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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Say hello to Milo’s imaginary friend

    The responsibility of raising a child is something no one should undertake lightly. The hardest part about it is that, unless you were responsible for the development of a sibling or other relative, you have little experience when you do decide to have a kid. Learning through trial and error is hard, and Peter Molyneux, founder of the acclaimed Lionhead Studios, recognizes this. He wants to help. That’s why he’s making “”Milo.””

    If you haven’t heard of it by now, “”Milo”” is the next revolution in video gaming and computer intelligence. While still not technically artificial intelligence, the game will be programmed in such detail that it will be able to respond to almost any type of interaction. And if a specific action doesn’t elicit a response, in a few weeks the team dedicated to maintaining the game will likely change that. Or at least that’s how Molyneux is making it seem.

    But what exactly is “”Milo””? It’s Molyneux’s latest attempt to sweep the gaming world off of its collective feet. The premise is simple. It’s a game about a young boy or girl who recently moved from London to New England whose parents are stressed and busy from the move, making it especially hard to adjust. That’s where the player comes in. Milo — or Millie if you chose a girl — gives you the role of his imaginary friend of sorts and it’s your job to shape the personality and future of this uprooted imaginer.

    While it doesn’t sound particularly exciting going through the mundane motions of everyday life, the possibilities are tantalizing. You’ll be able to talk Milo through the entire game, helping him make almost every decision that could affect his life. If Milo has homework, you can convince him to get it done or just forget about it. This can shape his future behavior and set him down the right, or wrong, path. This is just one example of a potential choice, but Molyneux has assured us that each one will have an impact.

    Lionhead has made plenty of morality-driven games before, so to many this might not seem very special. What makes those thoughts wrong is the fact that “”Milo”” is played through Kinect, the Xbox 360’s hands-free gaming addition. All interactions with Milo are done without a controller, and the Kinect senses things like tone and body posture, and guide Milo accordingly.

    If you sound angry, he might get angry. If you’re slouching, so will he. What’s most impressive is the ability to scan real-world objects into the game and give them to Milo. One example from 2009’s E3 Expo showed a woman drawing a picture of a fish and handing it over to Milo. The Kinect scanned the image and transferred it right into the boy’s hands. It seems a little too good to be true, but if it works, it’s amazing.

    Molyneux has a habit of talking big and showing up with less. But less, by his standards, is still highly impressive. There’s no release date set just yet, and “”Milo”” has been in development since 2001, so there’s obviously no rush. But when it does come out, it will truly be a sight to behold.

    In the meantime, tracking “”Milo”” and it’s development will be a great window into the future of video games and the way gamers interact with them.

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