Forward The Foundation: Prison Architect Alpha 5

Cook your own damned dinner, then

While I may still be searching my rotten soul for how I really feel about Prison Architect‘s concept and attendant amorality, I remain highly interested in its ongoing development. The fifth alpha build is now available to pre-orderererers, and among its new features are sexy firemen. Well, firemen, anyway.

The best news from this update for me is a reworking of the Foundation tool, which is basically what you use to construct buildings in the first place. In its previous form, it was a complete arse to create buildings with non-rectangular shapes and expanding existing structures involved a weird mess of duplicate walls and far too many doors. So they’ve taken a new swing at it and reckon the freeform cell-building of our dreams is pretty much there now.

They’ve also got Staff-only zoning, as an addition to the former and usually malfunctioning Staff-only door system. Glad of that, as prisoners kept making their way into the kitchens and offices and just hanging around creepily. Apparently they will still go into these areas when they take it upon themselves to cause trouble, it’s just that the accidental incursions should now be resolved.

Also, the aforementioned firemen, and the first real sense that our prisons don’t exist in a complete bubble. The outside world is there, and now it can help to stop entire prisons being razed to the ground. Though in same cases that was a blessing. Here’s a look at the new shtuff in action:

You also get to see the cheat menu in there, which I suspect I’m not alone in asking is made available to us all for a total sandbox mode one day.

Introversion go into more detail about the changes and additions right here.


  1. Joshua Northey says:

    “While I may still be searching my rotten soul for how I really feel about Prison Architect‘s concept and attendant amorality”

    Yet you presumably play games where you run around murdering almost every person/creature you come across (as like 30% of games are that)? I don’t understand…

    Certainly the ethics of prison administration are a little murky, but they are way way way less murky than the ethics of many extremely popular computer games?

    • jimbobjunior says:

      In the majority of those games, your “enemies” are similarly armed and present a direct threat to you. When they aren’t (the notorious “No Russian” mission in CoD), people generally raise an issue with it.

    • MrLebanon says:

      at least there is no *gasp* nudity

      • Terragot says:

        Disgusting. RPS please ban this filthy-mouthed little pikey.

        Sex… unbeleivable, what are we? Animals!?

        • Kasab says:

          Today I heard someone say the word “gender”. What a filthy country this is.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Boobies are the gateway to moral degeneracy, and we should stop all breastfeeding immediately.

      • sabasNL says:

        Sorry to disappoint you, Sir, but after playing this excellent game, I have concluded that the prisoners in fact shower naked. Without any clothes, that is. Disgusting creatures!

    • Crane says:

      I’m not certain what legal system they use in your country, but in Britain people aren’t normally convicted of murder if they kill someone who was shooting at them.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Because in games you only ever kill people shooting at you? That is a rich one!

        Look I don’t see the violence in games as much of a problem at all, but managing a prison in a game is way way less of a problem than that.

      • Xocrates says:

        Not wanting to pick sides here. But I believe I should note that there are game where you are a straight up murderer.

        Dishonoured is a good example. Even if you do a pacifist run you’ll do things that are highly questionable. And if you’re playing in such a way that people actually do shoot at you first… well, then you either suck at the game or just want an excuse to kill them.

    • TheHater says:

      Can you sissies already stop with this boring tumblr-style ethics talk? Yes yes we get it, you’re more enlightened and progressive than thou, now describe the game and don’t gasp every time you kill someone or a game’s percentage of black people is higher than 50% (and then complain if it’s lower than 50%).
      When did the whole gaming magazine sphere become the social justice brigade?

    • Sassenach says:

      I think it says less about the comparative ethics of killing and prison administration and is more telling of the resonance of any ‘message’ the game gives out. Don’t you think it’s interesting that a relatively innocuous role of prison administrator causes more discomfort then the dude wot kills a lot role? I think that’s a success of the game we have here.

      • Xzi says:

        I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that it speaks more to our real life experience. I’m willing to guess that approximately none of us have been stuck on an island with a gun and told to kill anyone else with a gun or die trying. The vast majority of us, however, know somebody who is in prison or has been in prison previously. And if you’re in the US, you’re probably acutely aware of how broken our prison/rehabilitation system is. Thus it’s a lot harder to separate a game like this from reality in our minds than it is for a shooter.

        • mistwolf says:

          The thing is that the prison systems of the world are a very uncertain moral area. While they serve a certainly very important role, there is also a lot of dispute on how they should be run and how punative they should be. And in any discussion about the rights of the imprisoned, there are a lot of people who will genuinely feel, and state, that they should have none. Look at how things like prison violence and, especially, rape are seen. They are an endemic problem, but there is still a lot of people who feel that it is no more than someone deserves for getting sent there; being raped is just part of your punishment. Look at any article about someone accused of a crime and you will see people who are gleefully waiting for them to meet ‘Bubba’ and get what they ‘deserve’.

          Also, especially in the US, there is more and more push to monetise prisons. While a lot is framed as ‘reducing the cost’, it is nowhere near that black and white. We have taken what SHOULD be the job of the government (And sorry to those who feel government should be disbanded, but there ARE things government should be doing, and this is one of them), and farmed it out to private, FOR PROFIT enterprise. And this is where this game really comes in. We have the people who run the companies who run prisons actively campaigning politically to tighten laws so they get more intake, while also pushing to lighten laws on things like prison labor.

