Prison Architect Alpha 24 Improves Modding, Adds Snitches

By Ben Barrett on August 29th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

Sort of hoping someone makes school architect, which is basically the same with smaller sprites.

Prison Architect developers Introversion Software joke in their latest update that the dev team is now “more like half a million.” As well as an amusing way to introduce the changes to their mod system, which is now much more robust and capable of adding almost anything to the game, it’s also sort of true. Their massive, ever-growing userbase will now add anything they can imagine, for better or worse, and folks will balance out what they want themselves. Others will improve the systems already there or build collections of mods that interact particularly well. Sit back, Introversion, you’re basically surplus to requirements now.

On top of the new tools, Introversion have also added Confidential Informants who can be coerced into giving up information about their fellow prisoners. As you use this information it will raise suspicion of the snitch which, if it reaches a critical level, will lead to their bloody murder. It’s an interesting dynamic that will force you to pick your battles, alcohol drops going unpunished so you can catch the guys tunnelling out or bringing in weapons. There’s still balancing to be done, as it’s a very powerful tool if you’re uncaring as to what happens to the prisoner.

There’s also a series of smaller bug fixes and additions, listed in the update post. The video above’s a long ‘un, but I’d recommend checking it out if you have the time as they show off the new systems and how mods are made in depth. There’s a relatively simple to use tool bridging the gap between what you’re wanting to do and the coding of the game. It’s supported by LUA, a scripting language which I’m most familiar with from WoW interface modding, which is again pretty simple to learn.

You can grab access to Prison Architect, as well as all future builds, via Steam or the website for £20. It’s ostensibly still in ‘alpha’ despite the remarkable number of features and possibilities, mostly due to bugs, regular updates and a lack of polish.

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44 Comments »

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  1. Leb says:

    Love the introversion blokes!

  2. Jac says:

    Teehee. One of the prisoners in the screen shot looks like a cock and balls. With shades on. Anyone for a game of where’s willy?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Phinor says:

    Possibly my favourite dev blog/video. The game is pretty awesome too, but any release plan yet?:) I know the alpha is very playable and insanely feature rich already, and I do play it every now and then but I just don’t want to commit into early access/alpha/beta games.

  4. fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

    I bought this a while ago and bounced off it fairly quickly (16 hours or so), because the lack of money (even with grants) and the insanely slow ‘fast’ mode meant I was waiting for blooming ages to be able to buy that cell. It reminded me far too much of a Zynga game, albeit with more cute shanking. Has any of that been addressed since about January?

    • OscarWilde1854 says:

      Felt the same way, and although I haven`t really updated to much in recent times (thus can`t really comment on the changes..) you can edit your money pretty easy with an editor of some kind (ie. Cheat Engine). Takes like 2 seconds.. I know it takes away from the game for some; but if you`re feeling the game is broken because of the money system you can easily set your money to whatever you want. In other words; give yourself enough to improve the play-ability but low enough that you don`t ruin the game for yourself..

    • Eagle0600 says:

      I believe they’ve added a somewhat faster time option (I’m not sure if that’s before or after you bounced off it), as well as more ways to make money. Not sure if that’s enough for you, but if you already own it you might want to try it again (or just wait until release). In either case, maybe you can go to the forums and ask about it?

    • Leb says:

      There are a lot more ways to get money – grants span into the late game now. Also workshops/forestries can get a prison industry going

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      The has been one enormous change to funding. Grants.

      Step 1) Take out grant, receive money.
      Step 2) Build the thing that the grant says to build. A thing you were going to have to build anyway, and build it with someone else’s money.
      Step 3) Keep the change:)

      The only limit to the grants (grant’s?) system is that you have a limit to the number of grants you have out at once, starts at 2. The number of grants at once can be upgraded through the research screen. If you piss away the grant money on non-grant things, you could be locked out.

  5. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    Makes me a little sad every time RPS covers this.

    • OscarWilde1854 says:

      Why is that?

      • FredZepplin says:

        Because: prisons.

        • zeekthegeek says:

          That would be more valid if the game wasn’t also critical of the prison industrial complex and was played without any level of self-awareness.

          • FredZepplin says:

            Explain to me ways in which the game is “critical of the prison industrial complex?” Not being facetious, I would really like to know.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Same here. Would you be willing to offer some examples?

          • Shadow says:

            There was a Kotaku article criticizing something like that a while ago, and the devs responded with a video.

