Last year we reported that Google and Lego had released a browser-based Lego building experience that sprawled over real-life geography – well kinda, if you didn’t mind only placing your models in Australia, where the location-based tool was first released. Build with Chrome has now been released everywhere, in honor of Lego’s anniversary yesterday of obtaining its first patent. With the newer version we have an extensive building academy with promotional tie-ins to the upcoming Lego movie, and you might see Lego models popping up all over your virtual Google map.
The build process is much as we described last year, with two piles of Lego bricks and different keyboard and mouse commands for controlling the layout. This time Lego and Google have added a detailed build academy to teach you the process of not only using the website, but to give tips on building with Lego. The “instructor” is a character from The Lego Movie and completing challenges will unlock additional bricks.
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Online Lego building experiences have existed in the past, so other interesting features are due to the Google connection. You’re initially asked to share your location and are assigned a geophysical plat of space which resembles a Lego baseplate upon zooming in, but you can also choose any geographic area in which to site your Lego model.
You're also able to navigate the world map and look at local models. Browsing the physical location of my alma mater I discovered the school’s logo, while by the stadium in Colorado I found a logo for the local football team, the Denver Broncos. Apparently even in Lego, location matters.
Because you can pick and choose where to build your models, theoretically with enough builders your town could obtain a virtual Lego representation of its real-life architecture. Or a group of friends could choose an isolated area and collaborate on an imaginary town or installation sprawling over multiple assigned areas, keeping in mind that models can’t technically overlap pieces from one “baseplate” to the next, and each baseplate can only have one designer.
You’re also able to share your own models or those of others through G+, and all models are public and can be “+1”ed. Bear in mind that creators’ G+ names are shared with their model along with the geographical address where the model was placed, in case you decide to build a model of your house ... where your house really is.
Build With Chrome can be accessed on any browser enabled with WebGL, including Safari, Firefox, and mobile browsers. WebGL’s site will tell you if you if your choice of browser supports it. In practice the tool was more responsive for me in Firefox, but if I tried to build after selecting a geographical space instead of just clicking “Start Building," I was told that I needed to download Chrome.
The video below depicts Google's geographical imaginings of Lego.
Source: Build with Chrome