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Team Bondi Management: We're Not Slave-Drivers

There are two sides to every story.

Rockstar's L.A. Noire was released to widespread critical acclaim and the publisher shipped over 4 million units of Team Bondi's innovative drama. But recently, the working conditions at the Australian studio have come under fire; we've all heard rumors of 100-hour work weeks, and the IGDA is currently investigating the situation.

Irate employees have made their positions known, but one sought to clarify a few points. Lead gameplay programmer Dave Heironymus wrote a letter to the IGDA and it has been published at Gamasutra. He was part of the management that seems to be so roundly hated due to the aforementioned rumors, and he admitted that as the pressure mounted and deadlines passed, normal 9-6 work days became much longer. But the employees weren't ignored for their efforts.

Heironymus claims there was a program in place to "reward employees for their weekend days spent at work." Plus, during the last 6 months of the project, Team Bondi gave those who worked late on weekends an additional four weeks of vacation time (for after the game was done, obviously). Oh, and lastly, it's not like the lowly peons worked and management stayed at home eating bon-bons. Heironymus says he often spent "around 65 hours per week" at the office, but 100 hours is an exaggeration.

"The management team at Team Bondi was not ensconced in an ivory tower working normal hours while everyone else crunched."

He also had one final message for those seeking to pin a too-harsh judgment on the studio:

"Please think about that when you talk about boycotting L.A. Noire or about how heinous Team Bondi is. There is a team of dedicated game developers here in Sydney that look forward to learning from their mistakes, improving on their successes and taking on the world again next time around."

Related Game(s): L.A. Noire

Tags: team bondi, rockstar, la noire, l.a. noire

7/13/2011 8:34:50 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (33 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 9:29:50 PM
Reply

There's two sides to every story and then there's the truth. Could Rockstar really have it ALL wrong? I dunno, but I do know I'd buy another Noire title no matter what.

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Beamboom
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 3:30:19 AM

Agreed, this sounds like an excuse to save future profit more than anything, especially the end with "learning from their mistakes", that's clearly admitting they did wrong.

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Neo_Aeon666
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 9:53:30 PM
Reply

To each their way to reach a goal! Egyptians were whipping people into building Pyramids and we're not boycotting the wonders! O_O We are amazed by them! :D Great things come with great sacrifice! lol

Last edited by Neo_Aeon666 on 7/13/2011 9:55:53 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:12:02 PM

Nonsense, aliens clearly helped. :)

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SpikeSpiegel
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:27:02 PM

Aliens helping would explain the other-worldy sense of awesome you feel when playing the game!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:40:07 PM

Actually, it has since been proven that the pyramid builders weren't slaves at all. The workers were most all male civilians in the community and were well taken care of, according to recent evidence. :)

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vicious54
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 9:20:50 AM

Hilarious, aliens built everything.

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Shiva369
Friday, July 15, 2011 @ 4:00:13 AM

That's right, the Egyptian workers (note, not Israelites, as certain myths would have us believe) were not slaves. They were conscripted from all over Egypt, but were respected tradesmen and housed, fed and paid very well. In fact there's evidence they even went on strike now and then. For instance, they used heavy eye make-up to help keep down the sun's glare, and when supplies of this stuff were insufficient, the workers refused to go to the site until more could be found...no mascara, no work! Seems fair enough, really.

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Neo_Aeon666
Friday, July 15, 2011 @ 3:55:22 PM

Aww you people destroy my vision of the merciless Egypt T-T lol

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SpikeSpiegel
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 9:58:40 PM
Reply

There is definitely going be some exaggeration on both sides of this one. I'm sure some of the irate ex-workers were new to game development, and didn't realize the amount of effort that was involved. And I'm sure the management team might have gone a little overboard in the end because of the above mentioned deadlines. All hypothetical. In the end, this is something that no one will really every know the whole truth of the matter. Best just to move on, and eagerly wait for the next awesome game to come from this studio (if this little debacle doesn't derail them that is).

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Claire C
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:01:15 PM

It took 7 years to make. You can't exaggerate that.

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SpikeSpiegel
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:19:59 PM

Definitely not. And that was an excruciating 7 years too btw (ever since that Teaser Trailer). I'm sure in the end, there was definitely some bad stuff going on with how upper management was treating the team, seeing as how so many people came forward about the matter and all stated similar issues. But as cold-hearted as this will make me sound, I eagerly await another game from Bondi, regardless of the circumstances.

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Claire C
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:23:39 PM

Regardless? Spike, you haven't changed a bit... :P

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Claire C
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 9:59:22 PM
Reply

Isn't it upper management's fault, not the developer's? What 'mistake' do they have to learn from, choosing to work for better bosses?

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A2K78
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 10:58:51 PM
Reply

"we've all heard rumors of 100-hour work weeks, and the IGDA is currently investigating the situation."

First and foremost the IGDA have no right or business to meddle in the affairs of Team Bondi. The same goes for any other game developer out there unless an actual crime is being committed by the company e.g. murder. Secondly if there is one thing I hate is employees who b*c*h about their working conditions, yet what these employees fail to understand is that employment is a form of contract and being so the hiring entity have every right to impose whatever working conditions they want onto the employee giving the fact they are paying them.

