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Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

One of the most talked about projects unveiled during E3 2009 was a game for the Kinect called Milo and Kate; the at the time latest and greatest brainchild from the mind of Peter Molyneux. What was shown at E3 that year was a tech demo at best, enhanced to a supposedly significant degree by smoke and mirrors programming, but it was nonetheless something that everyone following the show had on their minds. It was ambitious, and as per usual with Molyneux's often exorbitant proclamations, was claimed to offer a deep, moving experience in the way that the player could interact with Milo, the young boy at the center of the game.

Milo and Kate's technical concept was far more interesting than its subject matter.

Then the game vanished from public eye, showed up here and there while Molyneux claimed that it was still in heavy development, and was finally cancelled sometime in 2010. While this likely disappointed some (mostly, I'm assuming, Kinect advocates and Molyneux devotees), its fate didn't prove particularly surprising to me. Perhaps the tech just wasn't up to the task of achieving Molyneux's all-too-often unachievable vision, or perhaps a satisfactory market for the game could never be determined. The exact reasons probably won't ever be known, but it wasn't until today that I really gave serious thought to another, probably more obvious reason that Milo and Kate was destined for failure.

Last night, I was reminded of a game I had read about in an old issue of Nintendo Power ages ago called Wonder Project J2; a Nintendo 64 title in which the player must teach an android named Josette how to live among humans. The game has an element of fantasy to it that is heavily inspired by Pinocchio, from its basic themes to the names of specific characters. (The protagonist of the original Wonder Project J is a robot boy named Pino, and Pino and Josette's creator is an old man named Gepetto.)

In the opening minutes of Wonder Project J2, Gepetto, on his deathbed informs Josette that he's leaving her in the player's care. Josette herself is completely naive to the ways of the world and the nature of emotion. Her level of naive innocence is such that, when her creator dies, she doesn't understand that Gepetto has left her life forever. It is up to the player to teach her how to care for herself, interact with others, and nurture her emotional understanding. By teaching her effectively, the game's plot moves forward as Josette uses her new-found understanding to cultivate friendships and resolve conflicts on her own.

By contrast, what is, or was, Milo and Kate? Milo was an average boy already of an age where he could think and reason. The Milo and Kate wiki page suggests that the plot revolved around his envy of a schoolmate's bike, and so the player would have to help him complete tasks to earn the money to buy a new one of his own. As plot concepts go, there are none that are quite as mundane as this, and it's more or less the exact sort of challenge any parent of a similarly aged boy will likely face; encouraging their child to do their chores in exchange for an allowance. The simulation's apparent path and end goal is of the sort that no child would particularly find interest in, and no adult with children of their own would need a game to experience.

So if all of this was indeed true, then Milo and Kate was, in effect, too boring and unappealing. There's no sense of nurturing innocence, as there is in Wonder Project J, no pull of a child's imagination as there is in Hey You, Pikachu!, nor any of the complete madness of Seaman. As life simulation games go, Milo and Kate was done in by a lack of the one thing that I thought Molyneux could never run out of; that creative spark of imagination that allows such games to succeed in finding an audience.

In trying to make a game about real life, Molyneux forgot that without that personal connection, real life is often banal. Parents find joy in interacting with their children because they're their children; not simulations attempting to behave like real children. The difference between Milo and Josette is that Josette has her own story and exists within a world that is much, much different from our own. Milo, on the other hand, could very well be replaced by your own son, or nephew, or grandchild. There is little point in helping Milo purchase a bike when you can encourage your own flesh and blood to do the same. And when you see the smile on your own child's face as he climbs on his new bike for the first time, the reward is far greater than any Xbox achievement could ever provide.

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#1 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

One of the most talked about projects unveiled during E3 2009 was a game for the Kinect called Milo and Kate; the at the time latest and greatest brainchild from the mind of Peter Molyneux. What was shown at E3 that year was a tech demo at best, enhanced to a supposedly significant degree by smoke and mirrors programming, but it was nonetheless something that everyone following the show had on their minds. It was ambitious, and as per usual with Molyneux's often exorbitant proclamations, was claimed to offer a deep, moving experience in the way that the player could interact with Milo, the young boy at the center of the game.

