Did you catch Firewatch‘s E3 trailer? Well, after some serene shots of the Wyoming national park—which will be the exploration game’s main setting—the trailer ends on a rather tense note. Some suspicious activity has spooked the park rangers, protagonist Henry and his walkie-talkie companion Delilah. Just as Henry realizes someone purposefully sabotaged their communication equipment, Delilah’s voice goes cold with fear on the radio. “Wait, you’re not in your tower?” she asks. No, says Henry. “Then who is?” The camera zooms in on his watch tower, where the lights remain on. This ending leaves viewers with thoughts of what potential horrors the perpetrator might be inflicting on Henry’s poor watch tower. The music crescendos as the Firewatch logo cuts, and viewers lose their minds with excitement for the game’s 2015 release date.
But, as the Campo Santo devblog reveals, things could’ve gone way different in the trailer. Designer Jake Rodkin explains that “when editing the Firewatch E3 trailer, we asked ourselves, ‘What is the dumbest, most bad way someone might end this trailer?’ and and made a version that ends with an iris wipe in the shape of the Firewatch logo.” The secret alternate ending was supposed to be laid to rest immediately after it suffered its horrible mutant birth. But, instead, it was “then rescued from the bad idea bin, set on fire, and thrown in the brilliantly-awful bin by Chris [Remo] and [the] effects artist Mark Wood with the addition of a winking park ranger man Olly [Moss] drew.”
Certainly, ending your E3 trailer with a transition effect most popularly used in a powerpoint presentation isn’t great. And, admittedly, the park ranger/pip-boy dude who comes into the final frame to give a creepy wink doesn’t help. But I could imagine all sorts of horrible endings that way surpass Campo Santo’s attempts. Like what if the screen dramatically cuts to black, before Henry goes, “Oh wait actually, I think I left the lights on by accident.” Or, better yet, what if the camera keeps zooming in on the watch tower, only to reveal Sir Turtleton III (the now famous turtle featured earlier in the trailer) wearing a monocle and petting a cat like the secret evil mastermind he is.
There are all sorts of horrible ways you could end your E3 trailer. Campo Santo shows that having fun, even with the pressure of E3 breathing down your neck, is important.