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Claire C
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 11:08:07 PM

Remind me to never ever work under YOU! :/

Agree with this comment 11 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

bigrailer19
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 12:04:01 AM

Wow haha are you serious? You can't be... All emplyees have a right to work in fair and safe conditions. Just because an emplyer pays them doesn't mean they can abandon all such laws. And there is no binding contract between the employee and employer the only thing binding the two is a paycheck. But that means nothing more than exactly what it is. I can't believe you would expect or try to say that type of work environment is even fair!

I'm with Claire. You would be a terrible boss to work for.

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Beamboom
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 3:34:07 AM

Hehe yeah this was the nonsense of the month. Saddens me that some people actually do think like this. But the saddest part is that many of those with such a mindset die rich.

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Axe99
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 7:01:36 AM

Rich but unhappy and soulless Beamboom - money ain't everything. In fact, beyond a certain level it's been proven money is actually counter-productive to happiness and human relationships. And, of course, those that put these things to one side will have more time to make money and then unhappily spend it trying to buy social standing ;).

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drortego
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 7:15:32 AM

According to the employees, crimes were committed. They said that they didn't get paid for all the overtime they worked. That's criminal in my mind. Now, if they are on salary, that's a different story. But they should still be rewarded for their efforts. In the form of comp days or payment for said comp days. It's one thing to stay over a few hours a week on salary. It's a whole different thing to tack 30 plus hours on to the standard salary 40 hour work week.

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maxpontiac
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 9:05:58 AM

Hopefully there is sarcasm in this post, A2K78.

If not, you better do some research.

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Palpatations911
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 7:38:15 PM

AK, you're insane dude!!! Working conditions and unfair treatment is why Unions came to be! To protect the employees! Now in places like the US, there are many laws to protect employees from their employers. I wish I knew more about other countries, but i dont.

Have you ever considered that maybe the employees who were new to the company had an expectation set as far as how many hours they would work and that those expectations that were set probably changed over time... Over the span of 7 years, they probably went from 40 hour work weeks upwards of 80 or more hours as they approached "Crunch time".

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Kevin5
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 11:39:42 PM
Reply

As an Australian, this sh!t really annoys me considering it involves Team Bondi, the only note worthy development team i can think of in this country (if anyone can think of another other than krome studios who closed down, then by all means, let me know who they are). I hope what ever the real issue is here, both sides sort it out & continue to make quality games, which most people know they're capable of.

If the rumours are true however, then Brendon Mcnamara can kiss a random arse. I personally hope it's bs though, because this could potentially ruin the only shining light currently note worthy for Aus game development & i truly do not want to see such incredible facial technology being ignored & not advanced upon.

& no, i don't count Indie games development, i'm talking real next gen games here, not Net Yaroze type i-phone games. *shudders*

Last edited by Kevin5 on 7/13/2011 11:45:45 PM

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 5:19:04 AM

2K Marin have a studio in Canberra. Used to be 2K Australia... but it got annexed or something. I was going to say Halfbrick, cos they made Fruit Ninja... but it's iPhone. But no, I can't think of any big developers.

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___________
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 8:43:46 AM

2K marin are still there, cant remember what they are working on after bioshock 2 but i remember hearing they were sent some subcontract work.
no way 2K are going to close them, they have been a massive help especially with the bioshock series.
it is a shame about team bondi though, only dev studio in sydney that does current gen games not facebook or iphone games, and this happens to them.
:(

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Claire C
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 9:42:34 AM

they are working on XCOM

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Gabriel013
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 1:14:37 AM
Reply

I often have to work a ton of extra hours to meet urgent deadlines. I'm sure a lot of workers do.

I'd just be appreciative of being rewarded for the extra effort.

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maxpontiac
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 9:09:04 AM

An excellent point. Employers should always thank those who work hard for them!

Back during the construction boom, I worked 80 plus hour weeks all the time. Now while I (or my family) didn't enjoy it, the money was sure good!

It's part of life.

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___________
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 3:33:01 AM
Reply

right, so they just complained for the sake of complaining, and the guys who claim were left out of the credits were not?
o, and the over abusive boss who has had a long record, even well back when he was working on the getaway, is a angel?
sorry, but i dont believe that for a second!
why would so many people leave, and so many people complain if they were treated properly?

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Excelsior1
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 4:47:02 AM

sorry, i have to agree with blank line here. where there's smoke there's fire. too many people are on record saying this went on, yet i notice no employess defenending team bondi.

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drortego
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 7:18:01 AM

I agree as well

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___________
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 8:47:25 AM

people complaining is one thing, but how do you explain all the people leaving?
i remember a friend of mine pointing me to there linken staff profile, within 4 months they put up 5 positions for a lead animator, lead game design, and lead programmer.
obviously some were unhappy there and left, and to be honest thats how the game feels.
it really plays like someone has had to step in and pick up where another left off, then that person left and another had to get back to speed.
and its not picked up properly, it really feels like each person has implemented it in there own way, and thats really messed the game up.
just the way the game plays you can tell its been through a hell of allot of hands!

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Excelsior1
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 10:03:13 AM

cvg actually had the whole letter posted. he goes on to admit that he can't say for sure that 100 hr work weeks did not happen. that, in itself is very telling. he says this just a scheme to destroy team bondi. seems like a lot to go through just to destroy a company.

i don't see how team bondi can survive with current managment intact. r* has dumped them, and i just don't see how many publishers will want to be associated with them.

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