Anonymous sources allege crunch work, firings, walkouts and resentment towards management
An extraordinary list of accusations have been fired at Team Bondi’s management, particularly its founder Brendan McNamara, relating to work conditions at the studio.
The full list of claims, taken from an IGN article, can be found below.
[Few of the claims have been verified as fully accurate accounts of life at the LA Noire studio.]
Crunch weeks ‘reached 110 hours’
"If you left at 7.30pm, you'd get evil eyes," one studio source claimed.
"The crunch was ongoing. It just kept on shifting; an ominous crunch that just keeps moving, and moving. Management would say, 'Oh, it'll finish once we meet this deadline,' but the deadline kept moving. That went on for a good year."
Workloads were, on average, about 60 hours per week, the person said.
That would jump as high as 110 hours per week when milestones had to be met, alleges one developer.
[Anonymous source – McNamara confirmed Team Bondi staff rarely worked normal hours, but did not confirm the claim of 110-week workloads]
Weekend work ‘always expected’
“There was simply an expectation that you'd work overtime and weekends. I was told that I was taking the piss by saying that I couldn't give every single one of my weekends away. We were looked at as a disposable resource, basically. Their attitude is: 'it's a privilege to work for us, and if you can't hack it, you should leave'. I heard one of the upper echelons say pretty much that. I thought it was disgusting. I don't understand how they can't see that maintaining talent would actually be good for them."
First wave of walkouts
An exodus of staff apparently began relatively early in production, when project milestones were being missed.
“As time went by and the project wasn't coming together as fast as management wanted it to, they [the management] started to become aggressive and demanding. That led to people quitting, or being forced out when they didn't obey direct orders. It became a nasty place to be.”
Firings and further walkouts
“[In the space of three years], out of the 45 people that no longer worked at the studio, 11 were fired. Out of the 34 that actually decided to leave, 25 of those were coders, most of whom had no job to go to, since they decided that it was better to be unemployed than to be working there. I was one of those."
One person, four jobs
“[When one of my colleagues left], I inherited all their stuff to work with. And of course, once that happens, I'm quite unproductive for, like, a month, trying to figure out which way is up. That happened to me three or four times; I ended up inheriting four peoples' stuff."
A Rockstar executive producer was apparently shocked to discover a programmer was doing four people's jobs.
"But when I left, I handed all those four things on to somebody else, and they hired some new people, and just kept going. If they'd maintained their talent, they'd operate a lot more efficiently, and it wouldn't have taken them so long."
One source alleges that McNamara is perhaps "the angriest person" he's ever met.
"It's one thing for him to be angry behind closed doors, but it was incredibly common for him to scream at whoever was pissing him off in the middle of the office."
[Anonymous source - McNamara denies his management style is abusive]
McNamara ‘isolated himself’
A team-bonding session in 2007 resulted in McNamara moving desks and sitting isolated from other staff.
“But that just made it worse, since he would then pace back and forth all day, bothering people even more," one source claimed.
Punctuality warning ‘after late night of work’
One source depicts life at the studio by alleging he “received a reprimand for 'conduct and punctuality' for being 15 minutes late to work”.
“I arrived at 9:15am – despite the fact I had only left work around 3:15am the same day, and paid for my own taxi home."
Three 100-hour weeks for a demo that wasn’t released
One programmer claims to have worked three 100 hour weeks building a game demo for the press.
"For three weeks, I worked 15 hours a day, every day."
At the end of this period the programmer was told that the demo wasn't being shown to the press after all. Half of the material the programmer had been working on had to be reworked.
Lead staff ‘powerless’
Studio boss Brendan McNamara would delegate work directly to staff, bypassing project leads.
"Often the leads weren't involved. If you'd talk to your lead and say, 'Hey, Brendan's making this unreasonable demand,' they'd be understanding, but they're ultimately powerless. They can't go and tell Brendan that it's not feasible, just as much as I couldn't tell him. He just won't listen to reason."
Brendan McNamara had spent "tens of millions" on proprietary technology in twelve months – a spending spree that resulted in SCEA dropping the project in 2005 for “far exceeding the expected price tag for the game."
[Anonymous source - claim is unsubstantiated]
Since Rockstar agreed to publish LA Noire, the game “has been revamped, ported, and delayed four times. Rockstar spent more [than] Sony in their efforts to make it not suck."
[Anonymous source - claim is unsubstantiated]
Staff not credited
More than 100 former Team Bondi employees claim to have not been named in the game’s credits, and have set up a website which aims to include all staff who helped work on the game.