Behind-the-Scenes of ‘Stormland’ with Insomniac Games Lead VFX Artist Yancy Young

Oculus blog
30 October 2019

Here at Oculus HQ, we’re continuing to gear up for Stormland. Last week, we shared the first in a series of brand-new Stormland videos on the road to launch, alongside a mini-Q&A with Insomniac Games Principal Designer Duncan Moore. Today, we’re back with the second installment!

During the launch day stream on November 14 at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT, you’ll be able to follow along with the Insomniac team on Twitch, Facebook, and Twitter. And today, Insomniac Games Lead VFX Artist Yancy Young shares some of his background and the part he played in shaping Stormland.

How did you get your start in the game industry?

Yancy Young: I attended a little college you probably heard of: Kansas State University? The WILDCATS? I spent a lot of time getting rejected by the art program. When they let me in for a probationary term, I signed up for a class called “Intro to 3D” (shout out to my instructor Dane Webster!). It turns out that, while I was terrible at oil painting, I could easily model the rotary assembly of a UH-60 Blackhawk in 3D, and I fell in love with 3D modeling. One of my instructors had a previous student by the name of Craig Goodman. Craig came out to KSU to give a talk on game development—something most people weren't familiar with back then. Craig's presentation was amazing. He spoke about building worlds, compressing textures, and sleeping under your desk. That’s when I knew I had found what I was looking for.

Dane made sure I met Craig since I wasn’t as outgoing or as mouthy as I am now, and he encouraged me to apply for an internship the following year. With a couple of semesters left, I scrapped my previous senior thesis and switched my focus to designing art for a video game. It had something to do with Archangel from the X-Men, and I remember thinking it would be crazy not to make this game. So anyway, my buddy helped me cut down my portfolio to the bone. It was painful because I thought everything was magnificent. Friends are there to tell you the truth. I sent off my portfolio and an embarrassingly over-confident cover letter (sorry, Chad), and after a few phone interviews, I got the internship! I moved to California with my best buddy and worked hard to prove myself. This was when Resistance: Fall of Man was deep in production and I spent all of my internship building environment assets. Thankfully, Insomniac offered to hire me afterward. I’ve been here for 14 years and still love coming to work every day! I love Insomniac because here you’re a member of a family. We work extremely hard as one unit to make amazing things.

What role did you play in the development of Stormland?

YY: Currently, I'm the Lead VFX Artist at our North Carolina studio. However, since Stormland has a smaller dev team than something like Marvel’s Spider-Man, many of us wear multiple hats. For Stormland, I managed concept, VFX, lighting, and character, and my partner in crime Jason Anderson managed the environment team. Additionally, I assisted the marketing team with the art direction for some of our marketing materials. On any given day, I’m making visual effects, prepping the schedule, talking with outsource teams, and ensuring my teammates have everything they need. Luckily for me, we have an amazing art team that is always on point, tackling challenges, and willing to solve tough production problems.

What’s your favorite part of the game and why?

YY: I'm a stealth guy, so while the game has a lot of awesome things going on, I think my favorite part is strategizing how to handle dangerous Tempest combat sequences. We have a really cool array of enemy types from short-range Assault Troopers that can close the distance with shotguns, to long-range sniper enemies that blend into the world. The situation when approaching Tempest enemies both in and out of their strongholds is not always what it seems. Players will need to use all of their robotic senses to ensure they’re ready when the bullets start to fly!

Thanks for the interview, Yancy! We’re sure you’ve whetted the appetite of your fellow stealth fans.

Pre-order Stormland today to snag some limited edition Oculus Home statues and prepare to #ReclaimYourWorld on November 14.

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