Milo and Kate's technical concept was far more interesting than its subject matter.

Then the game vanished from public eye, showed up here and there while Molyneux claimed that it was still in heavy development, and was finally cancelled sometime in 2010. While this likely disappointed some (mostly, I'm assuming, Kinect advocates and Molyneux devotees), its fate didn't prove particularly surprising to me. Perhaps the tech just wasn't up to the task of achieving Molyneux's all-too-often unachievable vision, or perhaps a satisfactory market for the game could never be determined. The exact reasons probably won't ever be known, but it wasn't until today that I really gave serious thought to another, probably more obvious reason that Milo and Kate was destined for failure.

Last night, I was reminded of a game I had read about in an old issue of Nintendo Power ages ago called Wonder Project J2; a Nintendo 64 title in which the player must teach an android named Josette how to live among humans. The game has an element of fantasy to it that is heavily inspired by Pinocchio, from its basic themes to the names of specific characters. (The protagonist of the original Wonder Project J is a robot boy named Pino, and Pino and Josette's creator is an old man named Gepetto.)

In the opening minutes of Wonder Project J2, Gepetto, on his deathbed informs Josette that he's leaving her in the player's care. Josette herself is completely naive to the ways of the world and the nature of emotion. Her level of naive innocence is such that, when her creator dies, she doesn't understand that Gepetto has left her life forever. It is up to the player to teach her how to care for herself, interact with others, and nurture her emotional understanding. By teaching her effectively, the game's plot moves forward as Josette uses her new-found understanding to cultivate friendships and resolve conflicts on her own.

By contrast, what is, or was, Milo and Kate? Milo was an average boy already of an age where he could think and reason. The Milo and Kate wiki page suggests that the plot revolved around his envy of a schoolmate's bike, and so the player would have to help him complete tasks to earn the money to buy a new one of his own. As plot concepts go, there are none that are quite as mundane as this, and it's more or less the exact sort of challenge any parent of a similarly aged boy will likely face; encouraging their child to do their chores in exchange for an allowance. The simulation's apparent path and end goal is of the sort that no child would particularly find interest in, and no adult with children of their own would need a game to experience.

So if all of this was indeed true, then Milo and Kate was, in effect, too boring and unappealing. There's no sense of nurturing innocence, as there is in Wonder Project J, no pull of a child's imagination as there is in Hey You, Pikachu!, nor any of the complete madness of Seaman. As life simulation games go, Milo and Kate was done in by a lack of the one thing that I thought Molyneux could never run out of; that creative spark of imagination that allows such games to succeed in finding an audience.

In trying to make a game about real life, Molyneux forgot that without that personal connection, real life is often banal. Parents find joy in interacting with their children because they're their children; not simulations attempting to behave like real children. The difference between Milo and Josette is that Josette has her own story and exists within a world that is much, much different from our own. Milo, on the other hand, could very well be replaced by your own son, or nephew, or grandchild. There is little point in helping Milo purchase a bike when you can encourage your own flesh and blood to do the same. And when you see the smile on your own child's face as he climbs on his new bike for the first time, the reward is far greater than any Xbox achievement could ever provide.

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#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36088 posts) -

So it was too accurate a simulation of life to be engaging? Why do I feel like I've given Peter Molyneux reason to feel smug as shit?

#3 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

So it was too accurate a simulation of life to be engaging? Why do I feel like I've given Peter Molyneux reason to feel smug as shit?

How accurate it was we'll never really know, but yes, I do believe that's why it ultimately failed. The concept is simply too mundane to work as a game.

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#4 Posted by Video_Game_King (36088 posts) -

Damn it. Another one of those statements where I'm pretty sure there's an example to prove you wrong, but I simply can't think of anything to use. The Sims, maybe? Or that 80s game that was sorta like The Sims, only with only guy?

#5 Posted by Willin (1280 posts) -

I bet this is the first time anyone has thought of Milo since 2010.

#6 Posted by iam3green (14390 posts) -

yep, pretty bad thing. it just seemed like a tech demo for kinect. in which case kinect isn't that good with games.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Damn it. Another one of those statements where I'm pretty sure there's an example to prove you wrong, but I simply can't think of anything to use. The Sims, maybe? Or that 80s game that was sorta like The Sims, only with only guy?

