Alumnus steps up to the plate to help bring ‘MLB The Show’ video game to life

Andrew Lytle ’19 works as an environment artist on iconic baseball game franchise

provided photo

Andrew Lytle’s work desk is filled with screens and gaming controllers as he works to create immersive environments for the iconic game franchise, MLB The Show.

Andrew Lytle ’19 (3D digital design) was never a big baseball fan growing up. Before accepting his job at PlayStation’s San Diego Studio as an environment artist, his involvement with sports was limited to attending RIT hockey games. Now, after nearly four years of working on the iconic baseball video game franchise, MLB The Show, Lytle says he’s a proud fan.

Lytle has worked as an environment artist on four MLB The Show titles, which are released annually. He began working on the games during an internship at San Diego Studio in 2019 when the studio was developing MLB The Show 20. At the conclusion of his internship, San Diego Studio offered him a contract, which he accepted after graduation.

“Getting the internship was really exciting, but I did feel a bit disconnected with the subject matter at the beginning. At the time I wondered if I would be better fit to work on a sci-fi or a fantasy game—but, after about a year, I was able to find a way to really connect with the sport of baseball,” said Lytle. “Even though I hadn’t always been into sports, finding a way to connect with the subject matter really turned this position into my dream job.”

This year, MLB The Show 23 introduced a new element to the game, called Storylines Mode, which gave Lytle the opportunity to delve deeper into baseball history. The new feature allows players to follow the stories of eight athletes from the Negro Leagues, the national professional baseball leagues comprising teams of primarily African American players which operated in the early 1900s.

Lytle spent weeks conducting research so he could authentically recreate the game’s flagship stadium, Muehlebach Field. Muehlebach Field is the home of the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the most famous and successful teams to play in the Negro Leagues. He searched through a variety of archives and personal accounts to truly immerse himself in the setting of the historic stadium.

“A big highlight for me in the research process was listening to Bob Kendrick, who’s the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He’s an incredible storyteller and you can just listen to him talk about that time period and those players for hours,” said Lytle.

As he learned more about the history of the Monarchs and the field, Lytle’s passion for the sport was bolstered. He even uncovered interesting facts that were entirely new to him and the game development team—facts he was eager to share with fans through the 2023 game.

“I was really getting into the nitty gritty of how the stadium was built. There was one podcast episode I found that was going over the history of the stadium, and they had historical photos that showed how the stands of the stadium were built into the side of the hill, which influenced the shape of the original structure. When I found that, it totally changed how I went about building the stadium out in the game,” said Lytle.

Lytle is proud to be part of a project that highlights the history of the Negro Leagues. By putting the players into a spotlight and creating an immersive, authentic environment, Lytle hopes the game can inspire MLB fans to learn more about players like Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Andrew “Rube” Foster.

“This is historically an area of baseball history where the stories have gone unrecognized, or under recognized to the full extent that they should be. As Bob Kendrick says in his own stories, these guys are some of the best players who ever played the game of baseball,” said Lytle. “I definitely have a drive to work on projects that are bigger than just myself and the things I enjoy, and this experience inspired me to explore the different ways I can use my art to do something impactful.”

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