The Canopy

What is The Canopy?

The Canopy is an (MM)ORPG space trading and combat simulation game in which you command your own space ship through a vast galaxy of star systems, make trades, mine for resources, defend yourself against pirates, or simply explore unknown far off worlds.
This game is currently under development, and it may be several years before the game becomes available, keep reading to learn more!

Why?

Okay, you’re still interested to learn more – great!

When I began writing computer programs at the tender age of 5 (yeah, not kidding, I wasn’t good by any measure, but I could copy from the 8-bit micro user manual, and make small changes), my passion was for writing video games. This passion never left me, and as I grew older and through my high school years, I continued to write simple game programs. Though I never did write anything to clever or special, I never lost my interest or desire to write a truly great video game.

A few years passed and I saw the emergence of 3D games begin to take hold. I remember writing simple 3D demos before 3D accelerator hardware even existed, and marveled at some of the pointy polygon games appearing on the market. Unfortunately, this is where my desire to make and publish my own video game title really started to become a distant dream. Games companies began investing more and more money into huge teams to build high-end simulated worlds, using hardware I could scarcely afford to own. I also found myself leaving school and needing to find work to support my existence.

At that time, I took my dive into writing database applications for various companies, and left behind my dreams of coding games. Frankly, most video game companies don’t pay so well as application software houses do, and they tend to have far more challenging working conditions. None the less, I did apply to one or two companies in the game world, but didn’t have any real success in that area. So I stuck to what I knew, and continued to work in database application development.

Why a space game?

Inspired by the 84 title Elite by David Braben and Ian Bell, and then the 90’s sequel Elite Frontier, which I believe was credited to David Braben alone (though he had a team). As a child I had become interested in the idea of writing my own space trader. These games were amazing for their time, but as time progressed without a sequel, I started to see the possibilities for an MMORPG space trading game with more game mechanics and better game play.

In 2002 Electronic Arts released a title called “Earth and Beyond” which I believed was the answer to the game that I’d always wanted to build, and indeed it was a lot of fun, but it had unrealistic flight characteristics, quite limited game mechanics, and just as I was beginning to enjoy it in 2004 EA cancelled the game and shut down their servers. Fans later revived the game, around a decade later, but I’d moved on.

In 2014, David Braben returned to the forefront with his new title Elite Dangerous, a modern MMORPG sequel to the earlier Elite and Elite Frontier titles. I was again, of course very excited. I have a huge amount of respect for this game, which I still play often, but it is sadly still lacking many of the game mechanics that I’d like to see in a modern space trader. I feel that David Brabens attempts to keep the game grounded in plausible reality, somewhat restrict the game, and frankly, aren’t executed brilliantly. This leads to the game being quite limited in it’s mechanics and ‘grindy’, that-is, it takes a very long time to make progress, and worse, very little time to lose the benefits and rewards of that progress.

While I’m on the subject of space based games, I should also mention Star Citizen which is currently under development with Chris Roberts and company. Chris is responsible for several other space based titles, such as Wing Commander and Freelancer. I’ve played several of these earlier titles and they are impressive. In particular, Freelancer is closest to the type of game I’d like to write but it was also quite stale in terms of game mechanics.  Star Citizen looks like it may change all that, it has amazing vision, but is currently available only as a Beta, so one worth watching for the future.

For the moment however, no game exists which matches my vision (which I’ll share more details of at a later time). Even if such a title did exist, I’d still feel inclined to write my own. I see it as an achievement to be proud of, assuming I complete it. A persistent, living, evolving galaxy of human and alien colonies of my own making!

So can I really accomplish this?!

Alone? Eventually I will make the game I’ve dreamed of, but it will take a very long time to complete.
I am now committed and resolute in my intentions to write and complete this game, but in order to do so in a reasonable time frame, I’m going to have to enlist some help along the way. Perhaps a crowd funding campaign is in my future, or crowd sourcing of some kind? I’m not sure and need to give it more thought.

A more important question may be, do I have the skills?
The abrupt answer right now is no, but that’s never a good reason not to try.

I have kept an eye on the advancement of 3D graphics developments over the years, tried my hand with some physics simulations, written some computationally intensive projects, and generally tried to remain informed in some way, but the range of skills required for this project is vast. I will certainly need to acquire some new skills as I go, and remember, I’ve never yet completed a game title, nor worked on one commercially.

With the doubts well established, I intend to proceed anyway.

How you can help!

For the time being, I’m not seeking fiscal aid in developing this game, such things are for a later time. Instead, I’ve decided to write the game engine as an independent project from the game it’s self. The engine will be named DarkGlass, and will be an open source collaborative learning exercise, while aiming to become a sufficiently complete engine, that I can base the game project on it. See Here: http://chapmanworld.com/darkglass/

During the development of the DarkGlass, I’ll be live streaming just about every key press! If you’d like to help, a great starting point would be to subscribe to my Youtube channel and tune in from time to time. Here: http://youtube.chapmanworld.com

I certainly don’t expect you to watch every session or even any one session in full, lets face it, watching someone code isn’t enthralling, but by joining me on the stream from time to time you’ll help to keep me motivated. At a later time, I’ll open up the engine project for others to contribute, and attempt to set up systems for code-review and other such details.

Watch this space!

As I begin, and continue to make progress on this project, I’ll come back here to update this page with news.
Eventually game  (“The Canopy”) will get it’s own website of some kind, but until then, this will be my holding page for it.

Thanks for reading!

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