The top image for this story is a picture I took inside Firewatch using a virtual disposable camera in the game. The PC version of the game added another wrinkle to this fun in-game toy: For $15 you can have your pictures printed out and sent to your house.
How the heck did this happen?
"This was a good moment in the Panic/Campo relationship," Panic's Cabel Sasser told Polygon. Panic is the publisher of Firewatch, and Campo Santo is the developer. "Steven, the other co-founder here at Panic, offhandedly says 'Man, what if you could print out your disposable camera photos somehow", and, well, here we are. When there’s an idea that immediately excites us both — like the idea behind Firewatch in the first place — it’s hard to stop us from doing it."
Both companies began work on the challenge. "We began building the photo-sharing server and researching printers, Campo started work on their end with saving and uploading the photos out of Unity and building the UI necessary for that, we put everything together, and it turned out pretty cool," Sasser said.
They even spent a bit of time making sure the in-game dialog matched the physical images you would be sent. "When we started designing the envelopes at Panic, we needed to come up with our fictitious photo company, and cooked up 'Fotodome,'" Sasser explained.
"Now, there was originally a line in the game: 'Don’t take any pictures that would scar a Fotomat employee.' Fortunately, we had to do some pickup lines with Cissy [Jones, the actor who plays Delilah in the game], and Sean and Jake saw an opportunity, rewriting the line as 'Don’t take any pictures that would scar a Fotodome employee.' And just like that, our fiction is complete and canonical!"
TechoBuffalo shared this image of their pictures, complete with the envelope in which they were mailed.
The camera you find in the game has some images already on it as well, and those images may spoil a bit of the story. Those pictures are sent to you, but they didn't show up on my roll of images I took in the game, limiting their ability to spoil until you've finished the game and can be sent copies of the pictures you took.
"Spoilers were always a concern. But the joy of seeing how people view the world in our game is so overwhelming that it seemed worth the risk," Sasser said. "We definitely hope the spoiler warning will be taken very seriously by people who haven’t played the game yet."
For now this feature is only available on the PC, but that could change.
"Because Firewatch Photos is a network service, and consoles need to be extra vigilant about network access in console titles, we shipped on PC/Mac first for simplicity and speed," Sasser told Polygon. "We are actively investigating what it would take to make this happen on the PlayStation 4. Sony wants it and so do we!"