LEGO fans have a new theme to collect in Hidden Side , with the range offering spooky sets that tell the story of Newbury. To really convey the haunted happenings, the sets combine with a free-to-download app. When the device is held over the haunted model, the user has the ghost realm revealed to them.
To get a real sense of how this works, Senior Product Lead Murray Andrews showed Brick Fanatics how LEGO Hidden Side brings the traditional models to life.
What is the LEGO Hidden Side AR (augmented reality) experience?
In the app experience you can play actually both as the hunter and the ghost. The ghost is a digital only experience, you can haunt digital versions of the sets and we built that into it because we know that a lot of the kids who will come into the IP (intellectual property) through the digital entry point and they may not have a set yet, so this allows them to really get into the story before they have got the sets.
Let’s jump into the work in progress version. If I go into the schoolhouse, what we can do is scan the model in and it really brings this model to life. The model is still the centrepiece, you can see that, but we have sort of augmented around this cool environment and you can move around this model and explore it in cool and interesting ways.
We are not trying to completely overlay the model because that would be pointless, you might as well just make a computer game. These are just little details to lift the physical side and spark the kids’ imaginations. Then the gameplay is trying to find ghosts hidden in the sets and you do that by finding ‘gloom points’, locations where ghosts have been and left some residue.
There are these colour wheels, so what I need to do if I want to find the yellow ghosts I can scan the yellow colour wheel in and search around for the gloom points where ghosts have been. So we have got this mystery element where you are searching through the sets, then once I have found them you can ‘de-gloom’ the points, so if I de-gloom that we get a little mini game.
There is a ghost hiding, so now I have got this little ghost catching game where I can collect the ghosts. Of course you can’t see the ghosts in the real world, but through the app I can see the ghost realm and I’ll try and catch them. What is cool about it is that kids really buy into this, in the tests we have done – “of course you can only see the ghosts through the app, where else would you be able to see ghosts?” At launch we will have about 40 ghosts to search through and collect, then we will be adding on more as we go through.
Is the digital experience intended to appeal to older children?
It is a good question, certainly we hope that LEGO will resonate with some older kids. The mixed reality play is built in such a way that it is not geared towards younger or older kids. You can see on the boxes, we have listed 7+ as the key age range but ultimately we want as many kids as possible to experience Hidden Side.
Will the app be maintained as long as theme is?
Yeah. The app is integral, the mixed reality experience is designed as a whole so we think it is important for us to maintain the app experience as much as we maintain the physical side. On the physical side we will be releasing news sets next year and beyond, in the same way we are going to continue to update the app with new content and new experiences that link back into the physical sets. Hopefully this resonates with kids and adults across the world and we can continue to make Hidden Side way into the future. That is our goal.
LEGO Hidden Side sets are available now.
Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.