Game Design from Idea to Concept — Ernack Buildings & Structures

Hash Rush
5 min readNov 1, 2017

In our last article on game and character design, we showed you how our concept artists Nic and Dendy realised Rick Everrusty, leader of the Ravagers. This time, we’ll cover several in-game assets (buildings) we’ve recently created for the Hash Rush pre-alpha. We’ll show you exactly how we went from a design brief to the final concept, for the Ernack Stonemason, Blacksmith and Carpenter Buildings.

The Stonemason Building

In general I think about a Stonemason building structure like a heavy building made from rough stone with some rocks and semi-finished stone blocks scattered around. — Brief by Lead Game Producer Rafal Nowocien

On this basis, our Concept Artist Nic created several concepts of what he thought the building could look like.

Unanimously the game design and development team chose for iteration number two. This concept seemed most understandable from the player’s point of view, and simply looked great as well.

I preferred version 2, because it looks like it has a clear place for the Ernack to stay in, and the Stonemason Building definitely needed that. Version 3 also has a dwelling, but it was just a bit more ambiguous. — Lead Concept Artist Dendy Dhamier

So Nic went on to create new, versions of this concept. Version A was just a colourised version, and for version B, Nic added some rune carvings and several cloths.

Initially, Nic created version A, and I think it was great. But I figured, might it look better if we add some more colour and details? So I drew the ‘drapery’, that covers the table and the dwelling as a kind of flag. I also figured giving the building some kind of rune pattern would be a nice idea, since we know the Traveller uses a rune in his clothes. So on that basis, Nic drew version B and I really like the result! — Lead Concept Artist Dendy Dhamier

Another unanimous decision was made, and the team chose version B. On that basis, Nic fleshed out the final version below.

The Blacksmith Building

The Ernack Blacksmith is used to forge tools/weapons — it is a structure which may have an Ernack working inside or outside of it. In the Blacksmith, things are burned and thus smoke needs to come out. — Brief by Lead Game Developer Cristean Cristea

Our Lead Concept Artist Dendy Dhamier started with this brief and drew different concepts of how an Ernack Blacksmith could look like.

As you might know, Hash Rush buildings can be upgraded but for the pre-alpha we just need ‘level 1’ buildings. For this concept, our Creative Director Nathan indicated that version A was too advanced for a level 1 building. So instead, we went with version B, which Dendy then painted in different styles.

Here, I experimented with how it would look like if we have a ‘day and night sequence’ on the Ernack planet. Left is day time and right is night time. The team confirmed both versions as the final version, though we’re not yet settled on the day-and-night concept. — Lead Concept Artist Dendy Dhamier

The Carpenter Building

Initially, I think of the Carpenter Building as a place with many branches scattered around, single pieces of cut wood, and trunks prepared for cutting on pieces. Maybe it has some kind of Carpenter table and/or a simple wooden hut. During construction, the Ernacks will use branches and raw pieces of wood. — Brief by Lead Game Producer Rafal Nowocien

On the basis of this brief, Nic came with the following ideas.

In the beginning, my goal is to design these buildings so that they’re recognisable from a top view. Basically, you want to design it in a way that even without tools and details, you can still tell it’s a Stonemason or a Carpenter Building. — Concept Artist Nicholas Ng Hanyang

In contrast to the other buildings discussed so far, there was no unanimous decision on this concept. On the one hand, some members of the team figured C would have too many similarities with the Stonemason structure. But on the other, other members figured version C seemed to match the style of the other buildings well. Being unable to choose one variant, Nic drew up a few more concepts.

The team agreed that this looked quite a bit better and particularly appreciated B’s roof and C’s door. So combining the two, Nic drew the penultimate version.

Nathan quickly approved the concept, allowing Nic to start colourising the image, filling out any missing details and producing the final version.

The next steps

This article has given you a bit of an idea of how our art design team creates the first concepts for in-game assets. But what happens with these concepts after they’ve been finalised? Well, now that they’re finished, the next step is to actually create these buildings in 3D. This is done by our game development team (Tractor, Set, GO!) in Unity 3D. We’ll cover this another time in another article, but we hope you enjoyed this — and if you have any comments, questions, or want to see something entirely different from the Hash Rush team, please let us know on Discord!

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