Comic-Con International kicks off this week in San Diego, and we’ve teamed up with Maze Theory and BBC Studios to give attendees a special treat. Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is coming to both Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform later this year, and Comic-Con attendees can be among the first to experience what this cinematic VR game has to offer—including a sneak peek at the TARDIS!
A quintessentially British television show dating back to 1963, Doctor Who has a dedicated following that spans the globe, which made the task of recreating the iconic time-and-space-travel craft a particularly daunting one.
“There’s quite a lot of pressure to do it justice,” says Maze Theory Creative Director Marcus Moresby. “There’s a level of responsibility to make it feel authentic and truly accurate. It’s such a beloved part of the show for the fans.”
Leveraging a combination of LiDAR, photogrammetry, and a large number of photo references, it took a team of 3D artists, designers, and engineers roughly 1,200 hours to bring the TARDIS to life in painstaking detail—custard cream biscuit dispenser and all.
“We’ve also tried to capture lighting and its mood perfectly, so ‘she’ feels like a living breathing ship,” notes Moresby. “We made notes of how all the dials, knobs, and levers in the control panel move, down to their rotation values in order to replicate how they react and sound. The details definitely make all the difference.”
In a story befitting a franchise centered on time travel, the partnership between Maze Theory and the BBC actually extends back to 2017 and an earlier project, The Vanishing Act, which the BBC had come in to experience.
“They really liked our attention to detail, production quality, and approach to immersive storytelling in VR,” recalls Moresby. “At its best, VR is like a teleportation device, allowing players to travel to distant worlds, far-away places, and go on incredible adventures in space and time. It was obvious to us straight away in that meeting that Doctor Who would translate into a perfect VR title.”
Coincidentally, Cardiff’s The Doctor Who Experience attraction was about to close after a successful five-year run documenting the show’s history with props, costumes, and sets—including multiple TARDIS interiors.
“We got talking about photogrammetry and next thing you know we were down in Cardiff creating a digital record of the whole experience—it’s all on a hard-drive in our office,” Moresby explains. “With access to a wealth of incredible data, we couldn’t help ourselves to make a weeping angels demo in VR, and things just from snowballed from there.”
The fabric of reality is in danger of being ripped apart, and you must pilot the TARDIS along with the Doctor—played by the thirteenth and first woman incarnation, Jodie Whittaker—through strange and familiar worlds to recover time crystals and save the universe. Sounds simple enough. Add in the infamous Daleks, the predatory Weeping Angels, and never-before-seen monsters, and things start to get a little more complicated.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is scheduled to launch on the Rift Platform alongside other high-end VR systems in September, while an Oculus Quest version will let you explore the Doctor’s world freely—no PC or wires required.
“For us, Quest is the huge leap forward that VR needs—a headset so focused on usability, comfort, and freedom of movement,” notes Moresby. “With our Quest version, we want to explore that in our storytelling—hiding clues and Easter Eggs under tables, placing them in nooks and crannies that encourage players to move around in ways they perhaps wouldn’t with either seated VR or while tethered to a PC or console.”
And true to the studio’s name, Maze Theory is already thinking bigger than room-scale when it comes to Quest.
“We have a sort of pipe-dream idea of getting lots of Quest players in a huge warehouse, so players can walk around the whole game universe without the need for teleportation or stick movement,” Moresby says.
To continue pushing the studio and the VR industry forward, Maze Theory recently launched an initiative called In>Theory. By building a panel of VR enthusiasts, gamers, and pop culture vultures to include in the development process, the developer hopes to collectively up its game while also rewarding the fan community.
“We’re giving them early access to code, showing them scripts, and putting on developer days for them to give feedback on what we’re creating,” says Moresby. “You can apply to be part of the panel, either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by checking out the article on Den Of Geek.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International this week, swing by Booth #4129 to step inside the TARDIS and get a glimpse of what Doctor Who: The Edge of Time has to offer. You can also sign up to receive updates about the game here.
And keep your Sonic Screwdriver at the ready...
— The Oculus Team