To celebrate the launch of His Dark Materials Season 2 and create an engaging user experience for new and existing fans, HBO created ‘His Dark Materials: My Daemon’ -- an augmented reality (AR) iOS app that lets users discover their very own “daemon” (an animal-like manifestation of one’s inner soul in the series) taking them on their own immersive journey through the world of His Dark Materials.
The app brings narrative elements from the show into fans’ daily lives through everyone’s most used device: their phone. Tapping into surging consumer trends around devices encouraging self-improvement and a general need for wellness during the pandemic, HBO created a first-of-its-kind entertainment app with wellness benefits. As each user interacts with their daemon, they are encouraged to participate in activities that contribute to overall health in mind, body, and spirit. The app 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. It 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 badges, poses, and AR animations as rewards and can share photos and video of interactions with their daemons in real-world surroundings to social media feeds from their mobile devices.
With the original concept centered around a location-based entertainment installment for Comic-Con 2020, a strategic pivot was necessary once COVID hit, leading the team to design an experience that fit with the new landscape and delight as many fans as possible.
Executive Producer: Christine Cattano
Senior Producer: Ezequiel Asnaghi
Producer: PJ Stegall
Production Coordinator: Victoria Nieves
Creative Director: David Estis
Game Designer: Jesse Johansen
Copywriter: Andrea Phillips
Lead Designer: Pavel Fernandez
UX/UI Designer: Elle Phan
Development Lead: Claude Dareau
Developers: Luis Tolosa, Linshen Xiao, Anna Dickinson, Jihyun Lee, Nicholas Wood
Lead Artist: Cenk Kilar
CG Artists: Jessica Soderstrom, Xiaolai Zheng, Andrew Trout, Youran Lyu
Tech Artist: William Arterton
Designer: Yiyuan “Coy” Yuan
Lead Animator: Marco Marenghi
Animators: Francisco Dias, Kevin Rooney, Yarim Machado, Edwin Schaap, Taylor Hodgson-Scott, Nico Cappuccio
Rigging: George Saavedra, Minji Sohn, Rob Garcia
Writers: Ryland Duncan, Caroline Drew, Stephen Mann
Creative Strategist: Kevin Maguire
Audio and Sound Design: Antfood HBO
Director, Emerging Technology & Innovation Strategy, Marketing: Sarah Milik
Associate Producer, Marketing Production & Operations: Samantha Garrison
Director, HBO Program Marketing: Mark Doumet
Manager, HBO Program Marketing: Charlie Weber
The iOS app is built using Unreal Engine and utilizes ARKit. As Unreal Engine doesn’t natively support the WatchOS, we built separate mobile (UE4) and watch (Xcode) apps, which was then merged into one.