As a gamer and if you’ve played Fallout 4, chances are, you’ve also come across one of the more “unique weapons” in the came that comes in the form of a dog. In the game, the dog’s name is “Dogmeat” – while a male dog in the game world, in real life the dog is played by a female dog named River. Sadly, several video gaming news outlets have reported that Fallout 4’s senior designer Joel Burgess posted on Twitter that the beloved dog they used as inspiration for the game model has passed away.
In the post, Burgess using River as the direct inspiration behind Dogmeat wasn’t always the plan. He had wanted to make sure the canine companion in Fallout 4 wasn’t “just” a weapon. After seeing a new team member cover their desk with reference photos of German Shepard snarling, growling, and biting, Burgess began bringing the loveable River into the studio.
I said goodbye today to River, who most of you know as Fallout 4’s Dogmeat.— Joel Burgess (@JoelBurgess) June 27, 2021
Heartbroken doesn't cover it, but I won’t eulogize her here. For twitter, I thought it'd be appropriate to look back at her impact on that game.
(plus, writing about game dev hurts less than grieving) pic.twitter.com/ayN1Vd6oqQ
Burgess goes on to state that River wasn’t brought in to be “poked” or “prodded,” but to become a part of the team and more importantly to bond with the various devs working on Fallout 4’s Dogmeat. “The more they bonded with her, the more they saw Dogmeat as a character – a friend,” said Burgess.
Here’s a video of some behind the scenes as posted by Gamespot roughly 5 years ago:
As time progressed in the game’s development, more and more of River likeness and mannerisms went into the game as they spent more time bonding with the dog in real life. They even used audio recordings of River’s barks and whines to literally bring her “to life” in the Fallout 4 digital world.
Burgess said that he and the team’s goal with Dogmeat during Fallout 4‘s development wasn’t to create another deadly companion – but to create a friend for players, someone they could rely on in the game. And it worked beautifully as the players also got attached to the digital game version of River – aka Dogmeat.
Looks like I’m going to have to re-install and play Fallout 4 again just to see that dog run up to you with a happy smile. Rest in Peace, River – thank you for being in the game, you will be missed.