Project Natal's "Milo" gets demoed at TED

At E3 this year, Microsoft was promoting Kinect (formally known as Project Natal) pretty heavily, but one project from E3 2009, Milo, the semi-creepy little boy simulator, was nowhere to be seen. Most of us assumed Milo had morphed into Kinectimals, the much less creepy virtual pet product they were showing off. Not so. Milo, now tentatively called Milo and Kate, is still in the works and yesterday Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux gave a demo of the product at the TEDGlobal 2010 conference in Oxford, England. As far as I can tell, there's no video of the demo available yet, but Wired UK was on-hand and covers the event pretty well.

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A few details I found interesting. First, Milo's "brain" doesn't ship on the disk. Instead it's in the cloud and designed to improve as more and more people use it (and presumably 'train' it to recognize different kinds of voices and body movements). Second, at one point in the demo Milo got into an argument with his parents and gets in trouble. Wired UK says:

Then the really impressive bit came. The player was challenged to "say something encouraging" to poor Milo, who's upset that he's being punished. The demonstrator said "C'mon Milo, you know what parents are like -- they're always getting stressed", and Milo responded realistically. The demonstrator followed up with more, and the pair had several conversational rallies before the demo finished.

Interesting, but as Wired pointed out, this was a scripted demo. How Milo will react to random things being said to him is the real question. Also it still isn't clear if there's a real game here, or if it's just an 'experience.' Interacting with Milo sounds interesting in the short term, but will he be more than a super-sophisticated tamagotchi? We won't know until the product gets closer to shipping. Mile and Kate doesn't have a release date, but certainly it won't be out this year. Hopefully we'll see it sometime in 2011.

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