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Factor 5 president details canceled Star Wars projects

Factor 5 earned plenty of goodwill from Star Wars fans with its Rogue Leader series across the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, but the studio planned to do more with the universe beyond those games. During an episode of IGN's Nintendo Voice Chat, former Factor 5 president Julian Eggebrecht detailed the team's attempts to bring their Star Wars prowess to the Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Factor 5's lost efforts included a Rogue Leader trilogy collection for the original Xbox, complete with online multiplayer. Management at LucasArts was rapidly changing at the time, resulting in the project being canceled, though Eggebrecht doesn't remember specifically why. Factor 5 then moved on to a launch title for the Xbox 360 called "Rogue Squadron: X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter," which had players working as the Rebels' Red squadron in cooperative multiplayer fighting against Imperial forces. LucasArts' management wasn't sure if launch titles made sense for them at that time however, and the project was eventually canceled.

Sony President Shu Yoshida contacted Factor 5 shortly after, but he was more interested in an internal PS3 launch project than the studio's work on Rogue Leader. The result was Lair, which Eggebrecht described as a "pretty big mistake" due to the PS3's complex architecture and the project's unreasonable ambitions for a launch title.

When Factor 5's exclusivity window with Sony ended in 2007, the studio's gaze was set on the Wii. They reworked the Rogue Squadron trilogy project originally built for Xbox and added optional play styles (you could steer an X-Wing with the Wii wheel and manage its pedals with the Balance Board, for example). Beyond piloting ships, Factor 5's "Rogue Leaders" used the Wii Motion Plus for 1:1 lightsaber battles between 20 characters, complete with force powers. Rogue Leaders essentially ran on Lair's graphics engine at 60 frames-per-second and featured ducking and dodging beyond what's found in Wii Sports Resort.


Though the project was finished, it ultimately fell victim to the 2008 financial crisis. Factor 5 was working on an open-world Superman game at the same time, but when that project's publisher folded, Factor 5 funded it out of pocket in hopes of someone else picking it up. They were also self-financing the Rogue Leaders project and "Wii Fly" (their take on Pilotwings), but Wii Fly's publisher also went out of business. When Factor 5 asked if LucasArts could bail them out, they said they couldn't afford it, but pointed that an old debt between the studios would grant LucasArts all of Factor 5's assets anyway, should the studio go under.

Factor 5 finished the game, but LucasArts didn't pick up the project. Despite Namco and others from the industry trying to help, the financial climate wasn't lucrative at the time, and the effort eventually led to bankruptcy. LucasArts gathered the assets a year later, and Factor 5's team members on the project were never paid.

When asked if he would try such projects again for the Wii U, Eggebrecht sounded unsure of the console's trajectory, but he described a 1:1 hand-tracking Kinect demo he had recently seen as promising. He added that he'd love to talk to Disney about the general Star Wars series, and with the upcoming films, it would make sense for both parties involved.
[Image: Factor 5]

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