The Sims is too abstract to really count. You can seal people within walls ala Edgar Allan Poe and watch them piss themselves before they starve to death. The concept behind Milo and Kate was much more grounded. As for your 80s game reference, I don't know what you're talking about.

@Willin said:

I bet this is the first time anyone has thought of Milo since 2010.

Eh, probably. But it was on my mind, so I thought I'd write about it.

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#8 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

I just thought we were sold a bill of goods.

#9 Posted by Turambar (6677 posts) -

So basically it hit the uncanny valley of video games?

#10 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2838 posts) -

I was hoping for some ilomilo discussion...

#11 Posted by Mento (2443 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Little Computer People was an interesting curiosity and considerably advanced for its time, but it could only hold your attention for so long. It did let you play a few card games though.

Actually, I'd say it was more like Milo and less like the Sims in that respect. A tech demo that made you think, "Wow, it would be amazing if they could use this in an actual game". There was at least a game structure behind the Sims, as aimless as it was.

Personally I thought Milo was creepy as fuck. The kid and the idea behind it.

Moderator
#12 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Turambar said:

So basically it hit the uncanny valley of video games?

Pretty much.

@Death_Unicorn said:

I was hoping for some ilomilo discussion...

I never actually played or had much interest in that, so this is what resulted instead.

@Mento said:

Personally I thought Milo was creepy as fuck. The kid and the idea behind it.

Yeah, it really did have an unsettling quality about it. The uncanny valley effect didn't really help matters, either.

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#13 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

Milo was a tech demo, not a game.  It was never built to 'succeed'.  It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360.  There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too.  The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses.
 
I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

#14 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

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#15 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

Whenever I thought of the possibility of a Milo game I thought of those that might buy it; lonely people who want companionship. Or pedophiles.

#16 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@Claude said:

I just thought we were sold a bill of goods.

Well, that's Molyneux's specialty.

#17 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

Yeah, I personally saw it for what it was; Molly keep his name in the press prior to the release of Fable 3.  There was never any game being made.
#18 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -
@McGhee said:

@Claude said:

I just thought we were sold a bill of goods.

Well, that's Molyneux's specialty.

I'm still pissed that Fable 3 sucked. Fable 2 was so fucking cool.
#19 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

Yeah, I personally saw it for what it was; Molly keep his name in the press prior to the release of Fable 3. There was never any game being made.

I'm pretty sure that, as eccentric as he is, Molyneux isn't so ego-maniacal that he'd waste time and resources pretending to make a game for the attention while actually making a game.

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#20 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

If it was bullshit and they were never close to doing what they said they were going to. I'd say it doesn't matter what Molyneux had planned, it wasn't going to see the light of day.

I'm sorry I'm not sure what world you live in, but the one where Peter Molyneux was on the cusp of releasing a simulated digital boy that reacted to what you did in front of the Kinect is an imaginary one.

#21 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

Yeah, I personally saw it for what it was; Molly keep his name in the press prior to the release of Fable 3. There was never any game being made.

I'm pretty sure that, as eccentric as he is, Molyneux isn't so ego-maniacal that he'd waste time and resources pretending to make a game for the attention while actually making a game.

Marketing and brand awareness is the diametric opposite to wasting time and resources.  Molly is a smart businessman who knows very well how to maximise his exposure in the media.  He did exactly the same thing with Black and White's supposed Arena Mode which never eventuated and yet held people's interest in the media across two games (and one expansion).
#22 Edited by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

If it was bullshit and they were never close to doing what they said they were going to. I'd say it doesn't matter what Molyneux had planned, it wasn't going to see the light of day.

I'm sorry I'm not sure what world you live in, but the one where Peter Molyneux was on the cusp of releasing a simulated digital boy that reacted to what you did in front of the Kinect is an imaginary one.

Reports have suggested that it was being worked on as late as mid-2010, and Molyneux had trouble in convincing Microsoft that it was a vision worth pursuing. Whether or not it truly ever left the tech demo stage, the intent was there, no matter how assuredly it was going to be snuffed out in the end. I'm not arguing that it had a chance in hell of actually being put on store shelves; I'm arguing that it was being developed as a game before it was canned.

