Adelina’s Slavic Game Jam Trip

As a part of our scholarship program, the Finnish Game Jam sent Adelina Lintuluoto to the Slavic Game Jam (PL) to represent the Finnish jamming scene. Here is Adelina’s report about her jam experience.

Slavic Game Jam 2019

Slavic Game Jam (SGJ) is an event focused around game development. It takes place each year in Warsaw, Poland. At its core lies the 48-hour long jam. SGJ is all about providing a competition-free, friendly environment for jammers with lectures, workshops, a pre-party and a hand full of other activities. This year was the fifth edition with over 200 participants. They aim to be a truly international event, this year with participants from places like all the Nordic countries, France, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Czechia and many more.

I arrived in Warsaw early on Thursday and swung by the hostel recommended to me by the event organizers. My naivety and optimistic view on life usually puts me in trouble, just as it did when I arrived at the reception, and tried booking a bed only to have the staff laugh in my face saying I definitely should have booked ahead (disclaimer; don’t imagine a Disney villain laugh, more of an amused chuckle. The staff at this hostel was incredibly nice and helpful. In general, the hostel was in top shape!). They said they could offer me one night, which I gladly accepted. Sleeping at the jam site was always an option anyways!

The ‘Slavic talks’ would only start at 2 P.M., so I had a few hours to explore the city. This is about the time I realized Warsaw is an amazing place for vegan cuisine! I happened to pass by a few vegan restaurants thinking ‘oh I must’ve stumbled in on a vegan street’. However next corner — same thing. I enjoyed the street food as much as I could, but the catering at the jam was amazing so I also made sure never to skip a meal there.

The venue for the talks, as well as, the rest of the jam was the Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer Management, located at the Warsaw University of Technology. The Centre is a newly built six-story building that provided us with plenty and spacious rooms with big windows and nice air condition. The talks were versatile and interesting! Ranging from ‘A Narrative Designer coming out of her well to shame mankind!’ by the one and only Julia Rässa, to ‘Game jam pitfalls and how to fall into them gracefully’ by a new favourite speaker of mine, Sos Sosowski (footnote; this is when I realized Julia would also attend the jam! Which made me so happy. Isn’t it amazing traveling for jams and reconnecting with friends you’ve made along your jamming path?)

Thursday ended with a pre-party at a cool location, cool music, cool people. So cool that when the night ended, me and my two newly made friends, Lucas and Gin, didn’t feel like heading back to the hostel just yet. We decided to head for the closest open shop. However when we reached it we had sobered enough to realize that getting two extra hours of sleep before a game jam is definitely more valuable than two extra hours of beers and late night storytelling.

The Slavic Game Jam is the chillest jam! The organizers encouraged the participants to have fun and goof around as much as possible. And I had the best team for that! My team for the jam consisted of Julia Rässä and Arash Naderi. The theme of this year was ‘Growth’ and we came up with an amazing idea: fondling low hanging fruit, hold the applause, to check for cancer! It was an idea we had a hilarious time coming up with, and it kept us laughing throughout the making of it (as well as fairly clear as to give us as much time as possible to goof around at the site and have fun with the rest of the jammers). Arash found a spot for us in the board game-jamming room. I kept glancing over my shoulder at this one board game being made. It looked amazing and finally I cracked, leaving my teammates for a few hours to selfishly play the game with creator Mantis Kozlowski, and somehow apparently help them create it. That’s the beauty of board games; the game mechanics can be set up in a matter of minutes, and then you iterate them by playing until you find the best version of the game. Playing is essentially making it!

The organizers came up with this thing called Hydepark, which happened for the whole duration of the jam. Anybody could book the seminar room to.. do whatever felt right. Do you want to have a project showcase, give a lecture or just play switch on the big screen? No better place than Hydepark. I can’t possibly count all the different activities, since there were new ones almost every half an hour, but to name a few; relax workshop, loving and owning your bugs a story sharing opportunity, karaoke, blender workshop, second and annual Mario tennis tournament.

So far I’ve only mentioned it once, which is not nearly enough. The catering at the jam was legendary. Full stop. We had meals three times a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to that we had a full-time available stock of fruits and bottled water. Even more, thanks to Google for Startups, who had a coffee stand open most of the day, we maintained the correct levels of caffeine and happiness. The organizers tediously encouraged us to eat lots of fruits and greens, drink water, sleep enough, move around, leave the computer now and then. The latter was nicely achieved on Saturday when we had an outdoor barbeque! Barbeque at a jam? Yep, that’s right, all you other jams now have to live up to that.

