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A fictional detective story overlaid on real world events, Top Secret’s branching narrative takes you into the heart of the NSA.
A fictional detective story overlaid on real world events, Top Secret’s branching narrative takes you into the heart of the NSA.
418 backers pledged £8,832 to help bring this project to life.

Drugs, sex, and OTR

Posted by James Long (Creator)

Hello, and welcome to the 26th Top Secret update!

Firstly, the alpha will launch next week. There are still a few critical bugs to fix before it goes live. Rest assured that alpha backers (SECRET//POSTCARD and above) will be notified the moment it becomes available!

In the meantime I want to mention a new gameplay feature called SEARCHLIGHT.

SEARCHLIGHT allows the player to find out more about SIGINT, infosec, TIDE, PGP, and TOR. And if that sounded like a load of gobbledygook to you then don’t worry, that’s exactly why I created SEARCHLIGHT in the first place!

In Top Secret, SEARCHLIGHT is the NSA’s in-house tool for jargon busting. You can think of it like a simple command line interface via email. Whenever the game uses an acronym or refers to subjects you aren’t familiar with, you can use it to find out more. For example, you can email SEARCHLIGHT queries such as:

DEFINE encryption



and it will send back descriptions of those topics.

You can also query for ongoing NSA operations and programs (real or from the game). E.g.




But be careful! Querying operations above your clearance level, or ones you shouldn’t know about may have repercussions...

Spymaster submissions

Quick recap: the 'SPYMASTER' reward tier allows people to create their own surveillance reports for inclusion in Top Secret. So far I've received reports on politics, drugs, conspiracy, foreign languages, and sex. The creativity and quality of the work is fantastic - thank you so much to everyone who has submitted a report! They are exactly what I was hoping for and I can’t wait to put them in the game.

I’m extending the submission deadline by 1 week (until May 20th). So if you haven’t yet replied (and backed at SECRET//SPYMASTER or above) you can submit a report here.


There are still a few people who haven’t yet completed their backer surveys, please could you do so as soon as possible. And thank you to everyone who has already done this!

Until next time,


In the news

Everything you ever wanted to know about how ISIS uses the internet - BuzzFeed

John Doe’s manifesto - Panama Paper’s source

UK hospitals are feeding 1.6 million patients’ health records to Google’s AI - Motherboard

Why leaking data is a vital act of resistance - Edward Snowden

Cumulus: Your new favourite surveillance-filled dystopian novel - Ars Technica

Once a defender of internet freedom, Putin is now bringing China’s Great Firewall to Russia - The World Post 

Jonathan Khoo and David Thai like this update.


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