Despite Infinity Ward releasing no information that would suggest one way or the other, the consensus is that Riley the dog will die during the Call of Duty: Ghosts campaign, according to executive producer Mark Rubin.
“Everybody thinks we’re going to kill the dog,” Rubin told the Associated Press. “Maybe that’s the expected thing we would do, so maybe it’s not what we’ll do? We’ll see. People around here didn’t know, and they had that same sentiment: ‘We better not kill the dog.’ The emotional investment for the dog here has been just as strong as what’s happening out in the public.”
In June, Infinity Ward community manager Tina Palacios said “it’s a constant debate” at the studio about whether Riley will die or not. “But we do have an answer,” she said at the time.
Riley has become something of a cult favorite since his original introduction as part of the Xbox One reveal event in May. After the initial reaction online–both positive and negative–Activision and Infinity Ward further detailed the canine companion as part of Activision’s pre-E3 event for Call of Duty: Ghosts.
With this rise in prominence, Rubin said that there was an opportunity to feature Riley more heavily in the game, but this was ultimately avoided.
“There was a risk of shoehorning the dog into scenes where he wasn’t originally going to be,” Rubin said. “Fortunately, that only lasted for a few weeks and everybody got back to concentrating on making the game. It’s great that Riley is so popular, but let’s focus on the game. Let’s have Riley make sense and not just put him in space or in a scuba suit.”
One of the biggest challenges during the motion-capture sessions was getting the dogs to perform as if they were in a real combat scenario, according to Ruger’s trainer Chris Connell.
“In this environment, we didn’t have trees or grass,” Connell said. “It was like, ‘OK, Ruger. Pretend we’re in a desert area and act accordingly.’ Ruger is like, ‘Dude, this is a studio with mats like people do exercises on at the gym, and there’s white lines on the ground.’ Just trying to get him to act as if it was a real environment was the hardest thing.”