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#23 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -

@Hailinel: I'm arguing that the tech was never there...

#24 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

Yeah, I personally saw it for what it was; Molly keep his name in the press prior to the release of Fable 3. There was never any game being made.

I'm pretty sure that, as eccentric as he is, Molyneux isn't so ego-maniacal that he'd waste time and resources pretending to make a game for the attention while actually making a game.

Marketing and brand awareness is the diametric opposite to wasting time and resources. Molly is a smart businessman who knows very well how to maximise his exposure in the media. He did exactly the same thing with Black and White's supposed Arena Mode which never eventuated and yet held people's interest in the media across two games (and one expansion).

Molyneux has always talked a big game, whether it be modes that never came to be or real-time tree growth. But the things he has historically detailed in such a fashion have been for games he's actually worked on. For all of the things that he said about Black & White and Fable that ended up being inaccurate, the games still came out.

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel: I'm arguing that the tech was never there...

At what point did I say it was? Developing a project as a game and failing to construct the tech to power said game are two different things. The failure of the latter, however, inhibits the success of the former.

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#25 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -

@Hailinel: So your argument is Peter Molyneux wanted to make something cool?

#26 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel: So your argument is Peter Molyneux wanted to make something cool?

No, I'm arguing he wanted to make something that was, at heart, banal, despite all creative intent.

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#27 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel: So your argument is Peter Molyneux wanted to make something cool?

No, I'm arguing he wanted to make something that was, at heart, banal, despite all creative intent.

MS OKs and releases a bunch of banal crap, a lot of which is expensive to create and doesn't sell.  A lot of Kinect's contect has been shit and a gameplay vacuum.  Your argument doesn't hold any water.
#28 Posted by Doctorchimp (4069 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel: So your argument is Peter Molyneux wanted to make something cool?

No, I'm arguing he wanted to make something that was, at heart, banal, despite all creative intent.

Okay great.

But to interact with a digital person to the degree that they showed would be nothing short of revolutionary. The argument is they would have wasted it on trying to get a bike? Are you insane? If the tech was there to relate to your characters as you played games the tech would have been made.

He wasn't close, they didn't hit a design block because they would have wasted this advancement in technology on a bike quest, they hit a road block because they had no fucking clue how to do it with a 360 and a kinect.

#29 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

MS OKs and releases a bunch of banal crap, a lot of which is expensive to create and doesn't sell. A lot of Kinect's contect has been shit and a gameplay vacuum. Your argument doesn't hold any water.

Think that if you like; I'm just approaching this from a different angle. And it should be noted that when Kinect and Milo were unveiled, the full potential of Kinect wasn't known at the time. Sure, a lot of crap has been put out for it, but that doesn't mean that greater potential wasn't seen at the time.

@Doctorchimp said:

But to interact with a digital person to the degree that they showed would be nothing short of revolutionary. The argument is they would have wasted it on trying to get a bike? Are you insane? If the tech was there to relate to your characters as you played games the tech would have been made.

I'm not saying that technical limitations didn't hamper development. I'm saying that even if the game's development progressed, the end result would have been an experience that few people would have wanted to play because it would have emulated an experience that is too close to being like that of normal, everyday life.

I think you guys both need to settle down a bit. I never said that what I'm suggesting is the only reason that Milo failed to materialize.

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#30 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

MS OKs and releases a bunch of banal crap, a lot of which is expensive to create and doesn't sell. A lot of Kinect's contect has been shit and a gameplay vacuum. Your argument doesn't hold any water.

Think that if you like; I'm just approaching this from a different angle. And it should be noted that when Kinect and Milo were unveiled, the full potential of Kinect wasn't known at the time. Sure, a lot of crap has been put out for it, but that doesn't mean that greater potential wasn't seen at the time.


I think devs had a pretty clear idea of what the 360 and Kinect were capable of.  They do that stuff for a living you know.
#31 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

I think devs had a pretty clear idea of what the 360 and Kinect were capable of. They do that stuff for a living you know.

They can also experiment with and push the limits of the hardware. But I'm not sure why you want to argue so heavily about the technical merits and history of the hardware and Milo. This blog was never focused on that.

