EALA nabs Doug Church

Noted AI, programming guru picks up assignment at Electronic Arts' SoCal studio; will aim to develop new IPs for the license-heavy publisher.

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Electronic Arts picked up another exclusive today. Sort of.

The publishing giant said it had hired programming expert Doug Church, one of the development community's favorite sons. He joins the EALA studio as an executive producer, reporting to studio boss Neil Young. His assignment will be to create new intellectual game properties, according to an EA spokesperson.

Church is a well-known designer who frequently addresses his peers via presentations and panels at events including the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, the Indie Game Jam, and GDC. He is one of the most widely respected programmers and coders who has, of late, concentrated on AI and other challenges on the design front.

Before taking the assignment at EA, Church was employed by Eidos as its technical director. He was one of the project leads responsible for preproduction and design work on the upcoming Tomb Raider game being developed at that company's Crystal Dynamics studio. In fact, Church encouraged Tomb Raider cocreator Toby Gard to join Eidos when Gard's own studio, Confounding Factor, was shuttered.

Among the most notable of Church's accomplishments is his being picked as the 2003 recipient of the IGDA Award for Community Contribution. The IGDA said then that Church was being recognized "for his team focus, his efforts to build community and to improve the industry." Church was called "an inspiration for both veteran and aspiring developers."

Church is a veteran of Looking Glass Studios, where his path crossed with other accomplished developers, including Warren Spector and Harvey Smith. His game credits include Deus Ex, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief, Flight Unlimited, and Frequency.

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