To celebrate the launch of His Dark Materials Season 2 and create an engaging user experience for new and existing fans alike, HBO tapped Framestore to build His Dark Materials: My Daemon, an augmented reality (AR) iOS app that lets users discover their very own daemon.
As a first-of-its-kind entertainment app with wellness benefits, My Daemon brings narrative elements from the show into daily life, with their daemon encouraging users to participate in activities that contribute to overall health in mind, body, and spirit. Users make progress in the app by taking part in fitness activities like walking or running as well as self-care, such as taking some time out, breathwork, watching a movie, or reaching out to a friend. My Daemon also integrates with a Watch iOS app to allow users to connect with their daemon through a simplified interface at any time.
Inspired by the series in which daemons are unique to each person, the app features a variety of possible combinations of animal type, skin, fur pattern, and personality, which are determined through a short, visually engaging introductory quiz. Users gradually unlock new AR animations as rewards and can share photos and video of interactions with their daemons to social media feeds.
“We were able to identify an object from our own culture that parallels the idea of Phillip Pullman’s daemons in many ways; our mobile devices. They’re always on, and rarely further than arm’s reach.”
DAVID ESTIS – CREATIVE DIRECTOR, FRAMESTORE
The app also detects everyday activity through Apple Health and Spotify, syncing with favorite fitness, sleep, and meditation apps. Daily habits, hobbies and new challenges become fuel to progress further. The app can be experienced in three different ways:
CONNECT WITH YOUR DAEMON
In these casual, funny interactions, users tell their daemon how they feel to receive personalized recommendations for wellness activities. Users can connect with their daemon on the Apple Watch, too!
PLAY WITH YOUR DAEMON
This is where unlocked AR animations come to life. Users can let their daemon explore and react to the world around them, unleashing their creativity through capturing photos and videos to share online.
JOURNEY WITH YOUR DAEMON
Users can follow the footsteps of His Dark Materials’ characters, like Lyra, by completing a series of curated activities that mirror experiences on the show, including fan favorites like Iorek, Serafina Pekkala, Lee Scoresby, and more.
Leveraging Framestore’s work on the His Dark Materials series itself, the studio’s global teams across the television, immersive and animation departments collaborated closely and utilized a selection of the show’s assets to create the highest quality AR experience.
The team also wrote over 1200 lines of copy and worked with professional comedians to establish different personalities in order to make the daemons feel like real, distinct beings.
The original concept was for a location-based entertainment (LBE) installment for Comic-Con 2020, a strategic pivot in the wake of COVID led HBO and Framestore to design an experience that fit with the new landscape and provided accessibility for a wider fanbase.
Created in Unreal Engine 4, the AR characters are some of the most high-fidelity to hit the platform to date. Estis adds “Pairing the AR capabilities of the iPhone with Unreal, we allow fans to see and interact with their very own daemon within their own environment.”
My Daemon is available now to download on iOS and Apple Watch devices in the U.S., Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.