When a game project focused on the issue of government approved domestic surveillance gets a nod from Edward Snowden, maybe it is time to check it out. Recently, a small independent studio based in Australia launched their Kickstarter campaign for their debut title, Need to Know. Hoping to provide an engaging story and more than a few uncomfortable moments, Need to Know forces players to make decisions that can dramatically change the lives of the fictional characters they interact with.
Employed through the Department of Liberty (DoL), players must spy on citizens and assess their threat level. Once a suspect has been chosen players can muddle through their browser history, shopping patterns, or even initiate drone surveillance. However, it isn’t simply a simulation, players can actively chose individuals or dig up information and use what they find to personally benefit their character. Life exists outside of the job in Need to Know, but life can also start to seep into the choices players find themselves making. Climb the ranks of the DoL and grow your power, or even work to undermine the organization from within by leaking information to the press, or siphoning off classified documents to resistance groups. Either way, player choice is supposed to have a meaningful impact on the game with real consequences. False arrests, bombings, or corporate espionage are just some of the possible outcomes when players decide how to act on the information they discover.
Need to Know also features a variety of other major characters including the mentor-like Frank Talby, who may be a “true believer,” but may also be hiding his own agenda. Annika Ljungberg is a resistance leader who hopes to win over the player’s assistance to bring down the Department permanently. In the shadows there also lurks a figure known as the “Cloud Dweller,” a hacker marked by the DoL as a cyber-terrorist who has threatened future attacks.
The game is being developed by Monomyth Games, headquartered in Adelaide, Australia. The small studio’s three current team members include Technical Director Quincy Geary, Creative Director Tristram Geary, and Art Director John Hargreaves. This is their first commercial game project, and thus far have acquired just over $14,000 of their $20,541 goal. While none of them have listed previous game experience on their official website, Tristram reports writing, directing, editing, and creative director experience through his own production company Torchborne Screens. Hargreaves works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator with his work displayed on his own website.
Monomyth Games has acknowledged that success in the Kickstarter campaign is vital to see Need to Know released in a reasonable amount of time. According to the campaign page, if the funding goal is reached the small team will be able to devote their full-time to the project and get it published as soon as possible. With more than 3 weeks remaining to receive the support they need, it is a pretty fair bet that Monomyth Games will collect the funds they need. Those interested in reading additional details regarding the gameplay, story elements, and goals of the project, should check out the Kickstarter page or official website.