IGDA to investigate LA Noire's Team Bondi

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is planning to investigate allegations that employees of Team Bondi were overworked during the development of LA Noire.

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The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is planning to investigate allegations that employees of Team Bondi were overworked during the development of LA Noire. In addition to omitting staff from the end credits of the game, various developers have told IGN that 100+ hour working weeks weren't uncommon, and that studio manager Brendan McNamara was difficult to work with. "It's one thing for him to be angry behind closed doors, but it was incredibly common for him to scream at whoever was pissing him off in the middle of the office," one developer recounted.

These forceful accusations are at the heart of the IGDA's new investigation. “Reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole,” Brian Robbins, chair of the IGDA Board of Directors, told Develop. “We encourage any Team Bondi employee and/or family member to email qol@igda.org with comments about the recent past and current situation - positive or negative”

Unfortunately, while LA Noire has received particular attention with regards to the problem of overworking in the games industry, others note that the practice is commonplace. "This is the norm. I've seen artists who put in a mere 9-10 hour day called slackers," one commenter noted on the Develop column.

L.A. Noire launched for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on May 16. A PC version is planned for this fall from developer Rockstar Leeds. For more on the game, make sure to read the Shacknews review.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 28, 2011 3:15 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, IGDA to investigate LA Noire's Team Bondi.

    The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is planning to investigate allegations that employees of Team Bondi were overworked during the development of LA Noire.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:19 PM

      I don't think you get to work in the AAA end of the industry unless you're willing to work 12 hour days.

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        June 28, 2011 3:48 PM

        sure, but then you have to make sure those employees are properly compensated under overtime laws, etc.

        not sure why IGDA of all entities is doing the investigating though

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          June 28, 2011 6:37 PM

          Does Australia have similar stupid computer professional exemptions in regards to overtime?

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          June 29, 2011 8:14 AM

          lol overtime laws. here in the states, overtime laws don't apply to game companies for whatever f'ing reason.

      • reply
        June 28, 2011 3:51 PM

        That's not true.

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 6:43 AM

        Not true.

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 7:54 AM

        Thankfully, there is not many people that think like you do.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:25 PM

      Hah, I thought this was going to be about the missing credits.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 3:28 PM

      Sounds like the next union is about to form.

      I thought this was a Rockstar game, are they just publishing now?

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      June 28, 2011 3:37 PM

      Having known many QA testers, I can say that 12-hour-a-day lengthy crunch times may be "unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product and the industry as a whole", but they are also incredibly commonplace. Anyone that refuses to work these hours are quickly fired. They are literally part of the job description.

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        June 28, 2011 4:47 PM

        That doesn't make it right. Just because it's The Old Way doesn't mean things shouldn't change.

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      June 28, 2011 4:50 PM

      I'm not sure what the IGDA can do in this situation.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 5:25 PM

      And it will result in nothing, no changes and the industry will continue to suck.

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      June 28, 2011 6:04 PM

      they should be investigating them for making an incredibly boring and stupid game

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        June 28, 2011 6:31 PM

        While I'll admit that the game is slow paced at times, it is anything but stupid.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 8:31 PM

      Team Bondi studio head Brendan McNamara: MY GAME

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/35457/Director_McNamara_Defends_LA_Noires_Mismanagement_Allegations.php

      "It's my game," McNamara told IGN in response. "I can go to anyone I want in the team and say, 'I want it changed.' I've been doing it for a long time, and it seems to have worked out so far for me," he continued, saying that Rockstar's Sam Houser has a similar management style.

      http://www.develop-online.net/news/38112/Team-Bondi-dev-culture-hostile-and-brutal

      "If you'd talk to your lead and say, 'hey, Brendan's making this unreasonable demand,' they'd be understanding, but they're ultimately powerless. They can't go and tell Brendan that it's not feasible, just as much as I couldn't tell him. He just won't listen to reason."
      ...
      “Out of the 45 people that no longer worked at the studio, 11 were fired. Out of the 34 that actually decided to leave, 25 of those were coders; most of whom had no job to go to, since they decided that it was better to be unemployed than to be working there. I was one of those."

      Another person claims that “if you left at 7.30pm you'd get evil eyes".

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 8:58 PM

      For all the people who keeps saying "That's just the games industry, deal with it or get out", That's complete bullshit, at least for the amount most developers get paid. A lot of people just aren't willing to face up to the fact that there's a hell of a lot of mismanagement in the games industry, which means that companies work people to the bone just because 'It worked before' rather than trying to improve their methods.

      Project managers need to stop relying on crunch to get a project done. Most that I've ever seen or talked to about it actually factor in crunch when developing their schedules, and that's just horrible management. Have you ever been through crunch? It fucks up your sleeping patterns and your social life, which can lead to short or long-term depression, which means you don't get as much work done, which means that the next deadline is going to be late, which leads to more crunch. It's an endless cycle, all because project managers accept crunch as 'the norm'.

