But Lee had never expected the game to receive as much attention as it has. "We got 25 million hits in the first day," he said, "so we had to work much harder on the puzzles. We had assigned a nine-month time on one of them. We said that nobody could ever find all the clues to solve it. But they solved it in about 20 minutes. Now we're working 18 hours a day to keep up with all these players."
Lee wouldn't say whether, with the movie's imminent release, the game is coming to an end. But he and Sasser did say that things are getting very very strange in this online labyrinth. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail Sasser sent Wired News:
"In fact, yesterday was one of the most amazing 'game days' we've had yet. Laia (one of the game's characters) had sent out an urgent e-mail, hinting that the 'Red King' character had been kidnapped, and it was up to us to help stop the kidnapping. Included in her e-mail was a scan of a "guest check" from a diner, that clearly revealed a phone number.
"After calling the phone number, everyone was in for an intense surprise -- a live human answered the phone, completely in-character, a game first. It was Mike Royal, ostensibly a security guard at the Statue of Liberty.... The rest of the day was spent valiantly talking this reluctant security guard to get involved in the situation and potentially save the Red King. Once they discovered that Mike played football in college, they started to use that to get on his 'good side.'
"It was social engineering at an unheard of level! A collective group of 6,000 people trying to spurn a hapless fellow into action. :)"