Nothing To Hide Is A Very Smart Anti-Stealth Game

By John Walker on February 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Nothing To Hide‘s statements on privacy and surveillance aren’t subtle. This is a really interesting puzzle game in which you must dutifully spy on yourself, constantly ensuring that government cameras are able to see you wherever you go. And despite currently being in development, it’s entirely in the public domain, copyright free, for code, art, music, etc. “By giving up ‘power’ on my art,” says creator Nick Liow, “my art can have more power.”

Best of all, this isn’t some cheapo project where you can see why there’s no claim over it. This is slick. The HTML5 demo is really something, with a very smart website opening, leading to a playable version of the game. Here, with neat, intuitive mouse controls, you move your character – Poppy, the daughter of politician Gardner – throughout the streets of a city where not being in sight of a camera means instant death.

The puzzles are based around this need to be seen, finding paths through levels that ensure you’re always within line of sight of the eyeballed triangles. Some can be picked up and placed, to allow constant monitoring of yourself as you move down alleyways, and around obstacles. As you walk around, Poppy’s thoughts all appear in the form of social network posts, while you try to work out ways to place and swap cameras that ensure surveilled travel.

There’s that fear when a project says it’s uncopyrighted from launch that you can see why – like some of the dross that used to appear on those PD floppy discs from the front of magazines back in the Stone Age. That’s absolutely not relevant here. Nothing To Hide may not be subtle in its angry allusions toward Nineteen Eighty-Four, and – perhaps more pertinently – right now, but it does this within a smart and original puzzle game that’s fun to play.

Liow is fundraising for the project at the moment, aiming to make $40,000. However, he’s doing it in a way I’ve not seen before, and not via one of the fundraising sites. If you pledge now and the funding is not reached, the money will be returned. But it goes further – if the funding is reached, he will only take 25% of each pledge. A further 25% will be taken when he hits the alpha version (aiming for June), then another 25% when it goes beta (September), and the final 25% when the game is finished, which he hopes will be December. Credit card pledges will be taken in chunks, while Paypal and Bitcoin will be the full amount, but only drawn from in the quarterly pieces, and apparently you can cancel at any time and the unclaimed parts will be returned. It’s an intriguing model, but it’s worth noting it’s a direct payment to the creator, rather than managed through Kickstarter or the like.

You can get at all the code, art and music for the game right now, via its GitHub, and with a full Public Domain license you’re free to do whatsoever you wish with it. And that’s anything, from re-hosting the game, remixing it, augmenting and selling it – that’s the magic here.

And you can play the eight level demo build right now. It’s definitely worth a look.

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35 Comments »

  1. Shooop says:

    I definitely endorse the message this is sending.

    The introduction is brilliant.

    • JacquelineOreillyama says:

      my co-worker’s sister makes $60 an hour on the internet . She has been without work for 9 months but last month her check was $12160 just working on the internet for a few hours. you could look here……… http://WWW.KeptMoney.COM

  2. Kollega says:

    Every time something like this comes out, I feel hatred and despair because of how far total surveillance has gotten and my or anyone else’s complete inability to change anything about the situation. I don’t really hope that this game, or anything else, will cause change for the better. The best it can do is make someone who usually doesn’t think about it to consider the situation… for, like, two minutes. And that is not enough, as is pretty much everything else. The best we can do is rage against the Big Brother impotently as our civil liberties are taken away.

  3. SandmanXC says:

    Nice try, NSA.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      I genuinely hope that’s satirical and you don’t actually mean that because you failed to even try the free demo.

  4. darkChozo says:

    Oh, wow, that Facebook wall presentation is incredibly slick. Not too sold on the game itself (traditional puzzle games aren’t really my thing), but the style and presentation is really compelling.

    The tiered pledge thing is also really clever, it really deals with one of the major issues of Kickstarter and its ilk. The only improvement I could see from a consumer right’s standpoint is to make the automatic subsequent payments opt-in, more like DLC than a subscription.

  5. The First Door says:

    Wow, that is really rather impressive, both from a technical and a gameplay standpoint!

