A Visit with Milo
I wrote about Milo, an upcoming game for the Xbox 360 (based on Microsoft’s Project Natal) developed by Lionhead Studios in London to demonstrate their progress on the field of Artificial Intelligence a while ago and many people were quite sceptical about the project itself and to what extend the video which was shown at the E3 was scripted or not. These people might be interested in the first hand experiences of one of the guys from the GayGamer blog :)
“I had many golden moments at E3, but none so golden as running in to Peter Molyneux in the Valve meeting room. He enthusiastically greeted me and invited me to come up and check out Milo, Lionhead’s application developed for Microsoft’s Project Natal controller. As you doubtless know by now, Project Natal is Microsoft’s entry into the motion controller scene. The catch being that there actually is no physical controller and through the use of cameras, the player himself/herself becomes the controller.
Milo is an ingenious use of Project Natal, utilizing the voice and face recognition features of the device as well as the motion control. Upon entering the room, Molyneux talked a little bit about the project and then allowed me to give it a try. I stood in front of the screen and saw a serene Fable like environment with a young boy (Milo) swinging on a swing. As I moved towards the screen, the scene in turn moved closer. As I backed up, the scene moved further away leaning forward and to the side, I was able to look at the peripheral views of the scene. Kneeling down afforded me a look up in to the tree. Pretty impressive so far.
The next thing I knew, Milo realized I was there and hopped off his swing to come and greet me. He recognized that I was wearing black and nodded with empathy when I described how my day was. I could see the word recognition coming in to play: when I said the words good or happy, Milo would smile and nod. Eventually he tossed me a pair of goggles which I "put on." This basically consisted of me circling my eyes with my fingers to simulate goggles. Once they were on, I was able to jump in the nearby water and do a little splashing around. The water was very responsive to my movements and was definitely an amazing display.
At this point, another journalist insisted that he get an on camera interview with Peter, thus ending my time with Milo. However, I left with the feeling that I had just witnessed something miraculous. I am well aware that there were some "tricks" and scripted moments employed in the demo I saw, but for software this early on in the process it’s understandable. It did give me an idea what the years ahead will hold for video games and I will admit that it was in turns fascinating and just a little creepy, If Molyneux and Microsoft can pull this off, we will all be looking at the future of gaming. A future where we will no longer be tethered to a controller and our in game companions will be as real as our family and friends.”