You can pet the dog in Enter The Gungeon, but it was not always this way. Until recently, nobody could pet the dog, and times were dark indeed. Then a humble Twitter account stepped in and saved the day, at what turned out to be the very last minute.
Enter The Gungeon, originally released on various platforms in 2016, is a roguelike blast-‘em-up in which you can play as a bullet who shoots bullets at other bullets from guns shaped like bullets that fire guns that fire bullets.
You can also, as of last week, pet the dog, the default companion of the game’s Hunter class. Until that point, this dog was perhaps history’s most unfortunate canine, having done a very good job since 2016, but receiving no pets. This will surely come as a relief to fans of the recently-popular Twitter account @CanYouPetTheDog, which is dedicated to answering what is clearly the most important question about any video game. It gave Enter The Gungeon a failing grade back in March.
Upon being alerted to this, Enter The Gungeon designer Dave Crooks realised the error of his ways. “Hold my beer,” he said on Twitter at the time. Then, last week, Enter The Gungeon’s final update, A Farewell To Arms, came out, and the dog was finally freed from its nightmare mime bubble of un-touchability.
Behind the scenes, though, it took a lot of careful work to implement the dog-petting, since the feature was added just as development was coming to a close.
“The team saw the tweet, the retweets, and the numerous posts on our subreddit,” Crooks told Kotaku in an email. “Initially we just laughed about it, but the next day, one of the programmers, David Rubel, threw out the idea: ‘We’re already doing this update anyway... I bet I can make it work if we get the animations.’ Given that we were so smashed for time to get A Farewell to Arms out, I was surprised anyone was suggesting last minute additions.”
Anything involving player movement, Crooks explained, was “risky,” and the QA testing process for the rest of the update was already complete. “It was described to me as the most cautious piece of code Rubel had ever written,” said Crooks.
But once it was in, it became clear that it was “a great idea,” and the team even put it in the trailer for A Farewell To Arms. Crooks, Rubel, and the team actually decided to put the feature in before Crooks sent the now-infamous “Hold my beer” tweet, but still say it wouldn’t have happened if not for the efforts of the Twitter account.
“To directly answer the question many people have asked, yes, we added the feature as a direct response to being called out by the @CanYouPetTheDog Twitter account,” Crooks said. “It was a label we couldn’t live with.”
@CanYouPetTheDog has, in turn, deleted its original tweet and replaced it with a new one. “Following an update,” it reads, “you can now pet the dog in Enter the Gungeon.”