Molyneux at TED: Milo has “dark adventures,” but there are no plans for release

Wednesday, 14th July 2010 06:54 GMT By Patrick Garratt


If the BBC is to be believed, Peter Molyneux said in his Milo TED talk yesterday that Microsoft has no current plans to release Kinect child-sim Milo & Kate.

Taken directly from the BBC’s report: “At the moment, the technology is still in development and Microsoft has no plans to release it, he said.

“However, he hinted that the game was designed to be used for millions of people and therefore could one day become a commercial product.”

The news casts yet more confusion on the game’s proposed fate, following comments from Xbox production boss Aaron Greenberg last month.

The exec was seen saying in a video interview that Milo is “not a game that we’re planning to bring to market,” before later issuing a statement saying, “It is just not a product we plan to bring to market this holiday.”

Child’s play

While Milo’s future was yet again thrown into turmoil, however, Molyneux showed plenty more of the game in his TED talk yesterday, dropping first information on story and confirmation that Milo himself will learn via a Cloud-based system.

Milo is a child who’s just moved from the UK to New England. The game was played for “less than 15 minutes,” according to this Forbes report, but showed scenes in which Milo argued with his parents off-screen. Milo’s mother and father both work, apparently, and leave Milo alone for long periods.

The player – an “assistant” according to that piece – was seen talking to Milo about the argument and offering encouragement. They cleared up Milo’s room for him while he was away; the child noticed and thanked the player.

Molyneux said that Milo learns through a Cloud computing system, so as many people will hopefully play the game, Milo’s intelligence will grow.

“This is technology making use of collective intelligence for play,” said Molyneux.

Tell me about your father

The Lionhead boss explained that he wanted to make this game for two reasons: firstly, to recreate memories of interacting with his own father and, secondly, to inject self into games.

“TV, music games, most of media, doesnt include me and I loathe that,” said Molyneux. “I wanted to create a character that would notice me and look me in the eye.”

He said the system exploited psychological techniques to fool the player into feeling Milo is real.

The software allows “complete control” over facial elements such as blushing and even the diameter of Milo’s nostrils, which Molyneux said could denote stress.

“Most of it is just a trick – but it is a trick that actually works,” he said, as reported by the BBC.

The Lionhead chief said that Milo doesn’t take long to get to know you.

“After three-quarters of a hour, he recognises you,” he said.

“I can promise you that if you are sitting in front of this screen, that is a truly wonderful moment.”

Molyneux also said that later stages of the game, which were not shown, allowed a player to explore the landscape with Milo more freely.

“There are lots of adventures – some of which are quite dark,” he said.

Snail’s pace

As reported yesterday, the volunteer cheered Milo up when he became sad, and even asked him to squash a snail which after a moment of hesitation, Milo complied.

“I love these revolutions and I love the future that Milo brings,” said Molyneux.

A video of the demonstration is to be posted on the TED Blog later this week.

Molyneux’s presentation was part of a session called “Human Systems”, which also featured talks from Matt Ridley, Steven Johnson, Chris Wild, and Annie Lennox.



  1. Lloytron

    The child thanked them for tidying the room? I thought this was trying to be realistic?!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Droid

    It was also listening to an adult. Definitely not realistic at all.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    I never really thought about it before, but it’s actually really clever they’re using a child for this. It’s not going to seem that unrealistic if Milo doesn’t respond to you, so if they do have teething trouble with Kinect voice and movement recognition the game might be able to mask the worst of it by Milo just looking at his shoes and having a bit of a huff.

    In all honesty, I’m more excited by Milo as a game than any other in development right now. I sincerely hope they make it work.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Rudderless

    Me too. For all the sniffy cynicism, there’s nothing like this being made at the moment. Nothing this different, nothing this ambitious.

    Of course, it’s also the one game in development with the biggest potential for disappointment. Given how the specs of Kinect have changed over time, I imagine Molyneux may well have had to scale back some of his ideas for this.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Freek

    I just find it bitt creepy. Helping a virtual child who’s been neglected by his parents, with perhaps a subtle undertone of Molyneux own daddy issues.

    Interesting technology for sure, but not aplied to that particular concept.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Patrick Garratt

    I’ve added more in there. And I’m chasing up something bigger on this now.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Blerk

    It sounds a little like they’re trying to take the ‘virtual pet’ game to the higher level by using a simulation of a person rather than an animal. It is an interesting piece of tech, but I never really understood the appeal of that kind of game. If it’s not more ‘meaty’ then I can’t imagine it being more than a passing curiosity.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. onlineatron

    I was hoping for a psychological horror plot.

    Milo, a kid moved from the UK to New England; struggling to find common ground with his parents, bullied at school, lonely , troubled. Milo invents ‘a friend’, ‘a friend’ he can talk to when the darkness ovverwhelms him… ‘A friend’ that gives him the strength to punish those around him.

    ‘Milo, kill!’

    …. /goes back to padded cell

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Blerk


    #9 4 years ago
  10. Broncanus

    @Blerk I’m not sure what “kind of game” you’d class it as. I’m sure it’s certiably not something you would normally ‘play’ but trying to slot it into a game genre feels uncomfortable.

    Congratulations Lionhead and all involved. You’ve cracked a few cynics I think. Best of luck.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Patrick Garratt

    Updated. Molyneux said yesterday that MS has no plans to release it.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. AHA-Lambda

    oh christs sake make up your mind!

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Gekidami

    Sounds like MS dont quite know what to do with this.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. tenthousandgothsonacid

    It would be very expensive for ms to release it as a game given every copy would have to come with a bloke behind a curtain operating him like they have in their ‘tech demos’…

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Blerk

    If there are no plans to release it then… why continue to work on it? Unless it’s just a tech demo to show off some libraries they’re developing and are planning to sell on to Kinect developers. So much about this project makes no sense whatsoever, I’m not sure they even understand it themselves.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. AHA-Lambda

    Yeah why keep showing this off if it is all for nothing??

    And I can’t see this being released anyway, when this was first announced people said i was daft when i said no one would buy this.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Freek

    I imagine what he means is they’ll continue to develope it as a side project at Lionhead untill MS deems it suitable for a commercial release.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. No_PUDding

    Pat, there’s tons of subtle creative choices in other games, can’t believe it took Milo for me to read one you’ve noticed.

    And by that I mean, I recognise and am surprised that you are passionate about this game, and not other more traditional games.

    At the same time, if it ever comes to some dynamic (rather than staged) reality, I will be buying an Xbox, I think. It’s special.

    But you all need to play Shattered Memories.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. LOLshock94

    suck is peter

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Filofax

    @10 “Congratulations Lionhead and all involved. You’ve cracked a few cynics I think. Best of luck.”
    Nah most people take anything that Peter Molyneux says with a massive pinch of salt.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    Why the fuck would he say Milo has dark adventures, if there’s no plans for release? Who gives a fuck if Milo has a vagania if we’re never going to see it!!!

    #21 4 years ago
  22. mathare92

    Too ambitious for current tech I say.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. DaMan

    Microsofteens. creepy.

    #23 4 years ago

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