Donald Hays

Uploaded Sunset Again

January 14, 2016

I just re-uploaded Sunset to my site.

Back in 2007, Apple released the iPhone. Apple didn’t announce the App Store then, saying instead that web apps would be the “sweet solution.” People weren’t terribly keen on that, but I thought JavaScript had much to offer on the iPhone, so I set out to make a game that pushed the boundaries as much as I could.

I decided to make a 3D turn-based RPG. Sunset was the result. I released it in January of 2008, shortly before Apple announced the iPhone SDK. The first wave of native games easily trumped my game’s visual fidelity, but for a very brief window of time I honestly felt I had put something out that was at or near the top of the heap of what developers could make the iPhone do.

Much has changed since then. WebGL is a thing, enabling browser games to far exceed what I could do in a Canvas tag. Phones have gotten orders of magnitude faster. I’m pretty sure my iPhone today is faster than the iMac I developed Sunset on. In fact, because of how fast modern phones are, I made a minor change to Sunset today before uploading: as a performance optimization in 2007 I only did a 3D raycast against every fourth column of pixels, leading to a stair-stepping pattern when viewing walls at extreme angles. I have removed that resolution limit, so your device will now raycast all 320 glorious columns of pixels. Marvel at the fidelity!

I played the game again to make sure it still worked (age has a funny habit of breaking old software, even though the software itself didn’t change). I grimace at a lot of my bad art, but I think the gameplay—simplistic though it be—holds up pretty well. I like the difficulty curve, level progression, and item stats. You struggle for a bit, then get a nice weapon upgrade and feel like an invincible God, then you move on to the next zone and things get hard again.

So if you want to play a small, free game that might keep you busy for a few hours, give it a try!