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

By Patrick Garratt
14 July 2010 06:54 GMT


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.

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