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Lair Reviewer's Guide is dummy text, add headline here

Lair is not very good. Most people agree with that. To try and alleviate the reviewing experience and perhaps gain a few points on scores, Lair's handlers released a 'Lair Reviewer's Guide' to the gaming press. Some were insulted by this.

But what's really scary is that even the guide that Sony sent out is not very good either, or at least it was not proofread well. The image above is a clip from page 7 of the 'Lair Reviewer's Guide'. Yes, you read correctly, the Medium Dragon is described as "Dummy text, add new medium dragon txt here" several times over. Perhaps the "dragon-game curse" isn't done wreaking havoc on Factor 5 after all?

[Thanks, Stoo!]

Lair cursed from start to finish

Sometimes when you combine things, they form something even greater than its parts, like peanut butter and jelly, or the five robot cats that form Voltron. Other times, like when you combine Factor 5 and ghosts, you get Lair. "I am not a believer in ghosts, but this one was haunted," Lair director Julian Eggebrecht explains to MTV's Stephen Totilo.

Factor 5's Eggebrecht and producer Brian Krueger even admit in Lair's in-game commentary that there was a "dragon-game curse". Ranging from contrast problems with the very first trailer, to power outages during the writing of the master disk, nothing would go Factor 5's way during the development of Lair.

Eggebrecht and his team's struggle with the creation of Lair may be the exception rather than the rule in the video game development business, but it does help people outside of the industry understand just how tough making a game can be. The Lair director explains that "every single time there was a crucial delivery, something bizarre went wrong", even sickness and deaths within employees' families.

Maybe Lair is not everything PS3 owners were hoping for, but maybe they deserve some credit too for completing a game under such trying circumstances. It's good to know that even with all that they had going against them, the Factor 5 team still had time to have a little fun and hot coffee.

Factor 5's Eggebrecht annoyed at ESRB's censorship

Perhaps comparing the ESRB to the Communist hunter Joseph McCarthy is a little extreme, since there's not really a Red Scare in videogaming, but Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht made the allusion when stating the ESRB was essentially choking the creative life out of games during a speech at GCDC. What we mean by that is the ESRB fails to approach games as art. Eggebrecht voices his wishes: "I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality, but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships, and that is a real problem - and it tends to show that games are not being seen, even by our own ratings boards, as an artform."

He mentioned a cheat code in Lair that unlocked a "Hot Coffee" pot -- an actual coffee pot, which others at the GCDC got a kick out of, but he digressed from the humor behind the GTA: San Andreas fiasco. "If you cannot have satire about these things, that is approaching the realm of McCarthyism." Pressing further, he mentioned the movie Eyes Wide Shut, which dealt with relationship issues in marriage, among other things. Eggebrecht wants to see games with that much ... ambition hitting shelves, which require games to be placed on the same art pedestal as film.

Eggebrecht finally got to the meat of his argument -- censorship in Lair. Sony sought a "T" for Teen rating, since the game appeals to teenage gamers, but the ESRB continually knocked it to an "M" for Mature rating due to blood and visible "chunks" of other dragons getting slapped away in fights. In the end, Eggebrecht said, "they let us through with a Teen even though you can use fire - you can set up to five, six thousand people on fire. They burn, they run around and they scream, but of course that wasn't a problem [due to the absence of blood]."

New name for Lair in Japan, plus screenshots!

We're all anticipating the release of Lair by the end of July, but we've got two different subjects on the Factor 5 game to cover for you today. First up, we've got a name change. No, not for North America or Europe, but for Japan, the title Lair just didn't seem to do it over there. The latest Famitsu Weekly magazine has the game listed as Rise From Lair. Good stuff, we guess.

Also, we've got a handful of screenshots for you to check out. The screenshots are here. While you'd expect a plethora of screenshots with giant dragons floating around the sky and oceans and stuff, these are different. Kind of. Some pictures of actual characters, as well as the obligatory dragon-riding. We enjoy them. Don't you?

