Lionhead’s “Project Milo” is damned impressive.

Microsoft’s Project Natal, the 3D sensing camera for the Xbox 360 I mentioned last night, is already resulting in some interesting applications. Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux shows off what they’ve been working on in the few months they’ve had access to Microsoft’s new toy. A fully interactive computer generated character called Milo:

Peter’s a legend among gamers for having invented several genres as well as some of the most beloved games of all time, but he tends to over-hype things just a bit. No doubt the demo is impressive, but when you consider the limitations of the Xbox’s processing power and storage you have to wonder if this is little more than a novelty. It’s one thing to simulate, say, a racing game. It’s another to simulate spending an afternoon with a virtual best friend. He’s certainly incorrect in stating that no science fiction writer has ever dreamed of this possibility as I’ve read several books that have proposed similar ideas. Hell, this isn’t even the first attempt at providing a virtual interactive friend on a computer. There have been dozens of such programs over the years stretching all the way back to Little Computer People on the Commodore 64. All of them were fun for a few hours and then the limitations of their programming became apparent. I have little doubt Milo would be the same though, again, it’s certainly the most immersive of the simulations I’ve seen so far.

I also find it somewhat ironic that Project Milo attempts to simulate exactly what a kid would be missing out on by sitting in front of the TV playing with their Xbox 360. Specifically the chance to go outside and play with a real live friend. I’m no Luddite by any stretch of the imagination, but for all the gaming I did growing up I also spent a fair amount of time outside with friends exploring the neighborhood and getting dirty. Whatever amount of interactivity Milo may have will always pale in comparison to the real thing. At least for the foreseeable future. Still, Milo does present a tantalizing glimpse of what the future may hold.

Microsoft plans to out-Wii the Wii.

This year’s E3 kicked off today and Microsoft was the first to hold their keynote event wherein they made it clear they plan to expand the Xbox 360 in ways that may draw in some of the folks who find Nintendo’s Wii so appealing. They introduced a new 3D motion sensing/voice/facial recognition add-on for the 360 that they claim will make you into the controller. In essence it provides the same full body interaction the Nintendo Wii does and more without the need for any controller at all. Check it:

If the final product does half of what they’re promising in that video it may very well give the Wii a run for its money. That’ll be especially true if they package it in as a bundle with some systems. If it manages to pull off everything in that video it’ll be an amazing bit of technology.

Personally I don’t find that system of control all that appealing for the same reasons I don’t enjoy the Wii all that much. I do look forward to hearing many stories of how Xbox 360 owners—in a repeat of what new Wii owners went through—ending up with a lot of broken TV sets from jumping around and kicking at them. With the Wii it was a matter of people losing their grip on their Wiimotes and chucking them through the screen. With this new controller for the Xbox it’ll undoubtedly be shoes flung off while kicking soccer balls or some such thing.

Found via Boing Boing Offworld.