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DreamWorks' 'Dragon' game reskins Nokia tablet in real time

A new game targeted toward parents and kids mashes up "How to Train Your Dragon" with the drive to school.

DreamWorks' Dragon's Adventure
DreamWorks Animation's Dragon's Adventure game debuts on the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet. Nokia

DreamWorks' new game for the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet may be based around its film "How to Train Your Dragon," but it might as well be called "How to Train Your Children To Take Long Car Rides."

Starting Tuesday, Dragon's Adventure, as the game is called, puts Nokia's Here maps and existing augmented reality software to clever use by building gameplay around the morning commute, or really any road trip or drive.

DreamWorks Animation's film "How To Tame Your Dragon" supplies familiar taloned characters for young kids, aged approximately 7 to 13, as they us their 3D friends to collect coins during gameplay. The start of each game session correlates with the beginning of a new quest that lasts precisely as long as the drive.

Real-world details like traffic patterns and detours, and sunshine or rain, feed directly into the digital world, where parents mindful of speed limits can net their kids extra points for safety. A companion app for Nokia phones lets the parents chime in with challenges (like pillaging dragons) or treats (like a new dragon egg to hatch).

Seen only as a technique for distracting the little ones on a dreaded drive, the game is simple. But considering that it has to pull in geographic information, data from the accelerometer and other sensors, and trigger various forms of augmented reality, the feat is pretty impressive.

Dragon's Adventure began as a quest for DreamWorks' Jim Mainard, head of digital strategy and new business development, to create an innovative experience in mobile that uses the device's location awareness to build a broader experience. Mainard and his partner at Nokia, Bryan Biniak, the vice president of developer experience, had the concept pinned down right before Mobile World Congress 2013, but not even the first line of code.

After that, it took eight months to build out the game, relying on DreamWorks' strength in rendering and animation and Nokia's Here maps. In addition, Nokia needed to create and build out an entirely new platform to support the game, a platform that can be put to use in future apps and games for all ages.

Kids may be the target audience this time around, but it's clear that Nokia is just getting started branching out with augmented reality. "This is a starting point," Mainard told CNET over the phone from Abu Dhabi the night before the game's launch event.

Dragon's Adventure launches today.

Article updated at 6:49am PT with the movie's correct title.