So much happened at the jam, so many amazing encounters with people. You remember me not getting a bed at the hostel? Well, Vador, a SGJ veteran with an apartment in Warsaw, stepped in and without hesitation offered me to stay with him and Julia. I can’t name drop every person I met but also worth mentioning are Radim, who always stuck by my side no matter how hopeless I was (#iblamelinux #justkiddingiloveyoulinus), Pablo for dropping by to make sure Julia’s and my humor stayed as cringe worthy as possible and that the puns of fondling fruit kept rolling in, and Elias for being a great conversationalist and my first opponent in a long row of people who I heroically beat in my favourite game jam game ever made.

The jam ended on Sunday with showcasing the games. To stay true to the chill ambience that had been present during the whole jam nobody had to prepare presentations for the big screen. Instead we just walked from room to room and checked out the other games. As it seems, keeping a non-competitive environment and encouraging everybody to eat well, drink water and sleep, resulted in a bunch of amazing games. You can find all the games here, among my favourites to try out is a snowboarding pear, a sawfish that saws and a two-player vine vengeance game.

The jam ended with a heartwarming talk from Kacper Domanski and the rest of the organizers. I had to actively resist my urge to stand up and go full Keanu Reeves, “Kasper you are breathtaking! Organizers you are breathtaking! Everybody attending the jam is breathtaking!”

I had plans to leave for Krakow after the show reel with a friendly soul who was driving there from the jam. However the day was not completely over with an after-party still on the schedule. How could I leave all my friends there? Instead, I decided to take the chance and find a way to get to Krakow the next day. The after-party was the perfect ending to the event, just all of us chilling at a bar reminiscing about the past couple of days. Kacper being the amazing host that he is invited as many as could fit to the after-after-party at his apartment. I heard whispers of Soplica and Switch, however sadly at this point the jam tiredness had viciously caught up to me.

I was really eager to go to Slavic Game Jams. After all the amazing things I’d heard from friends I thought ‘surely flying to Poland must be worth this.’ I was not disappointed. This event exceeded all my expectations. The relaxing atmosphere, abundance of awesome people and generous organizers made it all to what it is. It was my first time in Poland and I fell head over heels for it. It was with a bitter taste I left Warsaw however happy knowing that there is only one year left until the next one 🙂

Antti’s Nordic Game Jam Report

As a part of our scholarship program, the Finnish Game Jam sent Antti Kopenen 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! 

Children inspired games at the Pikku Kakkonen Game Jam

Children were acting as both creators and the audience of games in the unique Pikku Kakkonen Game Jam. Kids had drawn and sent hundreds of game characters and their characteristics for the jammers, who got to select the drawings that inspired them and create games around them.

 

As suitable, the game jam was located in the Yle’s studio in Mediapolis, Tampere, from where the Pikku Kakkonen show is aired. The inspiring surroundings featured a life-size doll house and a visit from the famous and frightening Morso. On Sunday, a group of children arrived to the site as voice actors, and tested the games.

 

There were 23 jammers, who made in total 6 games during 48 hours. The game jam was organized by Finnish Game Jam and Finland’s national public broadcasting company Yle. See and download the games from the jam’s Itch page.

Pikku Kakkonen Game Jam

We’re jamming games for children in collaboration with the beloved children’s tv show Pikku Kakkonen!

Finnish Game Jam partners up with Finland’s national public broadcasting company Yle to organize a unique kind of game jam. This time it’s all about the kids! Not only are they the target audience, but creators as well: Yle ran a nationwide campaign to collect drawings from children to be used as the main inspiration for the games.

In addition, jamming will take place in the studio set of Pikku Kakkonen, located in Tohloppi district of Tampere.

After the jam all of the games will be available for free on itch.io.

Pikku Kakkonen Game Jam
12.-14.10. 2018
Mediapolis, Tampere

Game jamming at Pocket Gamer Connects

For the third time in a row, Finnish Game Jam brought game jamming to the mobile game conference Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki. The Pocket Jam is run at the heart of the conference, where many bite sized mobile games and other games are born. This time the theme for the games was “Chain Reaction”, from which 10 games were completed. See them all from here!

The games that were finished and uploaded according to the deadline participated in a competition, where Pocket Gamer awarded three games and gave one honorary mention. Here are the awarded games:

1st place: ExeCUTE

Mikko “Mishicu “Aaltio – Music & Sound Design
Matti Isotalo – UI, Graphics
Emppu Nurminen – Visual Artist
Henri Sarasvirta – Programming
Joel Setterberg – Programming

2nd place: Sculpt

Miikka Harjuntausta – Code
Krista Erkkilä – Art
Nam Nguyen – Music

3rd place: Stock Market Panic

Henri Niva – Programming, Game Design
Ville Talonpoika – Programming, Game Design
Francesco Fontana – UI Design, Game Design
Hannu Koivuranta – Environment Art, Game Design
Arttu Norrlin – Character Art, Game Design
Valtteri Bade – UI Art, Game Design
Elie Abraham – Music

Honorary mention: Chain Lightning

Paavo Kyppö – Programming
Ivan Rubin – Art
Jani Gröhn – Design & Music

11 games made at the ASM Game Jam 2018

Finnish Game Jam organized the already traditional game jam at the Assembly Summer. In the sixth ASM Game Jam, participants created 11 games around the theme “Hot Hot Hot”. Everyone at Assembly was welcomed to join the jamming also as voice actors and playtesters.

