OK, Seriously, Are They Going To Kill Call Of Duty Dog?

By Nathan Grayson on June 18th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

A dog. A big, tongue-lolling lug of a beast with dog feelings and adorable, kicky-leg dog dreams is the most exciting thing to happen to the world’s biggest shooter franchise in years. We live in strange times. But let’s face it: the poor pooch probably won’t be around for long, will he? I mean, these types of situations have a way of ending tragically for all creatures with more than two legs – at least, if other action games/movies are any indication. How’s Infinity Ward feeling about Call of Duty: Ghosts, though? Will they stick with the cliche? As part of a wide-ranging (read: dog) interview on a variety of topics (read: the dog), I asked the question (involving the dog) on everybody’s mind.

“You know what’s funny about that is, we were all watching the Xbox One reveal event in our theater,” began Infinity Ward’s Tina Palacios. “And after we got the reaction in real-time – we didn’t expect any of this at all, by the way – the studio became divided. Half of them said, ‘OK, the dog absolutely has to die.’ And then the other half – I’m on this half – said, ‘Whoa, no way! People love him.’ It’s a constant debate, but we do have an answer.”

It’s interesting, in its own way, to see that Infinity Ward’s development process apparently leaves wiggle room for either a) major decisions to be made that late in the process or b) sweeping changes a major character’s previously established arc. Then again, Palacios also mentioned that Riley levels beyond the one that was demoed during E3 are still far from finished, so I suppose that anything’s possible.

For now, though, he seems like a fairly capable companion. A level called “No Man’s Land” had him creeping through underbrush with the two “main” characters and – while under the player’s direct control – barking to lure enemies out into the open so as to pounce like a fox on a trampoline. Eventually (and regrettably), the demo driver exited out of the doggy control camera and maneuvered his shooty men to the outer wall of an overgrown, apocalypse-ravaged courtyard he’d infiltrated via Riley. Then he gave a signal, and the virtual mongrel leaped into a nearby window and tackled two enemies through a towering wooden door in slow motion. Splinters showered the scene like snowflakes. It was so dumb. Magically dumb. Pristinely dumb. Call of Duty dumb.

But apparently some of the canine control stuff is sort of rooted in reality. Palacios explained:

“We actually had a couple Navy SEALS come in with their dogs that served in combat in Iraq. When we met them, they did have the same type of gear on, and they had cameras on their backs. Their trainer has a camera on their arm, so when they throw a dog into a building or into a room or over a wall, they can see what’s going on. If they’re far away, they can also give them instructions with a collar that vibrates on each side.”

“For these particular dogs, they have hardcore training from when they’re puppies. When you think of police dogs, they’re trained to latch onto an arm and not let go. These [military] dogs are trained to attack, let go, and attack in a different direction. They go through a lot more.”

There is, um, less precedent for Riley’s slow-mo Incredible Hulk routine. Still though, modern day Call of Duty’s single-player finally has some semblance of consistent “squad” (read: still the dog) control and tactical positioning. I’m sure it’s all perfectly lined up such that there’s only one solution to every encounter and even someone regularly stumped by chains of dominos could figure it out, but still. There might actually be something here. Something that pushes Ghosts ever-so-slightly outside the realm of pure spectacle. But, you know, not much.

I’m not willing to hold my breath just yet, but like I said earlier: there’s sorta a whiff of intrigue here. At least, until Riley shows up in every sequel from now until the end of time, which – knowing Activision – is entirely (and perhaps even exceedingly) possible. For now, though, he’s all at once bizarrely out-of-place and oddly fitting, given Call of Duty’s never-ending devotion to implausible theatrics. Do you think Riley will stick around? Do you want him to? Do you even care?

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120 Comments »

  1. unangbangkay says:

    Of course, they will opt for the third way. They will neither kill nor spare the dog, instead placing it in a sealed box, with an elaborate mechanism for the potential release of dog-killing toxins. Is the dog alive? Is it dead? It’s both!

  2. TsunamiWombat says:

    I like Dog, and I will be very sad if they kill him for cheap sads.

    Because that would make me sad :(

    (funny how I don’t really give a crap about the humans i’m shooting but there you go – the dogs life has more value)

    • MarcP says:

      “(funny how I don’t really give a crap about the humans i’m shooting but there you go – the dogs life has more value)”

      Heh, same. I find it easy to rationalize, though. Most humans are self-aware and intelligent enough to discern good from bad, yet choose to do evil (either directly for some people, or passively through inaction as most of us). They will betray you at the slightest chance to do so safely, if it gives them a significant enough advantage.

