In an era where new games are sometimes considered "dated" 12 months after their debut, one man has spent 32 years keeping a single title active.
Michael Casteel has been building and maintaining his version of Klondike longer than many of his fellow App Store developers have been alive. The Mac version of the card game traces its lineage back to the earliest days of Apple's iconic personal computer.
These days, Casteel maintains both the OS X and iOS versions of the solitaire game as a hobby. The game is one of thousands of solitaire offerings in the App Store and is easy to miss when browsing titles.
Its history, however, is unmatched.
Casteel said that he was working primarily as a business software developer in 1984, when Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh. Taking an instant shine to the Mac, he set out to build a game.
"With the announcement of the Mac, it seemed the age of the personal computer had really arrived," he told The Register.
"It was clear they were going to make inroads in the home and we thought maybe we should get into it."
Originally a shrink-wrapped commercial game, Klondike never quite made it as an off-the-shelf product, but the game would soon find a home for itself in the burgeoning market of Mac shareware.
From there, Klondike would endure through Apple's rise in the late 1980s and into the PowerPC days of the early 90s and the Cupertino giant's decline to the brink of bankruptcy before Steve Jobs returned.
Casteel noted that, though the Mac has never gained a foothold as a gaming machine, casual titles such as Klondike have always been able to stick around and thrive on Apple machines.
Though Klondike was kept up-to-date through the transition to OS X in the early 2000s, it was the rise of Apple's mobile platform that really breathed new life into the game. By 2008, Casteel had retired from the professional world and, his curiosity piqued by iOS, set about to take a game originally written on Pascal and port it to Objective C and iOS.
"It kind of rekindled things. I got to learn a new language, I got involved in Github, it was programmer heaven," he said. "I didn't have any schedules and I didn't have any bosses hammering on me."
From there, Casteel was also able to update the OS X version as an Objective C application and take advantage of a 21st-century developer environment, though he does occasionally pine for the old days: "I have to admit I was quite fond of Pascal, it was a clean language. Objective C brings a lot of the baggage of C with it."
These days, Casteel maintains both free and paid versions of Klondike for iOS on the App Store, and the OS X version can be found on the Mac App Store, true to its form as a shareware title with a requested $10 payment.
His advice to other old-time programmers who might be looking to get back into the game? "Go for it, though at this point I'd say go for it in Swift." ®