Scorn is an abstract game that is difficult to decipher. Even after seeing the credits, the player remains in an uncomfortable but memorable state of mind, despite the obvious explanation. To try and develop some context, we spoke with game director, Ljubomir Peklar of Ebb Software, via e-mail to try and get some more insight into the bizarre experience. It’s no surprise that players have to imagine a lot of things, but Peklar did give some details, like how it creates something so abstract, some random visuals that happen, and the best movie from Aliens series.
Game informant: What happened in Scorn?
Peklar: Whatever you understand has happened.
Is the ending in the game always the planned ending?
All parts of the game have gone through some iterations in the process but we believe we are still true to our original idea.
I assume (and please correct me if I’m wrong) you may not want to unravel the story of Scorn further and let the players form their own ideas. With that assumption, let’s do friend Have a specific story that drives the game in your own mind? Are there any answers that you will probably never share?
There’s a specific story, but that doesn’t mean some parts can’t be interpreted differently. We don’t believe we should unravel it. It’s much better for everyone to experience it for themselves and draw conclusions.
My personal experience with Scorn is that it’s something that I’m often drawn to and uncomfortable with… but I’ve been hooked and have to see what happens next. Is this how you expect players to play the game?
Exactly. The idea is that you are not comfortable during the game but still want to know and play more.
The protagonist is punished at almost every point in the game, and the ending is particularly brutal. The goal is to give players no respite? Is there ever a chance for hope?
It’s part of the game’s storytelling, of course.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995)
The giant creature at the end of the game that you have to play roughly reminds me of the creature’s vision in the game Video game adaptation of I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream. Do you consider that story an inspiration?
No, the visual similarity is a coincidence.
Everything in Scorn is too abstract and alien. How do you explain a scenario or how you want a part of the game to look and play to a designer and/or artist during development?
We had a lot of problems with this in the early stages of Scorn production, it was hard for people to understand something that wasn’t mainstream. Over time, however, we’ve managed to align our team with the general ideas, and it has become much easier to translate them into the game.
Scorn’s animation is very impressive. Was that the initial focus of development? To ensure that the animation is particularly good?
Since there is no dialogue in the game every aspect of the visuals, sounds and even animations have to tell the story, so yes, it is very important to get the feel of the game.
Do you get feedback from players who don’t like the game? It seems like a game that will never appeal to everyone.
When we started this project, we knew it would be a divisive product. In the end, everyone will either hate it or love it, there is very little space for intermediate ground. And we understand where the negative feedback comes from, but it’s never meant to be a game that people will enjoy.
Are there any player theories that are particularly interesting to watch? Is there any you would consider correct?
Some theories are very mythical and offer things we never thought of. But on the other hand there is no exact answer, some players are closer to our original idea than others.
What do you think of the comparisons to Myst and Silent Hill?
While we’ve enjoyed both of these franchises, we don’t believe Scorn is directly comparable to any of them. Of course, there are some similar ideas in all of these games.
The fight can be tough. Sometimes it can be considered too difficult. Is this intentional?
Scorn was never envisioned as a shooter although some people have that impression. Limited ammo and enemy design will make you think many times before each skirmish.
In my playthrough, I completely missed one of the weapons and beat the game without it. Do you expect players to have that kind of play?
That’s always been one of the possibilities, we want players to be rewarded as they explore the world more.
What do you hope will be Scorn’s legacy?
It’s hard to talk about legacy at this point but we believe we set out to create something different in the video game industry and have achieved it.
Do you think you will continue to work on this awe-inspiring palette in future projects? Or do you want to discover something fun for your next project?
Currently, we are still in the process of gathering all feedback on the game both externally and internally, and it will take some time before we actually decide what the next project will be and embark on implementation. Currently, we do not limit ourselves to any particular genre or topic.
What is your history with HR Giger?
Aside from being huge fans of his work and ideas, there is no other history.
Can you rate your three favorite Alien movies?
There’s only one good Alien movie. Original.