      On the other hand, your dog isn’t capable of such thoughts, and gives you unconditional love and loyalty unless you’re a terrible person with him. Even on the enemy side, a dog attacking you only does so because someone else tells him to, not because he hates your guts or specifically prides his life above yours.

      Dog – 1, Human – 0

      • grechzoo says:

        To sum up. Adults aren’t 100% innocent.

        Dogs are.

        That my reason for my more intense emotional reaction to animal cruelty rather than human cruelty.

        Anyway, of course he is going to die. Actually WORKING for an emotional reaction would require too much intelligence and effort. So killing things after making you care about them is the easy out.

        (Please apply the above hatred of forced sadness to EVERYTHING in The Walking Dead, one of the most cheaply manipulative games I have ever had the displeasure of playing.)

        • phelix says:

          Didn’t Portal (1) do the kill-what-you-love stunt too, though somewhat more subtly?

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Portal both did and lampshaded this idea with the companion cube, a completely inanimate non-affectionate cube covered in the deranged scrawlings of former testers that fell in love with it, that you used as a damage shield half the time. Then you have to drop it into an incinerator and the game comments on how long it took you to do.

          • Continuity says:

            There is nothing subtle about what portal did, and that was a large part of what made it funny.

    • Kefren says:

      I agree. I stood by my values, and when a dog became an important character in my survival horror novel Turner (spoiler alert!) he was one of the survivors, even though we don’t follow all his doggy survival adventures.

    • lijenstina says:

      But think about all those dogs laying near the door sad, waiting the owner that never comes back home because they got killed by you… You, monster ! :)

  3. int says:

    The next CoD should have a lion, a tiger and a capybara!

  4. Dowr says:

    I still consider that video of the dog jumping through a window and attacking 4 or 5 armed men as one of the stupidest moments in gaming history.

  5. MeestaNob says:

    I must admit, I enjoyed the big dumb ride that was Black Ops, however I have almost zero interest in the multiplayer. I don’t have time for it, I just want to experience the action movie story and turn it off.

    It would be nice if I could buy a single player only copy of CoD: Dog, with the option of upgrading to multiplayer at a later date should I feel compelled to get shot by snot nosed teenagers and called a homo.

  6. stahlwerk says:

    Spoiler for Life of Pi and Call of Duty: Dogghost:

    The dog has been dead from the beginning and it was you all along.

  7. jkz says:

    That dog rips peoples throats out, I hope it dies tbh.

  8. DrScuttles says:

    We can play as the dog, right? I haven’t done that in an FPS for about 19 years.
    Nathan mentions having the dog under the player’s direct control, but I’m reading that to be in a squad management sense.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      No I think there’s a part where you literally play the dog.

      I wonder if they make the screen Black and White

      • USER47 says:

        You dont really play from dogs eyes, you are watching through the camera on his back, so you can see his head, cute ears and everything:-D.

        Just watch the video in the article.

        • DrScuttles says:

          Yeah, I probably should watch it but a general mistrust of these promo materials for big games tends to put me off them (maybe a silly stance, but whatever)
          I’m imagining a level, probably the penultimate one, where you get to play as Hero McDoggington and do all the saving of the world in the most noble of sacrifices. You get to grab the world-threatening Supernuke and carry it between your teeth as you use your Doggyspacejetpack to embark upon the most lavishly created Disneyland rollercoaster sequence (complete with QTEs) as you dodge explosions and inexplicable obstacles in a last-ditch effort to send the bomb to the Moon. You make it, at the cost of your canine life, but save the world and justify the massive production budget.
          If they’re going to do that sort of thing in these games, they really ought to go the whole hog.

      • FuriKuri says:

        Dogs do see colour, but not that much of it. http://dog-vision.com/

        The interesting thing to note is red and green blend into one colour. If you own a dog and have a red ball they can have trouble finding it in grass since, to them, the colours are the same. Buy a blue ball instead.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I believe this is the kind of thing which would be absolutely trivial (in both developer time and GPU power) to implement in a pixel shader these days.

          DOGVISION GO

          • darkChozo says:

            New gameplay challenge: disarm a Hollywood bomb. The wires are green, red, and yellow. Good luck.

          • LionsPhil says:

            It’s hard to hold wirecutters when you don’t have opposable thumbs.

