McNamara: Bad press stopped us getting another deal

But lack of time to plan a follow up deal to L.A. Noire was also factor, says dev

Brendan McNamara has revealed that he believes bad press and being too busy to arrange a new deal were the two contributing factors in Team Bondi's failure to sign another deal after L.A. Noire.

Speaking as part of an extensive interview with Eurogamer, his first since Team Bondi went under, McNamara claims that the studio was too busy to arrange a new deal until the project was finished - by which time bad press had made it impossible.

"Mainly, I'd say because we got a lot of bad press about what it was like to work with us and our conditions," he replied when asked why the studio hadn't been contracted once the Rockstar game was finished.

"That, obviously, didn't come at the right time. To do a deal for a major video game probably takes about a year. We didn't start running around doing that stuff until well after the game was finished. That's the problem when a game is all consuming and you need to get out there and do whatever you need to do to get people to know it and interested."

Team Bondi entered administration not long after L.A. Noire was released, and reports suggested Rockstar would not work with the studio again, citing poor management and lack of vision.

Rumours of 110 hour weeks during a hugely extended crunch period arose, with emails leaked by studio staff confirming poor working conditions.

But in the interview, McNamara insists that those hours are not out of the ordinary for AAA development, and that they were never compulsory.

"Yeah, 110 hour weeks are tough," he agrees, "But not many people worked 110 hour weeks making L.A. Noire, I can tell you that. And it wasn't mandatory.

"It was just, yeah, it was hard, and it was brutal, but I would say, most of those triple-A games, when you aren't sure of what the technology is, and you aren't sure what the process is, it's going to be pretty difficult. Time's a finite thing. You can't extend it forever. We certainly had plenty of time."

McNamara also revealed that he has a new project in the works, a console title which he has been "pitching around for the last couple of weeks", although no further details were forthcoming.

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Latest comments (38)

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd10 years ago
"McNamara insists that those hours are not out of the ordinary for AAA development"

In contrast, we send people home if we feel they are working too many hours as we want our staff to be remain productive.
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Khash Firestorm Senior Programmer, MuHa Games10 years ago
Why on the earth anyone should work more than 8h a day to finish the title? Good planning and organisation is all you really need.

110h a week is normal? I thought world currently fights with slavery not supports it as "normal".

40h a week is normal, extra 20h if its occasionally needed week or two in a year. Everything above is not acceptable and if employees allow to enforce otherwise then its sad.

Crunch is avoidable
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 10 years ago
The bad press aside, its another sign of now bad the studio management was if they could complete the game but also work on geting more work after the project ended.

Sorry Brendan but you brought it all on yourself and you know.
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Show all comments (38)
this all does not help improve the Australian game management scene
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago

110h work week, means you still get to sleep for 8h a day :p
The rest is all rainbows, as Mr. McNamara makes sure that from time to time water is sprinkled on the employees sitting in their water proof cubicles, causing personal hygiene to be at industry record heights. Nutrition is feed directly into the veins via the Wrist-Rest to Veins (TM) adapter. Spare time, hobbies or entertainment is no longer required, as the brain of Team Bondi employees is too occupied processing the honor of working in the games industry to crave for anything else to begin with.

How could any investor refuse to put money into that? Clearly, the press is at no fault.
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University10 years ago
Sorry, Brendan, but your problems were entirely of your own making. Lousy management was at the heart of the Team Bondi problems. Blaming the press is pretty much just shooting the messenger. It'd be nice if you take some personal responsibility for making Australia that bit harder for people who are passionate about working in the industry.
I hate to say this kind of thing about anyone, but I actually think it would be better if you don't actually get a development gig ever again, as it would at least show that the sort of working practices you represent are no longer being tolerated by the industry.
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Gregory Keenan10 years ago
110 hour weeks are close to the amount the military do when on operations/tour. The only "me" time you get is eating and sleeping. I cannot imagine a worse type of torture than coding for 18 hours a day.

