Not So Quiet Riot: Prison Architect Update Adds An Armoury

Truncheons during luncheon no more. Guns now.

It’s been a little while since I’ve seriously played Introversion’s incarceration sim Prison Architect, but I’ve come to enjoy reading and watching their monthly updates just as much as playing it myself. Alpha 17 is now live and the video below details the various additions. The big one: you can now build an armoury in your prison and deck it out like one of those rooms that used to come before a boss fight in first-person shooters. The kind of room full of shotguns, ammo and bulletproof vests.

The kind of room prisoners might want to break into in case of a riot.

The armoury introduces a new set of tools with which to deal with riots: mainly, guns. If your prisoners are misbehaving, fighting one another or the guards, you can send a group in with weapons to intimidate them into surrendering. You can tell your people not to fire or to fire on sight, but guards will make on-the-spot decisions themselves if they feel their life is in danger and depending on the types of prisoners they’re facing. This ends badly for lots of people – guards and prisoners – in the video above.

Of course, a few of your most violent prisoners, if they happen to be close by, will try to get inside the armoury themselves in the event of a riot. You’ll need to make sure it’s behind a lot of big doors to stop that from happening.

Other additions for alpha 17 include a forestry, in which trees will grow for you chop down and turn into money, and a new context-sensitive object menu designed to cope with the broadening scope (which is totally dope?) of the game. A full list of changes is over on the update’s forum thread.

Now that there’s more ways to deal with madness – and more importantly, many more ways for things to go wrong – perhaps we should send Brendan back in to try and build another nice prison.


  1. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I think I’m doing it wrong, my first reaction on seeing Prison Architect updating isn’t to wonder how the game is improved, it’s “oh cool, those guys will have done another funny video”.

    • BTAxis says:

      Yep, theirs and the Limit Theory monthly update videos have become highlights of my month.

    • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

      I feel that their humour sounds a bit too forced at times, IMO.

  2. bills6693 says:

    An interesting update. Honestly though, by far the biggest problem with the game that I have is twofold – speed and income.

    There needs to be a superfast speed. Especially during construction of the prison, it can literally take an hour or hours until your prison is even built.

    Secondly money, it seems like at least in the fairly early game, you seem unable to make more than a couple of hundred dollars a day -which is basically nothing. And since a day lasts for ages, you can spend hours saving up for another wing to get more prisoners to raise your income, or something.

    When your prison is running smoothly, there shouldn’t be any problem speeding the game up far faster to actually get some money coming in to build up your prison. This is the main reason I haven’t played for a while. Although really I want to wait for the finished game – however seeing the speed of completion, that seems to be a loooong way away.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      Do you know that you can get grants? I’m not trying to be patronising, I had exactly the same problem when I started playing, but when I discovered I could get a bunch of money in advance it helped speed up the early game massively.

      It’s been a while since I played so can’t remember exactly but I think if you right- or double-click on the relevant grant you get the advance money – I’m sure someone will correct me if that’s wrong.

      Agree about the speed, at the start waiting for the workmen to stop messing about and actual build the walls I’ve requested is a bit tedious.

      • bills6693 says:

        Yeah, I got the grants. I use all of that ‘starting’ money to create a prison with all the appropriate things and space for a load of prisoners. Then I’m fairly low on money, but when I have the prisoners in I need guards and cooks and the office staff, and my overall income is really low. And the game just crawls…

        • battles_atlas says:

          I totally agree. Played it for the first time just before the new patch came out. It’s a wonderful game but there is a really glaring (it seems to me) pacing problem early on. Once you get about 30 prisoners you can make decent income, but before that, once you have spent the grants you are living hand to mouth, making a couple of hundred a day. And top speed really isn’t that fast. I found myself tabbing out for five minutes at a time waiting for the clock to tick round.

        • Lanfranc says:

          Well, if you skip most of the “appropriate” things and just go for the “critically necessary” things* at first, you can have room for more prisoners and thus get a higher income…

          * – Things that aren’t “critically necessary”: Food, showers, common rooms, anything that doesn’t earn money.

          • bills6693 says:

            I don’t feel I’m playing a ‘Prison management simulator’ if I am not providing food, showers, etc etc!

            If this is what the simulation requires to be successful, then there is a fatal, crippling flaw with the entire simulation.

            I feel it simply needs higher income per prisoner, and a far far faster speed.

          • Lanfranc says:

            I was being slightly facetious, but there is certainly a valid choice to be made: Do you prioritise making nice amenities for your prisoners and live with a peaceful prison but a low income, or do you just stone cold go for the profit-making production facilities and deal with the rest later (and with the inevitable riots in the meantime)?

            I wouldn’t consider that a flaw, rather a challenge of managing an institution that is clearly underfunded for what it is expected to do. As I think must public employees will agree, that’s extremely realistic.

    • kkhalil211 says:

      I’m actually hoping they add features with next patch that will give me something to spend money on, other than expanding my cell blocks endlessly.

      With the new lumber processing workshop element, shortly after getting first workshop up i made about $20k from processing the logs i got during the construction of my prison. Once i got forestries up I slowly went from making $10-12k every few days to $10-12k a day (3, 7 worker workshops and 4 mid-sized forestries). For first time I haven’t had to have a nice lump of cash sitting in my bank balance, outside of grant money. Within 6-8hrs time played in a fesh game this patch I have around $200k bank balance.

