Before he quit Microsoft and Lionhead, Peter Molyneux admitted the world wasn’t ready for Project Milo’s “emotional connection.”
The story of Milo is a sad one. First revealed back in 2009 as a concept for Microsoft’s new technology then called Project Natal, Milo used voice recognition and artificial intelligence to tell a story that connected the player to a ten year old boy and a dog named Kate. Milo and Kate was conspicuously absent from Microsoft’s E32010 presentation, and reports claimed Project Milo was killed by Microsoft. Executives claimed the code wasn’t meant to be a full game, but Molyneux said he had trouble convincing his parent company that Milo could be anything other than a tech demo. They ordered Milo shut down, with some of its concepts retooled for Fable: The Journey, but its auteur still felt affection for the idea. Molyneux admitted earlier this month before he made his surprising resignation that the game industry just wasn’t equipped for what Milo and Kate would have been.
“I just don’t think that this industry was ready for something as emotionally connecting as something like Milo,” Molyneux said. “The real problem with Milo was – and this is a problem we had lots of meetings over – where it would be on the shelves next to all the computer games. It was just the wrong thing.”
Molyneux explained just what he was trying to achieve with Milo and sounds nothing short of amazing. “What we were trying to achieve with Milo was just this key thing, which is: the most powerful story I could possibly tell is a story that reminds you of your own childhood. We’ve all had times in our childhood – we’ve all had common experiences when we felt down, and we felt up, or we celebrated doing something for the first time, and I loved that thought,” he said. “There was a lot of technology that was in Milo that is now in The Journey, but it’s just not this delightful celebration of youth.
“It was the wrong concept for what this industry currently is,” said Molyneux. “Maybe this industry one day won’t be like that, but at this particular time, having a game that celebrates the joy of inspiring something and you feel this connection, this bond; it was the wrong time for that.”
Now, this being Peter Molyneux, you have to be realistic about his expectations of what Milo would have been. Perhaps Microsoft’s reluctance to get behind Milo as a full game was tied to their own expectations of what Lionhead and Molyneux could deliver.
Whether or not that’s true, I hope Molyneux continues chasing his dream at 22 Cans.