It’s soon time for the third international Jam Jam Festival! The festival is held in the beginning of June in a cozy summer cottage environment. We are expecting more than 70 visitors this year!
Jam Jam is a festival and retreat for game jam organizers and anyone interested in learning, discussing and sharing ideas on game jams. Jam Jam 2019 is organized by the Finnish Game Jam and located in the middle of a Finnish forest, on a mountain called Sappeenvuori – only around 2h car ride from Helsinki.
The event consists of a one-day seminar with talks on game jams and jam games and one day of retreat. On the seminar day visitors can attend talks by many interesting game industry speakers. We have speakers from Finland, India, UK, Poland and Romania joining the Jam Jam this year!
On the retreat day you can decide what you work on – bring your jam organizing team and work with planning or debriefing your jams or come without an agenda and talk with all other jam organizers and jam-organizers-to-be, brainstorming new jams and sharing lessons on organizing events.
The venue is on top of the mountain Sappeenvuori, surrounded by beautiful Finnish nature and the power of the midnight sun of the Northern summer. The lodgings consist of eight well-equipped cabins with saunas and hot tubs.
As a part of our scholarship program, the Finnish Game Jam sent Antti Koppenen to the Nordic Game Jam (DK) to represent the Finnish jamming scene. Here is Antti’s report about his jam experience.
Jamming with the Giants – Nordic Game Jam 2019
The Nordic Game Jam is one of the world’s largest game jam events with around 700 jammers every year. It is held annually in various locations in Copenhagen, Denmark. This year the location was in The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, or KADK.
I came to Denmark before the actual jamming started. I wanted to hear the talks and participate in the workshops. I’m like sponge, sucking all the game dev information I can get. I personally got the best tips from a workshop by Brad Meritt on how to create depth to your small game. There was also a very handy talk from Sarah Nielsen about conveying your game visually. There were bunch of other talks and workshops too, but these two were also referred by other jammers as a great source of inspiration for their jam game.
I planned to participate in the Jam as an artist. I jumped in the NGJ2019 Discord group and started looking for a group. Soon after I got another invite from Gustav Bok, a Swedish Technical Designer working for Massive Entertainment. A great opportunity to work with a AAA-grade developer, I thought and said hell yes! Gustav was on his way from Malmö to Copenhagen, but he wanted me to meet with other team members who were already in the area. We sat down with Nikolaj de Haan, a Dutch composer and we were later joined by Jorge Yagüe, a programming student from Spain. Nikolaj was very easy going and relaxed. Jorge was more serious and effective in his approach.
We spent the day together attending speeches and talking about games. I felt like we got along well. Later in the evening we attended the Kick-Off party in a local Irish pub that was specifically set for the jammers. We spent the evening chatting with NGJ2019 volunteers. They were going to participate in the jam, after they got their volunteer duties out of the way. During the evening we tried to recruit one of the students to join our group, but she was reluctant. She was a bit intimidated by the competitiveness of our group, which I first thought was flattering, but thinking about it more, she probably meant Gustav from Massive Entertainment.
After full night’s rest, it was Friday. Yay! The day Jam would start! After the morning speeches our team gathered in the lobby to meet Gustav. He appeared to be very intelligent, positive and playful. He had what I can only describe as an aura of professionality around him. He had brought with him his friend Martin Blomkvist, an Animator and a Designer from Massive Entertainment. Gustav described him as one of the most talented designers he knew. Martin appeared more of a quiet guy overall, but not being shy to voice his ideas.
Next topic of the event was theme revelation, where the NGJ2019 staff had randomly picked a theme for us. This year’s theme was “That again!”. Wow, what an abstract theme I thought. Gustav as a technical designer was thinking about it more practically. He explained that the theme is kind of open ended and leaves room for repetitive game elements, or time travel mechanics. He had a vision of an assembly line with robots in his mind which he kind of liked.
After the theme revelation we had some team building games. Our team lacked one artist, so we devised a plan to split our group up and scout up for potential one. After half an hour we found Morten Bilet. He worked as a pilot and did game jams as a hobby. Morten was an easy going and friendly guy, with real positive attitude.
Next, we bumped into Gregor Ehrenstein, also working in Massive Entertainment as Senior Tech Programmer. A cheerful guy, always laughing. Gustav praised him as one the most talented programmers out there. Gregor was not really looking out to jam, but Gustav convinced him to join our team. At this point I was thinking to myself, how many of guys were there around from Massive Entertainment. Later Gustav revealed that the amount was at least 10, but they all just wanted to blend in the mass and not draw attention.