See the compilation video and gameplay videos below, and check all the game projects from https://itch.io/jam/asm-game-jam-2018!

#7 hour jam, #Seittemätunnijamit, comes to SuomiAreena, Pori

Finnish Game Jam together with Veikkaus Game Studio will bring a game jam to the audiences of SuomiAreena on 19th July. This seven hour game jam will be placed at Kansalaistori at the heart of Pori at Veikkaus’ booth.

Anybody can join the jamming as voice actors at noon together with Finnish celebrities and politicians Aira Samulin, Kike Elomaa and Ilkka Kanerva. The finished games (if all goes well) will be available for play at 16:00.

Come talk about games and beat the score that Finnish YouTuber Herbalisti and Peter Vesterbacka will set for each game!

Jam Jam 2018 attracted game jam organizers around the world together

On June 29th, almost 70 game jam organizers from all over the world arrived into the middle of a Finnish forest in Sappee, Finland. Here the Finnish Game Jam organized the annual Jam Jam Festival. For three days, jam organizers and jammers discussed, networked and shared ideas.

 

Friday’s seminar was full with interesting talks, such as Sun Park talking about making weird games every month, Astrid Mie Refstrup about the obstacles for event organizing, and Arvi Teikari talking about the jam-born Baba is You game. The full list of the speeches included:

  • Project.99 – Making Weird Games Every Month – Sun Park, Turtle Cream
  • Event Organising – All the Obstacles to Look Out for – Astrid Mie Refstrup, Nordic Game Jam
  • Finding Identity of Slavic Game Jam over the Years  – Kacper Domański, Slavic Game Jam
  • Molesting the Match-3 Market and other Jammed Games – Petri Purho
  • Baba is You – Arvi Teikari
  • How I Tried to MAKE MUSIC 4 UR GAMES – Elie Abraham, Elie & Ian
  • Jamming Across the World – Some Challenges of Jamming in Different
  • Countries and Cultures – Jo Summers, Global Game Jam
  • Why Game Jam – A Story about Personal and Communal Benefits  – Miikka Harjuntausta
  • Jamming a Game while Cycling 600 km on a Tandem – Jonne Harja & Samuli Jääskeläinen

 

Saturday and Sunday consisted from more than 10 workshops, that anyone of the participants could organize. The workshops also including a 1h game jam, in which the participants created 8 games. In addition, the #JamBike duo Jonne Harja and Samuli Jääskeläinen arrived to the place with their tandem bike, coding a game as they cycled 60 km to the location. All participants were even given the possibility to try to ride and code with the bike.

  

In addition to the official program, a lot of sharing, discussing and creating new jam ideas happened in the 8 hot tubs and 9 saunas of the 8 cabins reserved for the festival. One of the saunas was even located in a bus that was driven from Kotka to Sappee just for the weekend.

   

IGDA Finland and some IGDA’s international guests convened in the Jam Jam as well, and the combination of game jam organizers and IGDA community was certainly a fruitful one.

  

Thanks to all participants for the successful event, and our sponsors Boozembly, Korulab and Futureplay Games and our supporter Neogames! Jam Jam will be back in 2019!

 

Jam Jam 2018 tickets now available

Finnish Game Jam is organizing the annual game jam retreat, Jam Jam, for game jam organizers and anyone interested in learning, discussing and sharing ideas on game jams.

The tickets are now available and will cover the rent of the cottages, Friday’s seminar, lunches, snacks and the bus rides from Helsinki and back. You can also buy a ticket only for the one-day seminar or volunteer as a help for the weekend. See more and get a ticket from Eventbrite.

Jam Jam 2018 is located in the middle of a Finnish forest, on top of a mountain called Sappeenvuori – about 2h car ride from Helsinki (see details from Sappee.fi). The Jam Jam 2018 is also supported by Neogames.

Games from Edu Game Jam

Teachers and game developers gathered together and created four new games at the first Edu Game Jam at ITK-konferenssi, Hämeenlinna. The jam was co-organized by Finnish Game Jam and the Growing Mind research project, and supported by Ministry of Education and Culture and Lenovo. Check out the games: Continue reading