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Ascend the ranks of the NSA-like Department of Liberty. Will you stand up for privacy, or help create an unstoppable police state?
Ascend the ranks of the NSA-like Department of Liberty. Will you stand up for privacy, or help create an unstoppable police state?
Ascend the ranks of the NSA-like Department of Liberty. Will you stand up for privacy, or help create an unstoppable police state?
4,451 backers pledged AU$ 135,837 to help bring this project to life.

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Need to Know - The Mass Surveillance Thriller Game

AU$ 135,837

4,451

Stay updated: visit us on Facebook and Twitter!

For pre-order information, please visit our website.

Watch the trailer in HD!

Need to Know has been Greenlit on Steam! Check out the successful campaign here!

Quote sources:

Other articles:

Pixel Dynamo, Kotaku UK, AnaitGames, RT, Neoteo, Newsweek, Tiscali.cz, Automaton Japan, Washington Times, Examiner, nu.nl, PC Gamer, Gamereactor, Videogiochi.com, Factornews, FullGaming, Malavida, Jagat Play and Hardcore Gamer

NOTE:

To avoid extra development time for the main game, some stretch goals will be released as free add-ons after the game's release, unless they can be completed in time. Of the currently released goals, this applies to:

  • Customisability
  • More characters
  • Clearance Level Zero
  • Arcade mode

ALL STRETCH GOALS ARE IN AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS.

A surveillance thriller sim that tests your ability and integrity within the shadowy, cutthroat world of a modern intelligence agency - the Department of Liberty

Electronic surveillance is a huge issue for everyone today, and will only grow more pressing. Need to Know lets you spy on citizens’ texts, emails, geodata, and much more. How you’ll use this information is where the real excitement (and moral conflict) begins.

Welcome to the Department of Liberty
Welcome to the Department of Liberty

Welcome to the Department of Liberty. 

You must spy on citizens, pick apart their private lives, and determine how dangerous they are. You can also resist these suffocating privacy invasions by aiding underground groups and leaking internal reports to the media. Or, you can just use all of that juicy classified information for your own, personal gain. Your call.

Need to Know emphasises story, and will sculpt the crushing growth of our real-world surveillance society into a meaningful, gripping journey. It critiques the system by passing the uncomfortable (or too comfortable?) mantle of power onto your shoulders, and testing which choices you’ll make. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sweat bullets under the searing blaze of an interrogation lamp.

(Just to be clear, the screenshots in this campaign page, and the footage in the trailer, show the game's current visual design. Not all functional aspects have been fully implemented yet. By the time the game is released, we hope to improve these visual and functional aspects considerably.)

Features 

Clearance Levels – Everything hinges upon your Clearance Level. Impress your superiors, and they will promote you to a higher level, unlocking cooler (and creepier) powers, classified information, and prestige.

Surveillance – Early Clearance Levels only allow you to access a target’s metadata or browsing history. As you progress, you bore deeper into their lives, with geo-tracking, shopping patterns, and even drone surveillance. 

Individual targets – Your Department database is packed with citizens’ profiles, with colourful biographies, human flaws, and realistic dilemmas. 

Executive powers – As you ascend the ranks, you are forced to make increasingly unsettling decisions. Will you fuel your rise to power with searches, wiretaps, smear campaigns and abductions? Or will you covertly undermine the Department from the inside? 

Personal life – Choose whether to use intel and powers outside of work to help others, for financial gain (not, strictly speaking, legal), or even in romantic encounters (not, strictly speaking, moral). 

Chapter-based storytelling – We will intertwine gameplay with a story structure that eliminates grinding, for satisfying payoffs and real character progression.

Meaningful moral choices – Your actions lead to in-game consequences that actually matter. Negative choices can cause bombings, false arrests, corrupt bankers escaping prosecution, or even (gasp) your own demotion.

Classified data – Each new Clearance Level exposes classified data, much of which will help you with assignments, and in your crusade against (or for) the Department. 

