for me. I think I saw two of the Tennant episodes and then gave up.

    I can sum up the difference by supposing that in the 1970s they started with the assumption that sci-fi is cool and kids are into sci-fi and worked from there. But in the 2000s they built the series around the opposite assumption, that everything had to be grounded in an urban soap opera.

    Maybe then, a similar thing is going on with the games. The need to appeal to the masses and the unfortunate conclusion based on sales figures and popular opinion that the masses relate best to games that are about shooting things.

  16. Cessan says:

    Geez, turn back your geek card right now!

    Everybody knows that dilithium crystals were used in the USS Deathstar in the Spaceballs movie. That one with the Elves and the Ring based in the CS Lewis short story. Sheesh.