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Campo Santo retains freedom, flexibility under Valve

Development on In the Valley of Gods will continue as before, but with more support

In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Campo Santo studio heads Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin detailed the company's recent acquisition by Valve and its impact on upcoming title In the Valley of Gods.

As part of the original announcement, Campo Santo emphasized that its work on this and Firewatch would continue as before, remaining mostly in Campo Santo's control. Vanaman and Rodkin, speaking on the transition, reiterated that this remains the case.

Valve acquired Campo Santo last month. As Vanaman highlighted in the interview, Campo Santo will no longer persist as a game developing company.

All 12 employees are in the process of moving to Bellevue, Washington to work from Valve's offices. In the Valley of the Gods will be developed and published as a Valve title, though Vanaman could not speak as to the arrangement surrounding Firewatch's rights and revenue.

Though the name has changed, the Campo Santo team and its work remains mostly the same. According to Rodkin, a major difference is that it now has, "a couple of hundred people who also do the same thing that we do and are fantastic at it and are really interested in just contributing feedback, and even just being ambiently around."

While Rodkin praised the power of peer feedback, Vanaman is careful to distinguish it from Valve telling them how to work. When asked specifically about developing in Unity (as opposed to Source), he explained it this way:

"It's not like, 'We do things this way.' At the same time I'm able to sit around and go, 'Oh, there are all these really good reasons why people make games in Source too.' You learn that just by talking to folks and learning. You're not dictated why it's done a certain way; it's up to you to have the wherewithal to learn how things are done and why they're being done that way and also to challenge it if you want to."

Vanaman is realistic about the future of what was once Campo Santo even beyond their current project. When asked if the team might dissolve into Valve's other projects once In the Valley of Gods is complete, he compared it to the team's decision to stay together post-Firewatch.

"We don't really have the 'got to keep the band together' mentality," he said. "We have the we're a bunch of super senior, highly motivated folks that are driven by different things and things that change over a lifetime."

For now, their goal is to finish In the Valley of Gods according to existing plans, and with Valve's support for a projected 2019 release.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.