Sam Lake

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Sam Lake
Sam Lake-MichaelFörtsch.jpg
Lake at Gamescom in 2014
Sami Antero Järvi

(1970-03-28) 28 March 1970 (age 52)
EducationUniversity of Helsinki
EmployerRemedy Entertainment (Creative director)
Notable credit(s)Max Payne, Alan Wake, Quantum Break, Control

Sami Antero Järvi[2] (born in 1970), better known by his pen name Sam Lake ('Järvi' is Finnish for lake), is a Finnish video game writer. He is the creative director at Remedy Entertainment, known for his writing (as well as his likeness) on the popular Max Payne video game series (in which a photo of his face was used as Max Payne's face), and Alan Wake.


Lake in 2005

Lake attended University of Helsinki studying English literature around 1995. He was introduced to video games through a long-time friend Petri Järvilehto, one of the early members of Remedy Entertainment. Remedy was developing their first game Death Rally and needed text for the game, and Järvilehto asked Lake, one of the few people Remedy knew in writing, to help. Lake accepted the offer, and has since remained with Remedy.[3]

Max Payne[edit]

Lake played several roles in the development of Max Payne. He wrote the game's story and script and helped design levels. Because of the game's budget, Remedy could not hire actors. As a result, Lake, along with other Remedy programmers, artists and staff played the roles. Lake became the face model for the title character and he even got his mother to portray Nicole Horne, the game's main antagonist.[4][5]

In the sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, the expanded budget meant Lake could stick to writing. The game's script ended up being about four times as long as some movie scripts.[6] For the sequel, the budget increase allowed the team to hire professional actors to model for the graphic novel cutscenes and Lake was subsequently replaced by actor Timothy Gibbs.[7] However, if the player should watch any of the TV set shows during the game, they will see that Lake models for various characters in Max Payne's meta, in TV shows and billboards, such as John Mirra in the television show Address Unknown as well as "Lord Valentine" and "Mama" in Lords and Ladies, and, finally, "Dick Justice" in Dick Justice. There is also an unofficial mod to give the character his old face back.[8]

The ending theme song, "Late Goodbye" which appears in various points of the game, often sung by in game characters, is based on a poem by Lake.[9] The song was written by the Finnish group Poets of the Fall.

Mob boss Vinnie Gognitti remarks that the creator of Max Payne's in-game cartoon series, Captain Baseball Bat Boy, is a man named Sammy Waters, which is a play on the name Sam Lake.[10]

In the Max Payne movie which was released in 2008, Sam Lake also provided some writing help,[11] though mostly for the character background.

Alan Wake[edit]

Lake was the lead writer for the 2010 "psychological action thriller" Alan Wake,[12] which went on to receive numerous awards and a positive critical reception for its characters and story.

Lake cameos in the game as himself during a fictional in-game interview where he appears as a guest on a talk show along with the title character. As the interview wraps up the talk show host asks Lake to 'make the face', and Lake then mimics the infamous 'Max Payne' look from the original Max Payne videogame.[13]

The game also features references to his earlier work with Max Payne when the player is allowed to read a few pages from the protagonist's novel The Sudden Stop.[14] When opened, the pages are voiced by James McCaffrey, the voice of Max Payne, and makes clear references to the previous games such as the troubled character's murdered wife and baby, as well as his abuse of painkillers.


Year Title Role(s)
1996 Death Rally Writing
2001 Max Payne Story and screenplay, graphic novel model
2003 Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Writer
2010 Alan Wake Concept design, story and screenplay
2012 Alan Wake's American Nightmare Creative director and writer
2016 Quantum Break Creative director and executive producer
2019 Control Concept and writer


  1. ^ Sami Järvestä tuli rahapulan vuoksi 2000-luvun alun hittipelin Max Paynen kasvot, ja hänellä on valmis selitys pelisarjan suursuosioonHelsingin Sanomat (in Finnish)
  2. ^ "Shares and shareholders - Remedy". Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  3. ^ Machkovech, Sam (14 May 2020). "War Stories: Alan Wake's transformation emerged from a two-month "sauna"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  4. ^ Neogamer. "Behind the Scenes – Max Payne". YouTube. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  5. ^ GameSpot. "Remedy talks Max Payne 1 and 2". YouTube. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Max's Pain". IGN. 19 September 2003. Archived from the original on 22 September 2003. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  7. ^ "The Making of Max Payne". Edge. 2 November 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "GameSpot:Video Games PC Xbox 360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2 PlayStation 2 GameCube GBA PlayStation 3".
  9. ^ "The story behind Late Goodbye, the song that defined Max Payne 2". PC Gamer. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (Video Game 2003) – Trivia – IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Max Payne (2008)". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  12. ^ Stuart, Keith (30 April 2010). "Alan Wake writer Sam Lake on the creative process. Part one". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Alan Wake – Harry Garrett Show Teaser". Youtube. Remedy Entertainment Oyj. 30 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Easter Eggs and Secrets – Alan Wake Wiki Guide – IGN". IGN. 13 May 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2020.

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