Gaming

Disco Elysium Adds a Collage Mode to Fabricate New Scenes, Former Creatives Dispute Studio ZA/UM’s Claims

Disco Elysium’s PC version just got a Collage Mode. After a couple of Valentine’s Day-themed tweets teasing it, studio ZA/UM has dropped a fun diorama tool that lets you set up custom scenes with beloved characters hailing from Revachol, with added flair such as filters, magnification, stickers, and more. The free update weighs about 300MB and can be accessed from the main menu. It also features “Bonus Secrets to Find” relating to the history of Martinaise — the location in the game — a new voiceover from the deep-voiced narrator Lenval Brown, and five new unlockable Steam achievements. This news comes in the midst of the ongoing legal dispute between Disco Elysium’s creators and studio ZA/UM.

Contrary to a photo mode, Disco Elysium’s Collage Mode does not let you pause the game midway to take screenshots that can be edited. Instead, it lets you create a setting from scratch — you can drag and drop characters, choose locations from the game, adjust weather conditions and time, add filters and frames, and even add text. The game is set on a two-dimensional isometric plane, on which every item appears hand-painted. Think of it as a scrapbooking tool with cutouts that you glue on to create your own scenes. The drag-and-drop controls let you place dozens of assets wherever you want and even zoom in to comically magnify the characters. You can set them in daft poses such as a backflip, curling into a ball, dancing, or even making out.

There’s a sticker collection for added flair as well, ranging from item images from within Disco Elysium’s inventory to custom-made, emoji-like material. It goes without saying that playing around with the Collage Mode before finishing the game could reveal some spoilers — at least in terms of characters and environments. Heck, I myself discovered two new characters that I never met in my six thorough playthroughs of Disco Elysium! Time to hunt them down in my seventh one, maybe? There’s also a dialogue reel you can enable to input some wacky lines for your own detective story. The tool serves as a good break from the game’s heavy-hitting narrative, as you can just mess around and create art while the beautiful music from Sea Power plays in the background. The images you create can be saved locally on your PC or even in-game for use/ editing later.

The response to this update has been mixed, with some loving the content but others unable to show support for it due to the ongoing legal dispute that Disco Elysium is embroiled in. Late last year, a Medium post from Martin Luiga, co-founder and secretary of the “ZA/UM cultural association,” confirmed that Disco Elysium’s core creators, designer Robert Kurvitz, artist Alexander Rostov, and writer Helen Hindpere, haven’t been working at the company since late 2021. “…their leaving the company was involuntary. Which would seem like bad news for the loving fans that are waiting for the Disco sequel,” the post reads. “The reason for dissolving the cultural organization is that it no longer represents the ethos it was founded on. People and ideas are meant to be eternal; organizations may well be temporary.” Luiga served as an editor on the game.

Studio ZA/UM responded to this by claiming that Disco Elysium “was and still is a collective effort” and that it had “no further comment to make” besides promising a new project from the team. Bear in mind that the aforementioned ZA/UM cultural association and ZA/UM studio are being treated separately. This was followed by Kurvitz and Rostov issuing an open letter to fans, in which they claimed that the new owners of the studio took control through fraud and reiterated that they were booted out of the company. The Estonian businessmen Ilmar Kompus — now CEO at ZA/UM — and Tõnis Haavel fired back arguing that the employees were fired for misconduct and creating a toxic work environment. Amidst this, former executive producer Kaur Kender launched his own legal battle, claiming that he too was fired after the new management took over.

Earlier this week, studio ZA/UM stated that the ongoing legal battle with Kender was resolved, but in a new statement to Eurogamer, creatives Kurvitz and Sander Taal dispute a lot of the claims. “The press release quotes Kender admitting that he has filed a ‘misguided’ lawsuit against ZA/UM in late 2022. We disagree. Kender’s lawsuit was based on the misuse of ZA/UM’s funds (€4.8 million) by the majority shareholders [and new owners] Kompus and Haavel to increase their own stake in the company,” the statement reads.

“In the press release, Kompus and Haavel admit to this misuse, arguing only that the money has been ‘paid back to ZA/UM’. Paying back stolen money, however, does not undo the crime; here, it does not undo the majority that Kompus and Haavel have illegally gained in ZA/UM.”


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