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Acclaimed Designer Doug Church Lands at Valve

Acclaimed Designer Doug Church Lands at Valve (photo)

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When it comes to high-profile game design studios, few are as acclaimed as Valve. They’ve turned out the “Half-Life” games, “Team Fortress 2” and “Portal,” each one an exemplar of playable fiction that nearly everyone cites as must-play titles. Though the formative ideas in Valve games are strong–silent characters that stand in for the player, storytelling through environmental design, sardonic humor–there isn’t a lot of transparency as to how they actually come about. Games just seem to come out of Valve, fully-formed and nearly perfect. People work on them, yes, and even when you know their names, it’s still hard to pick out exactly how they contribute. That’s not a bad thing. In a business where creativity happens by committee, there seems to be a true streak of collectivism at Valve.

Another thing about the creatives in the video game medium is that not very many individuals break out to become creators of real renown. Valve’s Gabe Newell and Erik Wolpaw are among the few with name recognition. They’ve apparently added another, though, with the breaking news that Doug Church has been at the company for a number of weeks. Church became a notable designer after working on seminal titles like “Ultima Underworld,” “Thief” and “System Shock II.” All these games favor player agency and letting you figure out dynamic solutions to gameplay problems, as opposed to make a player walk through rote, scripted sequences. It’s a tough design imperative to fulfill but the games on Church’s resume mostly figure fun ways to do so.

So, while no one knows yet exactly what Church will be doing at Valve, it’s a matter of public record what he’s already accomplished. He was part of the ambitious “LMNO” project that EA was working on with Steven Spielberg. Church’s been at the forefront of forging inroads for game design into academia and has been at extremely visible in the annual Indie Game Jams. The intriguing possibility here is how different or similar Valve’s future games will feel for Church’s involvement.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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