Dave Heironymus, the lead gameplay programmer on L.A Noire and current employee at Sydney based games developer, Team Bondi, has written an open letter which hopes to provide a counter-balance to the reports of the 100+ hour weeks and a brutal crunch work policy given by anonymous ex-Team Bondi employees exposed in two articles published on IGN.
As one of the first five local employees hired at Team Bondi, Dave has seen the studio grow from the humble beginnings of eleven people in a big empty room to the big production house that was needed to finish off the final leg in their long-in-development 40's detective thriller game. Dave denies that Team Bondi enforced a sweat-shop work culture and that the company did not encourage 100 hour work weeks. From Gamasutra...
(Dave) Towards the end of the project I was probably working (on average) around 65 hours per week. Apart from a few isolated cases (various demo builds) this was the highest my regular hours ever got to, and at no time did I ever work 100 hours per week. If you think about it, that's 14 hours per day, 7 days per week, which is huge. I can't say that no-one ever worked 100 hours per week, but those sorts of hours were not encouraged. In fact, if someone on my team was working that hard I would have done my best to stop them.
I never (and in my experience, neither did any of the other managers) expected anything from my team that I didn't expect of myself. The management team at Team Bondi was not ensconced in an Ivory Tower working normal hours while everyone else crunched. Brendan himself worked very long hours and few of us here in the studio are aware of how grueling the DA and motion capture shoot in LA was.
Dave seems disheartened by what the allegations could cause for the Sydney based studio and wants those who are boycotting L.A Noire or spreading ill-will on Team Bondi to think over what it could mean for the dedicated team still at the studio who are looking forward to their next challenge...
(Dave) Saying all of this, no-one at Team Bondi is under the illusion that crunching is a good way to work and we're actively working to learn from our mistakes for our next project. The people at Team Bondi are great to work with and I'm confident that we can make Team Bondi a leading game studio on the international stage.
Please think about that when you talk about boycotting L.A. Noire or about how heinous Team Bondi is. There is a team of dedicated game developers here in Sydney that look forward to learning from their mistakes, improving on their successes and taking on the world again next time around.
For the entire open letter, head on over to Gamasutra.