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Ex-employees describe LA Noire's difficult development

New report exposes trouble behind the scenes at Team Bondi studio

An investigation by IGN has exposed the tensions and employee unhappiness at Team Bondi during LA Noire's seven year development.

The article features the input of eleven ex-employees of Team Bondi, all of which requested their identities be protected, and studio head Brendan McNamara.

It describes constant crunch periods, a confused hierarchy, a lack of overtime and issues with McNamara himself.

"I don't want another job in the game industry because of my experience [at Bondi]. Most of the [artists] I know who worked there never want to work in games again," said one of the former employees.

The games was delayed four times, and faced obstacles like the release of the PlayStation 3 during its development cycle.

"As time went by and the project wasn't coming together as fast as management wanted it to, they started to become aggressive and demanding," explains another anonymous source. "That led to people quitting, or being forced out when they didn't obey direct orders."

All of the developers involved were unhappy with McNamara's habit of bypassing lead staff and going to straight to individual developers with desired changes.

"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," IGN were told. "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."

McNamara's demanding personality also drew comment, with one developer describing McNamara "screaming" at people on the the office floor, and calling him "the angriest person" he's ever met.

Another developer mentioned the long working hours, with deadlines constantly moving and extending the crunch periods, meaning 60 hour working weeks. Another said in the three years he was at the company, no overtime was paid.

"There was simply an expectation that you'd work overtime and weekends," said one ex-employee. "I was told that I was taking the piss by saying that I couldn't give every single one of my weekends away."

McNamara addressed each of the issues, but seemed unrepentant.

"I'm not in any way upset or disappointed by what I've done, and what I've achieved," he told IGN. "I'm not even remotely defensive about it. I think, if people want to do what I've done – to come here and do that – then good luck to them. If people who've left the company want to go out there and have some success, then good luck to them. If they don't want to do that with me, that's fine, too.

"It's like musical differences in a rock and roll band, right? People say they do want to do it; some don't."

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Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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