Rockstar Games has always said that they take complaints about work-place stress seriously. But they've always had a good chuckle about complaints that their New York headquarters is an all-seeing, all-scrutinizing "Eye of Sauron."
That's what they're referencing in the gag that closes L.A. Noire's title credits (as seen above). If you don't get it, here's the background:
The comment that compared Rockstar's chiefs—presumably the likes of Sam and Dan Houser—to the all-seeing tower-topping, malevolent magical eye in the Lord of The Rings was first made publicly in January 2010. It came from a disgruntled employee (or someone related to them) from Rockstar San Diego studio, a team that was then hard at work wrapping up 2010's eventual Kotaku game of the year, Red Dead Redemption.
As we summarized it then:
The source then elaborates further, however, explaining that the New York corporate offices lord over satellite studios like Rockstar San Diego much like the Eye of Sauron lords over Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings. Studios work without guidance for years, until one day the New York office focuses on their project, ordering sweeping changes to projects that hadn't been scrutinized for months.
Rockstar would respond, with a spokesperson saying, in part:
"We've always cared passionately about the people working here, and have always tried to maintain a supportive creative environment. There is simply no way Rockstar could continue to produce such large scale, high quality games without this. That being said, making great games is very challenging, which is why we have and will continue to try to keep hold of some of the best talent in the industry and support them in every way we can."
That would usually be all, but Rockstar's had some fun with the Eye of Sauron bit. Before they even issued that statement, for example, they'd released a pair of Eye of Sauron desktop wallpapers.
(Sheila Thomson | Flickr)
The Eye of Sauron notion, again, is that the Rockstar honchos in New York eventually turn their gaze toward one of their satellite studios and start getting involved (the disgruntled employees would call it: meddling) in whatever that studio is making. The idea gets a remix in L.A. Noire: The main non-Rockstar NY studio on this game is Team Bondi, an independent group who actually started L.A. Noire before Rockstar. Several Rockstar studios, including teams from New York, San Diego and Leeds all pitched in to make the game. But the opening credits put our stand-in for the eye in L.A. That's part of the joke, right?
We know that Rockstar NY didn't permanently move to Los Angeles and set up shop in the Los Angeles Public Library. That's the building whose crowning mosaic is featured in this opening-credits clip. But the game's special facial-capture acting studio was in L.A., so maybe the Eye was sort of just visiting. Except that L.A. studio is owned by Depth Analysis, a company started by Team Bondi's Brendan McNamara so that interpretation doesn't work either... oh, it's just a joke!