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#32 Edited by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

I think devs had a pretty clear idea of what the 360 and Kinect were capable of. They do that stuff for a living you know.

They can also experiment with and push the limits of the hardware. But I'm not sure why you want to argue so heavily about the technical merits and history of the hardware and Milo. This blog was never focused on that.

I'm not the only person who has commented on the veracity of the claim that Milo was a game in production.   If you make a statement and people want to discuss it with you, rather than just fellate you for saying something cool, there's no need to be defensive.  Your headline and your article centers on Milo being a product which never saw the light of day because....some reference to a Nintendo product and some other reason where MS are stonewalling banal games from being released on Kinect.  Why can't you accept that it's possible it never saw the light of day because it never was?  I would argue that you're struggling to separate yourself from your point view and becoming needlessly defensive.
#33 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow: So I've noticed. I've also noticed you've missed the point of the blog by focusing so heavily on that.

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#34 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11492 posts) -

Dude, Milo was never a game. Peter Molyneux is a Snake Oil Salesman, but for Video Games, as everything he has made in the modern era has been flash over substance, hype over execution. At most it was a bunch of ideas floating around how to use the kinect.

But let's pretend that you're theory is correct and Milo was in production as something resembling a game. If that were so no shit it was canceled. Interacting with a creepy video game boy? That doesn't exactly scream "big seller" No, that sounds like interacting with the definition of Uncanny Valley. Now if they replaced him with say... Pikachu. That might work.

#35 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater said:

Dude, Milo was never a game. Peter Molyneux is a Snake Oil Salesman, but for Video Games, as everything he has made in the modern era has been flash over substance, hype over execution. At most it was a bunch of ideas floating around how to use the kinect.

But let's pretend that you're theory is correct and Milo was in production as something resembling a game. If that were so no shit it was canceled. Interacting with a creepy video game boy? That doesn't exactly scream "big seller" No, that sounds like interacting with the definition of Uncanny Valley. Now if they replaced him with say... Pikachu. That might work.

Hey, we may differ as to whether or not Milo was ever a thing that was meant to be a game, but at least you're more receptive to discussing my argument.

When it was first being talked about, my first reaction to Milo (after the inevitable pedophilia jokes), was to compare Milo to the My Buddy doll. You're probably too young to know what that was, but it was a doll that was, more or less, targeted at boys that were only children with no friends. Also, possibly the inspiration of Chucky from Child's Play. Looking back on it, though, it's apparent that Milo, whether it was actually intended to exist as a game or not, wasn't really targeted at that demographic.

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#36 Edited by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@ArbitraryWater said:

Dude, Milo was never a game. Peter Molyneux is a Snake Oil Salesman, but for Video Games, as everything he has made in the modern era has been flash over substance, hype over execution. At most it was a bunch of ideas floating around how to use the kinect.

But let's pretend that you're theory is correct and Milo was in production as something resembling a game. If that were so no shit it was canceled. Interacting with a creepy video game boy? That doesn't exactly scream "big seller" No, that sounds like interacting with the definition of Uncanny Valley. Now if they replaced him with say... Pikachu. That might work.

Hey, we may differ as to whether or not Milo was ever a thing that was meant to be a game, but at least you're more receptive to discussing my argument.

When it was first being talked about, my first reaction to Milo (after the inevitable pedophilia jokes), was to compare Milo to the My Buddy doll. You're probably too young to know what that was, but it was a doll that was, more or less, targeted at boys that were only children with no friends. Also, possibly the inspiration of Chucky from Child's Play. Looking back on it, though, it's apparent that Milo, whether it was actually intended to exist as a game or not, wasn't really targeted at that demographic.

And yet Furby sold for a lot longer and in larger numbers....
#37 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow: Furby was a different story. Also, pretty much nothing like My Buddy.

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#38 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow: Furby was a different story. Also, pretty much nothing like My Buddy.

The comment was in reference to Arbitrary's mention of Pikachu in place of Milo.  I tend to agree with that.  Humanoids always lose out to Anthropomorphoids in terms viability in the marketplace when speech is involved.  Chucky had a successful run because Humanoid dolls are creepy as fuck when animated.  Milo was too.
#39 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow: Furby was a different story. Also, pretty much nothing like My Buddy.

