According to reports, Lionhead Studios 'Project Milo' for Microsoft's upcoming Kinect peripheral has been canceled and some 19 staff members have been laid off from the developer. The innovative game (or at least an impressive working tech demo) was first shown at E3 2009 where many were floored by the lifelike interaction between the titular character and a Lionhead staffer. While it's clear that development on the project had obviously gone on after that showing, what's unclear is why such a high profile potential killer app was killed off before updated information or perhaps some sort of commercial demo could have been released.
No official completion or release date were ever announced for the project. Nevertheless the game was supposed to be a key future title in Microsoft's growing Kinect lineup. In fact, after the 2009 E3 showing, it was easy to poke around a few too many message boards and find many gamers interested in Kinect precisely for Milo. News reports state that Lionhead may end up using elements of the project in its upcoming RPG sequel, Fable III, but we'll have to wait for updated info on this before speculating any further.
This isn't the first time a high-profile Lionhead title for Microsoft has been shelved. BC, an original Xbox action/adventure game that was to feature cavemen and dinosaurs interaction in an open world environment, was canceled in 2004 after screen shots and in progress game footage were revealed at E3 ad in major game magazines. Poking around on a few game news sites this afternoon shows commentary by some readers expressing skepticism about whether or not Milo was really ever going to be released or doubts that the technology was that far advance.
I say while the demise of Project Milo is a huge loss to the Kinect lineup, this year's Tokyo Game Show sent notice that a few other key developers are hard at work on their own unique games for the add-on. We'll just have to wait and see if any of these titles are as impressive as Milo was looking before the game vanished as a potential killer app. Hopefully, all the laid-off staff will be able to secure other positions in the industry soon. It would be really interesting to hear from a few of them regarding the status of the project prior to it being killed off, but again, updates on this story are sure to follow in the coming days and weeks.