After reading the Eurogamer article, im really surprised at how flippant he came across about it. He is obviously a work-a-holic, but forcing(he claims he didn't, but I think he is underestimating the effect of a manger saying "could you work longer?") others to be when its not what they have agreed to is really harsh.
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gi biz ;, 10 years ago
Why is this guy's name still around? He should be gaining his life in some factory now, or maybe betting on horses.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Long hours in a job requiring intellectual or creative input leads to the law of diminishing returns applying, till you reach the point where more harm than good is being done.
110 hours a week is an utter joke, there are plenty of good books on project management that should prevent this situation occurring.
And it is not good for the reputation of the industry.
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Mike Rusby 3d character modeller 10 years ago
110 hours per week is just plain ridiculous unless you are compensated for it. If I was still young and they were paying me time and half or double time, I would n't be complaining
I dare say if they had to pay overtime , then the hours would have stayed at reasonable levels.
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"Brendan McNamara: Bad press stopped us getting another deal"

"Peter Sutcliffe: Arrest by Police ruined my good name"

No remorse at all.

This is why you fail.
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jim ellis 2D/3D artist, design, illustration, concept artist, video editor 10 years ago
Goodness me - bad press - and who created that then? Long hours are just about acceptable for a only a very short period and should be exceptional.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College10 years ago
110 hours a!? Normal practice for!? Bad!?

Taxi for Brendan McNamara!
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Torgeir Hagland Sr Programmer, Gaikai Inc.10 years ago
lol barry!

I did 660 hours in 6 weeks on one project... Suffered from severe burnout for the next 6 months, almost left the industry entirely after. When you're young and single you think of it as a rite of passage, but as you get older and/or get a family you realize that's it's not worth it. Worker smarter not harder.

There was a blog post the other day that was spot on, I encourage everyone to read it:
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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari10 years ago
Wow I hope he doesn't read Seeing so many respectable people in the industry calling him out must not leave the warmest or fuzziest of feelings.

It's pretty much proven that a well rested team will be more motivated, creative and productive.

I believe it was Insomniac that said something along the lines of, when you've left the office your brain is still thinking about the game. It's during those times away that you can see the project for what it is and that's when a lot of the best ideas happen. Of course that was a mangling of a quote I'm sure but you get the gist.
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Tim Spencer Level Director, TT Games10 years ago
""Mainly, I'd say because we got a lot of bad press about what it was like to work with *me* and *my* conditions," he replied..."

Fixed that for you Brendan.
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I've read about "bad conditions" on team bondi, and though that employees were just being pussies...

but 110 hour weeks? That's coal mine working conditions.

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Samuel Thomson Digital Artist 10 years ago
Just +1 to every comment so far, especially Mike Rusby!
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Samuel Thomson Digital Artist 10 years ago
Just +1 to every comment so far, especially Mike Rusby!
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Neil Alphonso Lead Designer, Splash Damage Ltd10 years ago
Blame is awesome. Now waiting to see the story about Mr McNamara being hired to work for a publisher.
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Bernard Parker Studying game design, Full Sail University10 years ago
Try Bad Marketing, Mr McNamara.
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Jeffrey Crenshaw Programmer, Darkside Game Studios10 years ago
"Bad press stopped us getting another deal"

Good. It's just a shame he has no acknowledgement of what caused the "Bad press".
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 10 years ago
As developers, we need to fight this culture of "REAL developers work 110 hour weeks to get sh!t done", otherwise people like McNamara will continue to bully it into newcomers and our talent pool will keep suffering.

I imagine you had to work like that back when the skills to properly manage a game project just weren't there, but times have changed. This cycle happens in almost every industry, they learn that workers on average are most efficient at 40 hours and adapt the production cycle to fit, not the work force.

If 110 hours per week was actually more efficient/productive, it would be the standard worldwide. Like EA Spouse, former Team Bondi employees did the right thing by standing up.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 10 years ago
Companies need to realize that if the work can't be done in a normal working day, then they need to hire more people or take on less work. I can remember a time where my BF was basically told he would be fired if he didn't work 17-18 hour days, which in the UK is unbelievably illegal but they were counting on him not suing in case it looked bad when he applied for his next job.

