River, the dog who served as the model and inspiration for Fallout 4’s Dogmeat, is dead. Developer Joel Burgess, who was River’s owner, announced the death on Twitter and reiterated River’s impact on the development of Fallout 4 as a constant presence for the development team to understand a dog companion. River was also filmed, recorded, and showcased his behavior as a reference for Dogmeat.
I said goodbye today to River, which most of you know as Fallout 4. Dogmeat. Heartboken doesn’t cover it, but I won’t praise it here. For twitter, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at its impact on that game. (Also, writing about the game’s dev hurts less than grief) pic.twitter.com/ayN1Vd6oqQJune 27, 2021
In this Twitter thread, Burgess goes into detail about how River influenced his desire to have a companion dog in Fallout 4 be more than a weapon, but a true friend to the player. Bringing the personality of a loving, protective, outgoing dog into Fallout 4 was one of Burgess’s conception goals for the character, and so was River’s look upS, movements, but most importantly the personality were reflected in the character of the game. Dogmeat’s propensity to carry large objects, even those you don’t want, was based on River.
“River really loved making people happy … sometimes he brought us big things. His intentions were pure, but his judgment wasn’t always perfect,” said Burgess, accompanied by a photo of River carrying a large trunk.
Also, a walk with animator Jean Simonet inspired Dogmeat’s behavior: River often went in front of Burgess, but he stopped constantly to look back and check it out.
River’s behavior in the game is also based on the behavior of the German Shephards, protective dogs that stand between the thing they want to protect and the danger. Dog meat does that. “This didn’t give Dogmeat a distinctive fighting style from other fellow NPCs; it was a choice of characters,” Burgess said.
Dog meat is a bond. He will immerse you in the world, always be by your side, lead you toward 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’m happy. Rest in peace, big girl. pic.twitter.com/XiUszPtOnMJune 27, 2021
It is never easy to lose a friend, especially when that friend is a constant companion like a dog. Our hearts go out to Joel Burgess, and to everyone who knows River. Raise a glass to River’s memory today. Like Dogmeat, at least, it can keep bringing people joy (and big sticks) for years to come.