E3: Project Natal - "Milo" - XBOX 360





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Published on Jun 5, 2009

E3 2009 may not have officially kicked off yet, but it's already been a show to remember. After all, it's not every day you get to see the likes of James Cameron, Paul McCartney and Pele chatting about videogames. Nor is it every day you get to have a conversation with a virtual 10 year-old or play Burnout with an imaginary steering wheel.

But today is one of those days, because today Microsoft is revealing Project Natal to the world. Fresh from the E3 conference, we dropped by their posh hotel to go hands-on - or rather, hands-off - with the new technology.

Milo & Kate
First up is Peter Molyneux's new baby. As you'll know if you followed our live text, Milo is the name of the new AI character in development at Lionhead Studios. And as you'll know if you read our interview with Peter Molyneux, or could have predicted if you know anything about Peter Molyneux, Kate is the name of a dog.

But the dog's not on show today - instead we're presented with Milo on his own, sitting on a swing by a river. Molyneux invites me to try interacting with him by standing in front of the screen and moving around the room.

As I move, the camera moves with me. Shift your body left and the camera pans left; tilt your body forwards and it zooms in, and so on. "Normally you'd be using the right thumbstick for this," observes Molyneux. It's a bit disconcerting, but in a good way; looking around to change your viewpoint feels a lot more natural than pushing a stick.

What about those who would rather stay sat on the sofa? The technology works just as well when sitting down, according to Molyneux: "You just move your torso and your head to move around. It can be a very relaxed experience."

Now, he says, we're going to train Milo to recognise me. I'm told to smile and frown to start the process off, and I try to make things easy for Milo by exaggerating my expressions like a gurning champion at a rave. "That's too much," says Molyneux. "You don't smile and frown like that in real life, do you?" He clearly hasn't seen my Facebook page.

I tone it down a bit and sure enough, Milo jumps off his swing and walks towards me. "You OK?" he says.

It's unnerving, there's no doubt about it. Instinctively I reply, "Yes, thank you. How are you?"


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