PS3 offers limitless power, says Factor 5

There once was a lengthy interview with Julian Eggebrecht over at Mercury News' blog space. He's the big man behind Factor 5 and Lair, by association. We're going to summarize the interview, where a lot was talked about: mostly Lair and the PS3 in general.

  • Factor 5 sought the most powerful of the next-gen systems -- in fact, it's implied that they started a game for the 360 before beginning production on Lair because Sony was so quiet about the PS3 at first.
  • The see a lot of risk in Lair because it's unusual and defies classical categorization by genre. They've never been a multi-million unit selling company, either. But they find a good number of rewards, too. Seamless world, new genre, air to ground combat, combat systems, and the choice of the PlayStation 3 can be both a risk and a reward... depending.
  • Have they found out what the PS3 can do? Not yet, they say, but "the PS 3 has more of the situation where you could go another six months easily and forever. You can get so much more power. RSX is a known quantity. But Cell is pretty limitless at this point."
  • Poor port quality from 360 to PS3 has become an obvious issue, but PS3-specific titles look so much better. Eggebrecht explains the situation: "They created the 360 engine with a unified memory architecture in mind, with the embedded frame buffer with its advantages and disadvantages, and not thinking too much in early stages about multicore. If you try to get that over to the PS3, you're in for a bad surprise. The PS 3 is all about streamlining about the two different memory pools. They are separate. You don't have to do tiling because you don't have an embedded frame buffer. All of these advantages of the PS3 turn into disadvantages if you don't start making your game on the PS3. If you create first on the PS3, it is pretty easy to port it to the 360."
  • What will we see in Lair not seen in other PS3 titles? Scale, really. Going from 20,000 feet down to the ground and keeping a consistent level of detail is pretty amazing. All lighting is calculating in real-time, giving a nice day-night cycle. Not to mention fluid water dynamics.
  • Compared to Gears of War, Eggebrecht cites scale as the difference -- GoW is based on moving slowly from corridor to corridor (metaphors, though there is a lot of that anyway), Lair gives you a 32x32 kilometer bubble to explore with detail kept throughout, at extreme speeds.
  • This scale allows for more non-linear play, with vague mission goals, unlike the linear fashion GoW plays out.
  • Multiplayer is just leaderboards and chat -- they want online multiplayer, but are having trouble getting the streaming and latency issues out of the way.
  • The SIXAXIS sounds great -- their implementation is pretty impressive but they realize it can be overdone... so expect an option to turn it off, but no promises.

Cool. Long, but cool. Not sure why they kept going back to Gears of War for comparisons, but if you think of it on the macro scale, it does sound equally as impressive. Anyway, if you want to get much more in-depth answers, check out the interview in its entirety. It's pretty big.
[Via GameDaily]

Lair: July. Demo? Probably July, too.

A great big ol' preview of Lair has been upped at IGN and they cover pretty much everything we wanted to hear. Aside from the fact that there will not, in fact, be any ground combat in the human vs. human sense, there will be havoc-creating dragon vs. human army ground combat. In all fairness, if you want to hear about their impressions of the gameplay, we can't really alter what they say.

What we'll tell you is that the gameplay, from what IGN said, is shaping up pretty nicely. A large set of unlockable/learnable moves keep the battles fresh and while using your fire-breath is useful at the beginning of the game, later enemies will be all but invulnerable to fire, forcing you to rely on physical strength.

The SIXAXIS controls are reported to still need "a little work". Understandable -- no one wants to accidentally turn 180 degrees when they're trying to smash heads with another dragon. But that's why it's just an alpha-build. Plenty of time to fix that up! Another point of note is the implementation of trophies for use in PlayStation Home. Yep, before Home is even released, you'll be scoring some great trophies to show off to people.

The game is due out in July, which is a little later than we expected (we thought May, then September, so this is decent news). However, Factor 5 promises a demo of the game to hit the PS-Store at some point. Their estimate? Either before or after the release of the full game. Yawn! It seems we'll get our demo in July, too, then. Judging from the timing of our demos to-date. Still, great preview! Check it out!