The comment was in reference to Arbitrary's mention of Pikachu in place of Milo. I tend to agree with that. Humanoids always lose out to Anthropomorphoids in terms viability in the marketplace when speech is involved. Chucky had a successful run because Humanoid dolls are creepy as fuck when animated. Milo was too.

No argument there. It's much easier to sell a game with Pikachu than it is to accept the idea of Milo.

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#40 Posted by Apathylad (3066 posts) -

When I first saw Milo, it reminded me a lot of Facade. That wasn't a game, either. ><

#41 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@Apathylad said:

When I first saw Milo, it reminded me a lot of Facade. That wasn't a game, either. ><

...That character art looks straight out of MS Paint.

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#42 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater:

Molyneux may be a "snake oil salesman" in the way he talks up his products, but the actual product he sells is not trash. He's had a few clunkers here and there but overall his games are at the very least good, and almost always innovative. I would even argue his modern games with the exception of Fable III have been this way.

@Hailinel:

You may or may not be right about why Milo was canned. I tend to agree with the others here though. The whole thing was a sham, a look at what could be. What I actually see you doing here though is trying to belittle Molyneux's creativity by criticizing the subject matter of the project rather than the mehcanics of it, and setting that as the main reason for why it didn't succeed. For all intents and purposes it was a tech demo. The subject matter would have likely changed had it been actually destined for release. You're willing to believe that it was a feasible project just so you can tear Molyneux down a peg. Now I may be assuming all this but that's the way I read it.

#43 Posted by Hailinel (23959 posts) -

@upwarDBound said:

@ArbitraryWater:

Molyneux may be a "snake oil salesman" in the way he talks up his products, but the actual product he sells is not trash. He's had a few clunkers here and there but overall his games are at the very least good, and almost always innovative. I would even argue his modern games with the exception of Fable III have been this way.

@Hailinel:

You may or may not be right about why Milo was canned. I tend to agree with the others here though. The whole thing was a sham, a look at what could be. What I actually see you doing here though is trying to belittle Molyneux's creativity by criticizing the subject matter of the project rather than the mehcanics of it, and setting that as the main reason for why it didn't succeed. For all intents and purposes it was a tech demo. The subject matter would have likely changed had it been actually destined for release. You're willing to believe that it was a feasible project just so you can tear Molyneux down a peg. Now I may be assuming all this but that's the way I read it.

It's not my intention to tear Molyneux down; my focus is on the concept of the idea, not its creator. Molyneux has opened himself to criticism plenty of times, but I'm not using this as an opportunity to explicitly take potshots at him.

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#44 Posted by NoelVeiga (1074 posts) -

@Hailinel: I... actually hold the exact opposite belief.

I think the concept of a mundane game had amazing potential, while the technical wild goose chase Molyneux has been on since Black and White to create a believable autonomous AI entity was doomed from the start.

Gaming history is in many ways a history of a descent into the commonplace. Gaming starts huge and epic because it can't do anything else. Stories about saving the universe aboard a spaceship are easy to convey in 8 bits, because ultimately they are abstractions: put this thing away from those things, emit/shoot these things, when those things hit these things, they disappear, you score. What we have been unable to gamify is character drama.

We've made strides, for sure. From LucasArt's point and click adventures to stuff like Mass Effect, Red Dead Redemption or Heavy Rain. We've brought it down to the level of a space opera, an action adventure, a western or a mystery thriller. It's when we cross the line from making Unforgiven to making The Descendants that we know that gaming can do everything, and indie designers are working on it as we speak, and some are even successful at times.

Now, Milo... well, that was a pipe dream. We know what Kinect can and cannot do now. It can't do proper face and voice recognition without a lot of tweaking and fiddling. It certainly can't do natural speech recognition yet. And good luck trying to get it to subtly read things in your movement like your emphasis or your emotions, which is arguably what they were trying to pull off here. Nah, it would have been a chatbot with some camera-aided tricks. "What a nice blue sweater you're wearing today" "That's a jacket, you idiot" "Hey, why do you have to be so mean?" and so on. It's the tech, not the subject matter that would have failed it.

