In The Valley Of The Gods ‘On Hold’ As Developers Work On Other Valve Games

In The Valley Of The Gods ‘On Hold’ As Developers Work On Other Valve Games

Campo Santo’s follow-up to Firewatch, In the Valley of the Gods, was supposed to be out at the end of 2019. Since being bought by Valve, however, the game’s situation has changed.

In a statement sent to Polygon, Campo Santo co-founder Jake Rodkin explains that since the purchase the In the Valley of the Gods team has basically melted away, with many of the developers instead choosing to work on Half-Life: Alyx, while others moved onto stuff like Dota Underlords.

While this doesn’t make the future of the game sound promising, Rodkin does say that “it certainly feels like a project people can and may return to”.

First announced back in 2017, In the Valley of the Gods was going to be about exploring some Egyptian ruins in search of treasure. It looked cool!


  • One’s gut reaction is to decry the casualties of Valve’s work where you like on what you like hacker culture. On the other hand, if people are drifting away from your passion project there’s a pretty good chance that your game just isn’t very fun.

    • I don’t know, when Valve ask you to work on a Half-Life or Dota game, choose that sounds like a very loose definition of your options.

      • We have never seen any evidence to suggest that Valve’s workplace environment is any different than that described in their Employee Company Handbook, which is also fully consistent with Jake Rodkin’s statement. You would have to be pretty cynical to believe that everyone in this situation is lying.

        • …yeah we have? Plenty of ex-Valve developers have said that you’re free to pick your own projects, but only so long as you pick things that other people value and can demonstrate its worth. There’d be quite a bit of pressure to “help out” on a priority VR project, and now that In the Valley of Gods has no momentum behind it, no amount of passion would make it a good idea to pick up again now.

          I happen to think there was a lot more worth in Campo Santo’s game, which was likely to be some kind of first-person adventure with some innovation in conversation mechanics, than just another first-person shooter in 2019. Half-Life is a dead end.

        • Agreed.

          Any game programmer would have a hard time passing up the chance to directly influence the shape of a cultural phenomena with a passionate player base of at least 700 thousand concurrent players at any one time, or alternatively, to get in at the ground floor on the next installment of the Half Life franchise with Valve-level production values and at the cutting edge of game development technology. Either option on its own would make anyone’s career.

          Hard to see how a niche walking simulator could effectively compete for attention with either option, let alone both.

          • Didn’t working on a niche walking simulator get them hired at Valve in the first place?

            When a company asks you to lend a hand on their flagship products, you tend to lend that hand.

          • The problem is that there’s literally nothing anywhere to support your ‘gut feeling’ here, particularly given that Valve Software has no managers telling anyone anything, and indeed, Jake Rodkin makes pretty clear in his statement that staff have just drifted away as other tasks caught their interest.

            The situation is quite the opposite to being ‘asked to lend a hand’, in fact, since as you say the company was acquired knowing exactly the expertise that Valve was getting.

            But heaven forbid we might let reading or listening threaten our preconceived assumptions about things we know nothing about, eh?

          • Before you point too many fingers, this thread did open with you making presumptions on the quality of In the Valley of the Gods. All I said was that the higher ups at Valve would have a vested interest in two of their biggest money making IPs being prioritised over as you say, a niche little walking simulator.

            I bet if the entire dev team of Half Life Alyx all decided they wanted to move to In the Valley of the Gods tomorrow, Valve wouldn’t just put up their hands and say “If you say so, Half life back on hold”.

          • I think that ‘Valve higher ups’ wouldn’t have had anything to say to a half dozen random employees who decided to wander elsewhere.

            Aside from the fact that there is no such thing as ‘Valve higher ups’, employees drifting off is exactly how Half Life 3 ended up dying in the arse, as well as by all accounts several other projects. It’s all extremely well established and documented.

            I didn’t, however, log back in to have the final say. Instead, I wanted to thank you for keeping the discussion civil rather than escalating things to the point of ad hominem attacks, cheers.

    • Kind of makes you wonder what the point was of buying a developer like Campo Santo if it just kind of dissolves as soon as you bring it in. What’s the difference between Valve now and Valve before that transaction? They’re not making anything they weren’t making anyway, and I doubt the quality of it will be materially better than it would have been without the Campo Santo people.

      The end result is that a potentially interesting game will likely not see the light of day, and gaming as a whole will be poorer for it since there doesn’t appear to be any kind of positive outcome here (eg some other interesting new IP) to balance that out.

      • I think you’re looking into it too much.

        It was simple talent acquisition – Valve have a long history of it.

      • Agreed. This reads as bad news to me. Firewatch is one of my favourite narrative games of the past few years, so I was surprised excited to see what they had in store for In the Valley of the Gods. You could even say I was more excited for that than I was for even a new numbered Half Life.

    • Or another game is in an exciting phase of development. I heard that several people moved from Google maps dev to Apple Maps dev. Google maps is pretty mature, there isn’t a whole lot of groundbreaking stuff to add.

      Apple Maps was a dumpster fire when it came out (how did that even get released?) and there was a lot ‘fun’ work making big strides in usability.

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