L.A. Noire: The Team Bondi Emails • Page 4

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

Weekend overtime

McNamara in the original IGN story: "There was a bonus scheme for working evenings, and people got a month off for that," he said. "And people who worked weekends got paid for it. We brought in a weekend working scheme for that. But contractually, we don't have to do that. Part of the thing is that we pay over the odds, and it says in their contract that if they need to do extra time. I've done 20 years of not getting paid for doing that kind of stuff. I don't begrudge it. I get the opportunity to make these things."

Source: "This quote is definitely misleading. There was no company policy about a bonus scheme for working evenings. Our original contracts stipulated that our hours were 9-6 Monday to Thursday, then 9-4 on Friday. The typical employee worked longer hours than that, especially during crunch periods, but eventually there was too much anger about enforced weekend working so the weekend working scheme was introduced.

"There was no overtime for people working late on Monday to Friday, it was only the weekends, so that contradicts what Brendan said. This isn't a small amount of work either - there were still plenty of people around at 9 PM every single day. The Team Bondi leads would even schedule review meetings to begin at 7 PM during the week, the meetings would often take more than an hour, so it's not like this work was optional. Our contracts were also revised so that the hours were 9 AM - 7 PM mandatory every week day, an increase of seven hours a week with no increase to our salary. I should point out that after the game was released and was successful, management picked several people (about 30 I think) who they felt had worked particularly hard over the project and gave them some bonus time off, so I think that's what Brendan is referring to when he says 'bonus scheme for working evenings'. Personally I sunk in a huge amount of extra hours during the week that weren't compensated - I am okay with that, just want to call Brendan on his bull****."

Source: "The other point that was a huge point of contention was a line in the additional working hours scheme: "Should your employment end, prior to 3 months after the end of the project, it will be at the Company's discretion whether payment will be made."

"This meant that many people felt obligated to continue working under the poor conditions because they feared that the company would not pay up the overtime they had accrued. "Company's discretion" is incredibly vague, so nobody wanted to publicly speak out about the working conditions in case there was retribution from management. Then there was the issue of when the overtime was due to be paid - we (rightly) assumed that people would be made redundant at the end of the project, so would these people still be paid their overtime since they wouldn't be with Team Bondi three months after the end of the project? Also, since the overtime was only to be paid out at the end of the project, it meant that if the game failed and Team Bondi went bankrupt, then nobody would have received overtime payment. Team Bondi being shut down was always a very real possibility for us, it was only thanks to Rockstar's bankrolling that they continued to survive. I mention these points to enforce that it was always very unclear whether this overtime would be paid."

Pay freezes

Source: "We were supposed to have yearly salary reviews. These were fairly standard - cost of living increases plus an additional amount to account for our increased value as we gained experience. These occurred in January every year - so January 2008, January 2009, then in January 2010. Well, we were supposed to be finished with the game on January 26 [2010]. It was clear in December that we would miss this date, but management kept insisting that it was happening... when even that was impossible to maintain, they said nothing. As January progressed, we were all in a state of limbo; officially, nothing had been said about this impossible release date, and when asked about salary reviews, management responded that they weren't sure what was up with that since the game was going to be finished so soon."

"January became February, more assurances that the pay review discussion would happen 'soon'. In March, management finally revealed that there would be no salary increases because the studio was under so much pressure - they couldn't afford it. So all those employees who were crunching every single weekend weren't even given a cost of living increase despite the insane hours they were working."

'Rockstar Spouse' report leaks

Source: "I still remember when the Rockstar Spouse letter came out. We all read it thinking that it sounded so similar to what we'd been through. Rockstar San Diego were a bit further along with Red Dead [Redemption] at that stage, so they had suffered more than us, but we felt like it might bring about change at Team Bondi. I overheard some of our leads talking about the article on the morning it was released, and rather than showing concern, they mocked it."

Shortage of animators

Source: "We barely had any animators for such a long time, it was crazy. People have mentioned how the open world in L.A. Noire is wasted because the world is so boring. The reason was because no animators wanted to work at Team Bondi. There was no Lead Animator from January 2008 until the end of the game, and for large parts of production we only had one animator working on gameplay animations (any others were doing cinematic animations). This meant that there was no way to add life to the world. It's a perfect example of why staff retention is important, was ignored by the leads at Team Bondi, and the game suffered for it."

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