Town of Salem
Town of Salem is an online multiplayer social deduction strategy game developed and published by indie game developer BlankMediaGames. It was released on Steam for Windows and macOS on December 15, 2014. Early alpha and beta versions were browser-based and free-to-play. On October 14, 2018, the game was released for mobile iOS and Android platforms after a successful and long-supported Kickstarter fundraiser. Town of Salem is reportedly the largest online version of the classic social deduction party game Werewolf. It has a player base of over 8 million.
|Town of Salem|
|Engine||Adobe Flash, Unity|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing, strategy, social deduction|
The game is inspired by the party games Werewolf and Mafia, in which players adopt different roles belonging to different teams, of an informed minority and uninformed majority, aiming to eliminate each other for control of the village or town. As the name implies, the game takes place in the historical town of Salem, Massachusetts, alluding to the infamous witch-hunt trials that killed innocent townspeople due to paranoia and superstition. The chief strategy of the game is to survive and accomplish win conditions. Players use a combination of role abilities, teamwork, communication, deduction and deception to achieve victory.
The game features 49 unique roles, including ones from The Coven expansion pack. Seven game modes and one custom mode are available on the vanilla. The bespoke modes are Classic, Ranked Practice, Ranked, Rapid, All Any, Rainbow, Dracula's Palace, and Town Traitor. They are modes that have pre-selected roles for the match. Custom mode allows the host of the match to choose the roles available. All modes except Custom and Rapid require 15 players. Seven is the minimum number of players for Custom and Rapid modes. Once the match begins, the players will create their name for the match. If they did not type in a name, the game will automatically select a default name for them. Default names are based on the real-life figures of the Salem witch trials. After that, the game will designate each player a role according to an algorithm.
In the vanilla game, there are three alignments: Town, Mafia and Neutral. Town and Mafia are two teams with their own win conditions. The win condition for Town is to "lynch every criminal and evildoer." For Mafia it's to "kill anyone that will not submit to the Mafia." Town players are uninformed, meaning they do not know the roles of other players. Mafia players are informed, meaning they know who other Mafia players are, but they do not know the roles of non-Mafia players. Using their role abilities and deduction, players discover the roles of other players to facilitate their victory. Town and Mafia can only win the game if the opposing team(s) perishes entirely.
Neutrals have individual win conditions that must be achieved on their own. When a Neutral player dies without completing their win condition, they can no longer win the game even if another Neutral player completes their win condition. Some Neutral roles may survive and win with either Town or Mafia, as long as their win condition is completed. Neutral Killing roles, specifically, can only win when Town and Mafia are eliminated. The Witch is unique in that she can win with any roles so long as the Town loses and she herself does not die.
A match goes through three main phases according to the time of day. Roles with nighttime abilities are active during the night. All murders are committed during the night; mafia can speak among themselves. When daytime arrives, the town will discover the bodies of townspeople who died the night before, their cause of death, their role, their will, and a death note. (It is also possible that nobody dies during the night.) Other actions that did not cause death (e.g. a Medium speaking with the dead, a Blackmailer silencing another player, a Doctor healing another player) are not announced by the game, but may be discussed by the players. An exception is the Amnesiac who can "remember" or assume the role of a dead player during the night.
During the day, all townspeople gather to meet in a circle, facing a lynching stake at the center. Players enter a discussion phase via text communication in a chatbox. Players typically inform each other of what happened to them or other players during the night before, if they can. Since the game begins with a Town majority, the discussion will revolve around lynching potentially evil players. Though the central goal may ostensibly be eliminating the evil players, Mafia will attempt to deceive Town into lynching innocents (i.e. other Town players) and saving themselves. Neutrals typically deceive everyone since they are aligned to neither Town nor Mafia, though some may win with either team.
Keeping a will is a prevalent metagame behavior, especially for Town players since they do not know each other's roles. The will does not bequeath anything despite its name. It is used as a form of testimony to prove a player's claims, typically a claim of their role. Players write information about what they know or did in their will, so that once they die or when asked to disclose information, other Town players can piece together information to identify the "good" and "evil" townspeople. The will is automatically revealed after the player dies. Evil players usually keep fraudulent wills to deceive Town players into believing they're good.
In Classic, Preparatory for classification and Ranked modes, where the roles are assigned for competitive purposes, role claiming is an important metagame strategy for Town players to eliminate possibilities. A list of available roles or role categories (e.g. Town Protective, Random Mafia, Neutral Killing) is included in every game, so by process of elimination Town players can figure out the roles of each player. This is not useful in Any mode, however, because in that mode the roles are randomized, not categorized, and simply named "Any" on the role list.