Assets & Prestige – As your salary grows, impress and intimidate peers with new homes, cars, and more. In some games, you rise to the peak of every possible rank/guild/achievement metric, yet even the lowest peons still treat you like a nobody. Not here. 

Design – We’ve tried to avoid a more clinical, text-based surveillance design, by injecting as much colour and imagery as possible.  The look and feel of the game will evolve and improve as development progresses.

A catastrophic terrorist attack leads to the formation of a new and immense intelligence agency – the Department of Liberty. Its primary goals are to hunt down those responsible, and prevent further attacks. It will carry these out with unprecedented access to people’s daily lives. 

In Washington, the DoL grapples with rival agencies for political supremacy, combats domestic threats, and ruthlessly silences its opponents.

Join the DoL as an idealistic, but broke, graduate. Every day you spy on people, collect their data, and determine their threat level. You hate it, but every facet of your life is a complete mess. You need the money, and intend to leave as soon as you can. At least, that’s your plan… 

As you progress up through Clearance Levels, you earn a higher salary, more respect, greater powers, perks, and access to top secret information. Slowly, you are tempted by authority and recognition you’ve never experienced. Decide how to use these privileges. Will you stick to your principles and defend people’s privacy, or succumb to the allure of absolute power?

All stories are really just a series of character choices. The more challenging the choices, the more captivating the story. We’ve worked hard to give you difficult decisions that will impact your character, and create some memorable moments.

Need to Know is a single-player, story-based experience that will be released for Windows, Linux and OSX. It will be available on Steam, due to our successful Steam Greenlight campaign. Thanks so much for making this happen with your votes and shares!

Once complete, Need to Know will also be available as a DRM-free download for Windows, Linux and OSX.

Assignments

Above all else, your primary goal at the Department of Liberty is to find the mysterious figures responsible for the initial terrorist attack. Clues for this central case are buried throughout the story. 

To move through the game - and upwards in the Department - you must complete assignments, which require detecting or solving crimes. In each assignment, you spy on people, determine their guilt, and decide how best to deal with them.

Missions are investigative puzzles, founded upon story and character. We want to provoke moral conflict and arduous choices that can lead to public embarrassment, wrongful arrests, or worse - much worse. 

Profiles

The Department doesn’t discriminate in its abuse of privacy, so you’ll encounter people from all economic backgrounds, locations, ages, and cultures. Not every profile is immediately accessible though, and you need to advance further to snoop into the lives of the wealthy, powerful, and truly despicable. 

Evidence

Each profile will contain a person’s digital footprints, from private emails to even more private text messages. While only basic at first, a higher rank will allow you peruse increasingly nuanced and detailed personal information. 

Powers

Profile investigations will almost inevitably result in dual-choice decisions. Is the person suspicious or a model citizen? Guilty or innocent? As your Clearance Level increases, so does your authority and the breadth of your powers. You can order searches and arrests, or exonerate people you want to help. 

Progression

If your decisions are accurate and effective (or sometimes just helpful to the Department’s goals) you will be promoted to a higher Clearance Level. Higher ranks mean higher-stakes assignments with higher-profile suspects, access to more invasive surveillance, and greater authority.

You also choose how to use classified information outside of work hours. Steal a corporation’s financial data to make a stock market killing, leak corruption evidence to the media, or shunt your abusive neighbour onto a government watch list. 

Be as altruistic or as selfish as you want, but the consequences will resonate throughout the rest of the game.

Stakes & Risks

You’ll receive assignments at the beginning of work days, and each will carry a time limit for completion. The Department of Liberty is a demanding place, so failure to finish on time can result in a stained reputation, disciplinary action, and demotion.

You’ll also be reprimanded for bad judgements, so be careful not to make too many.

If you choose to fight against the Department’s Orwellian agenda, you can help suspects escape punishment or leak documents to the press, but principles come with pressure and danger. Not only must you find time for your clandestine sabotage within already crowded work hours, you’ll need to flawlessly cover your tracks. Discovery of your ulterior motives would be a very, very bad thing. 