    I utterly adore the way he’s done the intro and ending, it’s very, very clever seeing some of the ‘fancy new’ web page tricks which are starting to pop up everywhere re-purposed here.

  6. realitysconcierge says:

    My lord I love everything about this!

  7. geldonyetich says:

    It seems to me that any privacy advocate who conceives a world where you must pick up and take cameras with you or be tranquilized is overreacting. Rest assured, thanks to the advancements of technology, your absolute surrender of privacy will be inconvenience free, and any minor misdemeanor you commit will likely be buried under the unenforceable deluge of the millions of people caught doing it before you.

    That said, the game is rather clever.

    • rikvanoostende says:

      Surrendering privacy is so 1984. It’s fashion these days for people to keep throwing their secrets at everyone and everything in fear of not getting noticed in the maelstrom of other peoples private information.

      • Turkey says:

        Yeah, I feel like Jospeh Heller got it more right than Orwell. Big Brother is incompetent and the people he’s watching are idiots.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The point of total surveillance is not that anybody’s watching you committing minor misdemeanors to catch you in the act—it’s so they can archive and index everything to dig up all the dirt they need on you, your family, your friends, your colleagues, the people who catch the same bus as you every day and so on—if you ever become a person of interest.

      • zal says:

        Wait, are you trying to say that laws would be unequally enforced? Or even more shocking… that people might be the target of vindictive efforts to specifically find something to punish them with due to their views, race, color or creed, or turning down an authorities advances, or possibly just looking at them strangely when they’re having a bad day??

        Because there are laws against Exactly that kind of thing, so clearly they must be evenly enforced, because there are laws against exactly that kind of thing…

        Really, before we start accusing the authorities of acting illegally, lets worry about the CRIMINALS.

      • Devan says:

        Yes, I think this is an important perspective.
        Many laws are more general and therefore more restrictive than they should be for the sake of clarity, relying on the judgement of enforcement officers to differentiate cases that require action and those that don’t. For example, who always stops their car before the stop line at every intersection 100% of the time? Maybe driving instructors and that’s about it. Is that a problem? Not unless it creates a dangerous situation or breach of right-of-way.

        They already have cameras to catch you for running red lights (which tends to be much more dangerous); what if they added cameras to watch the stop lines too? I imagine they wouldn’t try to prosecute everyone who stops past the line, because that would be almost everyone and enforcement that strict would require the law to be updated to be less restrictive, which would get ridiculously complicated.
        But what if they just held onto that info, only prosecuting cases that they deemed necessary? Aside from the expense of the program not much would change. But then one day you find yourself doing something the authorities don’t want, such as driving to a political protest, and suddenly all these minor past transgressions can become significant. You could get pulled over and fined or called in for questioning; whatever they want to dissuade you from whatever it is.

        This scenario may seem unlikely for the average person, but I think it’s an even bigger concern for public officials. Imagine that you’re a mayor or member of Parliament; would you be influenced to vote a certain way or promote a certain bill if you know certain people want you to and you know they have dirt and half-truths on you that could fuel enough of a smear campaign to end your career?

        The government need to be accountable to its people is more important than the peoples’ need to be accountable to the government, but their priorities are clearly the other way around.

  8. Tei says:

    I recommend this read:
    http://io9.com/person-of-interest-and-a-great-philosophical-debate-1516890185

    I can’t claim to understand it, but seems to suggest Poetry is a secret weapon against Complete-surveyance. That poetry subversiveness can be used to blind surveiance.

    Also suggest that Complete-suveyance and being blind is the same thing. Sorta like how poor Citizen Kane was rich, but he was unable to get his Rosebud. If you have everyone secrets, it will be very hard for you to know that your wife is cheating you…. The fact that your wife is cheating you will be buried under a mountain of useless facts. Spyiing on everyone lowers the quality of your spyiing.