    • Werthead says:

      You can play as a dog in GAME OF THRONES: THE RPG (though only if you’ve warged into it, which may not count). There’s a dog member of your party in DRAGON AGE ORIGINS. I think you can also play as a dog in ARMA II, though I don’t think the base game gives you any reason to.

      I think I see Activision’s deal here: allow you to control the dog in the game for a bit, and then produce a DLC entitled CODDOGGOATS, in which you replay the events of COD GOATS from the dog’s perspective.

    • rapier17 says:

      There was an ArmA2 zombie mission a chap made, second one of three, where one person could play as a dog, luring zombies after them with their barking and kiting them in circles (or sneaking up on them and biting their zombie arses). I had a smashing time as that dog. Unfortunately the third mission didn’t have the dog.

      Can’t find even an ounce of interest in myself for this CoD though, but then I haven’t had any interest in the ‘series’ post CoD:MW1.

    • Shadowcat says:

      > I haven’t done that in an FPS for about 19 years.

      And remember that there’s a brand new “Rise of the Triad” on the way as well.

  9. Earl-Grey says:

    Surely they will ruthlessly tug at our heartstrings by apparently sacrificing the dog to save the Emotionally Complex Big Hero in the Ultimate Showdown only to have him limp out of the smoldering remains of the Bad Guy Stronghold with the sun over his shoulders.
    My bet, anyway.

    • GameCat says:

      Or other way:

      Your hero is sacrificing yourself to save a dog. Screw the USA, let’s save a dog. Last scene is showed up from dog perspective, so you can hear his sadness (“mash X to HOWL” QTE). We must make games that tells more personal stories.

      Directed and narrated by Peter Molyneux.

      • Earl-Grey says:

        I think you just called the next CoD right there.
        Molyneux and Activision reveal they’re in cahoots and are employing Peter’s new Dynamical Emotionally Revolutionizing Program (codename: D.E.R.P.) to make us feel emotions we didn’t even know we were capable of feeling about dogs.

        I wonder of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tXtPygIL5E is how Infinity Ward pitch their ideas to Activision?

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          No, Peter Molyneux would promise a dog to be delivered to every home so family can bond with the dog to make it meaningful. If the player allows the dog to die in game a wireless signal will detonate a small explosive charge at the base of the dog’s brain because real-world consquenses.

          • Earl-Grey says:

            They should bundle it with a real life manifestation of one of the acorns we were promised in Fable aswell. So the dog has something to piss on.
            We’re on to something here, someone get Moylenux or whatever on the telephone!

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            He doesn’t use a telephone.

            Instead he sits in a pyramid constructed out of black glass and human bone, aligned with the local magnetic and aetheric fields at the convergence of seven ley lines. At noon sunlight strikes the tip of the pyramid and beams the accumulated psychic vibrations of the world into his pineal gland.

            At least, that was the original idea he talked about in previews. In actuality he wears a cardboard pyramid hat as he checks his email.

          • Earl-Grey says:

            How ever one would go about communicating with this creature of legend, I think it would be best if we kept this revolutionary idea away from Melynoux.
            Just imagine how little Bobby would feel after finally unwrapping the 50000th layer of the box and finding a dried up old acorn and the rotting remains of a puppy next to his Call of Duty Apparitions rental licence key.
            Needless to say, little Bobby would be pwning n00bs with the stink of dead dog in his nose and salty tears in his eyes that day.

    • Conrad B Hart says:

      This is the correct answer. CoD will pretend like it’s going to kill the dog, but everyone knows you never kill pets in movies. If they really want to tug at our heartstrings, they’ll have the dog “killed” in this iteration, only for him to triumphantly burst out like a deus ex machina in next year’s CoD in an explosion of orchestral music.

  10. golem09 says:

    Oh the drama of death in games with squad member revives.

  11. Lord_Mordja says:

    Yeah, that dog is absolutely…
    boned.

  12. Harlander says:

    Their trainer has a camera on their arm, so when they throw a dog into a building or into a room or over a wall, they can see what’s going on

    I really hope they do actually lob the dogs into situations, like a furry hand grenade. At last, a use for chihuahuas!

  13. RaveTurned says:

    The dog gets injured/gassed/brainwashed/hacked/whatever, goes berzerk, turns on player. Player has to kill the dog themselves. OH THE HUMANITY! OH THE FEELS!

