Former Factor 5 Devs Say Lair Was Doomed by Forced Motion Controls

Former Factor 5 Devs Say Lair Was Doomed by Forced Motion Controls

Before the cancelled Scalebound, there was another dragon-riding game on the scene.

You may not remember Lair, the early PS3 title with a troubled release and an even more troubled critical reception; or maybe you do. Most don't remember it fondly. Not even the developers behind it, as evidenced by a recent story from Polygon featuring interviews with key people of studio Factor 5 that were behind Lair, including director Julian Eggebrecht and technical artist David Cohen, who joined the team near its public debut, which devolved into a role of "repair."

The main takeaway of where the once-ambitious Lair went wrong boiled down to its reliance on the Sixaxis' motion controls, at the reported urgings of Sony. Another launch-year title's developers passed on using motion controls solely, as Sony allowed them to input analog functions as an alternate too, as said by an unnamed source. Unfortunately for Factor 5, Sony allegedly did not really give them a choice. It was motion controls or nothing.

"The marketing department said, ‘We need one game to really show off this stuff, and [the Warhawk team] isn’t enthusiastic about it. They don’t want to do it. Could you guys do it?' Eggebrecht tells Polygon. "They put a ton of pressure on us and said, 'You have to be the showcase motion control title. You’ll figure out how it works.'" However, this claim was also denied in 2007 by Phil Harrison, former executive vice president of Sony Europe.

Whether it was a mandated use of motion controls or not, there's no doubt that Lair didn't come out as great as originally concepted as a game called Dragon Knight with a deep inspiration of the then-current political atmosphere post-9/11. Lair's story was ultimately a watered down version of that, a typical hero's journey with dragons along for the ride. Coming from the pedigree of the Star Wars Rogue Squadron series, Lair was eventually a disappointment. While not the nail in the coffin for Factor 5, it was the start of it.

You can read the entirety of Polygon's deep dive into the history of Lair, featuring many interviews with key people along its development here.

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Caty McCarthy

Features Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

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