Here's some news for you. And not just news. NEWS. Valve Software have just hired a new employee. And not just a new employee. A NEW EMPLOYEE.
Doug Church. Doug 'Thief' Church. Doug 'System Shock' Church. Doug 'Ultima Underworld' Church. Doug 'Deus Ex' Church. Doug 'helped (to varying degrees) design a good dozen of the most beloved PC games of all time' Church.
And now he's at Valve, who have themselves made several more of the most beloved PC games of all time. To don my Hat of Supreme Hyperbole for a moment, Elvis* has joined the Beatles.
Actually, Elvis is a pretty poor comparison, as Church famously shuns becoming a gaming celebrity (sorry, Doug). "Brian Eno has joined the Beatles" would be far more accurate, I suspect.
Alas, we have no idea what he's working on there - Valve retain their favourite, famous habit of keeping cards glued firmly to chests.
Gamasutra found this scoop of scoops, with the only additional information being Valve talky-man Doug Lombardi confirming that Church has been with the studio for "a couple weeks," but claiming he did not yet know which specific project he was on.
The only definitely confirmed Valve project at the moment (outside of the surely near-finished Portal 2) is DOTA 2, which doesn't exactly fit with Church's CV. Theoretically still in the works, though, is HL2: Episode 3, or HL3, or whatever it turns out to be. That could be a natural fit. Ideally though, I'd like to see Church able to run wild with his own world and ideas, much as applying his not inconsiderable PC gaming expertise to another beloved franchise is hugely appealing. Maybe he can do both! Cross-project collobaration does seem to be the Valve way, after all.
If you're feeling worried that you've not heard of this Church egg before, don't. While enormously respected, he has tended to shy from the limelight afforded to contemporaries and sometime colleagues such as Spector, Garriott, Levine, Smith et al. "Quietly getting on with great things" is probably the best way to describe his general stature. Here's the full list of games he's worked on, in case you're not familiar with him. Try to pretend "Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home" isn't on it.
We've not seen much from him for a while, however - primarily because his last project, a Spielberg collobaration at EA, got tragically axed last year. Here's what it might have looked like:
Boo. Grand to hear he's landed somewhere excellent in the wake of its demise, and cannot wait to see what it results in.
*Coincidentally, while googling for images of Doug Church, the results were swamped by images of another man called Doug, who works in a church... as an Elvis impersonator. Spooks!
Creative Commons-tagged image above via Justin on Flickr.