Michael Flarup
Jan 29 · 6 min read

This past year was more of everything for me; more freelance, more games, more talks. Just more. It has been eventful and exciting but also challenging. Our co-working space Spilhuset saw a lot of good people outgrow their offices and we struggled to find the right tenants. Northplay was busy with activity but we struggled to keep up with costs of running a growing studio. I worked with amazing people on some really worthwhile projects and was invited to speak at an all time high amount of conferences— but balancing and planning these things did lead to periods with more than desired stress-levels. I guess you could say that the year has been filled with fantastic experiences, more of everything I enjoy doing but with an undertone of some genuine entrepreneurial boxing.

Like i did in 2016 and 2017, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the things I’ve been most happy about this past year and reflect on what I’d like to achieve in the coming 12 months.

Here’s this year’s video edition of everything I worked on.

🏝 Family adventure in the Maldives

Early 2018 I went on a trip of a lifetime with my family to the Maldives. We spend two weeks on a little island aptly named ‘Sun Island’. This was an amazing trip with my wife, her parents and our 4 year old. It doesn’t have to be a costly trip to the Maldives every time, but these types of memories are very high on my yearly list of priorities. These are experiences that will be with both young and old forever.

I shot a video review of the Mavic Air while on Sun Island. Just look at this place!

🥊 Pushing through with Northplay

My small entertainment design studio Northplay entered the year with a lot of momentum. We had client work lined up and a lot of ideas for what we wanted to create in 2018. We had just shelved a rather ambitious PC survival game and was looking for something more manageable. Most days at Northplay there’s a few ideas bubbling. One of those ideas at the time was inspired by the controls we had just built for a client based around swiping. We wanted to see if we could take that further in a more action-RPG-like way. We built a prototype which we liked and then greenlit the project that would later be known as Norse. Long story short, Norse was also a complex game with a lot of unknowns. Surprise! We had fled from one too-big-for-us game and right into another. At the same time client work was drying up leaving us with growing costs and dwindling income. Late summer we took a pretty tough decision to shelve Norse and ship 4 other games before the end of the year.

Northplay at the end of 2018

We shipped Planet Life in October, Super SuperMarket in November, Conduct TOGETHER! for the Switch and then Fly THIS! in December.

I could write a lot about the work that went into this, but this is a post about my highlights. Making that tough call, setting the bar high and then together with everyone on the team reaching that goal was absolutely the highlight of everything we did at Northplay in 2018. Bootstrapping a small studio the way I do mine is not easy and there’s every possibility that I might be writing a post-mortem one of these days— but moments like these launches make me so proud of what we achieve together.

Also, the games we released were the best we’ve ever made. Here’s the trailer for our first console game, Conduct TOGETHER! Completely redesigned for co-op play and console controls.

Growing up with a gameboy in my hands, releasing something for a Nintendo platform was a big childhood highfive.

Fly THIS! took everything we learned from building Conduct THIS! and I think it’s the prettiest, most fully formed gamedesign we’ve ever shipped

📣 My public speaking reaches an all time high

If you’ve been following my work these past few years you know that giving talks at events and conferences have become a reoccurring thing. In 2018 that particular part of my career reached an all time high and I gave talks at more than 30 events in 10 different contries. It took me to Berlin, Bristol, Oslo, Nantes, Torino, Antwerp, Las Vegas & New York and several places around Denmark.

I talked about icons and gave workshops on icon design. I shared stories about making games with Northplay and what we learned building our first augmented reality game. I shared my journey of making things and what I have learned along the way.

I met a lot of amazing people and had some experiences that are unique to this lifestyle of traveling, entertaining and teaching. It’s been an incredible privilige to be able to continue on this trajectory.

Closing the book on 2018 & a few thoughts for 2019

There’s a lot more I could highlight and I think the video at the top of this post shows just how eventful and filled to the brim with projects, trips and experiences these past twelve months have been. 2019 is going to be different in some important ways. Here’s what I’ll be focusing on.

Balance. As someone with a lot of irons in the fire this is something I’m always thinking about. In 2018 the scales tipped a bit too far into the stressful area and this year I want to make a bigger effort to schedule my time, stick to my todo lists, call it a day and not say yes to every single thing that comes my way.

Sustainability. This year the focus of everything I do must be centered around making each of my many projects a sustainable endeavour. That can be from a business perspective or from a time perspective. Games, side projects, public speaking. Whatever it is, it needs to be something I can maintain that somehow gives me more than it takes.

Teaching. I’d like to teach more. Public speaking is part of that but I’d like to explore other ideas on how I might do more to pass on what I have learned. Could be teaching an online class, making more YouTube videos or writing more.

All-together I found myself in the right place this year, although possibly spread a bit too thin. I’ll take the best of it with me and try to make 2019 filled with more of what I love in a way that is better for me, the people around me and the projects I choose to focus on.

Have a great year everyone and thank you for reading 🎉

___

Michael is a Danish designer, entrepreneur & speaker. He runs entertainment development studio Northplay, Pixelresort and design resource platform Apply Pixels.

Michael Flarup

Written by

Designer, entrepreneur & keynote speaker. I love making things, going on adventures and telling stories.

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