      In my experience taking it kind of slow at the start (turning off intake first day or two to get everything built and in order before prisoners arrive) pays off really quickly. Making sure all needs are accounted for ASAP because a prison with stable prisoner happiness seems to be easier to keep that way. That allows you to keep intake on and hire bare minimum staff, which in turn allows you to stay in the green until you get your first workshop (and your true profit potential).

      One more tip would be not to build more than 15 or so, actual cells. That will give you the bonus money from the grant. Assuming all needs have a way to be met, you can just stick dozens of prisoners in large holding cells lined with beds and things run just fine (as long as prison happiness is already fairly stable). With this strategy you can accommodate a few dozen prisoners for the price of a small block of individual cells. Then once you have money to spare you can upgrade to large cell blocks.

  3. X_kot says:

    The game’s not complete yet, and I’m sure the guys at Introversion have a goal in mind, so I can’t completely condemn the direction the project is headed. However, I’m becoming uncomfortable with the growing emphasis on riots. Mass violence in prisons is certainly part of the story, but it’s also historically infrequent. I’d be much more interested in addressing gang culture, the exploitation of prisoners, the waves of nonviolent felons incarcerated for drug possession.

    Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria) made a cogent argument on Kotaku about Prison Architect:

    link to

    EDIT: Corrected Pedercini’s name.

    • Eggman says:

      It does deal with exploitation of prisoners. Once you’ve used up your federal grants, you really need to make your prisoners work manual labor, making products you can sell for good profit. And that’s when some people realize that this is slavery 2.0, happening right now in some US profit-driven prisons.

      I agree with the rest.

    • jimbobjunior says:

      I’d hold off judgement til the game is complete. The devs have stated that they realise that the mechanics to date have been around building a right-wing hell-hole, but there will be balance with left-wing mechanics too, they just haven’t been included yet. Those mechanics are about tracking long-term reoffending rates, prisoner education and rehabilitation and (not 100% about this one) parole.

      That being said, they want you to be able to build any kind of prison you can imagine, and allowing you to build a violent, exploitive but profitable prison is very much one of the main takeaways of the game.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Erm,. If we’re talking extremes then either side would rather bury prisoners in a hole after extracting all possible profit from them. If we’re not talking extremes then rehabilitation is a priority of the prison system (in principle) your politics may affect what you think it the best way to correct behavior so that people don’t re-offend but locking them up and throwing away the key was every bit as popular an idea with Stalin as it was with Hitler.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Hey, that actually sounds pretty interesting. Specially the part about gang culture inside the prison. Would they segregate themselves in the cell blocks? What if you assign an enemy gang close to another?

      I would also like to see another type of prison, maybe a more southamerican one like in Leonera, different to this conception of a completely sanitized place, that kind of become like homes: With their laundry hanging inside, decorated cells, that sort of stuff. A women’s prison would be pretty interesting too. Pregnant prisoners, raising kids inside? Damn, I know there is no way they would do that, but this game sure has potential to explore some fantastic themes. Introversion never dissapoints.

    • darkChozo says:

      It’s worth noting that the devs put together a fairly detailed response video: link to

      Cliff notes version is that they agree with most of what he said and either hadn’t implemented stuff yet or hadn’t considered some particular component. Well, that, and the fact that Prison Architect isn’t set in the US specifically.

      • X_kot says:

        Oooh, thanks for that! I don’t frequent K-street very often, so I didn’t know about the response til now. Both devs have my respect, for their past work and their willingness to open this kind of dialogue.

    • ColCol says:

      I think you have good points, but sim games like prison architect tend to be famous or popular for how things go wrong, usually in a violent fashion.

    • C0llic says:

      You have to also consider that its first and foremost a game. Riots are the games only way of telling you you’re running your prison into the ground (at present anyway). The obvious things that are lacking are planned for the future, but in the mean time, this is the most obvious and logical way of making the game, actually a game and adding some challenge.

      Again, as has already been mentioned, watch the responce video.

  4. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Currently following the game’s advice leads you to construct what you think is a fairly decent prison, based on obtaining and fulfilling grants. But very soon the game hits you with a load of prisoners, they start fighting, guards beat them half to death, all hell breaks loose and you have little idea why. Would love to see a slow and steady campaign of introductory missions – perhaps you start off managing the drunk tank in a police station, then a jail, then a minimum security prison – and so on. Micromanaging the very individual inmates is currently too much of a drag for people who would otherwise really love the building aspect of the game.

  5. Maxheadroom says:

    Is this in a state where its worth playing yet feature wise?

    I mean, after about 20 minutes with Spacebase DF9 I had a fully self sufficient base and every room built. So even though it’s still in early access with only a fraction of it’s intended features, in my head I’ve ‘completed’ it which has rather dampened my compulsion to go back to it

  6. Pippy says:

    Huh and I thought it was one of the many things that didn’t make sense about Resident Evil IV: Whateverthesubtitlewas the movie was when they had an armory in the prison but it turns out they have them in prisons on computer games too so it must make sense.

  7. Dozer says:

    Armory. Armory. Armory.

    Armory. Armory. Armory.

  8. Awesumo says:

    If any of my prisoners murder a guard then I wall them in. Permanently.