Fallout 4 developer posts heart-wrenching tribute to the real-life Dogmeat after she passes away

Ed Nightingale June 28, 2021
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Dogmeat River Fallout 4

River, the real life Dogmeat, has passed away (Joel Burgess/ Bethesda)

The much-loved dog that provided the inspiration for Dogmeat in Fallout 4 has sadly died.

Dogmeat is one of the companions in the apocalyptic RPG and was based on a real-life German Shepherd called River, who was a huge hit with the entire team. 

Joel Burgess, a developer on the game, shared a Twitter thread about River and how she inspired the game’s companion, which has since gone viral. 

“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,” he began.

Often companions are there to support the player with extra firepower, but Burgess explains how, with Dogmeat, the team wanted “a companion first, and a combat ally second”. 

They researched professionally trained dogs, but eventually River began visiting the team in the studio.

“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,” said Burgess.

“The more they bonded with her, the more they saw Dogmeat as a character – a friend.”

River soon became popular among all the developers. “She was more than a mascot or an inspiration – she was part of the team,” said Burgess.

What’s more, many of River’s mannerisms went into the game, ensuring not only a realistic depiction of a dog but creating a connection between Dogmeat and the player.

For instance, Burgess would take River for walks and notice she would frequently trot ahead but look back to check up on him, a behaviour which was recorded and added to the game.

Item fetching was also added to the game. “River really loved making people happy… sometimes by bringing us large objects.  Her intentions were pure, but her judgement wasn’t always perfect,” says Burgess.

He also explains in the thread how they filmed and recorded River, providing insight into the development process.

“River was an exceptionally patient & gentle dog.  This made her a great collaborator for gathering foley, modeling and animation reference,” says Burgess.

“She loved being with the team, and they loved her right back. I believe it shows.”

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