Rob Cunningham – The Man Who Is

In 1999, a tremor named Homeworld rocked Earth. The man behind some of the most awesome artwork in the history of space ship design to date was and is Rob Cunningham, Rhode Island graduate in design. His former student, Alex Garden got in touch with him sometime in 1997 with a story of something having to do with Battlestar Galactica and the end battle of the Return of the Jedi named Homeworld. According to Cunningham, Garden’s enthusiasm was contagious, so he quickly joined up with Relic to make this game a reality.  From that point on, everything else became history.

In 2004, Relic Studios was sold and the rights to Homeworld were given to THQ, thus the entire dev team moved to different jobs, or remained with the new company. In those couple of years Cunningham developed art for Homeworld 2, Company of Heroes and Dawn of War.

Dissatisfied with THQ’s lack of agility on the innovation front, in 2007 Cunningham opened his own eatART foundation under a factory roof in Vancouver, and started building multi-tonne robots and other grandiose projects with the goal of merging art and engineering. I mean, the guy supports people who made a 1600 lb, 8 legged walking spider named Mondo Spider and a 3000kg four legged mech named Prosthesis. If that is not awesome, I don’t know what is.

In 2010, Cunningham co-founded Blackbird Interactive, with a return on the idea of further developing the RTS genre. Alongside Aaron Kambeitz, the lead artist on Homeworld, Cody Kenworthy and a boost from the head tech lead from EA, Yossarian King, Cunningham put his mind to work on something called Hardware: Shipbreakers. The game was supposed to be a sort of a spin-off on Homeworld without directly being connected to the former story due to copyright issues. They even got Paul Ruskay on board, which made everyone wet just thinking about the final product.

The invisible hand of the market did it’s thing in 2013, and in 2013 Gearbox managed to buy out the Homeworld IP from the fading THQ for $1.35 million. The great thing about the buyout was that both Blackbird and Gearbox were competing for the same franchise. When Gearbox won, it was agreed by Cunningham and the gang from Gearbox that they will invest together in the development of Hardware: Shipbreakers by bringing it back into the Homeworld fold. As the president of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford said, and I quote: “When people are passionate about it, they have talent and capability, and there are resources there: shit there’s going to be cool stuff. Just let it happen.” That’s what happens when devs get together to talk without pesky publishers!

We usually see just the final product when we see video games, but the industry is as competitive and as dog-eat-dog as any other which boasts with multi-million dollar projects, hence our joy at the prospect of such effective cooperation. While we wait for more news to come from the front, please enjoy this beautiful concept art of Homeworld, done by our favorite man with big ideas, Rob Cunningham.

robs homeworld art 1Rob's Homeworld Art 2 Rob's art

Robs hw art 5 Robs art 5 Robs art 6

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Michael Maddox is Editor-in-Chief at Fists of Heaven, and can be reached at mike [at]

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