            Basically, Prison Architect is not meant to be set in either the UK or US. It feeds off the “prison myth” we see in media. It’s generally American media, given their cultural output, which is why PA facilities look rather like US prisons. So far, it’s an isolated prison simulator, and hasn’t really grown enough to be a parody/critique of any actual prison system.

            I doubt it ever will be, but we can expect enough fleshing out to have it portray prisons as benign or malign as the player wants them to be. I mean, already you can create a perfectly peaceful prison with light punishment, focused on education and rehabilitation, or the equivalent of a fascist death camp. The “right” way to play the game is much closer to the former than the latter, but I don’t think that kind of sandboxiness is ever going to go away.

          • Nom de Plume says:

            I think what zeekthegeek was referring to is how you play the game from the perspective of somebody who is forced to run a prison much like a business, usually sooner rather than later. You may start your first prison with good intentions — lots of facilities! Rehabilitation programmes! A TV in every cell! — but a lack of funds and resources mean that cutbacks and penny-pinching will often be necessary somewhere down the line, and it’s your prisoners who’ll suffer for it. Eventually, your prisoners’ wellbeing and best interests become secondary concerns next to money, because three quality meals a day aren’t going to keep you in the black. As unfortunate as it is, this is usually what it boils down to in real life, too.

          • FredZepplin says:

            Thanks, Nom de Plume. That’s a helpful description. Sound a bit like Papers, Please in that regard perhaps…

            After having watched a bit of the devs response video (which, btw, is a 32 minutes. wtf? come on!) they seem like two Brits who are making a game which is about the US prison system (who somehow don’t seem to think that it is about the US prison system) who don’t really seem to know very much about the US prison system, except perhaps what they’ve learned from TV and movies.

    • P.Funk says:

      Oh get over it. Prisons suck, but apparently covering every conceivable war game set in the modern world isn’t?

      RPS condones the prison industrial complex by covering Prison Architecht, but somehow dodges the bullet on the military industrial complex with every single time they talk about CoD.

      I think its interesting that we can play war and be cool with it, accept all the jingoism therein, but somehow there are other social issues we’re not so bind to that we want to foist onto the dialogue of games.

      • Bull0 says:

        The game is pretty popular, but if you act weird about it because the theme offends you you get to look like the cleverest one, and that’s what commenting on articles on the internet is basically about – “look at me! look at me!”

        • LionsPhil says:

          Thankfully, looking cool by putting yourself above the previous poster’s shallow attempts to look cool can be applied recursively.

          *dons shades and backwards baseball cap*

      • FredZepplin says:

        Ah, the requisite “get over it” post…. I can breath easier now that I see that the tired patterns of internet comments around social issues in games is intact.

        • Quiffle says:

          And just as great to see that there are entire discussions leading away from the actual topic of discussion (i.e: the game) and devolving into a circle jerk of “my ethics against yours”.

          Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and this also applies to any visual/art medium. The truly progressive are capable of realizing this.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Welp
        That straw man ain’t gettin up again
        Good job, I guess?
        Now off to play War Crime Simulator 2014, which, as someone opposed to the prison system, is my naturally favourite game

        • P.Funk says:

          Its not a strawman. Its inferred from the fact that you NEVER see people posting about the tacit acceptance of jingoism in war gaming in any article about games set in war zones as the soldier but for whatever reason people always have to post about how uneasy they are with this prison game.

          I mean, was there some hidden social commentary in Hotline Miami as well, or should I presume everyone is not left feeling uneasy with the simulation of wanton sociopathic spree kililng? Ironically that game is about as realistic looking as this one, yet the spree killing game that everyone always got upset about was Manhunt, and it looked far more realistic despite its age.

          My point is that apparently this game draws some specific ire that I see in every article on RPS but nothing like it appears in multiple other game articles about games that involve participating in things which are morally questionable, such as being an agent for western foreign policy or a lunatic killing people only because his answering machine said so.

          • FredZepplin says:

            The difference is that Prison Architect is the only game (that I know of) about this topic. One which, whether people like it or not, has some very sticky social questions around it. Wargaming has been going on for decades, prison simulation is new. If someone made a game about the militarization of US law enforcement, people would likely want to discuss the larger issue around it.

