Heironymus says management weren't "ensconced in an ivory tower", and that staff were given a 'generous reward scheme' for all their weekend work.
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is currently looking into Team Bondi's work practices after numerous staff revealed very long hours and a hostile work environment. Rockstar, publisher of L.A. Noire, is said to be 'blacklisting' the developer.
"I'll be labelled as "Brendan McNamara's sock puppet" or worse. You'll just have to take my word that I'm doing this because I enjoy working at Team Bondi and don't want to see it destroyed by anonymous ex-employees," said Heironymus, introducing his letter.
In the letter he says that during the "early years of L.A. Noire, we generally worked 9 to 6. Occasionally we'd do some late nights towards the end of a milestone, but by and large it was pretty smooth sailing."
"Unfortunately as time went on we failed to make as much progress as we'd have liked and there was growing pressure to work longer hours. It was not any one person's fault that we weren't making progress, responsibility for that has to rest with the entire team."
"There were times when it seemed too hard to keep on going. Work kept piling up, potential release dates slipped by, and frustration grew. At these times we lost people, who legitimately decided that they weren't willing to keep on pushing," continued the exec.
"Recognising that working on the weekend was inevitable, Team Bondi put in place a scheme to (generously) reward employees for their weekend days spent at work. Additionally, in the last 6 months of the project a scheme was put in place to reward employees for staying back late on weeknights, and this resulted in myself and most of my team getting an additional 4 weeks of leave upon completion of L.A. Noire, on top of the weekend working payment."
100 hours? "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."
"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 gruelling the DA and motion capture shoot in LA was."
The studio will learn from all this, adds Heironymus. "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." Check out the from Dave Heironymus to the IGDA over on Gamasutra.
L.A. Noire released on Xbox 360 and PS3 with 899k units sold in its first month, and it has now cleared 4 million. Rockstar have announced a PC version arrives this holiday.
Team Bondi "learning from their mistakes", they're 'not heinous'
14 July 2011 | By Simon Priest