Starlight Dawn


What This Is

Starlight Dawn is a game-like, story-like experience you have in your browser. You will navigate an imaginary world, reading messages, and hearing what individuals say. The maps you navigate, people you hear from, and messages you read impart information about the world you are navigating. You may discover goals or other places you want to go.

Once you click “Start”, or resume where you left off, you'll see a map made up of tiles. You control the avatar in the center of the screen by using the arrow keys on your keyboard, or tapping the arrow sections of the screen on your mobile device.

In the graphics below, your avatar is an animal, like so:

The avatar you control may change in different parts of the story. You may decide there is meaning to these changes. Your avatar may have different abilities, depending on the situation. Discovering this is part of the experience.

How to Play

As mentioned above, use the arrow keys or tap the arrows on your mobile device to move. This will move your avatar if it's allowed. There is a message log on the left side that will tell you if you tried to move somewhere you cannot move.

To read a message, move into the message's tile. In the screenshot above, you'd do that by moving two squares to the right. The message will be shown, and you can dimiss the message by pressing any key or by tapping on the message. You can read a message as many times as you like.

Some squares are portals that take you to other places. In the screenshot above, if you were to move down one square, you'd run into that town-looking thing, and this would take you into the town, where you can explore. Note that not all portals are what they seem. Sometimes a town is just a town and you can't go in. Other times, a bridge may be a portal. You'll just have to find out!

Playing on a Mobile Device?

If you are playing this on an iPhone, Android phone, or other mobile device, you should add this to your home screen as an app. For iPhone follow these instructions, and for Android follow these. Starlight Dawn works fine in a mobile browser, but it's a bit better when you've added it as an app.

What is the Goal of this Game?

This isn't a game, per se. There is a goal that, if you achieve it, will take you to the end of the experience, but pursuing this is up to you.

You should instead seek to explore the world, listen to people, and read messages. The world is quite large! Each square of the world has been chosen carefully, so there should be a lot to think about as you move around.

Note that, unlike a traditional game, there is no real game state, quests you will be measured upon, keys to locate, or monsters to fight. Your location is saved in your browser, so you can leave entirely and come back later, picking up where you left off. This is a convenience so you don't have to re-trace your steps.

That being said, not all portals are two way. Sometimes you'll find yourself somewhere with no obvious way to get back to where you where. This is intentional and part of the experience. But, there is no way to become stuck. There's always a way forward.

What is the Story, then?

This is not a traditional story, although it does contain characters, settings, plots, and so forth. This information is implied by the messages you read, people you listen to, or the maps you navigate.

You can take notes if you like, or just experience this world with only your memory to help fill in the blanks. Note that not all questions raised by the experience have clear answers. This is part of it.

What does “Update” Do?

If the game content is updated, your browser may not fetch the latest version. Clicking on “Update” should force an update. On mobile device, you must first click “More” to reveal a menu where you can then click “Update”.

Can I Restore a Saved Location on Another Device?

Currently, no. That being said, if you are a programmer or willing to poke around your browser's local storage, you might find a way!

Why Isn't This More Accessible?

I would love to make this experience more accessible to people that can't use a regular web browser. The problem is, I'm not really sure how that would work. If you know of techniques that can make a browser-based experience like Starlight Dawn more accessible, please email me and I will look into it.

Are you Familiar With Ultima?


What is Plausible?

I use Plausible to track the usage of the HTML pages on this site. It is not used at all during the experience, so once you click "Start", "Start Over", or "Resume", there is no tracking.

The reason I have this at all is so I can get a sense of how much traffic is on the site. Since it costs me money to run the site, I want to see what the general flow is like so I can be prepared. I realize that this information can be determined by examining server logs and that is something I would like to set up, but for now, this is what I have.

Plausible does not use cookies or track you across their customers' websites. You can read about their policy here.

I Found a Typo or Grammatical Error

I'm very sorry. I have reviewed the messages many times, but I obviously missed something. Please email me with the problem and I will get it fixed.

I Think Something is Wrong or Not Working

I've tried hard to make sure this experience works for as many people as I can. If you experienced an issue, please email me with the following information:

  • What browser you are using, including version

  • What device, including device and OS version

  • What went wrong, including screenshots

  • If you can, open up the console and copy and paste what you see there, too.