Firewatch fan ordered a fake novel from an in-game prop, so the studio made him one

Firewatch studio Campo Santo offers a number of physical items for purchase based on, and taken from, the game: T-shirts, posters, stickers, and a "Crime By the Numbers Notebook Pack," a bundle of ten blank notebooks based on the Crime By the Numbers novels found in the game. The front covers are illustrated by Firewatch visual director and artist Olly Moss, while the "back-of-book copy" was written by studio co-founder and writer Sean Vanaman. 

The idea was to create "exact replicas of the type of pulp paperbacks you’d find in a supermarket and then carry with you out to the woods," as Vanaman explained in a recent blog post, including a mail-in order form for other novels—all of it, including the publisher, entirely fictitious. But a few months ago, someone named Ryan rolled the dice: "Much to our delight," he filled out the form, enclosed $4.50, and mailed it off to the studio. 

"Yes! A compliment and an excuse to spend days on a one-off, never-to-be-reproduced piece of merchandise for a fan. Our favorite type of mail," Vanaman wrote. "Plus, if you’re Jake, you now have a reason to head to Craigslist and buy an expensive large-format photo printer at a deep discount. Should we be working on our second game? Absolutely. Could we spend a few dozen hours of time on fulfilling Ryan’s order instead? You betcha." 

The team created a brand new Red Panda Romance novel (although I'm assuming it's another notebook) entitled Love at First Site. "Love at First Site finds Gina Goodspeed in Orange County, CA as the newly appointed foreman (forewoman, more like!) of Twin Hills, the Southern County subdivision of tomorrow," the breathless back page says. "Randall, the site's chief construction worker, wants nothing more than to bring his new boss's vision to life, stud by stud. Will the heat of backbreaking labor be eclipsed by the fire of a budding job-site romance? Or will the pressure of the job drive a nail through Gina's determination?" 

The book was sent off to Ryan (who withheld his last name, which presumably complicated the shipping process), along with a letter from Red Panda boss Conrad Hummel—also fictional—explaining that, unfortunately, this is the last copy of Love at First Site to come off the press, and also the very last book in the Red Panda warehouse. "In other words, we’re never going to make one of these again for literally anyone," Vanaman warned. "Unless you’re Stanley Tucci, we would definitely do it for him." 

The ending isn't perfectly happy, although Campo Santo clearly had fun with the whole thing. "We never head from Ryan Real-Last-Name-Witheld (oh God, I hope he got it) and he never posted this anywhere on the internet so we thought it was time to share it with you," Vanaman said. "We hope you enjoy the fact that we made it as much as we enjoyed the actual making of it."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.