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Post by Steve Farrelly @ 09:33am 06/07/11 | 31 Comments
More information has come to light on the Team Bondi/L.A. Noire story since it was originally posted on IGN, where it was alleged studio boss, Brendan McNamara, mismanaged the team with studio-wide expectations they work on a constant crunch-time mantra, that included weekends and regular overtime, and all without remuneration. According to the report, this went on for much of the seven-year development cycle of the game, which is why Team Bondi had so many different employees through its door during L.A. Noire's development life.

We reported on this story, and also on the response to the article and accusations by the IGDA (Independent Game Developers Association) who are working on piecing together a full investigation into the claims and the work practices of Team Bondi.

Overnight, the Aussie writer who broke the story, Andrew McMillan, posted even more of his revealing investigation with Gamesindustry.biz (free registration required), where more of his Team Bondi sources are now filling in the other end of the debacle, which includes Rockstar Games' reaction to just what was going on at the studio.

"I've heard a lot about Rockstar's disdain for Team Bondi," expressed one ex-Team Bondi employee to McMillan. "And it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game.

"It's also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like 'Rockstar Sydney'," the source added. "The more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea.

"Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged - Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project," said the source. "They continued to sink money into LA Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago."

Hit the Gamesindustry.biz link in the body of this post, and prepare yourself because it's an infuriating read, especially because McMillan's latest update includes a host of leaked emails backing the ex-member's allegations. What's also made abundantly clear from all of this is the Team Bondi name is now incredibly tainted, which is clearly a bad thing for the current crop of Aussie developers still clinging to their jobs and the hopes of a brighter future now that L.A. Noire has proven as success.



l.a. noirerockstar gamesteam bondibrendan mcnamara





Latest Comments
Midda
Posted 09:37am 06/7/11
You need a login to access the article on GameIndustry.biz. Here's a copy that doesn't require a login.

http://pastebin.com/25fEgLtA
Steve Farrelly
Posted 09:38am 06/7/11
oh cheers Midda, I forgot about that
E.T.
Posted 10:05am 06/7/11
This whole episode is sad. Sad for the guys who worked under these conditions, sad for the industry here is Aust.
Given the funds needed for major game development, I would find it very difficult to think Team Bondi cold get support from any where again.

Back in the 60's, Australia was seen as a sweat shop by US studios for cell animation. A huge amount of the frames produced under the Hanna Barbera brand where produced in Sydney (a little known fact). It seems Australia may have been seen in the same way by game developers in recent years. I'm really worried about where the industry is heading here given how many studios have gone bust. We have tonnes of local talent. I'd love to see more Government support for this local industry so locals can produce the goods without the huge corporate pressure from US based giants.
thermite
Posted 10:31am 06/7/11
Slowly reading through this. I know this game is going to be a success, but I'm not buying it and I wish it did fail just to drive the point home.
Eorl
Posted 10:57am 06/7/11
Ouch, thank god I'm jumping ship from the Games Industry. S*** is crashing down faster then a World War 2 blimp. I do agree with Rockstar's decision though, why back a studio that is terrible at what it does, and only the producer can save it.
Khel
Posted 11:09am 06/7/11
More and more its looking like I'll be going overseas when I get back into games, I have no real interest in making mobile games and that's pretty much all the successful Australian studios are doing these days
thermite
Posted 11:12am 06/7/11
I am getting so angry reading that pastebin, what an absolute s*** head this guy is, and what a load of toss bags his management team are. They lied and bulls***ted their staff, they demanded staff work till 7pm and to refuse to participate in family stuff on weekends, etc...
Seven years of this a******... I don't know how anybody could stand it. I hope IGDA make a case to fair work australia or whoever this concerns, because this guy needs to be sold off to a slave labor camp or some s***.
I can smell some of my old managers on these emails, the level of LIES AND BULLS*** blows my mind, how can anybody be so deliberately dishonest and talk s*** like they know what it is....
glynd
Posted 11:16am 06/7/11
so wait ... was it rockstar or bondi heads that were the d****?
Enska
Posted 11:27am 06/7/11
Bondi glynd.

Source: "She also mentions increases in pay above cost of living (implying Team Bondi was generous), but these were the typical increases you'd expect to see for employees as they become more experienced - many of the staff were hired straight from college/uni, so there are obviously going to be sizeable increases in salary for the first few years. If anything, Team Bondi's starting salaries for new employees decreased over the years. When I started, a new designer (with the title 'Junior Game Designer') was on $45k. They then invented an entirely new position underneath the existing Junior Game Designers, called 'Junior Level Designer'. It was basically the same role, but an excuse to pay the new hires less, and to give the existing designers a feeling of seniority without necessarily promoting them or paying more. It also meant that when the Junior Level Designers were promoted, they'd only become Junior Game Designers. They were exactly the same roles though."


f*****g wow.

By buying this game I like to think I supported the poor f*****s that worked on this gem of a game, but in reality I know most of it went to the a******* that ran this company. Deffo will not be buying another game by team Bondi, if there ever is one.
BillyHardball
Posted 11:33am 06/7/11
Reading Steve's writeup in the OP, it sounds like the stuff about Rockstar is just a disgruntled Bondi employee's hearsay? Is there any official word from Rockstar to verify any of this?
eski
Posted 11:36am 06/7/11
This is really sad. I had a friend who worked as a designer on LA Noire for a year or so and she didn't mention any of this. Not to say it didnt happen though. A real pity for the Aussie games industry.
Midda
Posted 11:42am 06/7/11
More and more its looking like I'll be going overseas when I get back into games, I have no real interest in making mobile games and that's pretty much all the successful Australian studios are doing these days

We can make indie games and put them on Steam! =D

If I wanted to go and work on huge big-budget games, yeah, I doubt I'd be looking at doing it in Australia. But then, I'm not really so sure that's what I want to do with my career anyway. The idea of spending my life as a cog in the machine, pumping out assets for a big studio doesn't really appeal to me anymore. When I first left Uni, my dream was to get a job at somewhere like Naughty Dog or Valve. Now, working with a small group of like-minded individuals on titles WE want to make is what appeals to me, even if they're not huge blockbusters.

