Develop has been handed storyboard images of the cancelled Milo game, offering a glimpse into Lionhead’s scale of ambition for the project.
The images, which Develop has verified as genuine, show concepts both old and new – including a “secret forest” area that was being constructed for the ambitious Kinect game.
In September, news spread that Project Milo had been axed as a game project. It was rumoured, though never verified, that the cancellation resulted in the loss of around 12 contractor jobs at Lionhead’s Guildford base.
Microsoft’s public line on the matter is: “Development work specific to Project Milo is complete. The team at Lionhead created an inspiring piece of technology that will be leveraged in future projects.”
Microsoft has yet to reveal what projects will use the ‘Milo tech’.
Phil Spencer, VP of Microsoft Game Studios, said in June the Milo tech was “showing up in other places,” suggesting that fellow UK studio Frontier was using the tech for its Kinectimals project.
David Braben, co-founder of the Kinectimals studio, went on to say his game “is built using Frontier's own technology”.
Following the cancellation of Milo, a debate ensued on whether the project was ever intended to be a game released at retail.
Months before news of the project’s closure, Microsoft chief of staff Aaron Greenberg revealed in a TV interview that the game “wasn’t planned for the market”.
However, over the last few months Develop has heard from numerous studio sources that they were under the impression that Milo would be a “game”.
Greenberg had retracted his statement on his verified Twitter account, which read: “Project Milo absolutely continues in development at Lionhead Studios, it is just not a product we plan to bring to market this holiday.”
Peter Molyneux himself spoke of Milo as something people would eventually get to play.
“What I showed in Milo [last year] was just a tech demo. I think everyone asked: 'That was pretty fascinating, but what does it all mean?' It's only when you see it in its entirety and play it that you realise it's robust enough for people to play on their own.”
Journalists are asked to not ask questions on Project Milo in order to interview Molyneux.
Below, images of the project’s secret forest show how an element of adventure would have been applied to the game.
Lionhead released Fable III in October last year, which went on to top the UK charts and win widespread acclaim from critics.
Molyneux told Develop last year that, before Christmas, the studio would take a week together to decide on their vision going forwards.
”And at the end of the week we’re all going to come together look at people’s ideas, and that’s going to form the foundations of what happens next at Lionhead.”
The fate of Milo, however, is unknown.
[Develop has since been asked to clarify: Lionhead's artist who created these images should not be assumed as the source of this article.]