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Disco Elysium Leads Ousted from Development Studio

Several of Disco Elysium's creative leads have left studio ZA/UM
Several of Disco Elysium's creative leads have left studio ZA/UM / ZA/UM

Several core developers behind the critically acclaimed 2019 RPG Disco Elysium have been forced out of development studio ZA/UM, according to one of the game's editors, Martin Luiga.

In a blog post published Oct. 1, Luiga claimed studio leadership at ZA/UM had forced lead designer Robert Kurvitz, writer Helen Hindpere and artist Aleksander Rostov out of the company at the end of 2021, but kept the news quiet.

Luiga's blog post reads, "I, Martin Luiga, a founding member and Secretary of the ZA/UM cultural association, as well as the assembler of most of the core team, am hereby dissolving the ZA/UM cultural association (not to be confused with the ZA/UM company, on which subject I would note that neither Kurvitz, Hindpere nor Rostov are working there since the end of last year and their leaving the company was involuntary. Which would seem like bad news for the loving fans that are waiting for the Disco sequel.)"

"The reason for dissolving the cultural organization is that it no longer represents the ethos it was founded on," he continued. "People and ideas are meant to be eternal; organizations may well be temporary. I find that the organization was successful overall and most of the mistakes that were made were contingent, determined by the sociocultural conditions we were thrown into. I still encourage people to organize, and I would say that one of the qualities that the ZA/UM cultural organization sorely lacked was pretty much any formal structure.

"For a while, it was beautiful. My sincerest thanks to all that have rooted for us."

Luiga signed off his blog by saying he was writing from the Tallinn Inpatient Treatment Centre of Psychiatry Clinic, an in-patient psychiatric treatment center in his native Estonia.

ZA/UM began as a cultural association in 2009, and several members banded together in 2016 to form the game development studio of the same name. Disco Elysium, its first release, was based on a novel by Kurvitz, and met immediate critical and financial success.

Kurvitz, Hindpere and Rostov confirmed their departures in a tweet from Rostov's account published Oct. 2, but did not comment on whether or not they left voluntarily.

"Like any video game, the development of Disco Elysium was and still is a collective effort, with every team member's contribution essential and valued as part of a greater whole," ZA/UM said in a statement to IGN. "At this time we have no further comment to make other than the ZA/UM creative team's focus remains on the development of our next project, and we are excited to share more news on this with you all soon."

ZA/UM has not officially announced a sequel to Disco Elysium, but Kurvitz has mentioned his desire to make one, and job listings for the studio say it's looking for an environmental artist with experience in science fiction.