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.

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.

Interested in another game like this? Check out System Syzygy by Matthew D. Steele. Keep passing the torch!

System's Twilight on Modern Machines

The game does not run on modern Mac OSX. (The last release was in the year 2000, and I had to boot up an old Mac then to recompile it!)

However, you can run the game under a classic Mac emulator. I have packaged the game up for modern Mac and Windows machines:

These packages are based on Mini vMac, an open-source classic Mac emulator. Special thanks to David Pfaltzgraff-Carlson, who set up Cliff Johnson's puzzle games using Mini vMac in this manner. I just copied his package configuration.

(Yes, these packages include an unlicensed Mac ROM. The ghost of Steve Jobs can come yell at me about it.)

Some Notes on Play

When your character (the red shape) is on the screen, you're either clicking through dialogue or moving around. Click left or right on your platform to move; click on nearby platforms to jump. The cursor will indicate places you can move to.

You can go to the game map (under the Game menu) at any time. This will show you all completed and in-progress levels. You can revisit a completed level to replay its dialogue (but not its puzzles).

The You menu is your inventory.

To quit, close the game (File / Quit and Save) and then shut down the emulator (Special / Shut Down). Don't just kill the emulator, or you may corrupt the Mac disk. Yes, this was a real problem in the old days.

Your game is saved on the disk images (disk1.dsk and disk2.dsk) inside the emulator package. That is to say, your save files are not kept in your real home Documents or Library folder; if you uninstall the package, your save game is gone. This is bad form on modern OSes (and is the reason the apps aren't developer-signed!). But that's the way Mini vMac works. Sorry.

The Historical Web Page

(This section is very, very out of date!)

System's Twilight 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.)

(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).

Bonus Downloads

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

Update, 2017: Here's scans of all of my design notes from back when I was writing the game.

The one hint

I do not give out puzzle hints, because I hate to spoil other people's fun. Back in the day, you could get help from other players by asking on the Usenet group. These days, you just Google.

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.) His web page is no longer available, but you can revisit it on the Wayback Machine: 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 August 27, 2017.

Purchase System's Twilight shirts and wall art via Zazzle

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