We gathered our full team and went to setup our “Base of Operations” in a quiet part of the jamming building. Gustav organized our sitting positions. Artists on the left side, programmers on the right side of the table, he said. Jorge brought an old chalk board from somewhere. A perfect place to draw our ideas. There we sat down together to discuss our game ideas. We toyed with ideas about cleaning simulation, burning houses, revisiting some famous disasters, defending a castle from some huge monster, building a robot over again and again. Nothing was off limits and ideas were flying left and right.
Later during the dinner, our game idea refined into defending a farm with old people from invading Ogre. The enemy would try to steal chickens and stomp the crops. Four players would work together to defend with old muskets and rakes. We also added crows that would come to pick the crops every now and then. It was all to be in 3D and I was little bit uncomfortable with the workload. We agreed that Martin would help with the animations.
We returned to a laughter filled jamming hall. Everyone was having fun thinking the craziest ideas. We pretty much had our idea set up and started installing latest Unity versions. Gustav told that he had 5 years’ worth of experience with Unity. To my surprise Gregor had never used Unity before and wondered why anyone would want to use it. In Martin’s opinion it was good Engine for prototyping a game, but it was too limiting for more advanced users. He told it was hiding some important stuff for the sake of usability. Unity also lacked free collaboration tool, which he thought would be a strong selling point for the Engine.
Jorge had already set up our version control. We were going to use Git Lab and Source Tree. Nikolaj suggested using FMOD would be the best thing for audio. I created mood board to communicate our art style to the rest of the team. Me and Morten agreed on using flat shaded low poly style, which basically means simple 3d objects without textures. To make this style look good I thought to top it up with Unity’s own post processing. I pitched the style to Gustav and he liked it.
Martin was doing project management and had set up a Trello board. We added our assets list to already quite full tasklist. Things were progressing fast. Gustav told us to prepare greyboxing versions for all the assets, which basically means doing simple boxes to have something to place on the level.
Gustav and Gregor were used to working together, which was reflected in their communications. They were constantly negotiating what they needed from each other, which things to prioritize and how long things would take to create. Gustav was setting up the overall project architecture, while Gregor concentrated on the details. Such professionalism was interesting to follow.
The evening went pretty much with setting up the basics to be ready for the Saturday, which would be full jamming day from morning to the night and probably even beyond. After Morten and I got the grayboxing done, I thought it would be good time to call it a day. I headed back to hostel to get few hours of sleep.
The next morning, I woke to a sunny Copenhagen and walked back to KADK. I was the first of my team to arrive, others were still away. I headed to canteen for the free breakfast. I couldn’t find any familiar faces, so I sat in a random table full of people. After some chattering people started talking about Baba Is You, which won the NGJ2017 and had just been released. I thought to myself, what a cool game, I wish I could meet the developer. Then a guy sitting across the table revealed that actually he was the developer, Arvi Teikari. What a nice surprise! He is a Finnish person just like me so of course we talked about saunas and our shared hobby of swimming in icy waters. I asked about where he got the idea for the Baba Is You game and he told me that it was actually from a banana, or what if the banana-is-not.
After the breakfast I headed back to our base and started refining the greybox versions of our 3D models into more detailed placeholders. Other team members started coming back in one by one. I heard that Gustav and Martin drove all to way back to Malmö for a sleep, so it might take a while for them to get back.
Hours went by while we refined our 3D assets together with Morten. I also took control over the level designing and set up the post processing. Something was off and post processing package ended up being deleted during version controlling. To this day we don’t quite know exactly what caused it. Perhaps just my incompetence with Source Tree program.
I peeked at Nikolaj’s work. He used FMOD and was happy with the Unity integration side of it. He also showed that he had coded audio manager and how we could trigger sounds with his system. I was quite surprised by his skill in programming. You don’t usually see a talented musician coding on this level.
Gustav and Martin arrived after midday. Their journey back to Malmö and into sleep went into the early morning hours. We went on building the project until Gregor had us do a team meeting. He was worried because were past the Jam mid point and we still didn’t have any game play. We ended up cutting some features, like attacks against the ogre with rake and muskets. Instead we now focused on simplified player mechanics of picking and dropping. The ogre would be scared off by two players being close by.
Evening turned into night and everyone was working hard. The art side of our game came together around midnight. After that there was only polishing and taking screenshots of our game. Gustav told me it would be okay for Morten and me to go and have some sleep. They were going to stay with Gregor, Martin and Jorge and crunch through the night to get the needed game play features up and running.