    • phelix says:

      Just being a gratuitous pedant here, but it’s ‘surveillance’, not ‘surveyance’.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Poetry vs surveillance? Reminds me of one Polish poem (and most people still wrongly assume Czeslaw Milosz to be his author) which was written when Soviets attacked Poland along Hitler in 1939.
      Unfortunately I can’t find English version, so I was forced to use Google-Translate, so it will read quite bad (and my English won’t be enough to translate it fully), but it should give general idea.

      First: text in Polish version: http://www.eioba.org/files/user12856/milosz_wiersz_kopia.jpg

      So, second paragraph is:
      The bright sun chief Stalin
      Let Your glory never die.
      Lead us like eagles out of the nest
      Five-pointed Soviet star

      And the fourth paragraph is:
      [You will] Eclipse soon in eternal time
      Poland, and your daughters and sons.
      Faith and each cross on the graves
      At the foot of us in the dust goes up.

      But as you can notice on picture, there is another way of reading it, where 2nd and 4th paragraphs (of course, 1st and 3rd do that too) became one, giving this:
      The bright sun chief Stalin [will] Eclipse soon in eternal time.
      Your glory will never die Poland, and your daughters and sons
      Shall be lead like eagles out of the nest by Faith and each cross on the graves.
      Five-pointed Soviet star At the foot of us in the dust goes up.

      And this text was published with official consent of Soviet rulers in newspapers.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    Eh. It’s kind of an uncomfortable strawman argument, really. That trailer’s just cringeworthy.

    • WrenBoy says:

      What is the strawman argument you feel it is making?

    • Tei says:

      The game is unrealistic. Is way easier to updated your favourite movies/books in Facebook, than to drag and drop triangles.

      The system make it easy to be #watched. But do it with a lot of usability!

    • SuddenSight says:

      I view the subject like the coming of the future robot overlords: it will never, ever happen, but it is good for the public (or simply “lots of people”) to be aware that the issue is complicated and bad things could happen.

      I, for one, welcome the ever-constant surveilance overlords. But I also back this game and support digital rights groups. More of this stuff!

  10. edwardh says:

    Seems like a nice project and I might support it but… most people are too stupid to understand and/or care anyway. You might as well argue with a piece of fruit. At least the fruit would get moldy after a while – so there would be at least SOME change.

  11. Emeraude says:

    I’m definitely liking the idea of this.

  12. mhalemary says:

    my best friend’s step-mother makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been without work for nine months but last month her pay check was $17837 just working on the laptop for a few hours. why not try here

    http://WWW.jobsaa.COM

  13. grom.5 says:

    They got me.

    The way of approaching this subject is original and I also like the art style. I just think it’s clever.

    And. Give away the code ? That’s quite nice from them, especially for the sight line which is quite a pain to implement.

  14. MonicaDWolford says:

    my roomate’s step-mother makes $64 every hour on the computer . She has been unemployed for five months but last month her pay was $21194 just working on the computer for a few hours.
    check my source,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.Fizzjob.com

  15. grimdanfango says:

    Incredible. It has a strong Kyle Gabler feel about it, but with added subversiveness. The online demo is stunning, and the feel of it utterly terrifies me. This game *needs* to get funded.

  16. Dozer says:

    But John, if the game is public domain, the writer won’t get paid and has no incentive to make the game! Why are you posting about something which is clearly impossible? This game obviously doesn’t really exist! And you must hate all games developers and wish them a life of poverty.

  17. Wedge says:

    I rather like the model of paying directly to the creator. I think Kickstarter’s fees are utterly exorbitant for the services they are offering, and they should have a cap to the % cut they get. I can’t think of any logical reason for them to get a full % cut of a project that brings in millions in funding, as nothing on their end is really scaling with the size of a project. I would love it if someone like the humble bundle folks could develop an extension of their website for this purpose…

    • Captain Bassoon says:

      One could argue, Wedge, that the projects that draw in the most funding allow them to support projects that don’t meet their funding requirements as well as ones that only bring in minimal funding (ie the % does not equate to enough £s to pay for their admin). So perhaps you could argue Kickstarter are being very fair by allowing the burden to be spread amongst projects according to their ability to pay.