Some cutesy new Lair screenshots

We're all tired of this "you may look, but you may never, ever, ever touch" policy Sony's got on this game. Seriously, how many more times will we gaze upon the beauty of giant lizards killing one another while the men riding them also fight to the death -- all way up high in the sky? Sure, everything great needs time to mature, but come on! Give the PSN a demo or something.

According to CVG, they've got Lair set up for a... wait for it... freakin' September release! What's up with that? What're we going to do during summer? Continue to play other games? But we wanna play this one! Oh well, it's probably for the better. In my situation, at least. There's a huge pile of games that require playtime. In the meantime, check out the new screenshots.

Lair lacks lovingly customized lizards

Over at a place known only as The Slug, some gents got to take a flight around the skies of Lair, due out this summer. If you don't know what the game's about, just imagine Drakengard, but good. If that doesn't help, think Dynasty Warriors meets Panzer Dragoon. Still nothing? Hmm... go watch Dragonheart. Anyway, here's what The Slug had to say about their time with the game:

  • Environments and aerial combat looks great, even in the unfinished version
  • The flight controls are getting tighter, not to mention very easy to get used to. Flick the controller back to do a 180? Excellent.
  • Beyond some unlockable moves, the dragons will not be customizable.

No customization? Aww, but dragons are so much fun to dress up! You can give them silly party hats, fingerless gloves, an eyepatch, maybe a few swords sticking out of it... could be pretty neat. But, it's also understandable that adding full customization would be a lot of extra work. Perhaps for a future update of sorts? What's your two cents?

GDC 07: Normal maps make Lair look good!

Mattias Worch, technical art director for Factor 5's upcoming PS3-exclusive Lair, recently spoke to GDC attendees about creating textures and normal maps in a next-gen environment. The very technically-oriented lecture can be effectively summarized as such: "Lair looked really crappy until we used normal maps. Now it looks really good. You should all use normal maps."

Developers were told how to use Photoshop to accentuate and restore detail from textures. Also, artists need to have a clear vision before making a single texture: "Unless you know what you want to do with a normal map beforehand, it'll look wrong."

Afterwards, Worch showed off some incredible footage from Lair, running off a PS3. The graphics, while still glitchy, show a huge deal of promise. Of particular note were the incredibly lifelike water effects: when a ship explodes on water, you'll see realistic, physics-intensive, ripple effects that must be seen to be believed. The Factor 5 team clearly is doing something right: the textures were absolutely breathtaking, even up-close.

Worch promised the audience that his Powerpoint presentation would be made available for everyone to download on his personal website in the coming days. More excitingly, he also promised new videos of the game. Stay tuned.

More and more Lair screenshots flying in!

Thanks, UltimaGamer.com!
Someone e-mailed me with this link and mentioned the water. All this time, we were focusing on dragons and failed to realize that the water in the game looks absolutely stunning, too! The latest batch of screenshots were pulled out of the Factor-5 oven on the 23rd, apparently, but we're getting around to it now. Lair is due out in May, and from the way things are shaping up, will probably make quite a splash. Did you see that one coming? Hopefully the dragons will be able to take a dive into the briney deep. That would add extra fun to the killing and such... although falling on top of a plethora of soldiers is equally rewarding.

Adorable new Lair screenshots!

For the hour, the play does not have date for precise exit. Regardless of the fun English translation, it's true -- we don't know when Lair is coming even though we should. But every other day or so, it seems we're given a new mini-set of screenshots. This time, it's all about the dragons. Last time, it was... all about... the dragons. Okay, so there's definitely a dragon fetish in this game, but it doesn't matter -- it's shaping up to be a pretty fun title. We assume. We'll keep you posted when a firm release date is set. Until then, enjoy!

