System's Twilight

An Abstract Fairy Tale

A Macintosh puzzle game
Version 1.1.0 (freeware)

cover image

This game is a story and a puzzle. The story is made up of several parts, not all of which may be obvious. The puzzle is made up of many puzzles, some of which aren't obvious at all.

That's all I'll tell you. The rest you get to figure out yourself. Have fun.

Puzzle-game enthusiasts will notice that this game is in the style of Cliff Johnson's classic puzzle games, 3 in Three and The Fool's Errand. However, be assured that the story and all the puzzles are original. In fact, as far as I know, all twelve kinds of puzzles are original. The interface is a step forward as well, allowing full control over your character's movement and the ability to pick up and carry objects.

It is compatible with System 6.0.7 or System 7, 8, or 9, any 68K Macintosh or PowerMac, and can be played on monochrome, 16-color, or 256-color displays. It requires only 1 meg of free memory. Complete help about the interface is available under the Help/Balloon menu (or, under System 6, the Apple menu.)

Sadly, it does not run on modern Mac OSX. It will work on an older PPC Mac under Classic emulation. Or, try a Mac emulator.

(Note: one user has reported an incompatibility with the "Font Smoothing" option in the Appearance control panel in MacOS 8.6. If you find most of the display text to be distorted and unreadable, try turning that option off.)

System's Twilight is freeware. It used to be shareware, but as of January 2000, it is entirely free. Version 1.1.0 of the game no longer asks for registration codes. If you have an older version, you can print out the code sheet and play the whole game without any payment.

The program is available on all the better Macintosh software archives. On Info-Mac, or any mirror thereof, it is under game/adv/systems-twilight-110.hqx. Here is a link by which you can download it (787K binhexed).

Want a System's Twilight t-shirt? The protagonist is on the front pocket. Your choice of shirt-back designs: a typical Twilight landscape, or a zodiacal arrangement of all the Twilight characters.

My thanks to Playmaker Software for handling the registration for System's Twilight, all the years it was shareware. And, even more, my thanks to everyone who's registered System's Twilight over the years. You folks kept me going.

Bonus Downloads

As a special present for Twilight's fifteenth anniversary (October 8th, 2009), have some memorabilia!

System's Twilight on Linux and Windows

System's Twilight should work with the current version of Executor. It will not work with earlier versions of Executor; if you try, you'll encounter errors when saving your game position. (Specifically, you need "version 2.1 pre-release 2" or later. But the company hasn't released a new version for years, so you probably have the latest one.)

Executor was a commercial Macintosh emulator from ARDI. It let you run Mac programs on Windows and (Intel) Linux systems. Executor is currently available as a free download. Use the serial number 99991004 and the authentication key n9rk57f369byp.

(Thanks to Cliff Johnson for the download tip. Mirrored copy of Windows executor is here.)

I am also told that Basilisk 2 is a good freeware Mac emulator for Windows, which System's Twilight will work on.

System's Twilight on Windows: Step-by-Step Instructions

Download Executor (download page, bittorrent link, http mirror.)

(If you have an older version of Executor, delete it before running the new one.)

Run the Executor app on your Windows machine. This is an installer. Tell it to install all the free stuff that comes with it. (You'll need at least StuffIt Expander.)

You'll wind up with desktop links called "Executor" and "Executor Full-Screen". System's Twilight works fine either way.

Run Executor. It will ask you to register. Use the serial number 99991004 and the authentication key n9rk57f369byp. (This key has been provided by ARDI to allow people to run Executor as freeware.) Executor will accept the key and then shut down.

Download System's Twilight. The result will be a file called "systems-twilight-110.hqx". Don't try to open this directly in Windows -- the result will not be happy.

Instead, move "systems-twilight-110.hqx" to the root of your C: drive. (Or any drive, actually. This just makes it easier to find from inside Executor.)

Start up Executor again.

You should see several open windows ("Freeware", "Demoware", "Shareware"...) If you don't, click the tiny folder button in the top left, and then double-click on the "Freeware" folder that appears in the toolbar. A "Freeware" window should open.

Click on the tiny file-cabinet button in the top left. The toolbar should now show cabinet icons labelled "C/:", "D/:", etc, corresponding to your Windows drives. Double-click on the one where you stashed "systems-twilight-110.hqx". A window should open, showing that drive.

