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Peter Molyneux: 'They used to criticise the PC mouse... Kinect will take time'

The gaming legend on Milo, Kinect and the Amiga...

Microsoft's European Games Studios overlord, Peter Molyneux unveiled his new Kinect-enabled Fable project at E3 last month - and then immediately hailed the showing 'a horrendous mistake'.

The Lionhead man's clearly convinced the rushed on-stage demo, which involved a man waving his arms about to cast spells in an on-rails environment, was far from the best way to showcase his move into motion gaming.

So instead then, he sat down with our colleagues at Xbox World 360 magazine to discuss The Journey, Kinect and the illusive Milo. Here's what he said to say...

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What was the start of The Journey?
This started only eight months ago when Microsoft came to us and said, "Hey, could you do a game for Kinect?" We had been working on Milo for well over a year so we had lots of experience with Kinect, but this is a challenge which is not for the faint hearted, to be honest with you. I think that the core are pretty tied to their controllers and I think what we need to do is prove that Kinect can have a game as full and engaging and as
easy to control as anything that you could have on a controller.

So how do you make a proper role-playing game without a controller?
The first problem is navigation - how will the way you move make sense in terms of what you do with your body and in terms of the drama of the game? We thought about getting you running around and using various systems but it really didn't feel very immersive. We know most people will be sitting down; if you're going to play a ten-hour game you're not going to be standing up the whole time.

What mode of transport can you use sitting down? Well, we chose this horse and caravan. You've got a very fine degree of control but it isn't as precise as on a controller, and that makes sense because you're driving a horse. We really want you to bond with him in the same way you bond with the creature in Black & White and the dog in Fable.

What about on-foot navigation?
You gesture which way you want to go, and you can modify that with body tracking. It's not on rails. There are a couple of times, like in any game, where we kind of force a player to do things but that's a tiny percentage. I took all the free movement out of the stage demo because I wanted people to just see the magic gestures. In the actual game it's no more on rails than Fable or Fable II was.

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How did Milo inform the project?
One of the things we learnt is that you can tell the most incredible and immersive story if you can get over the player's embarrassment of using their voice for control. Once people get into that mindset it's an incredible way of telling stories. Another big lesson we learnt is, if you try to tell the player how to sit or how to stand, or if you preach to them about gestures then they will start feeling very uncomfortable and they won't be ready for a story.

So there's a lot of technology in The Journey allowing you to slouch, cross your legs, sit on a sofa or play and jump and stand up. Then there's a huge amount of stuff on voice and voice empathy and voice recognition which we will not be showing in this demo.

Do you think the industry is in the middle of a creative shift right now?
You know what? This is exactly like the mid-80s when we got the Amiga and we started playing with a mouse. I can remember everyone writing about how the mouse is the worst thing for gaming and it took a little while for the development community to start exploring and experiment with it. But out of that exploration and experimentation came Wolfenstein and Doom and real-time strategy games.

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