Disco Elysium studio bosses humiliated the cancelled expansion’s lead writer for speaking to journalists, claims report

Back in February, Graham wrote about potential redundancies at Disco Elysium studio ZA/UM following the cancellation of a standalone expansion to that game, codenamed X7. Now, PC Gamer’s Ted Litchfield has spoken to 12 current and former employees about the circumstances surrounding the cancellation, notably the details of the layoffs, the expansion, and the “humiliation campaign” suffered by writer Argo Tuulik as apparent retaliation for his participation in last year’s extensive People Make Games documentary. You can, and should, read PC Gamer’s report here.

To get you up to speed in as few links as possible. Disco Elysium released on October 15th 2019. Alice Bee liked it. Alec liked it. I liked it. Everyone liked it. Nothing bad ever happened again. Then, inexplicably, bad things did start happening. Setting creator and lead ideasman Robert Kurvitz got booted from the studio, other leads followed him, insults were thrown, fraud was alleged, things got resolved but also not really. It was such an incredibly messy situation you could make, well, a two-and-a-half hour PMG video out of it.

Some key creative talent from Disco Elysium did remain at the studio however – such as writer and narrative designer Justin Keenan – and more projects were in the works. A full sequel to Disco Elysium was canceled after Kurvitz, Rostov, and Hindpere left the studio, and an unrelated sci-fi RPG was put on pause in 2023, but has since been cancelled. X7, a standalone expansion to the original DE, was canceled in February. “Nearly a quarter of the studio’s staff” were also laid off at this time, including the X7 lead writer Argo Tuulik.

“I felt that a strong resentment developed towards Argo for growing too big for his shoes, so to speak,” fellow X7 lead writer Dora Klindžić told PC Gamer. “I got the sense that there was resentment for the fact Argo was getting so much support from fans, while [ZA/UM CEO Ilmar Kompus], Tõnis, and the company weren’t.”

“They put Argo through a humiliation campaign,” Klindžić continues. “They made him apologize to people for what he said in the [People Make Games] interview. They undermined his confidence and tried to make him doubt himself. They told him he was incompetent, unqualified, and unfit to lead his own project, demoted him and made him invisible inside the studio.”

Klindžić had left their job as an academic physicist and space mission scientist in 2022 to work on the sequel to Disco Elysium. “I felt I had just abandoned my entire life and career only to end up in a studio where the people I had come to work with were fired, and the project I was meant to work on shelved with no reason given.”

The X7 project itself could have been released around 2025, although timelines differ with the staff Litchfield spoke to. Again, the original article is well worth your time. I won’t bother pointing out the eyeball-scooping irony that the most radical and inspiring mainstream game in recent memory has continued to be surrounded by so much baffling greed and spite, although I suppose I just did.

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