In The Valley Of Gods Writer Says It Was "About What We Lose When We Die"
"I loved working on this game so f***ing much."
In The Valley of Gods, the follow-up to Firewatch from the team at Campo Santo, is on hold indefinitely while the team involved works on different games at Valve, including the upcoming VR title Half-Life: Alyx. It's unclear whether or not work on the title will ever resume, and if it does, whether it will be the same game that was originally announced in late 2018. Now, one of the game's contract writers--who has not been moved to another project within Valve--has opened up about how deeply he cared about the work he was doing on the game, giving some insight into what it might (or might have) looked like.
Duncan Fyfe, who wrote for Neo Cab and was working as a contractor for In the Valley of Gods after having worked previously with Campo Santo, said that he's unlikely to work on the game again now, and is currently seeking new work. In a Twitter thread, he discussed the work he did for the game, and hinted at some of the themes and concepts the game was going to work with.
If I've seemed eager to find work writing video games lately, this is why. I'm disappointed to be done with a game that I really cared about. https://t.co/LG0xOudMlb— Duncan Fyfe (@DuncanFyfe) December 4, 2019
Over a series of tweets, Fyfe explains how he started working for Campo Santo six years ago, writing articles for their website, calling it "the best and most empowering job I've ever had." He talks about getting to work on the follow-up, and the research that went into his writing for the game. "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," he says. He spent time poring over "19th century maps and guidebooks, cartouche diagrams and tomb plans, theses and excavation reports, figuring out creative solutions to narrative problems."
There are plenty of interesting anecdotes about the lengths he went to for his preparation throughout the thread, including the one below.
I really wanted the 1929 edition of an Egypt travel guide that Thomas Pynchon used to write V. I found it as a PDF behind the paywall of a private Lovecraft enthusiast forum, & I had to pretend I was a Lovecraft devotee who designed Call of Cthulhu RPG modules in his spare time.— Duncan Fyfe (@DuncanFyfe) December 4, 2019
In his thread, Fyfe says that "the white western world of the 19th and 20th centuries twisted race science to assert that the Egyptians who actually created all that good stuff were themselves white," and that the game, which is "about two black women in a world of white Egyptologists," would have dealt with this directly.
Towards the end of his thread, Fyfe directly discusses what he believes the game was "about":
For a while, I thought this game was kind of about what we lose when we die.— Duncan Fyfe (@DuncanFyfe) December 4, 2019
There's what we think will happen, and there's what does, thousands of years later: people forget the basic facts of our existence, and our bodies are ground into fertiliser, displayed naked in a museum, or crushed underfoot in a dash for something pretty in our tomb.— Duncan Fyfe (@DuncanFyfe) December 4, 2019
The full thread is worth a read to see the amount of work that was going into writing the game, and the passion for the project. One tweet from Fyfe simply reads "I loved working on this game so f***ing much."
The fate of In the Valley of Gods remains uncertain. The next game from Valve, Half-Life: Alyx, releases for PC VR devices in March 2020.