Evolution of the tree


DigDug, Arcade, 1982

DigDug has a collection of pixels that sort of clump together in a cartoon rock kind of way. Seeing as the game’s title is all about digging, we suppose context suggests rock instead of crumpled-up pieces of brown paper, but in truth it could go either way.

Chuck Rock, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, 1992

Rocks on 16-bit machines were much better. Sure, they’re still crude, but the larger sprites give a much greater indication of weight than the mere pebble-sized offerings of 8-bit. Three shades of grey and a black outline all add up to make a real rocky horror for Chuck’s enemies.

Ridge Racer, PSone, 1995

Ridge Racer heralded the arrival of texture mapping in mainstream gaming. And it was a revelation. No longer did 3D have to look like a math project. At the time, to our bewildered eyes, it was photorealism. And to see it all running quickly was breathtaking.

Shadow of the Colossus, PS2, 2006

PS2 has rendered many rocks in its time. And while Shadow of the Colossus isn’t the smoothest game we’ve ever seen, it’s certainly one of the most captivating. Bloom lighting and bump mapping combine to produce some of the most ancient-looking and solid rock formations in gaming. Geologist porn, right here.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, PS3, 2007

As with water, what Naughty Dog has done here is taken real rocks and put them inside your HDTV. Shadows fall across their surface as they sit impassively, the heat of sun radiating from them.