Of course, if you abuse your authority for personal gain, you’ll need to be just as careful, and maintain the web of lies that your life gradually becomes. Where did that money come from? How did you know your date’s favourite author without her mentioning it? Be ready with an answer, or expect the punishment that - let’s face it - you’ll probably deserve.

Interface 

95% of gameplay happens within one easy UI, the CODEX, for both Work and Home.

During work hours, you will:

- Converse with (and conspire against) other DoL personnel, face-to-face;

- Access profiles as they appear on the world map; 

- Pry through incriminating emails, embarrassing phone calls, private medical histories, and all sorts of personal data that you really shouldn’t be looking at; 

- Use the BlackSheep System to identify a person’s suspicious activity, and choose an outcome;

- Upgrade your office furnishings and location with higher Clearance Levels. Relocate from a cramped basement in Arizona, to a sweeping 30th-floor view of the Potomac. 

Outside of work hours, you can: 

- Interact with well-meaning-but-frustrating family, vile landlords, underworld connections, ambitious journalists, friends, and romantic partners;

- Spend your money - on a more luxurious house, extravagant cars, or even something useful. 

Every individual in the CODEX database has their own unique profile and background information. 

Aside from the many citizens encountered over the course of daily assignments, some of the people you profile will reappear throughout the story, becoming potentially significant figures in your life.

We’ve tried to ensure that every major character has an understandable, human motivation, with realistic goals and fears. Given the complexity of the topic, we really want to avoid cartoonish ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

Douglas Hagen/Amira Tariq (You) – A conflicted idealist who detests the Department’s methods, but whose weakness for validation and power may pull you deeper into its machinations.

Frank Talby (Mentor) – An eccentric, high-ranking DoL boss, who fights for his country, the Department’s mission, and you. Is he a true believer or a cynic hiding secret ambitions?

Sam Raft (Rival) – A self-entitled boor with an uncle at Clearance Level 2, so is already fast-tracked to prominence. Hates you, and will sabotage you at every opportunity.

Annika Ljungberg (Resistance Leader) – Wants your help in bringing down the Department before it completely wraps its tentacles around the country, and ultimately, the planet.

The “Cloud Dweller” – The shadowy figure who unleashed the attack that created the DoL, and intends to strike again.

We’re motivated by alarming, real-life surveillance, and widespread outrage across the world. However, this is ultimately a story about people. Need to Know is as much guided by personal conflicts as global ones, including: 

The Individual vs The Bigger Picture – Is it ever morally justifiable to use people as means towards an outcome we believe will benefit society at large?

Selfishness vs Altruism – How can coercion strain your moral fabric?

Staving off the Devil & Erosion of the Self – Everyone sees themselves as the hero of their own story. Most of us value our personal ethics, and disdain those who misuse positions of authority, but how easily are our decisions moulded by power, self-preservation, or persuasive ideologies?

Freedom vs Security – How much freedom are you willing to trade for your safety? Is anyone ever qualified to make that decision for others? For an entire country?

If you'd like to get extra copies of Need to Know, you simply need to:

  • Click the 'Manage Your Pledge' button above, or click here. If you haven't pledged yet, click 'Back This Project' above.
  • Increase your pledge amount by the value of the extra game copies you would like, and leave your reward level the same. For example, if you have pledged at Clearance Level 9 for AU$25 and want 2 extra copies of the game, increase your pledge by AU$30 to a total of AU$55, and keep your reward at Clearance Level 9.
  • Send us a Kickstarter message in the format: "I've added X copies of the game to my pledge." where X is the number of extra copies you've ordered.

Need to Know is being developed by Monomyth Games, a neophyte game company from Adelaide, Australia. The team working on the game are:

Quincy Geary – Technical Director, Lead Programmer

Quincy is the technical director for Need to Know, and so he is handling the majority of programming and technical design for the game. A long-time fan of story-driven games like Final Fantasy, Uncharted and To the Moon, Quincy will also step in to assist with other aspects like writing and design.

Quincy is a final-year University student, majoring in Computer Science, and is interested in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and, of course, game design and development. If Need to Know is successfully funded, he will postpone his studies so he can devote as much time as possible to developing the game.