    • darkChozo says:

      In the second-to-last level, the player character is stabbed though the chest at a climactic moment, turns around and sees the dog, who whispers something Russian in his ear. The final level is an epic sled chase featuring explosions and helicopters and maybe exploding helicopters.

  14. HadToLogin says:

    LOL at Nathan believing Infinity Ward didn’t decided dogs fate years ago and now they only make fuzz to confuse us.

    Besides, it’s called Ghosts. Ergo dog dies in first level and for the rest of game we have nightmares about that. And in finale we’ll see him slightly bluish explaining why bad guys are bad are giving us choice what colour of fireworks we want to see.

    • solidsquid says:

      Alternatively the human is the ghost and this is actually the story of a dog who lost it’s master and decided to go on a rampage, massacring the enemies of the USA in it’s thirst for vengance over it’s lost friend.

  15. RedViv says:

    Or maybe CoD has become sufficiently uber-cinematic for animal invulnerability to kick in.

  16. RabidTurtl says:

    No, the dog won’t die. It will be much, much worse.

    When you are in that downed phase where the Big Bad is standing over you, gloating about how he won against generic Soldier “I got a stupid nickname isn’t that funny?” McShootington, the dog is going to jump in and distract him. The enemy, using his high caliber pistol (+5 if it is a golden desert eagle, +50 if it is a golden .44 hand cannon), will shoot the dog and you will hear it yelp. This will cause your character to get second wind and kill the big bad in some stupid way. Then you will rush over to your dog, telling the dog not to die on you while the entire military forces of NATO reinforces your position only seconds to late to even do anything other than try to heal your dog.

    *screen fades to white*

    2 years later, your character is looking at a picture of his old unit. The dog is center with main character, with some heavy focus on you two. Then, we hear some dog scampering, main character turns around.

    *fades to black*

    *woof woof*
    “Good boy!”

    *end*

  17. Radiant says:

    I want to be able to lick my own bumhole and hump the nearest person’s leg at the smallest hint of opportunity.

    Sidebar: you can play as a dog in call of duty? cool.

  18. Arithon says:

    Don’t kill franchise, just mind-wipe the people that think the last three COD games were anything good, show them the original Call of Duty and tell them “Only accept better from now on”…

  19. Gap Gen says:

    PRESS Q TO STAB DOG

    PRESS Q

    STAB DOG

    STAB

    XBOX STAB

  20. Tei says:

    They have weaponized… Lassie!, the bastards!.

  21. Shadowcat says:

    Personally I’m hanging out for Shogun: Call of Duty: The Way of the Samurai: Ghost Dog.

  22. Myrdinn says:

    No, the player character will wade through hordes of Russians and other uncanny (Middle) Eastern (Europe) people with devious terrorists schemes. Finally you arrive at a log cabin in Kamchatka, Russia where you have to risk your life (and your dog buddy’s life) for an USB stick full of nuclear device schematics. Getting the stick is easy, but you run into this beautiful fine Estonian girls named Olga who urges you to take her with you. She turns out to be the heir to the Estonian throne and Olga, Dog and you spend the next few months cleaning up terrorists hideouts and favella’s for good sports – dog saves your sorry hide more than a few times.

    You eventually get a call from HQ that North Koreans have attacked the Pentagon, so you rush off on a speedboat towards the US. Olga and Dog stay behind in Eurasia, vowing to protect the weak from the oppressors. Finally at the Pentagon you notice there aren’t actually any North Koreans around, so you head back to your cozy family. On the return trip you get attacked by two bullsharks who you manage to defeat using various QTE techniques. The adrenaline from that scene carries over in the next one, where Olga takes you in her loving embrace, you carry her toward the bed with the intention to create baby super soldiers.

    During her pregnancy Olga stays behind to keep her infant safe and strong. Dog and man grow closer by the day, their combined powers are said to scare even the greatest of master chiefs. Dog even gets swallowed by a Yeti but Man manages to get him out by ripping the creature’s stomach apart with his bare man-teeth. After a short nine months, they return to the log cabin to await the birth of their newest companion.

