River the dog has died, and if you think that means nothing to you, we’ll rephrase it: Fallout 4’s Dogmeat has died.
Fallout 4 developer Joel Burgess announced River’s passing on Twitter and outlined how she inspired Dogmeat to be more than “a canine weapon.”
“It wasn’t obvious at first that River would be our subject,” Burgess said on Twitter. “We’d started by researching some ‘professional’ dogs, with film and/or police training. Lots of games go this route, and for good reason. But in the end, we didn't.”
Burgess said the Dogmeat team’s research consisted of aggressive German Shepherds in various attack postures, but then River started attending design meetings.
Fallout 4's Dogmeat Has Died
“River attended countless meetings; but not just to be poked, prodded, recorded and filmed as reference - her biggest job was just to BE with the team,” Burgess said. “The more they bonded with her, the more they saw Dogmeat as a character - a friend."
From there, the team worked to make Dogmeat as authentic a companion — and as authentic a German Shepherd — as possible, using River as a direct model and even recording only natural sounds for Dogmeat’s audio.
The design choices extended to Dogmeat’s behavior in the game as well.
“River really loved making people happy... sometimes by bringing us large objects,” Burgess said. “Her intentions were pure, but her judgement wasn't always perfect. This helped inspire the item-fetching and seeking behavior.”
Burgess also said Dogmeat’s AI was designed to keep enemies away and not to actually kill them.
“He's *protecting you*, often throwing himself directly in harm's way, giving you the time + opportunity to deal with the threat yourself. If you've ever had a German Shepherd, you understand.”
Our sympathies go out to Burgess and all who will mourn River’s passing.
Read more: Everything we know about Fallout New Vegas 2