Tristram Geary – Creative Director, Writer

As Need to Know’s creative director, Tristram will ultimately decide the fate of all who dwell within it. The hero, idealistic but ethically tenuous. The dangerous, charismatic mentor. A frightened world allowing itself to be bound and gagged by shadows. Tristram controls it all...kind of like a god (or so he thinks).

He is obsessed with narrative in all its forms, and loves how games sculpt our thoughts and emotions like no other medium - from Shadow of the Colossus to KOTOR II to Grim Fandango. He will infuse a huge range of influences - from games, films, and literature - into a story that only Need to Know can tell.

Tristram has experience as a writer, director, editor, and creative director with his production company, Torchborne Screens, but will also assist with programming and design.

John Hargreaves – Artist

John (pictured right)
John (pictured right)

John is a graphic designer and illustrator who has been drawing and designing since he was young. He will bring his broad skill-set to Need to Know, furthering the visual development of the game.

Along with his work on Need to Know, John is pursuing a career as a freelancer, working predominantly within publication and logo design. He is looking forward to the continued challenge of game UI and art design.

An overview of John's past work can be found on his website.

Byron Son – Composer and Sound Designer

Byron is a young composer who has done a lot of freelance work with composition and sound design on both games and some film before coming to Need to Know. Byron also is a music tutor for Trumpet (on which he is also a session musician), on drums and music theory. Inspired by ethnic music from all cultures and composers such as Ennio Morricone and Motoi Sakuraba, he is determined to bring a unique flair and immersive soundscape to Need to Know.

For Need to Know, we are requesting only the bare minimum funding that will allow us to work on it full-time, until completion. We want to deliver a game people will not just enjoy, but also remember, and for as little cost as possible. The graph below shows our projected cost breakdown, to give you an idea of where the money will be spent.

Why Kickstarter?

We have worked on Need to Know whenever we have had the chance for many months, but realise that, at our current pace, the game would take quite a while to release. We are asking for funding so that we can devote as much time as possible to development. We will also save time by outsourcing parts of development, like the soundtrack, to people who can complete it to a higher standard. This will allow us to get the game released by the end of the year.

On top of being an essential funding source, Kickstarter lets us assemble a strong community for the game, before its release. You will have a stake in the game’s quality, and your suggestions and constructive energy will help propel us through the tougher parts of development. You’ll also be annoyed if we fall behind without explanation, which is excellent motivation.

Risks and challenges

FINANCIAL & SCHEDULE

For Need to Know, most of our anticipated costs are labour-related. Applying our experiences from film and programming projects, we have carefully plotted out the required work. As long as we stick to the timetable, we will not exceed our budget. Our step-by-step planning will also alert us if we start to fall behind schedule, which in turn will help us get back on track quickly.

If we receive enough support to reach our funding goal, we will be working on Need to Know full-time, and will meet our scheduling targets. More time, bought by more money, is also essential in rapidly powering through unexpected issues. Naturally, we expect that some difficulties will arise, and so we have considered potential problems in key areas like story, programming and distribution, and factored these into our plans.

However, we know better than to guarantee perfect adherence to the timeline. We will push ourselves hard to meet those marks, but won’t sacrifice the game’s final quality for them. If we fall behind, you’ll be notified immediately. If we need to extend our deadline, we will break the game into installments and release the first chapter in advance, so you can begin playing.

QUALITY

Compared to the graphical and technical complexity of other games, the programming aspects of Need to Know are relatively straightforward, but detailed and time-consuming. Databases must be filled, and numerous eventualities programmed. For other aspects of the game, Need to Know requires much more research and script work than another project of equivalent budget. Given its reliance on UI, we will continue to polish that side of the game into perfect working order, to make the game as immersive and fun as possible.

We love design, we love storytelling, and we love games. So, with your help, we really want to make Need to Know great. We hope to create a conceptually ambitious game with a complex story that meets your expectations, as well as our own.

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Funding period

- (31 days)