Happily, I went back to hostel to get few hours of sleep. Early in the morning I was welcomed back by a happy but tired punch of developers. They told me how Jorge had tried to sleep under the table, but Gregor managed to accidentally abuse him with a chair. They were both laughing about the whole thing.
We had 6 hours left to work on the project before it needed to be published. I was tasked to implement animations into Unity. I also got to modify Ogre’s script a bit. I was happy to have some variety to my tasks list. The hours went by pretty fast. Nikolaj in the meantime had gathered a group of jammers in a room to do crowd sounds. He ended up sharing the results in the NGJ2019 discord channel for everyone. Such a nice gesture.
Release time creeped closer and everyone was hurrying to finish. I had done polishing on the art side to reflect the final production value. Gustav was pleased with the “graphical fidelity” of things. That made me quite proud.
We had to move our base of operations into the jamming hall and setup a place for people to play our game. This year’s jam was going to be decided by a collective vote of all the jammers. Jammers would go around playing each other’s games and put a token in a pack that represented their favorite jam game.
We ended up having technical difficulties while presenting our game. We only got two players to work for our four-player game. Also, there were multiple minor bugs and one major one that broke the game. Even though we had all these problems, people still liked our game. Especially the children that were testing games with their jammer parents. It was nice so see a new generation of jammers growing up.
I went around to see what others had created, and there were some really awesome games. For example; burger patty racing game, game about lump in your leg, a wild-west stand-off game in the dark, a chicken scooping VR game stand out in my mind. One that gathered the most people around I think was game “1-1”, parodying Super Mario Bros. The game had Mario in a 10 glitchy loops. The game ended up being voted third of the game jam. The winner was “The Lump”. A game where you wake up during the night with a lump in your leg and try to get rid of it. It was a really creative, weird and silly game. I think the makers of “The Lump” really hit the spot in what comes to jamming culture. Let creativity fly, make a silly game, have fun and you will do well!
Overall the NGJ2019 was simply the best one I’ve attended so far. I got to jam with some giants of the industry, made new friends, enjoyed sunny Copenhagen, learned a lot and most importantly had plenty of fun. Thanks to Finnish Game Jam Association for making this happen!
The Finnish Game Jam has sent Antti Koponen to the Nordic Game Jam held in Copenhagen on April 25-28 2019 as part of the FGJ’s Scholarship Program.
Koponen is studying game development at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and is passionate about making games and jamming. He is a multifaceted developer having jammed in various roles including 3D artist, UI artist, sound designer, and game designer. He has solo jammed from home at Ludum Dares 40-43, participated at a number of jams at Kajaani University as well as Museo Game Jam and the Global Game Jam organized by FGJ. The scholarship includes a ticket to the event and a 300€ travel stipend.
The FGJ Scholarship Program was created to help Finnish jammers to travel to international game jams to promote the Finnish jamming scene, share jamming culture and promote international cooperation.
Nordic Game Jam is an annual game jam held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the years the event has grown from a classic 48 hours game jam to including two days of conference with talks, workshops, round tables and a pre-party. NGJ is one of the largest game jams in the world, with 900 participants as of 2016. Website: https://www.nordicgamejam.com
Quantum Wheel, a game jam about quantum technology, was held in the heart of frozen Helsinki in February 15-17. The event was first of its kind, bringing independent game developers and physicists under one roof to innovate a union of games and quantum computing.
Finnish Game Jam is no stranger to quantum theory, having organized already four Quantum Game Jams in the past. Physicists have been invited to jam since the very first event, and for a couple of years jammers have had access to Quantum Black Box, atool developed at the University of Turku. Quantum Wheel was the first event organized in collaboration with IBM as well as the first event to provide jammers with the IBM quantum computer Q Experience.
During the weekend Allas Sea Pool was inhabited by over 50 participants who made 10 games, all utilising quantum technologies in one way or another. The theme for the jam was “noise in the wheel”. The theme was inspired by the eponymous SkyWheel, where teams spent some time jamming above the city.
One team took a step further, bringing quantum computing into physical world. They designed a card game that teaches players how to program on a quantum computer, and an actual quantum computer will also decide who wins the game.
We are proud to have a new exciting jam in February 2019!
Quantum Wheel is a three day game jam at the heart of Helsinki aimed at creating games based on Quantum Physics, both for education and research.
The event continues the Quantum Game Jam series, and it is a collaboration with quantum physicists from the University of Turku, Aalto University and from IBM Zurich, who will participate in the jam. The list of participants includes also many experienced game developers and jammers from Finland and around the globe.
