L.A. Noire: The Team Bondi Emails • Page 3

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

Team Bondi staff express concerns over their employment contracts

Source: "This next one is interesting for a few reasons. Some employees had kids and wanted to change their hours slightly, e.g. instead of working 'officially' from 9 to 7 they wanted to do 8 to 6, but their requests were rejected. So the compromise was that they could have an hour's flexibility on Saturday. She also mentions some kind of company handbook - no such thing existed at Team Bondi, it was just a bunch of articles on our intranet (which was a wiki). The wording of policies was updated without any communication to employees, so it was a bit dicey."

Subject: Q&A

Date: Friday, March 19, 2010

From: Vicky Lord [Team Bondi general manager]

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

Hi Everyone,

A couple of questions arose from yesterday's meeting which were consistent across the board.  The Q&A written below is designed to answer these questions.  Please do not hesitate to ask if you are still unclear.

Thanks, Vicky.

Am I going to receive, or sign a new contract of employment saying that I am entitled to the scheme? Why can I not have a new contract of employment including the weekend working policy? 

The short answer to this is no, but here's the reason why:

When you commence employment at a company, a contract of employment is negotiated prior to you joining, outlining the employer and the employee's commitment. This includes a negotiation of the salary package, notice period, job description, and many other aspects including visa status etc. The contract of employment is therefore an individual document between you and the company.  

Outside of the contract of employment are a series of policies which the company defines and presents to the organisation as a whole. These are not negotiated between employer and employee and are not individual to only certain employees, but they set a standard across the whole organisation which we will all abide by. For example, the IT policy, and the weekend working policy.

These policies are referenced in your contract of employment under the Duties to Comply with Company Policies section, or the Company Policies section. This is the link between your contract, and the policies of the company, which is the reason why policies do not need to be printed out and signed. They have already been agreed to be honoured by the company and the employee when signing the contract of employment.  

To give you comfort with this, what many organisations do is put together a "Company Handbook". The definition of a company handbook is a single source of reference that contains all of the policies of the company. A company handbook is underpinned by the law, meaning that the standards set within it have to be of equal standard to - or greater than the existing law. The first documents therefore to go in the company handbook will be the weekend working policy, and the IT policy, as more policies are set the company handbook can grow as your single source of reference - a standard that the company, and it's employees will be required to meet.

The eye-catching L.A. Noire - but what will the game be remembered for?

Why is the hour from 6-7 not paid?

As an organisation we offer a package rate within your contract of employment, for a professional worker, per annum. These days and hours may be varied or extended at times to meet milestones and project commitments. Provision for these hours has been factored into your package rate.  This year we have been unable to increase this package rate, but in previous years we have been able to increase your package rate and generously in many case which have been above the rate of inflation. This has been in recognition of exceptional effort.

To complete the project at this time, we require an extension of the ordinary hours of duty and we are asking people to give more hours. Putting a product to market of this size, scale and quality is going to require extra effort from everyone and while we are asking for it, and not saying it's easy, the company is perfectly happy to be flexible of commitments you have outside of the organisation. We are asking people to commit to the schedule and the goals we've set ourselves to the standard of the Game Informer Demo.  

Flexibility in working hours

I think you will all agree that we have had greater success pulling together as a team than singular or by discipline effort. Many of you work cross discipline and need other employees to fix problems. To have everyone here at the same time means we have strength in numbers, and a solidarity of working together as a team.  These hours are 9-7, with an hour lunch (taken between 12-2). At times some of you will have unavoidable circumstances, which you should speak to your Lead about.

For these first two Saturdays (BM 1 milestone), we will try being more flexible with the working hours on Saturday, and offer either 9-4 or 10-5. In these circumstances lunch will be fixed at 12.30 - 1.30 - so that we ensure as many core/overlap hours as possible within the team.

Communication/Show & Tell

Some of you asked for communication improvement for example in milestone dates etc. The first step towards this was this week. The Leads and Production department have taken you through your schedule and shown you how each of your tasks gets us closer to the finish line. This is an area everyone can always improve on.

"The days of accepting broken issues need to be behind us. Would you look at our game today and spend $100 on it? If not, bug it!"

Vicky Lord, general manager, Team Bondi

Some of you asked about Show & Tells. As our milestones are organised in short, sharp sprints the game is our reference. Every time you play you should see jump forward in progress. Take the time to look, and if you think something is particularly good, improved a lot or on the flip side, something that you struggled with - bring it to our attention. The days of accepting broken issues need to be behind us. Would you look at our game today and spend $100 on it? If not, bug it! This especially goes for build day but should be every-day when you're playing.

In addition, the leads group will be organising more show & tells, but it doesn't have to be restricted to just the leads so if you have something you want to show, please speak to your lead.

Individual questions

Some of you have asked individual questions. I'm getting through them and will continue to do so over the next few days.

Vicky Lord

General Manager

Source: "She also mentions increases in pay above cost of living (implying Team Bondi was generous), but these were the typical increases you'd expect to see for employees as they become more experienced - many of the staff were hired straight from college/uni, so there are obviously going to be sizeable increases in salary for the first few years. If anything, Team Bondi's starting salaries for new employees decreased over the years. When I started, a new designer (with the title 'Junior Game Designer') was on $45k. They then invented an entirely new position underneath the existing Junior Game Designers, called 'Junior Level Designer'. It was basically the same role, but an excuse to pay the new hires less, and to give the existing designers a feeling of seniority without necessarily promoting them or paying more. It also meant that when the Junior Level Designers were promoted, they'd only become Junior Game Designers. They were exactly the same roles though."

Source: "Junior Grad Artists and Junior Level Designers were on $32k-35k, including super. These guys were working at least 70 hours a week, which is about $9 an hour.  I often see comments on these articles saying that 'it's a labour of love' or that others would kill for the job, but with everything else going on at Team Bondi it's a whole other problem. With Sydney's cost of living, it's not easy to live off that either."

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