      Yeah, working on a complex game is probably going to have crunch (Especially when working on something innovative that has a large number of unknowns), but it should be a last resort, not something that's expected from the beginning.

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        June 28, 2011 9:03 PM

        Also, managers (And publishers) need to be realistic with their expectations. I see a lot of projects where they go "Hey we're going to one-up [game] made by [company with 100 employees]!" when they've got a much lower budget, half the staff and a third of the timeframe. Yeah everyone wants to make the next big thing, but for fucks sake don't break the backs of other people to do it.

        If you don't have the resources to do the game that you want, then make the game that you can.

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        June 28, 2011 10:06 PM

        Pretty much what you said.

        We have an industry that went from small to development teams, to something that grew into Hollywood level productions. Crunch times are going to happen but should not be part of the normal development cycle, and should not last for weeks at a time.

        The industry needs to schedule work more intelligently. Publishers need to stop pushing for incredibly small development times, and developers need to stop saying they can produce something in that time.

        Milestones should still be met, but the insane pressure to have E3 demos and make certain (Holiday) release dates is ignorant.

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        June 28, 2011 10:08 PM

        All depends on the state, a lot of CA developers now adhere to the labor laws, like EA for example.

        Give them all the shit you want for being evil but they reformed a few years ago and now pay over time.

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        June 29, 2011 7:39 AM

        What if you take a locked-down 40 hour week (throughout the whole project) as a given and start from there? Everything else, including project/game complexity, has to be adapted around that. Would that work?

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          June 29, 2011 8:24 AM

          I know vigil was trying that with Darksiders (at least that's what I heard ~3 years ago) where they strictly monitored internet and breaks to where people put in their 8 hours a day soley devoted to game development, rather than 6 with breaks and long lunches and so on.. but i think that fell apart as I think they fell into a death march towards the end of the game.

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        June 29, 2011 7:44 AM

        Isn't part of the problem that many (Most?) managers in the VG industry don't have any real management training? The skills that used to get hired and advance, such as programming or design, don't help them when it comes to managing a team. So shit that would never fly at any other fortune 500 company is industry-standard in the games industry?

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        June 30, 2011 7:13 AM

        It's not just the game industry. Pretty much all engineering fields work the exact same way.

    • reply
      June 28, 2011 10:11 PM

      Andrew posted an interesting chatty intro related to this the other day, I wish there was some way to link to it :/

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      June 29, 2011 6:40 AM

      They could always quit. 100 hour work weeks are pretty common depending on the industry. For guys on Wall Street, it's the norm. For associates at a law firm, it's a way of life. Even for my job, it's expected that you'll do at LEAST 12 hour days and one day per weekend, for YEARS, until you establish you book of biz. Bursts of 100 hour weeks is common.

      If you want to have an average salary, take an average job. If you want a good salary, then you're going to have to work a little harder. If they were getting paid $30k a year, well, then they're nuts for sticking around.

      As for the "yelling at staff" thing, well, some bosses are nightmares, and some staffs are nightmares. Seems they were stuck with each other.

      What was the average pay of the group working 100 hours, I wonder.

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        June 29, 2011 7:36 AM

        100 hour work weeks are common? no they're not. i believe in ontario, at i think 70 hrs the employee has to give consent but you can't force someone to work more than that.

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        June 29, 2011 7:50 AM

        That's really not the same. Bankers and lawyers work insane hours but regularly earn 200k/yr doing so. More importantly, they generally are doing it to make a partner position, where their earnings skyrocket and they relax. There's no similar payoff here.

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          June 29, 2011 8:02 AM

          Indeed. The analogy is so flawed, they earn what they invest, there is no such things in game developmen.

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          June 29, 2011 8:29 AM

          the payoff is that its a glamour industry

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            June 29, 2011 10:03 AM

            So is being a stock broker or firm partner.

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        June 29, 2011 7:53 AM

        a lot of places don't pay over time and just pay a standard day or weekly rate for the art staff. things are done on contract basis, and you're threatened that if you don't take the abuse, you don't get your contract renewed. there's no overtime, there's no benefits. there's no upward movement.

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        June 29, 2011 8:25 AM

        the problem is most of those people in other industries who work 100 hours are getting PAID for those 100 hours. Most people in the game industry working 100 hours get paid for working 40.

      • reply
        June 29, 2011 8:53 AM

        [deleted]

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        June 29, 2011 10:36 AM

        In my experience working hard has nothing to do with obtaining a good salary

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        June 29, 2011 5:19 PM

        I don't know for sure what they were getting at Bondi, but based off my experience elsewhere in the Australian games industry I'll bet good money the average salary was somewhere between 50-80k (With very little/nothing in the way of bonuses/overtime).

        Other professions that require a huge amount of work from their employees (Legal, medicine, banking) pay their employees appropriately. The games industry absolutely does not.

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