A Legend is Born


Hello and welcome to a double-stuffed edition of the BBI Newsletter! What’s so special, you ask? Well, for one, I am writing these words in the wake of Minecraft Legends’ massive launch. We’ll dig into the specifics in just a second, but I just want to quickly say how grateful I am to each and every one of you for being on this journey with us. We wouldn’t be here without your support!

Minecraft Legends is just the tip of the blocky iceberg. We have a lot to cover in this newsletter – including some awesome Hardspace: Shipbreaker news (especially if you’re a Steam Deck owner). So, let’s get to it.

Oh, and be sure to read to the bottom. We’re giving away an exclusive Minecraft Legends poster to one lucky reader – it could be you!

April 18 was one of the biggest days in Blackbird Interactive’s history: We launched Minecraft Legends! The team poured over five years of passion and dedication into it. To see so many people playing and talking about Legends online was overwhelming β€” in a good way! There’s a lot here to unpack, so let’s dive into all that’s been happening since.
We kickstarted launch day the only way that felt right: with a big Minecraft-themed breakfast for the studio! Later in the evening, everyone gathered in our atrium to celebrate and let off some well-deserved steam by smacking giant Minecraft piΓ±atas and having a few drinks.

We’ve been so humbled by the response Legends has been getting. Over 3 million of you have jumped into the game so far! I googled to see how many people you would need to stack on top of each other to reach the moon thinking 3 million had to be close. I was ridiculously wrong. But still, 3 million is mind-boggling number to wrap my head around.
Executive Producer Lee Mckinnon-Pederson talks about Minecraft Legends’ development.
Just before Legends launched, CBC Vancouver toured the studio to learn about its development and history from our own Lee McKinnon-Pederson. In that interview, Lee details how the project started and how it navigated major changes including the pandemic and our shift to a 4-day work week!

So where does that leave us? Well, this is only the beginning! Minecraft Legends will be getting more post-launch content down the road (the first free monthly challenge just dropped a few weeks ago!) and the team is hard at work addressing all the feedback we’ve been getting to help improve the game even further.

If you haven’t had the chance to try Minecraft Legends, it’d mean a lot to us if you would! The game is available for free on Xbox and PC via GamePass, or you can purchase it on Steam, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch. 

If you have played it, I’d love for you to reply to this email and send me your thoughts!
BBI now is on the cusp of opening up a whole new studio space in the same building as our current one. It’s called Studio 04 and it’s on the third floor below Studio 03 (yes, we realize that’s a tad confusing!). Pretty soon, most of the Minecraft Legends team will move into this new space!
And now for something a little different: Last month British culture mag NME spoke to our own Trey Smith about his storied career in game development – starting all the way back with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 in 2000 – and how he’s fighting to make game development a more sustainable and diverse space.

I know I’m biased, but I love this interview and want to shout about it from the rooftops. Trey dives into the very grim realities facing the games industry: crunch, layoffs, and an unwillingness to take risks and try new things. But Trey is an eternal optimist, and I love how that shines through in this story. If you ever wondered what BBI is all about on a philosophical level, this interview is well worth your time.
“In order to make the kinds of games that we want to make in the future, we have to bring in new people from different backgrounds and from different places to tell different stories.”

– Trey Smith, VP of IP Development
Speaking of interviews, BBI has been in the spotlight a lot lately. Trey also spoke to the Vancouver Sun about the wild success of our four-day work week and how it dramatically improved morale and health of our teams without sacrificing quality or productivity.
Switching over to the Hardspace universe, there’s a lot to catch up on. But first, I gotta take a second to brag about the dev team racking up a whopping TEN nominations between the Canadian Game Awards (CGAs) and Canadian Indie Game Awards (CIGAs).

Game director Elliot Hudson and programmer Liam Wilson (whom you’ll remember from our last newsletter as the one with the awesome Hardspace tattoo) attended the CGAs in person and were joined by a special guest – Bunny D! β€” complete with their own hand-knit black-tie drip.

While we didn’t win any awards – curse you, Tunic! No one can resist your charms! – it was such an honor to even be nominated among such incredible Canadian games.

Here’s some other cool Hardspace news you should be aware of: Hardspace: Shipbreaker is now Steam Deck certified! Yup, that means you can now salvage on the go – though we accept no responsibility for any loss of productivity that may result from sneaking in a quick shift or two at work. Xbox Wire spoke to game director Elliot Hudson for a sprawling, in-depth look at Hardspace’s development, origins as a game jam game, and how Xbox Game Pass helped it find a whole new audience. You’ll want to read this one because it might contain some teases about what’s next for the Hardspace universe. Elliot teamed up with Citizen Sleeper creator Gareth Damian Martin for a panel at LudoNarraCon to talk about how both games dissect capitalism, labor, and corporate excess. Hardspace is also nominated for four awards at the BIG Festival in Brazil!
Hardspace and Citizen Sleeper have a lot in common. During Citizen Sleeper’s early development, creator Gareth Damian Martin wanted the game to primarily focus on shipbreakers in space β€” an idea he had to hastily pivot away from when Hardspace announced its Early Access debut. But, funny enough, an early version of Hardspace mirrored Citizen Sleeper’s “life sim” elements, where you’d explore a space station in between shifts!
BBI CEO Rob Cunningham waxes nostalgic about the development of Homeworld.
BBI founder and CEO Rob Cunningham swung by The Retro Hour podcast last month to talk about all things Homeworld, and I wanted to share it here because I think it’s a fantastic interview bursting with details about Homeworld 1’s development that surprised even me β€” including the funny story of how English rock band Yes ended up writing the closing song for the game.

But what stuck out to me most is Rob’s answer about which part of Homeworld is his favorite: “My favorite part of the whole experience is the feedback that I’ve had from fans in the years since. Some of the letters that people have written about how the game has touched them or affected them in their lives and choices, and it’s very hard to put into words how touching it is.”
It’s been a busy few months at the studio! But one thing I love about life at BBI is how keen everyone is to give back to the surrounding community. A few weeks ago 15 fellow Blackbirdies celebrated Earth Day by heading out to one of Vancouver’s most popular spots, Kitsilano Beach, armed with tongs and trash bags to clean up the garbage that tends to pile up there. Afterwards, they reconvened at the studio for some well-deserved lunch!
All of BBI’s projects are codenamed after critters found in the Pacific Northwest (Hardspace = Lynx, Minecraft Legends = Badger, etc.) but even the studio’s name and orange-on-black branding is inspired by the local red-winged blackbird local to British Columbia!
And that’s it! Thanks for sticking through to the end of this newsletter. I’m excited to be back to writing this at regular intervals and would love to hear your feedback and thoughts! Something you love? Something you hate? Something you want to see more of? Just reply to this email and let me know!
Want to win an exclusive Minecraft
Legends poster? Read on!
Don’t worry β€” I didn’t forget about that Minecraft Legends poster! These beautiful, 11×17 gold-trimmed posters were handed out to all staff to celebrate the launch of Legends, and now you could win one too! All you need to do is reply to this email and tell me the name of the book that inspired Citizen Sleeper. Here’s a hint: Gareth mentions it in their LudoNarraCon panel with Elliot!

Dokapon Kingdom: Connect is OUT NOW in North America & Europe!


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