Hands on: Dreamwork’s Dragons Adventure for the Nokia Lumia 2520 – ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ GPS Game

WP_20131120_12_10_56_ProThis is cool folks.

I think hardware is starting to plateau. Phones and tablets are now “powerful enough” for the services of today, and I think we’re going to see a pendulum swing back to software and services over the next year as developers start tapping into all the raw sensor data available in consumer gear.

I got to spend the day at Dreamworks Animation Studio today to get hands on with their new collaboration with Nokia. A game called ‘Dragons Adventure’ will be launching exclusively for Nokia phones and tablets starting with the Lumia 2520, and it’s featuring some really forward thinking tech…

WP_20131120_12_11_42_ProDragons Adventure exists in the world of the popular film ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, and users play as dragon trainers. The app uses real time GPS data to create a map of the area around the player, and other information like weather conditions are reflected in the app in real time. As the player moves around in real life, they also move around the map. Players collect gold, sheep, and fish which can be used to train their stable of dragons at home. Along the way other dragons can steal your fish and sheep, and mini-games are built into the main map allowing players to pilot their own fire breathing beasts to protect their winnings.

WP_20131120_11_25_25_ProReal world locations are built into the game’s map environments. That pic on the right is of an actual series of streets in Glendale California. The app uses HERE maps data to construct its fantasy world on the fly, and game missions are based on the actual arrival points where a parent might be driving in real life. Going from home to school? That’s how long the mission will play. The great byproduct of this is that the child will finish a game mission as the parent arrives at a destination. I’m sure many parents have run into issues, taking a kid to soccer practice for example, then having to pry a phone or tablet out of the kid’s hands as they try and finish just one more level.

WP_20131120_11_20_37_ProThere’s also a parental companion app for the game. Tapping a Lumia phone to the Lumia 2520, parents can set mission length and destination points. Destination missions can be saved so kids can play at home when not traveling, and their own favorite landmarks can be cataloged, say they really like the mission which is created when they drive to school.

Parents can also interact with kids directly in-game, giving them coins for upgrades, or sending other dragons to attack to keep their kid busy. It’s very similar to the role a Dungeon Master might play in D&D. I would not be very benevolent…

Parents will also be happy to know that HERE map data can be stored locally on the Lumia 2520 tablet, so kids won’t be consuming additional data on a shared family cell phone plan while playing.

WP_20131120_10_08_52_ProAfter a presentation from CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dreamworks took a group of us out for a bus ride to demonstrate the game in real world conditions. It performed flawlessly, and we were able to point out various landmarks and POIs while playing on the map. It was a really smooth experience which showcased the services synergy working underneath a fun game idea.

We’ve seen individual elements of this game in other apps, but this might be one of the most ambitious games I’ve seen on a mobile platform. It ties together a wide array of technology. GPS tracking, mapping data, points of interest, NFC, accelerometers and movement sensors (for piloting your dragon), and it looks really good. It has the right look and feel for the property it’s based on, and I think kids will enjoy stepping into the How to Train Your Dragon world. Keeping parents involved and participating is a welcome addition. All too often I see our glowing rectangles become barriers to family interaction.

We’ll see a port for Nokia phones soon, but right now the only way to play is on the Lumia 2520 tablet, where it’ll come pre-loaded for free. Yup. Free.

Yet again, like they did with Windows Phone, Nokia is offering up the most significant apps and value additions for those consumers who are considering a Windows RT device. Following the game demonstration, Nokia developers disclosed that this entire app framework could be used for other properties and IPs. Could be exciting to see educational apps, tourist apps, and more games based on this framework.

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