Avoid suspicion. Lie to your friends. Eliminate your enemies.
Cry Wolf is a multiplayer Web game created to promote a movie of the same name coming to theaters this September. And if the movie is executed as well as the game has been, it will likely be a hit at the box office.
"Cry Wolf, the game, pits two groups of unequally informed players against one another in a discussion-centered contest of survival."
The Flash-based game makes use of AOL Instant Messenger by logging you into the game using your AIM screen name, no other registration is required to play. The lobbies and in-game chat utilize the Flash Comm Server for multiplayer communication, and yet the game encourages the use of AIM to communicate privately with other players to form alliances and gather information. Hotlinks that open external AIM chat windows are included on every player's avatar.
A new game is formed with a flock of between 7 and 15 players. The multiplayer game server secretly assigns most of the group to be sheep, and only a few to be wolves. The sheep do not know wolves from sheep, and yet the wolves know of each other. The exact number of wolves is dependent upon the number of people playing. In a 7-person game there is only one (1) wolf; whereas a 15-player game begins with three (3) wolves.
If you are a sheep, your job is to figure out who is a wolf, and vote them out out of the flock. If you are a wolf, you are trying to help your fellow wolves make it through the game undetected, devouring sheep in the process.
There are three (3) phases to the game: daytime, sudden death, and nighttime. In daytime, everyone chats together and tries to form alliances however they can to sleuth out and expose the wolves. During this time each person selects someone whom they believe to be suspicious. Sudden death ends the daytime phase with the two (2) most suspicious players being voted on by the remaining players as the one to be ousted from the flock. After one is ousted, nighttime takes over with all the sheep going to sleep, and the wolves free to decide who to eat, thus reducing the number of sheep by one (1).
The game ends when all the wolves are driven away, or when the number of wolves outnumber the sheep.
The game server is represented by a faceless character called the "Shepard", which is responsible for maintaining flow throughout the game. Periodically, the Shepard will provide clues to the group, and will sometimes whisper only to certain players about another player with whom to trust. At nighttime when the sheep are 'sleeping', some will be given 'dreams' about other players who can or cannot be trusted. These visions and clues must be discerned carefully however, since other sheep are often included in the visions.
Apparently the characters in the movie play a similar game, and the game itself is not a new concept. I have heard from more than a couple of people who have experienced something like it before played in groups (called Mafia or Werewolf). It works surprisingly well as an online multiplayer Flash game, so well in fact that I couldn't stop playing it for hours once I started. Terribly addictive. Excellent fun. Click.
The writer/director of the film, Jeff Wadlow, has been maintaining a blog about his experiences creating the movie, and the game.