L.A. Noire: The Team Bondi Emails • Page 2

Documents and testimony expose the developer's broken relationship with Rockstar.

L.A. Noire continually being 'six months from completion'

Source: "We were constantly told that the project was only six months away from being done to justify the long hours - it was always "the final push". There are so many emails like this talking about a 'final push'; I don't have all of them, but it was a constant theme. Management knew this was untrue, but maintained the lie anyway to keep people working. I only recall one time where a lead confirmed that they knew we weren't going to hit a release date but that they were maintaining the lie to keep the hours up, and it was just in a private discussion, so can't post any email/chat transcripts for you. Our first official internal release date was some time in September of 2008."

Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

From: Vicky Lord [Team Bondi general manager]

To: Everybody List [everyone who worked for Team Bondi]

Since January this year, we have been liaising with Rockstar in regard to the release date of L.A. Noire. As we are close to finalising this with them now Take 2 have announced to their financiers where this income will be reported, as they have not yet reported any financials to them so far to-date. This has prompted articles and speculation on the net to develop. Rockstar are close to confirming to us when our release date will be and as soon as we have it confirmed in writing, we will notify everyone.

Jeannette has been working with the Leads over the last couple of months to assess the amount of work still required. As soon as we have the release date, we'll sit down with everyone and go through the plan to get us to the finish line.

Thanks, Vicky.

"This is the year when we release our game to the world so it's going to be very exciting to see what the world thinks of our endeavours."

Brendan McNamara in an email dated Jan 2009

Source: "The context for this email is that we had our internal release date as September 2008, but there were rumours circulating on the net that the game had been delayed due to Take 2's financials not reporting about it. Vicky was trying to assure us that the release date would still be in that same ballpark, but they just needed confirmation from Rockstar."

Date: Monday, Jan 01, 2009

From: Brendan McNamara [Team Bondi founder]

To: Everybody List [everyone who worked for Team Bondi]

This is the year when we release our game to the world so its going to be very exciting to see what the world thinks of our endeavours. We will be having someone from Rockstar here for most of the year starting in February and will be doing a number of trailers as well as press visits from online and print journalists. Your leads will be working through pay review letters today and will discuss these with you individually hopefully tomorrow.

Brendan

Subject: Getting to the finish line

Date: Tuesday, August 04, 2009

From: Brendan McNamara [Team Bondi founder]

To: Everybody List [everyone who worked for Team Bondi]

Hi Everyone, 

As Naz announced a few weeks ago, we are moving into the latter stages of the game and we are currently in Sub-Alpha. Features are being polished and the game experience as a whole is being pulled together by the gameplay, design and animation teams. The art-team are working on optimization, bugs and adding polish to locations from feedback driven by R* and the design team. I'm working with Oly putting together a plan for motion capture and scanning. 

This is an amazing result for 4 hard years and I'm proud of what we've achieved this far. The game is huge in size and scope and will be a real breakthrough. We have almost re-invented the adventure game whilst including the action elements that people expect in a modern game. Its these action elements that we really need to tighten up. 

That said, anyone who has worked on a game or film before knows that to make a AAA title is going to take a big push at the end to get it complete.  This is not uncommon within our industry and while it's not ideal, it is what we need to do to get a polished result to the standard of the competition. 

"To achieve this result we're introducing two new working practices, effective immediately ..."

Brendan McNamara, founder, Team Bondi

To achieve this result we're introducing two new working practices, effective immediately: 

The first is a longer working day, standard hours will be 9am to 7pm.  This will include Fridays and beers on Friday will be available but not until 7pm.  The first day of longer working hours will be Thursday 6th August.  Without this additional time I don't believe that the project will be completed to the standard required within the time we have left.  Many of you already do this on a regular basis (and much more) which is very much appreciated.  Luke, Nick, Steve and Sam, to name a few seem to live here.  As we get closer to the finish line we will need to work Saturdays, and then Sundays as well.  The first two Saturdays that we require you to work are this Saturday (8th August - 10am to 5pm) and next Saturday (15th August - 10am - 5pm).  The reason being is that we have people here from Rockstar and we need to maximize their time with the team.  Obviously some people will have situations that they can't avoid but in general I would like you all to come in.  The hours on Saturday will be compensated through the weekend working scheme, giving everyone the opportunity to take payment at the end of the project, or an extended holiday period. 