    In the hut, you see Olga shifting uncomfortably when you enter. She tells you giving birth is a woman thing – you probably shouldn’t be watching. Dog however, gets to hold her hand with his paw and softly mutter sweet barks into her ear. Olga’s contractions start happening – the baby could be here any time! You turn around, eyes focused on her private parts, expecting a little head to be popping out. Instead you see two fluffy ears, two brown puppy eyes and a big wet muzzle appear. With a cry of anger you rush towards Dog, but he’s too fast (he always was). With a slap of his tail he sends you flying towards the ceiling where you slam against the construction and break your back. With a next gash he rips open your shirt and start howling for the little pup who just managed to open his little evil puppy eyes. Man tries to call out for Olga, but she was in on it the whole time. She picks up Puppy, places him on your bare belly where he starts digging into your belly button, tearing flesh and muscle aside…

    ..you decide to load your save

  23. Pemptus says:

    Holy dogwalking jesus, that’s dumb.
    Unfortunately, it’s “facepalm, deskflip, depression” dumb, not “I wanna squeeze it and love it and call it George” dumb.

  24. woodsey says:

    I feel like they’re the only ones who don’t understand that everyone’s taking the piss when they bring up the dog.

  25. Suits says:

    This shit is so generic that people have to clamp onto obsession over dogs, I don’t get what’s so great about it.

  26. Totally heterosexual says:

    WOOF!

    (drama)

  27. stahlwerk says:

    At least the dog will go to heaven.

  28. Dr_Barnowl says:

    I thought it would be hilarious if they attached C4 to the dog and used it to take out high-value targets. Particularly the terrorist HQ. Which is in a Korean BBQ stand.

  29. belgand says:

    I’m still holding out for the WWII anti-tank dog sim.

    Or maybe an indie adventure game from Laika’s perspective that starts before she was recruited.

  30. Ephant says:

    My previous boss made me a dog hater so I’m totally ok with it.

  31. junglist 69 says:

    Lassie is that you?

  32. Wret says:

    Looking at the header I can’t help but think “DOG ACQUIRED. YOU CAN NOT SIMULATE THIS LOVE”

  33. Shooop says:

    I keep thinking this could have made an interesting game if it wasn’t about superhuman/dog soldiers fighting Russians and Arabic people but instead about one or two ordinary people and a dog trying to escape a war breaking out around them.

    It would mean no stupid slow-motion door breaching or mowing down waves of enemies until you reach the invisible line that activates the next sequence and more things like the Ghillied Up one in CoD4.

  34. The Random One says:

    The dog is pretty cool, but you know what else is cool? The name Tina Palacios. Why is that woman working at Activision? She could be doing anything she wanted, as long as it was advertisement for goldenpalace.com I suppose.

  35. Caiman says:

    A dog is kinda predictable, don’t you think? A komodo dragon would have been thinking outside the box. The military would probably get a lot more recruits if they promised attack dragons for your squad.

  36. RProxyOnly says:

    A typical case of the industry feeding you crap, and you all lining up at the dinner table.

    Really? A video game dog, and you all splooge yourselves.. you’ll lap up any garbage that’s thrown at you. No wonder the industry treats us like open walleted idiots and has negative respect for us when you bunch of potatoes ‘woop’ for this kind of shit.

    It’s bad enough when the windowlickers in the street falls for it.. but to have it propagated by so called ‘journalists’.

    There ain’t no biscuits left, they’ve ALL been taken.

  37. aircool says:

    I’ve said it before. Having animals in this sort of game has crossed the line of taste and decency. Yes, dogs are used in theatre, but I can’t see any reason as to why you’d want to portray this realistically to a gaming audience.

    It’s bad enough that a certain section of society raise dogs as aggressive status symbols. Now CoD is going to show them how cool it is to put a webcam on your dog so you can watch them terrorising people.

    There are some aspects of warfare that aren’t suitable for ‘entertainment’. Education, yes, but entertainment no!

    • Widthwood says:

      But.. but… Imagine the possibilities the dog brings to game’s writers! Now you can write scripts where those evil Russians are devoured by player from first-person perspective – and it would be ok, since hey, its a dog!

      Actually, dog would make a perfect main character in CoD.Think about it…
      Too violent – blame the dog! Script sucks – blame the dog! Stupid dialogue – what did you expect, everyone is talking to a DOG! Too linear, player actions are forced – duh its a dog, it obeys its master. Only 1 weapon – again, duh.. Health regenerating – its a dog, they are obviously invincible! And imagine how easily it would be to motivate the player – just show adorable puppies that this dog has to save, and no one would dare to question you!

  38. Danorz says:

    of course they’re going to kill the dog, because it’s the easiest laziest way to get “pathos” and “emotion” into the game. the dog is going to die, and YOU’RE going to kill it and everyone gives it a 10/10 because SO MANY EMOTIONS TRULY GAMES ARE ART

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