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Team Bondi: Ex-employees want to "destroy" the studio

IGDA letter claims press coverage has been one-sided, studio will learn from its mistakes

L.A. Noire's lead programmer has spoken out against the accusations of harsh working practices from Team Bondi's former employees.

In blog post on Gamasutra, Dave Hieronymous published his letter to the IGDA, along with a brief introduction that accuses the original IGN story and subsequent leaked e-mails of misrepresenting the studio's working culture.

Hieronymous acknowledges that many will label him as, "'Brendan McNamara's sock puppet' or worse," but the severity of the comments could seriously harm the future of Team Bondi and its 35 employees.

"What is the motivation behind these attacks on Team Bondi? If the motivation were to see improvement in the working conditions at Team Bondi, then I'm all for it," Hieronymous wrote.

"However, some of these comments in recent stories seem to go beyond that. Some ex-employees who left the company years ago want to see Team Bondi destroyed. They want to see 35 game developers out of a job. That seems to me to be a less laudable motivation."

Hieronymous was one of Team Bondi's first local employees, and he claims that working hours in "the early years" of L.A. Noire's development were reasonable, with only occasional late nights.

As progress began to slow weekend work became "inevitable", but the company implemented a scheme to "generously" reward employees for their time. In addition, time spent working on weeknights in the final 6 months of the project were paid back in kind once the game had shipped, with most of Hieronymous's team receiving, "an additional 4 weeks of leave...on top of the weekend working payment."

In L.A. Noire's final stages, Hieronymous estimates that he was working an average of 65 hours a week, but he never came close to the 100 hours posited by former employees.

"I can't say that no-one ever worked 100 hours per week, but those sorts of hours were not encouraged. In fact, if someone on my team was working that hard I would have done my best to stop them."

"I never (and in my experience, neither did any of the other managers) expected anything from my team that I didn't expect of myself. The management team at Team Bondi was not ensconced in an Ivory Tower working normal hours while everyone else crunched."

Hieronymous finishes by highlighting the importance of L.A. Noire's success to the Australian development community. Local studios like Pandemic, Krome, Ratbag and Transmission all closed during the game's production, and thanks to Rockstar's support and commitment to quality, Team Bondi is in a position to become a leading light for the country's growing industry.

"No-one at Team Bondi is under the illusion that crunching is a good way to work and we're actively working to learn from our mistakes for our next project. The people at Team Bondi are great to work with and I'm confident that we can make Team Bondi a leading game studio on the international stage."

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Matthew Handrahan

Editor-in-Chief

Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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