River, the real-life dog who inspired Dogmeat from Fallout 4, has passed away.
Joel Burgess, studio director at Capybara Games and former developer on Fallout 3, 4 and 76 at Bethesda, took to Twitter to look back at her impact on Fallout 4.
Dogmeat is a recurring dog non-player character in the Fallout series who acts as a possible companion to the player. Dogmeat is one of the most popular companions in the series, and was even a part of trailers made to promote Fallout 4.
“What we wanted was a companion first, and a combat ally second,” Burgess wrote of Dogmeat in Fallout 4.
“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 continued.
“The more they bonded with her, the more they saw Dogmeat as a character – a friend.”
River’s looks were almost directly replicated to the in-game model,” Burgess revealed.
“Not just because of her beauty (but yes, that too), her markings happened to work really well for pose read + facial expression.”
“One of the earliest impacts River had was on pathing,” Burgess said. “@jean_simonet [former Bethesda developer Jean Simonet] and I would take long walks with her, and he noticed that she’d trot ahead, but consistently stop to look back and check in me.
“This behavior went into the game, and really connects the dog to you.”
“We also crafted the dog’s combat AI to focus on holding enemies in place,” Burgess said. “Direct damage and finishing moves are secondary. (He also HATES being too far from you) This didn’t just give Dogmeat a distinctive combat style from other companion NPCs; it was a character choice.
“You see, Dogmeat isn’t primarily focused on killing your enemies. 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.”
In Fallout 4, Dogmeat is named Dog until the player character, dubbed the Sole Survivor, speaks to Mama Murphy about his true name, or until companion character Nick Valentine reveals his name as part of a quest that involves Dogmeat sniffing out one of the game’s main enemies.
Dogmeat is flagged as an essential character, which means they can’t be killed. As well as taking part in quests, Dogmeat can fetch specific items for the player, and can equip specific gear. In the game, Dogmeat loves the Sole Survivor unconditionally, so cannot be negatively or positively influenced by the player’s actions.
“Dogmeat is a tether,” Burgess said. “He grounds you in the world, will always stand by you, lead you to your family, and anticipate your needs. He wants you to be safe and happy.
“In other words, he loves you.
“And if love is River’s legacy, I am contented.
“Rest in peace, big girl.”