Doctor Who Legacy Interview: Future plans revealed!

Just over a year ago, developer Tiny Rebel Games released Doctor Who Legacy, their free-to-play puzzle game based on the long running BBC sci-fi series. The game has become a popular one for iPhone and iPad users and Tiny Rebel have continued to add content to the game, including some stuff from the new Titan Comics series. However, the team isn't stopping and has tons of plans to update Doctor Who Legacy with even more content in the weeks and months ahead.

We got a chance to ask Tiny Rebel Games co-founders Lee and Susan Cummings about their future plans for Doctor Who Legacy.

First, it's been a year since Doctor Who Legacy has launched. What's been the most surprising thing about the game's post release development?

Lee Cummings: I think just the fact that we're still here, doing what we're doing, and being able to plan content months in advance, continues to shock and terrify me every single day. When we launched, we had told the BBC we had (very vaguely defined) live plans to support the game post launch and, here we are today, just having launched our 2nd month long advent calendar promotion, several huge content expansions behind us, new content released alongside the new season of the show as well as continual updates to the game client itself – all guided by the amazing community which has built up around the game.

What can you tell us about download numbers and in-game revenues for Doctor Who Legacy are are those numbers in line with expectations?

Susan Cummings: The game has been played now by nearly 1.5 million people. Considering that we are a two person publisher and we don't spend money, as a rule, on user acquisition, we're pretty excited about that. Rather than user customer acquisition spending – which we just aren't convinced would result in the sort of players who would really stick around in the long run – we focus on grass roots efforts like Doctor Who events, word of mouth, and promotional activities. The game is profitable and continues to grow and most of our players who spend money have been playing this game for months. They've experienced first hand the value proposition of our game – that we're not there for a quick cash grab. That we care passionately about Doctor Who and this game and that when they spend money, it supports the continued growth of the game!

How closely do you work with the BBC in terms of getting approval to add new content to the game?

Lee Cummings: We work with the BBC daily in order to release content at the pace we do. For any other developer or publisher in the world to get a few well-known actors to appear in their game it would be a herculean feat. You can't just unilaterally decide to include Kylie Minogue in your game without a massive lawsuit, these things aren't easy, and we add new content like this almost weekly. This is a task which requires a huge amount of effort for many, many people in and around the BBC, without whom this game just wouldn't exist in the way it does today. We launched with around 25 hours of content and we're getting near to three times that now, and growing daily through the advent calendar promotion we're running in the game through to Christmas, which is an extraordinary amount of work for the guys we work with at BBC Worldwide and at the Doctor Who Brand Team. They are, and continue to be, an amazing group of talented Whovians who love and care for their brand as it interacts with the world of gaming in a way that all companies should, but very few do.Susan Cummings: We have the process down now pretty solidly after a year and half of working together between us, BBC, and our co-development team, Seed Studio. Our lead character artist, Pest Jiang, lovingly hand draws every character in the game personally. So we have to stay efficient on approvals. Same for the backgrounds, all hand drawn by one talented artist. You might say we're pretty obsessive about details. We operate on three distinct time zones – Pacific, UK, and Taipei. That means that 24 hours a day, someone involved in the game at a senior, decision making level, is paying careful attention – as much as three time zones can be a logistical burden, it's proven to be a real asset in getting things done and keeping the game properly cared for.

Doctor Who Legacy

Now that the Twelfth Doctor's first season is about to close with the Christmas special, what does the development team have in store for fans of Peter Capaldi?

Lee Cummings:Not long after the Christmas episode airs, fans of the game will be able to play a new level based on the episode, which will be followed up a few weeks later with the continuation of the main storyline of the game as we make our way through chapter 4: Betrayal and Redemption. Starting in the New Year we'll be releasing the new storyline in weekly chunks, rather than in larger expansion packs. The 12th Doctor, having just officially joined the storyline (alongside his other 12 incarnations) a few weeks back in our chapter 4 prologue, has a lot of work to do as the various incarnations of the Master, now joined by Missy, fight over the future of reality itself. Alongside that we'll be starting a major side story "Bigger on the Inside" based on a new 8 bit art style we're adding to the game, and which will be released in 5 chapters over the first half of next year.

You have also integrated content from the recent Titan comic books. Will that continue?

Lee Cummings: Absolutely! In a few days we'll be releasing levels and drops based on the amazing Titan comic books (I was sitting here re-reading the first two issues of the 12th Doctor comic book series – they're amazing) as part of our advent calendar promotion. On the 10th we're featuring a level and drops from the 10th Doctor series, on the 11th we're doing the same for the 11th Doctor, then we wrap up with the 12th Doctor battling Skunkeys in the jungles of Isen VI, dropping Clara's new outfit from issue 1.

What other sorts of content can we expect to see added to Doctor Who Legacy in the future?

Susan Cummings: In addition to the aforementioned, we're also going to be beginning our first tie-ins with Big Finish, beginning in the Advent Calendar with the addition of Charlotte Pollard. Fans have been asking for Big Finish for months now and we're thrilled to say it's now underway! And additionally, we were approached a little while back by George Mann, the writer of the War Doctor Engines of War novel, and his artist Paul Hanley. We're going to be adding Cinder, the War Doctor's companion in the novel, into the game during the Advent Calendar and George Mann has actually penned the script for the level!

Will we see the game appear on other platforms besides iOS and Android in the future, such as game consoles, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1 and others?

Lee Cummings: We're actually happy to announce that we're in talks with Microsoft about doing a Windows Phone version of the game, and are looking to have at least one other platform to announce early next year.

Any plans for a second Doctor Who game from Tiny Rebel in the future?

Susan Cummings: Most of our efforts right now continue to focus on Doctor Who: Legacy, which we feel like we've still barely scratched the surface with, though we are looking into other ways to expand on the game.

Finally, do you have anything else you wish to mention about Doctor Who Legacy?

Susan Cummings: I think over the last year, we've started to transition from the role of creator, to the role of caretaker. Meaning, this game is bigger than just what we want or what our partners Seed and BBC want --- this game is made by and for the fans. And we want to hear from them --- so we hope that those who are playing the game or are thinking about playing the game, take some time to get involved with the game's fan community. There are so many ways to – our forums, our weekly live Twitch stream, Facebook, Twitter, our website, our newsletter.

Thanks to Susan and Lee for answering our questions!

John Callaham

I have been writing professionally about technology and gaming news for 14 years.