God of War Ragnarok, the latest effort by Santa Monica Studio, is full of touching stories, which we can find both in the main missions and in the secondary ones, the so-called “Favors”. One of these stories, however, goes beyond the events narrated in the video game, becoming a real love letter to a developer. We refer to the mission “Eternal Camp”, a secondary quest dedicated entirely to Jake Snipes, a developer who died prematurely in 2020.
To tell this story is Sam Handrick, friend and above all companion of Jake. The Senior Gameplay Programmer of God of War Ragnarok has in fact explained on Twitter the entire story that led to the birth of this mission, telling in detail the bond that has been created between the two developers. A bond started by simple colleagues, but which then resulted in friendship and finally turned into love. “There is something about God of War Ragnarok that is very special to me. I had a chance to pitch it to the team, and they turned it into something bigger than I could have hoped for. I wanted to wait a while before talking about it but, just to be safe, I decided to share it now. It is the Ballad of Jari and Somr”reads Sam’s Tweet.
Sam and Jake met in 2019. So, Jake was a newcomer to the Santa Monica Studio but a bond of friendship was immediately created between him and Sam, also thanks to the passions that the two boys shared. “I met Jake Snipes when he joined Santa Monica Studio in 2019. We worked together on God of War Ragnarok, loved Carly Rae Jepsen and Death Note, and soon became close friends”.
It wasn’t long before that friendship grew into something more. The two became a solid and close-knit couple. “I was madly in love with him, and he was with me. cso madly in love that we decided to embark on a journey across the USA togethervisiting theme parks. We spent weekends playing together, hanging out in Los Angeles and California. [SEGUE MINOR SPOILER]
Players can initiate this Side Quest once they arrive in Midgard, but the tributes will be visible before that. In the initial stages of Svarthalfheim it will in fact be difficult not to come across a heart drawn on a rock. As Sam Handrick explains, that heart is a symbol of their relationship, something the two boys wanted to be present in God of War Ragnarok, this being their first game developed together. “We talked about how we would have loved to leave a symbol of us in Ragnarok. A sign within this game that was why we met, our first game together. He suggested we make a simple heart, with our initials in Norse runes, carved into this world we had created.”explains Sam Handrick.
Sadly, Jake passed away prematurely in 2020 due to his epilepsy. “I was heartbroken. I still am. I always will be”Hendricks explains. Clearly the months immediately following the disappearance were very difficult to digest for Sam, but as soon as the developer returned to work on God of War Ragnarok, he decided to pay tribute to Jake in the way he deserved. And so it was that Sam asked Eric Williams, Game Director of the game, who immediately accepted the request.
“I will forever be indebted to Eric Williams. Jake and I used to talk to him every week, and every week Eric would suggest a new place in LA to visit for that weekend. When I got back to work, I asked Eric if we could put in a memorial to Jake. He did much more. I told Eric and the team about Jake’s suggestion about having our initials engraved inside a heart. And both he and the team reciprocated with something even more special. A story of two men who met in an often cruel world, and who found peace simply by belonging to each other.
“I wanted this story to become one of many that Queer people already know: traveling into a world that doesn’t always understand you, only to find a place that truly makes you feel at home. And sometimes that place is just a person. And even something as simple as a recipe can be a connection that reminds you of home“says the developer, also launching an important message and trying to be a support to all those people who are in difficulty for the most diverse reasons.
And he did it with eternal fire. A fire that not even Fimbulwinter can ever put out. “This fire will never stop burning. Through the coldest days, or the roughest nights. It will remain in this world that we have created in Santa Monica Studio and will always do so”. There are too many people who have made this possible to list them all, but to name a few.”concludes Sam Handrick, thanking his team and wishing everyone to find “home”.