L.A. Noire: The Team Bondi Emails • Page 5

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

Finally, as an addendum to the original story, I'd like to share some of the motivations mentioned by the Bondi Eleven.

Whistleblowing motivations

What prompted the Bondi Eleven to share their experiences of working on L.A. Noire under Team Bondi? I received a range of responses to this question. Though vengeance and spitefulness toward their former employer undoubtedly impacted their decisions somewhat, more prominent was the desire to warn others from making the same mistakes.

One of our artist sources who no longer works in the games industry, and has no intention of returning to it was motivated to contribute because of the poor attitude he received from Team Bondi towards their artists. "Once 'it's fine because everyone is doing it' starts to become a little more unfashionable, things may change. I might not want to be involved in [game development] anymore, but for the sake of my peers, I'd like to see change. It wasn't that they were working this way accidentally. It was a choice they made; this is their business model, to purposely have low-wage, unexperienced artists that you can pretty much work to death. They'll leave, and you'll replace them. They didn't have much interest in retaining the talent, which is one of the hugest mistakes you can make. A studio is nothing more than a collection of computers in a room. It's the talent that makes the difference."

Another artist replied that "if people will learn from the experiences of others, then collectively, we become powerful. If people read your articles and still want to be part of this industry, then they go in informed and ready. Not like many of my ex-colleagues, who were exploited. I want to contribute to this to make a change; a change that is sorely overdue."

"I can't stand the thought of 'Brendan succeeding'."

Anonymous source

Most of those who contributed to this article expressed the hope that L.A. Noire will perform well in the marketplace, if only for the sake of the Australian game development industry. However, the Bondi Eleven realise that if the game is well-received, the studio's management will claim the lion's share of the glory. One source commented that "unfortunately, it's a two-edged sword; the more successful L.A. Noire is, the more likely that Brendan McNamara and his upper management goon squad will get to work on another project, and the evil cycle will start again. I hope that by speaking out against his treatment of staff that conditions will change in the future but I'm not so nave. I hope to at least warn other developers and graduating students to stay away from the studio."

"I can't stand the thought of 'Brendan succeeding'," said another source. "I know that if [the game] turns out good, it will be due to 'Brendan's brilliance'; if it fails, he's going to blame it on the incompetence of others." A gameplay programmer said that, "in all likelihood, L.A. Noire will come out and do at least reasonably well in the market. What that's going to do, is validate in the minds of Brendan and the upper management and maybe even the people at Rockstar that their practices are successful, and that they lead to good results. But the truth is that the same results can definitely be achieved more efficiently, without causing so much pain and frustration. Of course, the industry will then benefit from the decreased attrition. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all nave enough to think that the guys at Team Bondi are going to learn. They won't at all. But I think it's important that the other side of the story is heard."

"This is one of those things where it's about the truth," replied a former artist. "Team Bondi has the chance to be a great addition to the gaming industry, but I think they're tarnishing it just by taking by so long to finish the game. It's an embarrassment. And also the way they're operating in terms of management. It's unacceptable. They take advantage of the talent and skill of all the people working in the industry. They're getting 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."

"You earn their loyalty," he insists, "rather than chaining them to their desks."

Andrew McMillen (@NiteShok) is a freelance journalist based in Brisbane, Australia.

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