'Doctor Who' anniversary celebrated with Google Doodle game

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Google wants you to be on board the TARDIS.

Today’s search engine’s homepage Doodle is on a whole other level for fandom love. Doctor Who fanatics can now play a five-level game all about the Doctor. First you pick which of the eleven Doctors suits you best as your avatar. Then it’s time to solve a mystery: The Daleks have stolen the letters of ‘Google’ and it’s up to users to work their way through various settings to retrieve them all. Then go ahead brag about your finishing time on social — users can post results on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ with a push of a button. The game is currently live on the U.K. Google homepage, and will be live in the United States at midnight ET.

“We tried to aim for the base-level as well as the hardcore fans for this,” Google head creative artist Matt Cruikshank explained to EW. “Initially, we were contacted about four months ago internally by a Doctor Who fan who mentioned that [the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who] would make a great subject for a Doodle. [It's] a big cultural institution back in England and it really deserves something quite special. So we set about trying to create a game and we [now] have a fully-interactive, multi-level game. One of the exciting things about Doctor Who is he’s a Time Lord, so he can travel in different dimensions to the past and to the future and also to the present. So we’ve tried to have as much fun with that as possible.”

Goolge has made some impressive homepage Doodles and games before, but this Doctor Who game may just be their most amazing yet. EW had a chance to talk to Cruikshank earlier this week. An edited Q&A is below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you decided that this one should be game as opposed to a static drawing?

Matt Cruikshank: It seems like it would be really fun to control the character. Because there are so many different characters and spanning 50 years so many adventures it seemed like this would be a really fun thing to try. We weren’t sure, but we began to visualize it and as we sort of fleshed out the illustrations we began to understand more of the world. We started thinking, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great if you could just  walk over here or jump over here?’ Or use a level and connect to a lift. So it became a more exploratory game where you also got a chance to prove how smart you are as a doctor. It really came out that this is just a really wonderful 50 years of history, should it really be just a standard logo? And we thought no.

In the game, talk me through how you play.

What’s interesting about this is it’s a global doodle. So we can’t use any language. So it’s very visual in terms of how to control The Doctor. When you play the game you’ll see it’s a very rich world with a lot of dimension and perspective. The challenge was ‘How can we get the idea across that you can use your mouse, or controls on tablet or keyboard? How can you navigate the Doctor?’ So it’s very much a point and click game in terms of using your mouse to navigate to an area and once you click on that specific square the doctor will move there.

You mentioned an email. What’s the general process for deciding on a Google Doodle topic?

We do it a variety of ways. We pitch as individuals, and we also open it up for anyone at Google really. We also contact the different offices throughout the world and see if they have any ideas for famous people in their country. We’re really open to suggestions and then we look at it in terms of planning, and schedules, and what’s really feasible.

Are there any Easter eggs for Doctor Who superfans?

We’ve tried to make the game for the new audience as well as the old audience. And that was the trick. What we have at the moment is being able to choose the doctor and navigate through the TARDIS, which we think would be amazing enough for the fans, but we also have some surprises in there in terms of enemies chosen and locations. So perhaps on Friday, all will be revealed.

Were you a Doctor Who fan growing up?

I was! I’m English so I grew up with it. I remember the ‘70s . Tom Baker was the era I grew up with. But it used to terrify me as a boy. [laughs] We’re launching the doodle the Friday before [the BBC special] because we would love for people to get to work Friday morning and get distracted [laughs].

Allons-y.

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