Drag "systems-twilight-110.hqx" to the "Freeware" folder. You can now close "C/:". (Remember, the Mac puts the close button on the left side of the title bar!)

Click on the tiny ink-and-quill button in the top left. The toolbar should now show several application icons, including "Stuffit Expander". Double-click on this.

The screen is now blank, except for the menu bar. Go to the File menu and select "Expand". In the resulting dialog box, press the "Drive" button until the title "Apps" appears. In the menu under "Apps", double-click "Freeware". You should now see "systems-twilight-110.hqx". Double-click that. The dialog box should disappear (after a very quick progress bar.)

You are done with Stuffit Expander. Go to the File menu and select "Quit".

Your "Freeware" window should now contain a folder "System's Twilight f". Double-click this. You will see a window containing a colorful "System's Twilight" application icon, and a "READ ME FIRST" file.

Don't bother with the "READ ME FIRST". It crashes Executor, at least for me. It doesn't say anything that isn't on this web page anyhow.

Instead, double-click the "System's Twilight" application. Select "New Game..." It will first ask you to name your save file. In the future, you can reload your position by double-clicking directly on this save file.

You are now playing. Hit buttons on the screen, as appropriate. If there are no buttons, click on a screen area to move there. Watch the mouse cursor. For more information, select "Playing System's Twilight" from the Apple menu.

Sound doesn't work. I don't know why not. This is sad, because the sounds are cute, but you don't need them to get through the game.

Be sure to select "Save and Quit" (or alt-Q) before you close the Executor window. The game auto-saves, but only if you quit it cleanly.

Note that, by all accounts, the game runs better under Basilisk 2. In particular, the sound works. So should you use Basilisk instead of Executor? Probably. Problem is, Basilisk requires a copy of MacOS and a Mac ROM to function -- you have to download those separately. The step-by-step instructions above would have been twice as long, and also technically illegal under the DMCA. So for Basilisk, you're on your own.

The one hint

I do not give out puzzle hints, because I hate to spoil other people's fun. You might get help from other players by asking on the Usenet group.

However, there is one puzzle quite early in the game which has confused so many people that I decided it was unfair. This is the Swamp puzzle with the dwarf dragging a sack. (If you don't know what I mean, you haven't gotten there yet.) This is the one -- and only -- puzzle which I will give a hint on. If you want the solution, here it is.

Please don't write to me and ask for help on the rest of the game. I will refuse.

However, Wei-Hwa Huang has put together a large and detailed hint list. He did it entirely on his own, with no input from me (although I did provide some bibliographical notes for the end.) And it's impressive enough that I'm willing to link to it. Behold: The System's Twilight Hint Guide.

Version history

Version 1.1.0: This version is no longer shareware. The registration code screen has been removed, and the "About" screens indicate that registration is no longer required.

Version 1.0.5: This version is the same as 1.0.4, except that the ordering information has been updated, since the game is now distributed by PlayMaker, Inc. (This is nice for several reasons, notably that they accept 1-800 phone orders and credit card payments. See the ordering info and README file in the game for details.) If you have 1.0.4, you don't need this version; the old ordering information will continue to work too. If you have version 1.0.3 or earlier, you should get this version for the bug fixes listed below.

Version 1.0.4: This version fixes more bugs that were causing crashes on monochrome Macs (that is, Macs without Color QuickDraw.) In particular, the game would crash when you tried to pick up certain objects.

Version 1.0.3: This version fixes an intermittent crash in the orb-room puzzles. It also fixes several bugs that were causing crashes on monochrome Macs (that is, Macs without Color QuickDraw.)

Version 1.0.2: In this version, the shareware messages have been changed to clear up the confusion noted above. (The game has not changed; only the messages have been made clearer.)

This version uses the System 7 file dialogs if they are available. This may or may not resolve a reported problem with Now Menus under System 7.5.

Version 1.0.1: This version fixes a bug that mixed up the color table in certain circumstances. If you found that the game colors were changing randomly, especially when icons were moving around, get this version.

Verion 1.0.0: Initial release -- October 8, 1994.

Last updated January 7, 2012.

Purchase a System's Twilight t-shirt via Zazzle

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