Text and photos by Samuli Jääskeläinen
Sixth Isolation Jam was held June from 5th to 9th in Laxahvammur fishing lodge, middle of nowhere, Iceland. I was there with 13 other jammers to jam and have fun for a weekend. We were also joined by Subpixel Team who were filming a documentary about the jam. The documentary should be out in a couple of months, keep tuned! Jam produced a handful of games, you can see some of them here. Submitting the project was voluntary and working on personal projects was allowed, so not everything that was produced during the jam is at the Itch page.
The jam didn’t have a theme, but the extreme nature around us and the isolated jamming environment were encouraged to be used as a source of inspiration. Jóhannes, the organizer of the jam, is a sheep farmer and we got to pet his sheep and newborn lambs on one evening. You can see sheep as an indirect theme as the jam as most games featured them in some shape of form. We also did a small hike on the fields before starting the jam. The weather was really nice, the wind was strong, as it always is in Iceland, but the sun was shining warmly. We really lucked on the weather for the weekend!
Our team made a pocket sized ram adventure, Woolball’s backyard, during the weekend. I wrote the game logic and Sofi Kurtti organized the pixels on the screen into nice shapes. Our goal was to try out zgb, a game engine for the original Game boy. The game turned out really well and we had fun tossing our Game boy during the development to other jammers to get some quick playtesting in. The lodge also had a lan setup of three original Xboxes for nightly Halo 2 battles after each jamming day. So obviously we also put the game on a game boy emulator on Xboxes and played it on the big screen after it was done!
I’ve jammed around the world on various different game jams. Isolation was definitely one of the more memorable jams I’ve had the pleasure to attend. The relaxing atmosphere, inspiring locations and fun people made it an awesome weekend. All the non-jamming related activities gave nice breaks to coding, but didn’t divert too much to affect productivity. Iceland is an interesting country and every time I visit there I learn more how horribly ruthless nature there is. All the people jamming were great, it was nice to catch up with some distant old friends and make new jammer buddies!
Isolation Jam will happen next year one again. Follow Kollafoss Game Farm for further information. The space is limited, so be quick to apply when registration opens!
Let us know if you are traveling to an interesting game jam somewhere in the world – we would be happy to host a story of it at Finnishgamejam.com!