I think back to the development of Star Wars: Rogue Leader, the
first thing that comes to mind is time - or rather the lack of it. Never
in the more than 13-year history of Factor 5 have we had a project under
greater time pressure than this one.
Many might think that Factor 5's history reaches back only as far as 1996,
when the company moved to its current location in San Rafael, Calif.,
just next to Lucas Arts and Skywalker Ranch.
In fact, Factor 5 was originally formed out of an Amiga hacker group back
in Cologne, Germany. In the late 1980s, the Amiga became very popular
in Europe, but it didn't have any good action games. It was a port platform,
but the machine deserved better; our games, including R-Type and
Turrican, were among the first ones to really push the technology
unique to the Amiga.
With the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive reinventing the console
market worldwide, we moved on to these platforms and got into contact
with Lucas Arts, Konami, and Nintendo. During this time, Factor 5 made
Super Turrican 1
and Mega Turrican
on the SNES
and Genesis, Indiana Jones - Greatest Adventures
on the SNES, International
Supertsar Soccer Deluxe
on the Genesis, and both Contra 2
on Game Boy.
When the Playstation arrived, we started work on Ball Blazer Champions
and Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2
for Lucas Arts. However, the 9-hour
time difference be-tween California and Germany soon became a problem
with CD-based projects. The Internet wasn't fast enough in the mid-1990s
to transfer so much data in any practical fashion. We always had to burn
versions to a CD and send them via courier.
This situation could only go on for so long until Lucas Arts asked us
if we might consider moving the company to the U.S. They offered their
help in legal matters, and in May 1996 the American chapter of Factor
5's history began.
After finishing Ball Blazer
, we moved on to our best-known title
before Star Wars: Rogue Leader
, the original Star Wars: Rogue
, released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64 and PC. With Episode
heading to movie theaters soon after, Star Wars: Battle for Naboo
was next, followed by our final N64 game, Indiana Jones and the Infernal
Those who saw our Star Wars teaser trailer at Space World 2000 might think
that Star Wars: Rogue Leader
was in development continuously from
then until shortly before the launch. In fact, most of the team was busy
with Star Wars: Battle for Naboo
and Indiana Jones
late 2000, so we didn't really get started with Star Wars: Rogue Leader
until January 2001.
Hitting the Gamecube launch meant being done mid-September 2001 - roughly
nine months for a 15-month project.
due to our work on the Space World demo and our involvement in the development
of Gamecube's audio system, we already knew a lot of things about Nintendo's
new platform. While this gained us the invaluable advantage of having
a ready-to-use audio driver and some experience on the Flipper graphics
chip, we still had many, many things to test and try out - and pretty
much everything we did on the hardware was a first.
It wasn't long into the project before six- or seven-day weeks became
the absolute norm for everybody on the team. And these were not cozy eight-hour