Watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special has been a British tradition for years, and just in time for this year’s festivities comes the much-anticipated Doctor Who: Worlds in Time in open preview. The browser-based, free-to-play multiplayer online game from BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games was developed in partnership with Three Rings and is the first to bring the beloved television series to a multiplayer game.

Doctor Who is commonly considered to be the longest-running sci-fi TV show ever, having debuted in 1963, so there’s plenty of characters and story lines to draw from.

Famously evil beings like Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels are here, as are other dangers lurking in the deeply immersive worlds of Skaro, Messaline, The Library, New New York and other worlds familiar to the eleven (so far) incarnations of the Doctor.

Players choose among four races – Time Lord not among them – and countless possible character combinations to create their avatars. Players who purchase Chronons, the in-game currency, can use microtransactions to customize their avatars, build new contraptions, and enhance their gameplay in other ways.

“As a huge Doctor Who fan, the chance to develop this game with BBC Worldwide was a dream opportunity,” Daniel James, chief executive officer of Three Rings Design Inc. said in a statement. “We’ve worked to provide Doctor Who fans an experience that matches the quality and imagination of the TV show, and a forum to introduce casual gamers to this remarkable world with an experience accessible to players of all levels.”

Three Rings is best known for Spiral Knights and Puzzle Pirates. The previously independent studio was acquired in Nov. 2011 by Sega Holdings U.S.A. Inc., a division of the Sega/Sammy Corp. of Japan, which it had been working with since they partnered to launch Spiral Knights.

Doctor Who: Worlds in Time will launch commercially in the first quarter of 2012. This year’s Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe, premieres on December 25 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central on BBC America and at 8 p.m. on BBC One in the U.K. The series broadcasts in more than 70 million homes and On Demand across all major digital platforms.

“Our goal with Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is to expand engagement with the immensely popular Doctor Who brand and allow fans to deeply immerse themselves in that universe,” Robert Nashak, executive vice president, BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games, said in a statement. “The game’s multiple worlds, its varied, wonderful characters and monsters, and changing story arcs will appeal to both Doctor Who fans and casual gamers alike.”

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