          The US is perilously close to reducing their prison class to slave labor, and making it trivial to ensure that there are plenty of people there to do it. Corrupt police and justice departments (How many people have never encountered, either directly or not, stories of police planting drugs for a bust, or fabricating evidence, or using ‘character judgement’ as a strong reasoning for guilt (They once dealt pot, they can’t be trusted not to be guilty of this!)’.

          Murder sims, evil overlord sims? Those are easy. There isn’t much debate that murder is wrong, or that violent games are not representative of a significant reality. But building a prison and managing the socio-economic situation is nowhere near as cut and dry. A lot of people who play this game actually WON’T think there is anything morally questionable, and that is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. When the game offers that you can rent out your prisoners for an extra 10% income, for a lot of people that will be an ‘obvious’ right choice, even when their subconscious is saying ‘wait, something isn’t quite right here’ and so, discomfort.

          • Xzi says:

            Yep, that’s the long form of it. I agree with all of that.

          • Amun says:

            Well said, old man.

            It’s in society’s interest to have prisons be a place where people learn to be well adjusted and healthy members of society, rather than just some pit to throw them in so they can’t harm anyone else.

  2. Optimoos says:

    Frustrating – I’ve tried twice now to buy this alpha after articles here, and both times PayPal mysteriously won’t complete the transaction. I’ve made other purchases with PayPal in the interim, so I don’t believe it’s my account, and my support requests to Introversion appear to have fallen on deaf ears. /sadface

    • lordcooper says:

      I would be happy to help you out. If you ever see this reply and feel like trusting a stranger, drop me an email at “ja ££ke£.co ££o£per£1 9£91££ @££g ma£i l.c£o m”

      Obviously you have to remove the £ signs and spaces.

  3. Carbonated Dan says:

    fire escape procedures are needed – watching that big chap calmly burning in his open cell was quite scary

    • dsi1 says:

      Reminded me of DF. Apparently it’s a lot easier to make fire spread and be deadly than it is to make your AI constructs get the fuck away from it.

  4. conti027 says:

    I picked this up when I saw the first article on RPS. Its tons of fun. My only complaint is that it does get a little boring since there are not in-game goals yet.

  5. HexagonalBolts says:

    I just don’t get the moral objections – it’s not like performing an immoral task in a game in some way endorses it in reality, everyone would happily play an evil overlord in an RPG without any qualms. If anything, surely Prison Architect draws attention to moral issues around prison systems and is a force for good?

    • Xocrates says:

      I think the problem is moral ambiguity as opposed to objectionable moral. Games, and fiction in general, tend to work a lot in terms of black and white, so even if what you’re doing in game is morally wrong, you can recognize it as such and hand wave it as entertainment since you know it’s wrong, but it’s just for funzies.

      Moral ambiguity, however, makes people uncomfortable – because it’s much harder to know where you stand when the ground keeps shifting – and the problem is exacerbated when dealing with real world issues with no clear answers.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Well said, though I think that just shows that people don’t actually think about this stuff much, rather than that their concerns are valid.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Indeed, well said.

    • Sassenach says:

      I think they’re not so much objections as observations that “ooh, this makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’m not sure how I feel about that”. Important distinction.

  6. Kefren says:

    I’d rather play this than Deer Hunting Simulator 2013. It wouldn’t leave my hands feeling dirty.

  7. Catweasel says:

    If an update changes the ugly art style I might try it.

  8. SkittleDiddler says:

    If I can name all my prisoners after characters in Oz, I will gladly buy it. Until then: no Beecher, no buy.

    • sabasNL says:

      You can rename every Prisoner’s name, just edit the savefile (easy to do with Notepad or a savegame editor which you can easily Google)

  9. gnodab says:

    I don’t get why people get involved in petty moralization in a threat of a game as tame as this. I mean it’s video games, they almost all involve amounts of murdering (FPS. RPG) and genocide (Strategy) on a scale that we developed a whole vocabulary around it. (fragging, killing sprees, ultra kills, fatalities…..)
    It’s fun!
    And more importantly ASIMOV references!!! (also Herbert)

    • Harlander says:

      I would play the shit out of a psychohistorical grand strategy game.

      Though I haven’t the least idea how that would work.

      • gnodab says:

        For some reason I always thought it would be really easy to design. Just imagine a 4x on the basis of Majesty and throw a little Dwarf Fortress into the mix. The game would run more or last on its own and your job would be to create incentives/situations which would manipulate the AI into reacting as you planned it to. The main goal would be to figure out the psychology of the AI. And watching desperately as everything goes horribly wrong.

  10. LuizPSC says:

    Talking about morals and stuff.

    Someone remember Beatifull Escpape?

    link to


  11. Thermal Ions says:

    This game rather interests me, but not sure if I want to pick it up before release, given I’ve bought games in alpha before and by the time they release I’m actually ready to move on to something else, hence missed the full finished experience.

    Is there any satisfaction to it currently as a game, as opposed to say viewing it as a tech demo / glimpse of the potential game to come?

    • AngoraFish says:

      I’ve preordered in order to get my name in the game and support development, but I’ve not played it for the same reason. I’m sure there are many far more committed than myself willing to play test half a game experience. Bear in mind that Introversion only expected a few dozen hardcore types to sign up and accidentally got a flood, but really, this is in my view best limited to a few dozen hardcore types until something more closely approximating the full game arrives.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        In the very same boat.

        Bought it while inebriated because that’s when I make all the best decisions, of course, and only played through the tutorial before thinking I’d be better off leaving it until release otherwise I’d be sick of it. Looked quite good, though.

  12. wodin says:

    What would eb cool is if you got Mafia bosses etc..maybe even bring factions into it..yardies,neo nazis etc etc.