Anyone sadistic enough to ask their staff to work 110 hour weeks (The normal working week in the UK being 37.5 hours) not only deserves to be out of work and to be laughed at with every application for a management position, but there should probably be an incident involving their genitals and a desk drawer.


For 110 hours.

Every week.

Work schedules like that destroy families, cause clinical depression and ruin lives.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 10 years ago
110 hours is by no means normal for AAA teams. I'm not sure what fantasy-land McNamara lives in, but I'm glad the rest of us are living elsewhere.

I've done some 80-90 hour weeks, cracked 100 exactly once, but those are still quite rare. If your team needs 80 hours of work out of you, then things are going very badly. 60 hour weeks aren't uncommon, for short periods of crunch, but after a few weeks of that, motivation and effort output really take nosedives.

That being said, I think staunch 40-hours-and-no-more folks are taking an unrealistic view of things. Sometimes things go wrong, buffered time isn't enough, and folks need to work a bit longer to compensate. As long as it's not the norm, and compensation is provided, I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation, in our industry or others.
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Hamish Millar Producer, Hothead Games10 years ago
Certain things just aren't sustainable. I suspect that not landing a deal is just a symptom of that.
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Sam Maxted Journalist / Community / Support 10 years ago
If you don't want the press to report on your crappy business practices, don't have crappy business practices.

It really is that simple.
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Andrew Clayton Executive Editor, Side Story Games10 years ago
Some managers really need to go back and learn about "diminishing marginal returns". It applies to the number of hours that an employee works too. If a manager doesn't work 110 hour weeks, his employees shouldn't either.
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Crystal Steltenpohl Writer 10 years ago
No sympathy.
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Matthew Aileru Studying Computer Science & Games Technology, City University London10 years ago
...or rather "Bad management creating bad relations thus leading to bad press stopped us getting another deal"...
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James Carlton Graphic Designer, nsquared10 years ago
In other words: "I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you pesky kids!"

I'd really like to forget that year of my life, can people stop interviewing him now?
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Dave Heironymus Lead Programmer (Gameplay), Team Bondi10 years ago
I wish someone would give me some names of the people who worked 110 hours per week... I certainly never worked that many hours, and I couldn't name someone who did. If someone did work that many hours (and if you run the numbers, that's 15 hours per day over 7 days) then it wasn't at the behest of upper management.

The hardest week I worked was 80 hours in 5 days, and that's huge... but it was a one-off for a very important demo. For AAA games, it's common to crunch really hard for something like an E3 demo... as long as it's not happening all the time.

Yes, we worked very hard, and crunched for longer than we should have. But it was either give up, or keep going. We chose to keep going and released a great game... but hey, haters be hatin' ;)
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Ben O'Reilly Artist, Iron Monkey Studios10 years ago
Things like this need to happen so the cowboys out there get what is coming to them. In the long run this kind of justice it will improve the working conditions of the industry. Every dev crunches from time to time, but when it gets out of hand that's when people stand up and take notice.
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Raphael Honore Localization Assistant Manager, Blizzard Entertainment Europe10 years ago
How could this guy secure a new managerial position is beyond me... Even when you're 20 something, working 110 hours a week for several weeks has dire consequences on your health, even if you love your job.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany10 years ago
Mr McNamara: You behavior is what prevented you from getting more deals; you are the only one to blame.
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Jonathan O'Connor10 years ago
The guy should just keep his mouth shut, every time he opens it the verbal diarrhoea that spews out is just laughable.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
Colin - "It'd be nice if you take some personal responsibility"

I totally agree; I've read the full interview on Eurogamer and he seems completely un-remorseful and unapologetic. Blaming the press for reporting on these poor business practices is very misguided, and it doesn't sound like he's learnt from any of the mistakes and mismanagement which seemingly went on there.
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Gordon Tumilty Programmer 10 years ago
I'd be interested to know how many of the Team Bondi staff remained in Australia. I'd be unsurprised if many of them went overseas but if the people talented enough to make LA Noire were still in the country, my view of the Australian games industry would remain high.

Not that publishers are necessarily going to see it that way...
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