            You are right to call into question why there isn’t any outcry about the other types of games you mention. Frankly, debating violence or jingoism in comment sections is like spitting into the wind. This debate is closer to just spitting into a stiff breeze…

          • HadToLogin says:

            It’s quite funny how gamers have no problem with violence and are attacking everyone who says “you play violent games, you becomes violent person”.

            But when Anita Sarkeesian says “gaming makes you sexist” there are tons of people saying “she’s right, only sexists throw women bodies in New Vegas or Dishonored”.

  6. Zerpherion says:

    I wonder the same people complained about every other type of game (like The Sims or GTA for example) break up families?

    Personally I think it’s part of human stupidity.

    People like this shouldn’t be playing games at all.

    Anyway, keep up the good work developers, loving the updates and the technical details of the new/updated game mechanics/features!

  7. Stephen Roberts says:

    So, this is alpha, right? Alpha? This shit doesn’t mean anything any more.

    I liked it when games were made, then released.

    • Bull0 says:

      There are still plenty of games that are “made, then released”, and they’re often as not buggy messes with shallow gameplay, day 1 DLC, inflating price tags, major bugs, etc. Plenty of people queueing up to scam you old school if this isn’t to your taste.

      And yes, Introversion use alpha correctly – the game isn’t feature complete (that’s beta) or finished (gold).

      • LionsPhil says:

        If we’re trying to hold on to the old meanings of the terms, alpha testing is also primarily internal. If you’re giving it out to customers, it’s a beta. (And if you’re charging customers for the priviledge, well…)

        Alpha/beta/etc. have been basically meaningless since Web 2.0 started using them as buzzwords. All they convey is another digit on the version number.

        • Dominic White says:

          Just because some people misuse the terminology doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. It just means that some people are being prats and should be corrected.

          Alpha usually means ‘still in heavy feature development’. Beta means that all the core parts of the game are in, and they’re in the polishing and tuning phase, although a surprising amount can happen during that time if they decide something has to change late in development.

          Some games definitely mis-use the terms, of course. Two of my favourite F2P games – War Thunder and Warframe (no relation) – have brought massive, sweeping changes and new features in every single update, despite both carrying the Beta tag. They’re probably closer to Alpha, but very fleshed out anyway.

          Kerbal Space Program still bills itself as an Alpha because they’re still working on core features, even though it’s a great, complete game already.

          • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

            I feel people don’t misuse the terminology because they are dumb and too lazy to pick up a dictionary, but rather because the terms don’t apply to these newfangled business models. If alpha is an internal test version that’s not feature complete, and beta is a possibly public test version that’s feature complete, what do you call a public version that’s not feature complete?

        • Bull0 says:

          I’ve never heard beta used to mean feature incomplete but public before – well, not by anyone that I think is using it correctly, anyway. Mod teams and games and that do, but as previously discussed, they’re wrong.

          • zeekthegeek says:

            When I worked in the industry, Alpha meant: Not feature complete. Beta is feature complete, not necessarily polished, and perhaps missing content.

          • LionsPhil says:

            While trying to quick dig up the link from a testing certification site (because I’m not sure how we argue definition beyond appealing to authority) a colleague threw at me once, I found we were just going in circles anyway. Copy-paste that subthread here a few more times and we’re done.

          • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

            if you want to imagine the future, imagine two people arguing semantics, forever

          • Bull0 says:

            Yeah, last time we had this conversation you used that testing-specific example, I said it was specific to testing, and you disappeared… so I guess I won again! *Evil laugh*

    • Mordin says:

      Hell yes! The only kickstarter project I want to see is an addon to adblock that will block the kickstarter\indie endless spam of “give me your money”.

      I understand that some people enjoy the feeling like they are part of the process, see this as a statement vs the big publishers, or want to leave a mark by getting some in-game BS, but I am too old for that shit. Keep your shovel-ware to yourself, give me a finished\good game, and i’d give your my money.

      I am a gamer, not an investor. I don’t want to throw money on in an idea, that might be finished in a year+ and might still appeal to me, and hopefully be as good as advertised. I certainly don’t want to be free beta tester, ruining my initial experience.

    • Hahaha says:

      I enjoyed it when people didn’t advertise shitty blogs in posts

  8. Lone Gunman says:

    Is it worth buying it right now?

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      It was worth buying a year ago. It’s a very solid game, and has been so for quite some time. Yes, it’s lacking core elements, but there are soooo many core elements allready in there that I find it hard to even notice that something could be missing.

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