How about some awesome Lair screenshots? [update 1]

Geez. GameFront has a really unfriendly linking system. Anyway, while we'd like to link you directly to the screens, their site won't let us. So, we're going to give you our favorite and you can seek through the archives over at their site if you want to see the others. Honestly, most of these simply look like very high-res screenshots of the trailer, but then again, when you throw people in armor against gigantic dragons, it's easy to think "I've seen this before, haven't I?"

The game, as far as we've been able to dig up, is still slated for a March release. Since it will be competing with a plethora of titles coming out in the European launch window, they've got to really sell people on the huge, epic dragon battle portion of the game. Shouldn't be hard... just look at this stuff! If the game plays anything like it looks, it'll at the very least merit a rental. If you don't think so, just rent the movie Dragonheart 2 and see how badly big dragon fights can go down.

[seems IGN lists Lair as a May release -- we'd like to beg to differ, but we don't really beg.]

Factor 5's Eggebrecht speaks about the consoles

Golly gee, this one's been sitting in my queue pile for a few days. Factor 5's Julian Eggebrecht, one of the main brains behind Lair, sat down with Gamasutra and talked about his opinion of the three current consoles as well as dole out a couple of PS3 programming tips. We'll skip over the programming tips and let you check that out if you're interested. Let's just make a list because, let's face it, they're so awesome.

On PS3:
  • The potential is huge.
  • Blu-ray trumps HD-DVD on "a good plasma".
  • Surprised at the online service (although some usability issues make him prefer XBox Live... for now!).
  • Disappointed in dearth of gaming opportunities (but takes some blame for not having Lair done by launch).
  • At the end of the day, if you want to feel more secure about your gaming future and you're a techno geek, the PS3 has a lot more to offer than the 360. But recall the current weakness in games (the "give it time" approach).

On XBox 360:
  • Gears of War is impressive, though the 1080p thing seems tacked on as a last minute thing.
  • It's a "solid system"... but he didn't have much to say about it.

On Wii:
  • He's a Nintendo guy, so he loves it, he says.
  • Enjoys the more casual side of things -- Wii Sports, etc.
  • See's the Wii as the "second system" the 360 or PS3 crowd will enjoy, since the gaming experience will be quite different.
  • However, it does seem to shun third-party support again. Another Nintendo-centric system to pump out their mascot's next game and then put them in a variety of whacky sports-related competitions together.

Factor 5 also making some EDI titles for PS3

EDI means E-Distribution Initiative... just saying so up front because I'm not too good at rationalizing acronyms. I was totally like, "entertainment desk icing"? And then "electronic drapery interrogation"... basically everything but the correct meaning. That's not important, though. What matters is this: Factor 5, makers of Lair, have come out of the developer's closet and admitted they'll be making two PS3 downloadable titles. Thanks to the original article, I now realize where I've heard of Factor 5 -- the old Turrican series of games. Had no idea, but now it makes sense. There's not much else to say, except the boys over at Factor 5 think the PS3's downloadable initiative has a ton of potential and are very excited to work on something small again.

Lair will support tilt controls, ground battles

Remember that Square-Enix game, Drakengard? Yeah, it wasn't all that great (but not bad at all for the hack n' slash urges in all of us) and PS3's anticipated Lair is shaping up to be a sorta-kinda copy, but hopefully far superior. What do we mean? Well, in the latest Famitsu magazine, Factor 5 has leaked a little info about the game. In addition to flying around and fighting on massive, gorgeous dragons, there will also be massive ground battles. Whether these fights on the ground will be melee or close-range dragon breath of doom, Factor 5 wouldn't say.

The other piece of info was tilt control support. As we previously hypothesized (albeit with a fair amount of confirmation of the idea, but come on, give us a little credit!), the tilt controls will assist in controlling your dragon. That's pretty cool. Sort of like taking the reins yourself, except you don't have to worry about being burnt to a crisp or dropped to your untimely death. Good stuff. This game will be tossed around at the Tokyo Game Show (which those of us who haven't had our spirits completely crushed still hope will be a great event for the PS3) and most other questions will probably be answered.

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