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.