After the discussion phase, townspeople can vote for a player to be placed on trial. They can vote for anyone but themselves. The vote to try must be a majority. Once a player is put on the stake, they have a moment to defend themselves, in which only they can speak. Then comes judgement phase in which the townspeople must decide to vote Guilty, Innocent or Abstain on lynching the player on trial. The vote to lynch must pass majority. Abstain votes are not counted. A tie will be considered an Innocent judgement. When a Guilty judgement passes, the player on trial will be lynched and the day immediately finishes, commencing the start of nighttime. This voting process may repeat as long as time allows, to a maximum of three trials per day. The day-and-night process repeats until one alignment survives and accomplishes their win condition, or if a Neutral Killing player eliminates all Town and Mafia players. It is important to note that multiple of the same Neutral Killing can win with each other, but different Neutral Killings must eliminate each other.
The expansion pack The Coven introduced a new alignment, the Coven, which has a team win condition like that of Town and Mafia. It also added three exclusive game modes: Rivals, Lovers and VIP. Rivals has since been removed, however. There are Coven equivalents to vanilla game modes, except Rainbow, Dracula's Palace and Rapid.
BlankMediaGames LLC was founded by Josh Brittain and Blake Burns on February 1, 2014 with a working staff of two programmers, two artists and one sound designer. Their mission was to bring a Werewolf and Mafia based online video game to the market. A Kickstarter campaign began on February 14, 2014 to develop Town of Salem. After thirty days, the fundraiser raised $17,190 surpassing its $15,000 goal.
As development progressed with more donations, more features and mechanics were added. On September 13, 2014, the developers started a fundraiser for a Steam release, which would be its official release after alpha and beta versions. The fundraiser finished in 35 days, acquiring $114,197 from 7,506 backers. It surpassed its goal of $30,000. The Steam version was released on December 14.
On March 31, 2016, another Kickstarter fundraiser began after the release of a mobile beta version of the game. The beta was intended for tablet devices on iOS and Android platforms that will later be transported to mobile devices. The original project for a mobile port used Adobe AIR since the original game used Adobe Flash. Developers found the software laggy, so they rewrote the game from scratch in C++. The fundraiser intended to support further developments for a working mobile version. On September 28, 2018, two years after development, a launch trailer for the mobile game was released on YouTube. The game, now using a Unity base code, was released free-to-play on the Apple App Store and Google Play on October 14. It featured an extensive overhaul of the UI to one that was more ergonomic, had more and improved animations, and better graphics.
On April 2, 2019 BlankMediaGames announced development of a Unity version of the web browser and Steam games due to the discontinuation of Adobe Flash Player in 2020. The opt-in beta version became available only on Steam on July 24. On October 28, 2019, the Steam Unity client was officially released. The formerly free-to-play Flash-based web version was still available for several months afterward. On May 28, 2020, the browser-based client was also updated to use the Unity engine.
Town of Salem – The Card GameEdit
On April 15, 2016, fundraising began for a card game version of Town of Salem. It raised $389,005 from 9,551 backers in 30 days, and had a pledged goal of $10,000. Unlike the video game in which the computer moderates and generates roles for each player, the card game requires a Moderator role, whose function is that of the video game's computer, like switching the day-night cycles and assigning each player a role. The card game gameplay is more akin to the original Mafia game, in which players close their eyes during nighttime and take turns using their abilities.
On May 16, 2017, the expansion pack The Coven was announced. The expansion added one new faction, the Coven, and fifteen new roles. The original Witch role was replaced by the Coven Leader. Other Coven roles include the Hex Master, Poisoner, Potion Master, Medusa and Necromancer. The Town garnered four new roles: Crusader, Tracker, Trapper, and Psychic. The Mafia received two new roles: Ambusher and Hypnotist. The Neutral alignment category gained three new roles: Guardian Angel, Pirate, and Plaguebearer. Three new game modes were added: Coven VIP, Lover, and Rivals. Unlike the vanilla game, the expansion pack is not free-to-play. For players who paid for the Steam version of the game, the pack is half price. It was released through the Steam store on June 6.
A data breach that affected over 7.6 million players of Town of Salem was disclosed in an email to security firm DeHashed on December 28, 2018. The breach involved a compromise of the servers and access to a database which included 7,633,234 unique email addresses. The database also contained IP addresses, passwords and payment information. Some users who paid for premium features also reportedly had their billing information and data breached. Investigative reporter Brian Krebs linked the hackers to Apophis Squad, a gang who made bomb threats against thousands of schools and launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
In 2020, PC Gamer named Town of Salem one of the best free-to-play browser games. Innes McVey of Game Skinny rated the game seven out of ten stars, saying, "Town of Salem is a very good adaption of the Mafia and Werewolf party games, but sadly retains the issue from its inspiration(s)..."
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