As I said this isn't ideal, but it is typical of what it takes to get a game finished.  It's now time to look at whatever you are working on and say what needs to be done to make it shippable and competitive with the best games that are out there.  We need to iron out sucky controls, animation glitches and bad AI so that the experience is cohesive and the glitches don't constantly pull you out of the experience.  We need to trim the script and make it snappier.  Don't blame Daniel.  That one is with me.

The second new working practice is that we're going to eliminate the lockdowns associated with the weekly build.  We have been sending daily builds to Rockstar for the last couple of weeks, each day selecting a stable build for submission.  From this point onwards we will treat each day as a daily "build day", eliminating the differentiation between this build and the weekly build.  In short this means we do not need to have the restrictions of lockdown, allowing people to work efficiently all week. 

Thank you to everyone for all your efforts. 

Best, 

Brendan.

Source: "This next one is from Vicky. It's from January 2009; you can see she mentions a few topics. She asks for the big push, talks about how marketing is just around the corner (our first real press was in Game Informer's March issue 2010, so 14 months after she wrote the email), and Team Bondi working on a new project at the end of 2009?"

Subject: Summary

Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From: Vicky Lord [Team Bondi general manager]

To: Everybody List [everyone who worked for Team Bondi]

Dear all,

Thank you all for your time this afternoon. To summarise the discussion you all had with your Lead.

We have two milestones left to complete the game content and features before we head into the Test phase of finishing the game. The first one Milestone N10 finishes in six weeks. We will need to have the Homicide and Vice cases in good shape by the end of that milestone. Following that there is a four week Milestone Sub-Alpha period where we will be getting the game ready for Alpha Submission and will mean that we need to complete Arson case revisions as well as any code features and art optimisations. Cut scene and Scripted sequences will be an ongoing process and added to the game right up till Master.

"You are not required to work round the clock everyday up until the milestone ships but for the next six months we will need more from you than we ever have asked from you in the past."

Vicky Lord, general manager, Team Bondi

So we are going to change to the way we have completed milestones in the past. It's no longer going be about just completing your schedule for the milestone. We will all be working in the office the last two weekends prior to the delivery of Milestone N10 (21st & 22nd Feb and 27th & 28th Feb). As many of you have families or weekend commitments, we are giving you notice of this to allow you to make alternative arrangements to enable you to be in the office. If we can be of any assistance, please see myself or Denise. During the last week of the milestone you will be required to work through your tasks for N10 and if they finish before N10 ships to keep going on your sub-alpha tasks until the milestone ships. That means that everyone is required to keep going until the milestone ships or your lead informs you that you have done all that you can for N10 and sub-alpha. Specifically this means in the last two weeks of the milestone you can expect pretty long days. It's "one in all in" until we get the Milestone shipped and get the game ready for testing. We need teamwork to get the game finished to  the quality that we are after and that means being here to help a tester, a designer, an artist or programmer who needs your support to get their work finished.

You are not required to work round the clock everyday up until the milestone ships but for the next six months we will need more from you than we ever have asked from you in the past. That's the nature of getting a AAA title out the door and into the hands of the playing public. Getting a result with this game means that the public finally get to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. It also means that we get to take a good break later this year and come back refreshed to work on some exciting new ideas for future projects.

Josh from Rockstar will be coming back to the studio in February to work again with the design team and Brendan has been discussing press activity, which will be starting soon. As soon as we have information regarding this we will communicate to everyone.

For Brendan, myself and the 5 guys who came from London to set up Team Bondi, this is a real milestone for us. To have created something so amazing from absolutely nothing is such an achievement, and we've only been able to do this because of the team that we have around us and effort that each and every one of you continue to give - thank you! We should all be proud of our achievements, and excited at the result to come.

Many of you had questions regarding Alpha, Beta and Master and once we have a breakdown of this we will post it on the intranet.

Thanks everyone, any questions please do not hesitate to ask me.

Vicky.

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