Hot off of the exposure of a sordid development environment at Team Bondi during L.A. Noire‘s creation, GI.biz/Eurogamer has gotten a hold of additional details, including some quite damning internal emails.
Anonymous employees spilled on the relationship between L.A. Noire’s publisher Rockstar and the Australian studio, going so far as to claim the Take-Two subsidiary having “disdain” for the developer — and perhaps more specifically, its claimed-to-be-inept management.
“I’ve heard a lot about Rockstar’s disdain for Team Bondi,” alleges one source, “and it has been made quite clear that they will not publish Team Bondi’s next game.“
“Team Bondi are trying to find another publisher for their next title, but the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged – Brendan [McNamara, studio director] treats L.A. Noire like a success due to his vision, but I think Rockstar are the ones who saved the project. They continued to sink money into L.A. Noire, and their marketing was fantastic. Without their continued support, Team Bondi would have gone under several years ago.”
The source was referencing what happened to L.A. Noire around 2007/2008, when the industry assumed it would become vaporware. Sony Computer Entertainment America were “wholly funding” the game, then meant to be exclusive to PS3, but backed out after butting heads with Team Bondi execs, missed milestones and ballooning costs on the project. Rockstar, who were always attached, stepped in to help fund and complete development. That also resulted in the long-rumored 360 version becoming a reality.
“Rockstar also made a huge contribution to the development; their producers were increasingly influential over the last two years of the game’s development, and overruled many of the insane decisions made by Team Bondi management,” adds the source.
“At a lower level, Rockstar also pitched in with programmers, animators, artists, QA, etc. Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar’s frustration with Team Bondi’s direction, and eventually Team Bondi’s management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control. It’s also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like ‘Rockstar Sydney’ – the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea.”
Amazingly a slew of internal emails from 2010, some quite heated, between TB and Rockstar have surfaced, all of which you can read here. Of notable example is one April 2010 email addresseing that coming E3, which Rockstar was reported to have backed out of last minute, taking an unspecified game reveal with them. Said McNamara to Team Bondi staff:
“I found out this morning that Rockstar have pulled out of the E3 show. I’m trying to find out more information as to why. I don’t agree with this decision as I think the case we were going to show is looking great and that we could do some real damage there. Jeronimo [Barrera, Rockstar VP] is talking to the Marketing Team to ascertain what the Marketing Plan is going forward.“
Another mail from last October has McNamara hitting back over changes to the game’s logo. The original featured “Rockstar Games Presents A Team Bondi Production: L.A. Noire”, while the new and final logo sports only “Rockstar Games Presents L.A. Noire”.
“Every dog has its day and there’s going to be hell to pay for this one,” the studio boss says. “I’ll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people.“
The remaining emails go on to touch on L.A. Noire‘s seemingly perpetual deadline approach, employment contract and working hour concerns, pay freezes, and more.
Thus far neither Rockstar or Team Bondi management have commented on the report.