Two years ago, a lone VR developer broke new ground in the scene with a hard-hitting look into the Civil Rights movement named I Am A Man. Now, Derek Ham is revealing his next project – Barnstormers: Determined To Win.
I Am A Man was a poignant piece of VR history, transporting viewers back to the heart of the movement in 1968 and chronicling the days surrounding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Barnstormers is a very different type of experience but continues to focus on themes of racial segregation, casting a view on the Negro Leagues Baseball (NLB), which celebrate their 100th anniversary this year.
“I wanted to work on a project that was more celebratory in nature, and had the draw for replay,” Ham said of the experience. “Negro League Baseball was one of the storylines that came to mind. The story of how Baseball was integrated in America is very complex; at the same time it’s an interesting snapshot on how sports helped pave the way towards Civil Rights and a more equitable America.”
Barnstormers, then, is as much a game as it is a historical VR experience. Players will be cast as a fictional character in the NLB, working their way to the top. There’s a full story mode and a simulation mode. Ham says you’ll face-off against legends like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Buck O’Neil.
But, while creating a fun baseball game is a big part of the experience, Barnstormers will also look at the struggles of players from the 1940’s and 50’s. “So with this experience I am looking to do something completely brand new,” Ham said. “It will be educational, empathetic, and just plain fun all at the same time.”
To that end, Barnstormers will also utilize another of Ham’s projects, AxeOne from Logic Grip. This cover for Oculus Touch controllers features the ability to combine them together, one on top of the other. Once locked in, the controller should offer a more natural grip of items like, say, a baseball bat.
Barnstormers is backed by an Epic Games Mega Grant and the iClone Pitch & Produce Contest, and is created in partnership with the Negro Baseball League Museum (NBLM). It’s due for release in 2021.