Most of the world met Milo for the first time last Monday at E3. I first encountered him about five years ago at GDC. That’s when Peter Molyneux introduced me to Dimitri, a young boy who was furiously working on his math homework in Peter’s hotel room. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” the young lad said before turning his eyes back to a ruled notebook.
Little did I know that half a decade later I’d meet Dimitri again — albeit this time in virtual form.
Molyneux is a big idea guy. And Milo (renamed from Dimitri for legal reasons) is his most ambitious and riskiest concept to date. It’s a natural outgrowth of the artificial intelligence-driven creatures in Black & White and the dog in Fable II. But those AIs were supporting characters in a larger game world. Milo (or Milly if you select a female) is the game.
What inspired Molyneux to build Milo? Dimitri, who’s now in college, sees Peter as a role-model. Over the years, as Peter spent more and more time with Dimitri, he began to reflect on his own childhood and the choices he made growing up. How would Peter’s life have changed if he made different choices? It’s a question we all ponder at some point.
Milo, I expect, will give us a chance to re-examine our own choices by guiding a young avatar through life. He will ask questions, seek advice, and, if the technology works, form a bond with the user. And when I refer to the technology, I’m talking about the AI – not the Natal camera. Milo has been in development for years and the camera support was only just added in the past 5 months.
Here’s what makes me the most curious about Milo: What limits will Peter place on the game’s choices and the character’s actions? It’s one thing to slap around a creature in Black & White to condition him, but what will the tolerance be for such extremes in a game like Milo? Peter has already said there will be limits. But could your Milo end up being a criminal? Could he mistakenly drown in that beautiful fish pond? Or, will Milo go off and meet a girl (or boy) at school, live happily ever after, and forget to come back and visit you?