I reckon if I were ever given the choice between a job at somewhere awesome like Valve or to get some funding to work on small indie titles with a few of my workmates, I reckon I'd probably go with the latter. It has much more potential for job satisfaction, especially in the long-run.
Raider
Posted 11:47am 06/7/11
yer dodgy s***, especially the whole playing off uni grads with s*** pay / redic work hours because it's what they think they have to do to get into the industry.. f*****g it's almost like a hazing period.
skythra
Posted 12:06pm 06/7/11
Macro synopsis;
-dev studio crafts better game than publishers devs
-publisher undermines dev and quits them after earning big profits.

Well also this doesn't fix the problem of people whistle blowing either, who now would complain about their job after watching your complaint kill everyone you worked withs livelihood?

Edit: for as much as we trust the media, how much part did they play in killing the dev studio and how much was fundamental workplace problems? How many articles crucified while others correctly legitimately tackled the issue?
bepatient
Posted 12:08pm 06/7/11
Reading that got me really angry, sounds like a f*****g scum bag. I was really keen on picking up this game and honestly not sure if I should or not.
reload!
Posted 12:45pm 06/7/11
If Rockstar really provided the support that got the game across the line then good on them. No doubt other publishers would have cut their losses if the stories about Team Bondi are true.

Definitely a very sad case for Aussie game development.
ravn0s
Posted 12:45pm 06/7/11
rockstar isn't entirely innocent themselves. didn't rockstar san diego do similar s*** to their employees during the development of RDR?
WetWired
Posted 01:05pm 06/7/11
Macro synopsis;
-dev studio crafts better game than publishers devs
-publisher undermines dev and quits them after earning big profits.


From what I read it was rockstars involvement and push that got the game where it is and completed.
DM
Posted 01:40pm 06/7/11
I don't think it's entirely fare to just blackball Team Bondi and Rockstar should instead try and get the obvious turd in the punch bowl, Brendan McNamara, fired. Far as I know all of the conditions and s*** that has been coming out is due to him yeah? If there was more of them causing problems, can them all and keep the guys who did good work on L.A. Noire.
Midda
Posted 01:47pm 06/7/11
I don't think it's entirely fare to just blackball Team Bondi and Rockstar should instead try and get the obvious turd in the punch bowl, Brendan McNamara, fired.

And how exactly would Rockstar get McNamara "fired" from his own studio?
DM
Posted 01:50pm 06/7/11
Oh he owns it? Well then... Guess there's nothing they can do. Nevermind. Blacklist away.
Eorl
Posted 01:51pm 06/7/11
So is it pretty much mobile games for Australian developers now? Cause I really don't want to be doing that for my entire job life. It's more or less lucky draw if people actually like your game and purchase it.
WetWired
Posted 01:53pm 06/7/11
There's still a few console developers left
hensun
Posted 02:12pm 06/7/11
So is it pretty much mobile games for Australian developers now? Cause I really don't want to be doing that for my entire job life. It's more or less lucky draw if people actually like your game and purchase it.


That's what is looking like, triple A companies will come and go. But it will come back to aus eventually, mobile games is getting so much more better now, its all about marketing, there something like thousands of apps on the market every week. Halfbrick did a talk about fruit ninja and they said its all about marketing to be successful in mobile.

But you see games on the ipod like infinity blade and Real racing 2, easily 2 best looking games on ipod. Now we are seeing mobiles with 1.2 duel core?! and 1gig ram, s*** are gonna see some epic games coming out soon.
skythra
Posted 03:03pm 06/7/11
Mobile dev's are mostly people looking for a quick buck. Once they get some support behind them and actually promote their s*** then maybe people will buy it. But as it is right now their promotion is "Published an app. Give me money pls. Why don't you give me money?"
BillyHardball
Posted 04:13pm 06/7/11
Reading Steve's writeup in the OP, it sounds like the stuff about Rockstar is just a disgruntled Bondi employee's hearsay? Is there any official word from Rockstar to verify any of this?

Anyone?
Enska
Posted 05:03pm 06/7/11
I don't believe Rockstar have weighed in on it at all yet Billy.
Midda
Posted 05:11pm 06/7/11
I doubt Rockstar are going to make any official comment, it's not really good business practice to publicly badmouth your partners.
Khel
Posted 05:14pm 06/7/11
We can make indie games and put them on Steam! =D


True, and this would be awesome, and something I would love to do. But I have bills and rent and car loans to pay, I can't afford to live the carefree life of an indie bum anymore :(
greazy
Posted 05:15pm 06/7/11
That's what is looking like, triple A companies will come and go. But it will come back to aus eventually, mobile games is getting so much more better now, its all about marketing, there something like thousands of apps on the market every week. Halfbrick did a talk about fruit ninja and they said its all about marketing to be successful in mobile.
I think angry birds is also a perfect example of this. I still don;t know why that game is popular.
reload!
Posted 05:36pm 06/7/11
have you actually played it?

that should be all it takes!
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