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For all of its marvelous technological achievements, it's looking like Team Bondi's 2011 release L.A. Noire for Rockstar Games will largely be remembered for one thing: spelling the end of the Australia-based developer. The spring release arrived on a wave of positive praise, though its success was soon tainted by rumblings within the studio of unfair treatment for employees and tyrannical upper management, with particular ire being pointed at the game's director, Brendan McNamara. The studio has been inching toward a closing since then, and it looks like that will now happen.
The news comes from documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission which reveal that the studio will soon close its doors (via Gamasutra). It's not particularly surprising, what with the dev having gone into administration -- the foreign equivalent of a bankruptcy filing -- last month. The newly filed documents indicate that the company's assets will soon be liquidated and that its management staff has resigned.
Whether you believe the allegations of unfair treatment or blame the complaints on disgruntled employees -- the truth probably falls somewhere in between -- this is still rotten news. Team Bondi did some stellar work on L.A. Noire. For any flaws the game has, it still offers a bold new approach to the concept of an "adventure game." It's also hard to undervalue the game's use of advanced facial capture technology to deliver convincing "performances" from its characters.
The fracas surrounding the studio started back in June, a month after the game's release, when evidence emerged that a sizable number of former Bondi staffers hadn't been credited for their work on the game. Whistleblowers came out of the woodwork soon after, with internal e-mails and anecdotal testimony painting a grim picture of the day-to-day development process on Noire. The situation spiraled downward from there, and while McNamara and his defenders made some valid points in the studio's defense, the damage had already been done.
So pour one out today and send good wishes out to the soon-to-be-former Team Bondi staffers. For any allegations of mistreatment or unfair working conditions, few can deny that the L.A. Noire and The Getaway developer turned out some solid work.