It was a surprise when Valve officially announced that Campo Santo’s In the Valley of Gods had been put on indefinite hiatus. When Valve acquired Campo Santo in 2018, it was reported that the team would remain on their own projects, rather than be shuffled over to Valve’s titles. That obviously hasn’t been the case, and now In the Valley of the Gods has hit the bricks.
One member of the In the Valley of the Gods team, writer Duncan Fyfe, took to Twitter to talk about the loss of the project. Unlike some others, Fyfe was only a contract writer on the project. This means that while others on the team moved to other games within Valve, Fyfe is out completely. In his own words, Fyfe noted that he got his start writing for Campo Santo’s Quarterly Review, a journal of weird and interesting stories.
“In many ways that was the best and most empowering job I’ve ever had. But I knew there’d be a follow-up to Firewatch, and what I really wanted was the chance to write and do research for that. To me, that was a kind of graduation. I got that opportunity and held on to it tight,” wrote Fyfe on Twitter. “I wanted to make myself invaluable to this game and to an amazing team by becoming a person who knew what it meant to tell a mystery adventure story in 1920s in Egypt.”
Fyfe detailed his research for In the Valley of the Gods, including “19th century maps and guidebooks, cartouche diagrams and tomb plans.” He pointed to the acquisition of a 1929 edition of Karl Baedeker’s Egypt travel guide that writer Thomas Pynchon used to write V. Or his time attending an Egyptologist conference at the British Museum. Suffice it to say, Fyfe did a lot of research because he “loved working on this game.”
Fyfe acknowledges that ultimately, he had no control over how much of his work would end up in the game. At least for him, In the Valley of the Gods was a wonderful experience that’s over now.
“I don’t know that any of this would have made it into the game, and it wouldn’t have been my call anyway. What is not yours is not yours. Ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter,” he wrote.
The Campo Santo team within Valve is now working on games like the virtual reality-driven Half-Life: Alyx. Other members are helping out with Steam and offering assistance elsewhere within the company. Valve still has another two games planned for virtual reality, so perhaps some of Campo Santo’s distinct style can be found there.