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Some thoughts on the Projects Natal and Milo

I have now ingested Microsoft’s E3 press conference, or at least the section dealing with their fabulous new sorta-3D camera, temporarily called Natal. This has been long rumoured and now the day is here; Microsoft trotted out no less a personage than Spielberg himself to tell us that controllers are the actual problem (look away, Boom Blox) and if we can all just do jumping jacks in front of our TVs, it’ll be really engaging and futuristic. He made Minority Report, right? So you can totally listen to him.

Please take a moment to savour this nauseating mashup of Disney, Sims and Ikea:


The Natal sensor bar itself seems like a combined array of camera, microphone, and IR emitter (transceiver?). So what it does beyond a typical web camera is that it can get depth cues from where you are standing, thus enabling z-axis movement. In honesty the tech is pretty neat. It does a fairly respectable job of picking up movements, or at least it seemed to in the demo. The problem is that Microsoft didn’t show any specific game to go with it. Nor did any of the demos do anything that was particularly out of reach of, say, a PlayStation Eye- or Vision camera-based game.

And given this info:

“Prices and timing weren’t available, but it won’t be available until 2010 at the earliest and will probably cost around $200. Microsoft has already given game developers tools to start building games that uses the device.”

…I’d have to call Natal an epic failure, pretty much right out of the gate. If that date and price is even close to true.

The other thing. Milo. Molyneux’s BoyPet. This abomination.

What in the hell is Peter Molyneux thinking? He knows he has a reputation for, shall we say, enhancing the truth. Or at least waxing futuristic on shit that we can’t have for years. Like this total fabrication above, that they are pawning off as some kind of working AI tech.

There is just no way in hell that is real. This is heavily scripted, and moreover deeply misleading. Lionhead has not cloned a human mind, nor can they read subtle grimaces and calculate appropriate responses with perfect speech and animation. The impression this gives, to people who don’t know better, is one that I find shockingly misleading.

(And while we’re at it, just what does this have to do with the Natal device, anyways?)

I’ll be deliriously happy and delighted if he can prove me wrong… but man, this demo. I just can’t see how it could be legit. At all.


6 responses to “Some thoughts on the Projects Natal and Milo”

  1. Yeah, typical Microsoft - paper launch.

    Natal is some amazing tech they showed off. Just like they did with their Surface coffee table.

    But nothing shown (Natal or Surface) shows how it will work in the room of the average joe. In the mean time the Wii is in millions of households, and iPhone/iPod touch is in millions of pockets.

    It’s always “next year” with Microsoft. As much as Sony has been accused of claiming “next year” for the year of the PS3 (and not delivered the goods), Microsoft is in many ways worse. Only truly “big” thing I saw was the new Halo game announcement - that is the only thing that will move 360s above and beyond the norm.

  2. That Milo demo is such complete and utter bullshit. People keep talking about Molyneux realizing that he over-promises and that he’s trying to not do that anymore… and then he goes and does this.

    It’s really just an extension of Seaman and the currently vaporware Eyepet. Milo will be yet more vaporware in the long run, I’m guessing. The difference is that Molyneux is promising stuff that’s just complete fabrication.

    The demos for Natal itself just remind me of the PlayStation Eye tech demos… they look kinda neat but we’ll never see a lot of what’s shown.

    Ah well, Natal just isn’t for me anyways. I’m more interested in Alan Wake (when did it turn into a flashlight-shooter-zombie-survival horror game?) and Crackdown 2.

    Oh, and the fact that FF XIII is much closer to American shores than I thought and that, yes, there really is a new Metal Gear game of some sort coming out.

  3. Sexual Harassment… PANDA!

    How could you post that gem on Twitter and not at least have it in the comments on the blog?

    Shamelessly stolen from NeoGAF:
    “Hi Milo, I’m horny.”
    “I don’t understand.”
    “You will.”

  4. Yup, more promising the moon, and delivering stalled rockets from MS. Hey, if any of this is remotely real or comes to fruition, then it’s outstanding work. But anyone can promise things ten years down the road, and never deliver.

    Milo is more like those text-adventures from the C64-era…but animated:

    “What would you like to do now?” “Go Left.” “The way is blocked.” “Go Right.” “The way is blocked”. “Climb ladder”. “You can’t climb here.” “Fuck you!” “I don’t know that command.” (or if you’re lucky it would reply “Watch your language!”) …etc…

  5. Kotaku had some time with Milo.

  6. Smoke and mirrors, with promises that will never be fulfilled. Fable 2 was a pretty great game however, so I can’t bag on him too much.

    Milo is still a fucking joke.

    From the Kotaku comments:
    I’ll think I’ll shave in front of Milo.
    “Does this look like a Q to you?”

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