Last month, Firewatch fans began to get a little antsy about Campo Santo's current project, In the Valley of Gods (opens in new tab). Attentive followers noticed that the Twitter bios of three lead developers—Firewatch producer and 3D environment artist Jane Ng, art director Claire Hummel, and Campo Santo co-founder Jake Rodkin—had been changed (opens in new tab) to remove any mention of the game.
Valve, which acquired Campo Santo in 2018, was quiet on the matter, but suspicions intensified with the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx (opens in new tab), which members of the Firewatch team are working on. Today studio co-founder Jake Rodkin finally clarified the situation, telling Polygon (opens in new tab) that the game is "on hold," as former Campo Santo developers are now working on other things—and not just Half-Life: Alyx.
"To fans looking forward to In the Valley of Gods, it’s probably clear that the optimistic '2019' at the end of the announcement trailer isn’t going to be accurate. In the end, Valve Time makes fools of us all," Rodkin said. "But yes, developers from the former Campo Santo team have joined other projects at Valve, including Half-Life: Alyx."
"As you can imagine, our experience in the first-person adventure genre is pretty relevant. You hear a lot about how at Valve you can work on what you want. It turns out that’s true, and there’s a lot of work available. As we integrated ourselves into Valve it became clear there was a lot of valuable work to be done on Half-Life: Alyx. Some of us starting lending a hand, and have since become full-time on the project as it approaches launch. Similarly, some ex-Campos are working on Dota Underlords, some are on Steam, and so on. So to answer your question as of today, In the Valley of Gods development is on hold—but it certainly feels like a project people can and may return to. And when that happens, we’ll find an exciting way to let fans know."
Campo Santo is known primarily for its narrative chops—before launching the studio and developing Firewatch (opens in new tab), Rodkin and co-founder Sean Vanaman were writers at Telltale—and so the transition to Alyx seemed like a natural fit. But I'm a little surprised that other former members of the team have gone elsewhere, particularly to Steam: It's a huge part of the PC gaming ecosystem, yes, but it's not really a place for developers to stretch their creative wings.
As for In the Valley of Gods, "may return to" is a far cry from "will," but it's better than an outright cancellation. The Steam page (opens in new tab) remains up, but the planned release date is currently listed as "TBD."