Of course, we're both talking from tech demos and trailers, so... but, hey, speculation is free.

#45 Posted by Borodin (416 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@Hailinel: I'm arguing that the tech was never there...

At what point did I say it was? Developing a project as a game and failing to construct the tech to power said game are two different things. The failure of the latter, however, inhibits the success of the former.

This is where you lost me, it's like telling a small child that the main reason they cant have a picnic on the surface of the sun is that they didn't pack any sandwiches, because you can't have a picnic without sandwiches. It's a valid point to question how worthwhile an experience Milo would have been but if you also admit the tech for it has never existed, it seems disingenuous to say that the reason it was doomed was that it would have had to have worked hard not to be boring IMO

#46 Posted by CheapPoison (727 posts) -

Mhhh a Peter Molyneux game that misses the mark.

That's a first!.....

#47 Posted by mordukai (7140 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Hailinel said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

Milo was a tech demo, not a game. It was never built to 'succeed'. It was built to show off Kinect capabilities, procedural animation and Mega Texture Streaming on the 360. There are other techdemos from Molly's team which exemplify these features individually too. The 'AI' component was a WHAT IF scenario and was never real and this was later confirmed by shots 'behind the curtain' of two operators at keyboards prompting Milo with responses. I would say that Milo specifically may not exist in future iterations but there will definitely be intelligent agents like him in future games.

As I said, the E3 demo was largely smoke and mirrors. That does not, however, mean that Molyneux never had plans to finish and release the game. According to reports, it was Microsoft that scuttled the idea, but apparently the tech behind Milo is supposedly being used in that not-on-rails Fable game being made.

Yeah, I personally saw it for what it was; Molly keep his name in the press prior to the release of Fable 3. There was never any game being made.

I'm pretty sure that, as eccentric as he is, Molyneux isn't so ego-maniacal that he'd waste time and resources pretending to make a game for the attention while actually making a game.

Oh think again. Anyone who thought Milo was ever going to see the light of day is as delusional as peter is. He's really moved on to parts unknown.

#48 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

@Hailinel:

The thing is you didn't focus on the concept of the idea, you focused on what the subject matter of the game would be. I think of the concept as interacting with a virtual person. Human, android, whatever. You brought up Wonder Project as a favorable alternative due to its more ambitious character growth and interaction as well as having a non-human subject. You then criticize Milo for being mundane and "uncanny valley," and how that's why it was destined to never release.

You seem to think that interacting with a virtual child is too weird. How is interacting with a virtual android any different? Neither of them are real. Would it make you feel better if Milo was explicitly stated to be an android? The uncanny valley effect can be unsettling but I believe it can be averted if the characters act real enough. Heavy Rain was packed to the gills with this sensation but the characters acted real enough to make it not so unsettling.

You never mention why Wonder Project J never got off the ground. Was it because of tech reasons or was it because of its subject matter? Do you think if the template of Milo had more of the ambitions of Wonder Project, it would have actually released? The answer is of course it wouldn't have because the tech is not there. You're attempting to pin the cancellation of Milo at least partially on the failings of the creator rather than the limitations of the tech. You're criticizing the idea based on your personal feelings and attributing those feelings to the project's demise.

#49 Posted by Jay444111 (2441 posts) -

It should go on record here that Furbies have always have been, and always will be, very fucking creepy!

#50 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -
@Hailinel said:

@Apathylad said:

When I first saw Milo, it reminded me a lot of Facade. That wasn't a game, either. ><

...That character art looks straight out of MS Paint.

It's an indie experimental game with no budget.  And the artwork is vectors.  Was that you trying to discount the game due to its visual characteristics?  Sure seemed that way... 
At any rate, the artwork isn't what he was talking about, Apathylad was talking about it conceptually.  In many ways Facade is actually a lot more complete an example than Milo was when demonstrated because Facade actually tracks all the players choices and actions without some dudes at keyboards prompting it and then lets a scene play out based on that data.  It is a conceptual example of Artificial Intelligence in Expert Systems in practice whereas Milo is a practicle example of Snake Oil Salesmanship in the modern age.  Another is the Monorail episode of The Simpsons.