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The Game Effect News

Peter Molyneux's Milo Was 'Nearly Finished'

Microsoft deemed the ambitious title too hard to sell

By Daniel Jones on 4/12/2012
Back at E3 2009 when Microsoft first debuted Kinect to the world (at that time known as Project Natal), one demonstration from Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios left the industry abuzz. That demonstration was of a simple project called Milo. The demo showed off a virtual character (the titular Milo) interacting with a human "player" on the other side of the TV. If you aren't familiar with Milo, take a look at the video below. Despite rumors and accusations that the demo was fake, the potential of the project was real. Milo could work as a game.

However, it seems that though Milo worked as a game, it didn't necessarily work as a product for Microsoft. According to Molyneux in a recent interview with Develop, that's why the ambitious title never made it to store shelves, despite being nearly complete.

When the interviewer from Develop suggested that the title was nearly finished, Molyneux responded, "Yeah it was. It's just that... what was so hard for some people to imagine is what Milo would look like on the shelves, sitting alongside these murderous shooter games." He continued, "'I can't imagine what it would look like at GAME or Gamestop,' is what people told me."

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In another part of the interview Molyneux, who recently left Microsoft to start a new company called 22Cans, described working at the Redwood, WA company as, "A creative padded cell." This perspective likely stems partially from his disappointment with the Milo project. He explained it further saying, "Microsoft was so safe. Microsoft was so nice. You're so supported. Everything I did couldn't hurt me, both creatively and physically. The danger was long gone. I had this huge desire to make something truly special, and I felt like I was being suffocated creatively a little bit."

This whole story is rather sad. Milo looked like an incredible concept that could have become a revolutionary game. However, marketing seems to have a stranglehold on creative energy in this industry. Other game developers I've spoken with have echoed Molyneux's sentiment that if the marketers don't know how to sell something, then it just won't be made.

That philosophy is safe but stupid. Nobody would have looked at Minecraft in Notch's basement and thought it would soon have a Kinect version and its own set of Legos. Yet somehow it worked. Somehow, fans have gobbled it up and it has changed the industry.

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Lionhead studios is still currently working on Fable: The Journey, which uses some of the techniques hinted at in the Milo demo. As for Molyneux who cites Mincraft as an inspiration, he is hoping that 22Cans will allow him to finally create the masterpiece he's been trying to create his whole career. As he said in the interview, "I find you produce your best work when you're at the precipice. You only work out how to achieve something when you actually need to." Hopefully he's right.
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Elleyena on April 20, 2012
It's sad that Milo didn't get a chance on the shelves, though I can see it being one of the games that would be hard to sell at Gamestop. Maybe there is a future for the project in digital distribution though.

Side note: I never knew that Minecraft got a Kinect version. Learn something new every day.

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ledbetta on April 18, 2012
 I wonder how many cool ideas were killed off because they didn't know how to market them....
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indiejones on April 18, 2012
I know of one Diablo-esque game that Naughty Dog wanted to do that nobody green-lit. But that was way back, pre Crash Bandicoot.
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