In this jam, the participants create games that utilize Quantum Black Box (tool developed at the University of Turku) and/or IBM quantum computer Q Experience. Otherwise the teams are free to choose their games’ directions and technologies used.
The jam will have around 50 participants and will be located at the cozy Sea Allas Pool in the center of Helsinki. Additional inspiration for the jam will be extracted from riding the SkyWheel Helsinki!
Quantum Wheel 15-17 February 2019 Allas Sea Pool / SkyWheel Helsinki Katajanokanlaituri 2
Allas Sea Pool is a gardenlike oasis in the heart of Helsinki with a large pool area and magnificent saunas. In addition to swimming, bathing in the saunas and good food, Allas Sea Pool offers many options for wellness. Spending a perfect day at Allas means relaxing, lingering, enjoying with all senses, both the body and the mind – in the middle of Helsinki, next to the Market square, every day of the year. Website:https://www.allasseapool.fi/en/
SkyWheel Helsinki is an Observation Wheel is situated in Katajanokka, one of the most beautiful locations in Helsinki, right next to the market square. From 40 meters high you may see over the city, sea and surrounding islands. Website:http://www.skywheel.fi/en/
Global Game Jam weekend has come and gone and we are one jam experience richer. 48 hours is a short time to develop a game from scratch, and every year we are amazed at what the jammers are able to do within such a limited timeframe!
On a global scale there were in total 47 000 jammers who made 9000 games at 860 sites in 113 countries, which makes this Global Game Jam the biggest game jam ever held! 10 new countries joined the fun, as sites were set up in Azerbaijan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Myanmar, Namibia, and Rwanda.
The global theme for GGJ19 was “what home means to you”, and jammers incorporated it in their games in countless different ways: there was homesickness, homelessness and house parties, to name a few.
We were lucky to have amazing national and local sponsors this year as well. We want to extend a big thank you to all sponsors one more time, we couldn’t have made #FGJ19 this awesome without them
The national gold sponsor was Supercell.
The national silver sponsor was Veikkaus Game Studio.
Thank you again everyone who attended or followed the action through our streams and social media, it was a blast of a weekend!
Finnish Game Jam, as part of Global Game Jam, is the big event we’ve all been waiting for! Global Game Jam happens all around the world during the weekend of 25-27 January 2019, and in Finland there are many jamming locations to choose from.
With only a couple of weeks to go there’s still plenty of time to join the fun! Registrations to the Finnish events is done in Eventbrite.
Finnish Game Jam has received a prestige art award in Finland. Suomi-palkinto (Finland Award) is an annual arts and culture recognition and was granted by our Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sports, Sampo Terho. Suomi-palkinto has been awarded annually since 1993 and it can be granted as a recognition of an impactful career, remarkable achievement or promising initiative within the field of arts and culture.
Finnish Game Jam organization is in great company. Six other artists and groups were also awarded: legendary musician Remu Aaltonen, Alt Arkkitehdit, author and translator Jyrki Kiiskinen, Koko Jazz Club, creative director Paola Suhonen and movie director Selma Vilhunen.
“We have a lot of talent in Finland. Some of them work in groups, but many work alone. More and more of them have also gained international reputation. Creativity is born from individuals, which can be supported by the community and the surrounding society”, explains Minister Sampo Terho.
“This year we have wanted to honor remarkable artistic expertise with the Finland Award. Artists, who have been impacting the Finnish art scene for a long time. On the other hand, we have also wanted to recognize the new trends in the Finnish art and culture”, continues Terho.
Finnish Game Jam was recognized for our impact to the Finnish game making communities and as a unique organization also within the international landscape.
Finnish Game Jam would like to congratulate all the awarded artists and communities and thank everyone participating, collaborating and supporting our events!
As 2019 draws closer so does the main event of the year: Finnish Game Jam!
It is again time to get jamming with the rest of the planet. Finnish Game Jam 2019 is organized as part of the Global Game Jam that will be held throughout the entire world at the same time. Naturally Finland will participate, now for the 10th time!
We currently have 8 public locations confirmed in Finland: Helsinki, Turku, Vaasa, Kymenlaakso, Kajaani, Ylivieska, Kuopio and Turku. If your area is missing a site here is your chance to organize one yourself! Site applications can be made through Global Game Jam’s website. Site application is open until January 10th, but we recommend you act fast to be able to prepare for the jam.
If you have questions about organizing a site or need help feel free to contact us.
More info will follow throughout December!
Finnish Game Jam (Global Game Jam) 25-27 January 2019