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Team Bondi continues to be in the hot seat today as newly shared internal e-mails from an unnamed pair of L.A. Noire staffers reveal some of the facts behind previously raised allegations of unfair working conditions and top-level mismanagement. The e-mails and supplied context place much of the blame square on the shoulders of Brendan McNamara, Bondi's founder and the game's writer/director.
"I've heard a lot about [publisher Rockstar Games'] disdain for Team Bondi, and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi's next game," one source told gamesindustry.biz at the top of the five-page feature revealing these new facts.
"Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged -- Brendan treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project." The source goes on to suggest that without Rockstar's continued support, the studio "would have gone under several years ago."
The emails do not paint a pretty picture. In one example, "crunch"-level working hours -- 9am to 7pm weekdays, 10am to 5pm on Saturdays in this case -- were instated as far back as August 6, 2009. This comes from a company-wide memo sent by McNamara, a few months shy of two years before L.A. Noire's release. It's just the beginning too; other emails describe the increasing demands that were placed on Team Bondi employees and point to vague references of "bonus" compensation for extra time served.
The infodump amounts to a revealing peek into some of the harsher realities of modern-day video game development. The abundance of whistleblowers pointing specifically to McNamara and dysfunction at Team Bondi's top levels suggest that this is a somewhat unique case, but the stated goal is to get the facts out so this doesn't happen elsewhere.
"This is one of those things where it's about truth," one of the game's artists writes. "[Team Bondi got] blood out of a stone, and it seems like it could encourage other studios to treat staff like that. I think that's the wrong way to go about it. You can get a lot more out of your staff by having them more on board, and treating them with respect."