EVERY Ombudsman loves an Ombudscoop. And what better scoop for this debut issue of Campo Santo Quarterly Review than the world-exclusive reveal of Campo Santo's unannounced first game?
I got in touch with Jake Rodkin, the Campo Santo co-founder and creative director. "I don't feel comfortable sharing details about the game yet," Mr. Rodkin told me, "it's still early days, not really telling anyone anything about it right now. But when we do you'll be one of the first to know. Got to keep our ombudsman in the loop, right?" This wasn't the world-exclusive reveal I'd hoped for.
Clearly, if I were going to get any sort of scoop, I'd have to get it by some other means. So I made an appointment to see a Tarot card reader who works out of an occult bookstore. In the basement of London's Treadwell's Books, I sat down with this reader in a closet-sized room with a list of questions about Campo Santo and the video games they're going to make.
It goes without saying, I hope, that this really did happen. What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of our conversation. Because I failed to mention to the Tarot reader that I would be doing this, I have changed her name to "Tricia", out of fear of reprisal from the forces of magick and demonry. I'd also like to change my name to "Duncs", for personal reasons.
Campo Santo is a new company, they've only been around for a few months and they've been working on one project, one game, and probably will be working on that for a year or so. I'd like to know more about how that project will go.
Now if you can think of this project in your head, you don't have to verbalise it, but somehow either name the project or even think of it for a few seconds... So, how will the project go? [Tricia deals the deck and examines the cards closely.]
Right. Ultimately, it looks fine. It's not going to be easy, though. The Ace of Wands reversed at the core of the reading is frustrations and things being dormant. The Queen of Swords reversed and the Knight of Pentacles reversed could mean technical problems or delays.
OK, the Ace of Swords is saying the delays are because of legalities or the writing or perhaps it means coding, but once those things are cleared up, it will be fine. The Tower is saying there may be some shocks along the way. Tensions and stress link to this project. There may even be disharmony amongst people, with The Lovers reversed. But ultimately the project will come to a satisfactory conclusion, I believe, because Justice upright in the Earth position is what's likely to manifest. The challenge is perseverance, the Seven of Pentacles, the Farmer card, it's saying that all the work, it's not a waste of time; there will be results.
Looking to the likely future, the Seven of Cups reversed and the positive Knight of Swords upright, this is saying that this is not just a dream, this is not pie-in-the-sky; this will move forward. There's going to be a time where there's just nothing happening and it's almost like it's had to be on hold. The project will be a bit of a rollercoaster, it seems, but ultimately, it will be fine.
It will be fun?
Honestly, it doesn't look very fun to me. It's like walking through treacle, with the Knight of Pentacles reversed, and because of the... [sighs]. People at loggerheads? The Eight of Pentacles reversed, the hard work card, there are no shortcuts and it's just hard work, but actually, despite there being sometimes emotional unhappiness, stress, disharmony, arguments, frustrations, actually it's really going to hit a mark and the outcome is good. It's worth it. So no, I don't see it being fun. But I see it as being lucrative and satisfying, ultimately.
I'd like to drill down a bit on the emotional unhappiness. Is there anything that can be done to minimise that?
The Magician reversed: you're powerless to do that much. The King of Wands is about the power of positive thinking, remember about the creativity, it's about inspiration, it's honesty, integrity, positivity, so giving people warmth or showing positive intentions, that I think is as much as one can do.
I'm wondering if the cards can say anything about what the result of making this game will be like - like, the reaction from the public.
[Tricia deals the cards.] OK, that's interesting. I will pick some more cards and explain in a moment.
What I think the cards are showing is that there's going to be divide. There are going to be some people who will really not like it. I'm sorry to be blunt, but the Page of Wands reversed means that some people will critique it and not - the Moon reversed - they will not emotionally connect to it. They will think it's too imaginative, or too... they won't get it. And so the Sun reversed: they won't see it as a success. You will separate from these people.
But the other side of it is - the Empress, the Six of Pentacles - there will be people who love it. The Empress is giving birth to something new. I feel like there will be people on forums who will actually become really into it. They will almost become infatuated with it: the Fool reversed in the heart position. The Eight of Wands reversed, so there'll be frenzied excitement about this. The Ace of Wands is saying this is the beginning of something that could branch out and be new. So it's really divided. Two schools of thought. The people who like it - the Six of Pentacles, the Empress? - they'll happily pay for more. They'll want more.
I want to go back to some of the other people I'll be working with - there's a guy named Jake. Is there any kind of forecast you could do about our relationship?
So this is about your working relationship with him, and the connection, and how you can expect things to unfold between you two? [Deals cards.] Very positive.
The Eight of Swords is positive movement. The Ace of Wands reversed, it won't be until after spring. There's a lot that's dormant, though not in a bad way. There's really, you know, you're nurturing this and you need to see what results you have. But the Sun is very positive, very creative, very successful. At the least, this is friendship. The Hermit is - you're really going to get on. It's a lovely, spiritual, positive relationship. This is lovely. He's yet to discover the inner child in you. I would say it works both ways. There are things yet hidden - yeah, the Six of Cups, the soulmate connection. Really, you're going to get on very, very well. There's a lovely connection here that goes beyond it just being about work. I like it.
Can you tell me more about Jake discovering my inner child?
Yeah. [Draws more cards.] The Nine of Pentacles is the tools, the talents, the way you work... I think you'll be noticed through your work, and through what you do and how you do it, is how he will slowly come to realise this. The Six of Wands is successful movement. This is just the beginning, really. So very, very, very good cards.
I wonder if we could do a forecast about whether the game will end up making the people who created it satisfied or happy.
You'll all be very pleased. It may not make as much as money as you hope. But the Ace of Wands upright is the beginnings of success. The Magician upright is positive manifestation. The Fool upright is the feeling that things are moving in the right way. So there'll be overall a very positive, happy, creative satisfaction.
After this project, what might the future of the company be like? That would be probably a year from now.
I actually see and feel there's longevity here, but it's going to be slow, and that's what the Nine of Pentacles reversed is about, because there's a little snail in the corner of the card. It's not getting back immediate balanced money, but after a year... the Six of Cups reversed is saying some people may leave, but the Eight of Wands in the dominant thought position says that there are many different arrows and many different projects that can hit success. The Queen of Cups is about passion and the people who stay, it's all or nothing, it's real dedication. The Ten of Swords is saying that for some people it will be the end. The Page of Cups reversed will be people who aren't feeling it. But the Five of Cups reversed in the heart position is saying that the cups are full for the future. The Two of Swords reversed is showing movement. Now, if the Ten of Swords was in the earth position with the other cards, it would indicate that it could all just end but it's not, from what I can see. It's saying there are many arrows and ways to move this forward.
Yeah, the Four of Swords is then peace of mind, body and soul, after worries and stress. So it's looking like it's got years ahead.
Do any of these say anything about what my role will be?
Let's ask in the Earth position, beyond the year, your role in this company... [Tricia draws a new card: The Fool.]
Oh, the Fool.
The Fool reversed is... it means, don't jump too far ahead. It's not bad... there's still ways you can branch out. It's very creative. And the Nine of Pentacles reversed is... they might be happy to continue having you, but I don't see you getting more money. Then, the Moon is ... they want people who emotionally are connected to the job and are passionate, and the people who leave, will be because they're just not, their heart and soul is not fully in it.
Sorry, what does the Moon mean?
The Moon is about deep emotions, it can be about worry, but in this case I feel that it's echoing the Queen of Cups, that it's about the need to be emotionally passionate together, that it's all or nothing. But the moon can mean so many things.