Never has there been a more iconic phrase that has completed embodied an entire game’s existence than the hearty “Rock and Stone!” These three words draw out the “inner-dwarf” within players, bonding them in a spirit that radiates kinship and unity. “Rock and Stone” plays a big part in making the Deep Rock Galactic community one of the best, friendliest, and most non-toxic in multiplayer gaming.
The phrase “Rock and Stone” was implemented during the early stages of DRG‘s development to introduce voice acting in the game. To develop each dwarf’s character and personality, the developers added audible reactions to in-game events to create a dynamic and believable feeling to the environment. Before the laser pointer, the first communication method was tapping [X] on the keyboard, which prompted a contextual call for attention from teammates. As a result, the dwarves will say different things depending on the situation. For example, if a player is sprinting, the dwarf will say something like “Follow me!” or “I know the way!” On the other hand, the dwarf will yell, “It got me!” or “Please. Shoot it!” if caught by a Cave Leech or Mactera Grabber.
While this contextual communication method worked very well, the dev team felt that it was too one-sided. Mikkel Pedersen, the game director of DRG, stated, “I felt it was important that these underpaid workers – risking their lives every day – had something that bound them together. Hence, we wanted to give them a salute. A way for the dwarves to ritualize their work in the mines and elevate the mining above just being plain hard labor.”
After leaving this concept in the ‘thought pot’ for many hours, Mikkel and Robert Friis (Art Director) decided on the phrase, “Rock and Stone.” This expression sounded relatively modest and straightforward, but it held exceptional tonal empowerment to it. Following this motto, the developers wanted to add some gesture or hand sign that would naturally harmonize with “Rock and Stone.” DRG‘s primary focus is mining, so the pickaxe became the perfect choice for the symbolic salute. When a fellow dwarf raises his pickaxe and shouts, it demonstrates his steadfast loyalty to the team. Therefore, the pickaxe gesture and “Rock and Stone” manifested into a single emblem that celebrated teamwork and the community’s codex: “Leave No Dwarf Behind.”
The “Rock and Stone” salute came with Update 5 during DRG‘s Early Access stages in 2017. The [V] key became the optimal key for this action, appropriate for a first-person keyboard layout. This first iteration of the communication system was a success. Players could give contextual commands using [X], and teammates could reply by saluting [V]. The influential phrase became quite flexible, possessing a wide range of meanings. In other words, it could be a greeting. It could mean confirmation or “Job well done.” Many use it as a “Thank you” when being rescued. It can spur players to feel, “We are awesome,” “You are awesome,” or a plethora of other things depending on the context. One could even make the comparison to the voiceless “chirp” communication method in Journey.
Furthermore, “Rock and Stone” maintains its unique identity through DRG’s distinct control scheme. Those accustomed to standard FPS key bindings will find it odd how DRG blends mining and shooting. For example, the “fire weapon” action is on the customary [Left Mouse Button] on PC. However, unlike typical first-person shooters, the [Right Mouse Button] isn’t assigned to an alternative fire option or iron sight. Instead, the mining action takes precedence, which beautifully emphasizes the mix of shooter and miner in Deep Rock Galactic.
Similarly, on a controller, shooting and mining are split between the two shoulder triggers. By reserving a button just for the mining and removing the ability to toggle to the pickaxe, this design underlines the strong connection between dwarf and pickaxe. So when it came to the “Rock and Stone” salute, it was essential to have a unique button [V]. For this reason, players can easily activate it without delay, even in the middle of performing other actions. Just like with the shooting and mining, this emphasizes the gesture’s value and significance.
With “Rock and Stone” as a cornerstone, Deep Rock Galactic has become a co-op game where teamwork and camaraderie are highly valued. Players appreciate their comrades – randoms or friends, experienced or inexperienced. Mikkel summarized the meaning of “Rock and Stone” like this:
Rock and Stone is a salute, it’s a way of saying Hi Mate! It’s a war cry, it’s a big THANK YOU for helping me, it’s a recognition of good teamwork and a celebration of a well-executed task. Rock and Stone is about showing that you enjoy the company and that you are having a good time with friends as well as with strangers. Rock and Stone is what binds us together as colleagues, players, fans, and dwarves. Rock and Stone is our not-so-secret password in our community. It’s our code of honor. Rock and Stone is Deep Rock Galactic and it’s Ghost Ship Games. Rock and Stone is what puts a big smile on our faces when we go to work. And it cheers us up on rainy days! Rock and Stone is a magical spell and a blessing…And Rock and Stone is so much more than we ever anticipated.
“Rock and Stone” is for real. The lively vibes, the kindred sentiment, and the powerful encouragement this one phrase brings have produced what many will agree is one of the most friendly gaming communities today. The next time you raise your pickaxe to honor your fellow dwarves and let out a fervent, “Rock and stone to the bone!” remember the origin story of this impactful, iconic phrase. What are your thoughts on the phrase, “Rock and Stone?” What sort of situations do you prefer to use it in? Let us know in the comments!