Computational! Prison Architect Adds Logic Circuits


Logic can be dangerous. Minecraft players have built everything from room-sized games of Pong to autocannons with its redstone logic circuits, and that’s a relatively peaceful game. If you combined logic circuits with, say, the prison-industrial complex, I dread to imagine what dehumanising mechanisms might be built around inmates. So let’s see what happens now Prison Architect has done just that.

It’s fine, though. Prison Architect isn’t quite so freeform, and Introversion imagine the new automation and logic tools will be used for things like remote door control systems and sharing clock signals. Which does almost sound like a challenge.

The three big practical features added in the alpha 23 update are remote access systems with various ways to remotely open and close doors, a reworking of CCTV cameras, and expansions of contraband and smuggling systems. Which sound nice enough. And then there are the logic gates.

Prison Architect now has And, Or, Not, Nand, Nor, and Xor logic gates, which broadly means you can build computer components. Surely no monster would think to combine those with automated gates and cameras and alarms to make a device shunting prisoners around like terrified electrons.

The game’s still in early access, priced at £19.99 or $30 depending on where you buy. Here, have a video of two of the Introversion gang showing off the patch’s main features:


  1. Zankmam says:

    It feels like PA will never leave early access.

    It’s fun and all, but… Yeah. Just a feeling I’ve got.

    • RedViv says:

      The Early Access Curse Of Planetary Prison Architectihilation

      Or TEACOPPA, for short.

    • Shadow says:

      It’s already quite playable, and there’s little Early Access feeling to it, despite it nominally being so. Not to mention it keeps getting better and better, so there’s really not much to complain about.

    • P.Funk says:

      Yea ongoing development and new features is such a drag. Why can’t they just stop adding stuff and finalize it and release it so that I can finally just buy it and be disappointed already?

      Or maybe we can just enjoy the fact that its in development constantly and we don’t end up with an incomplete game. Its this or we just never play games like Prison Architect or Kerbal Space Program because they’d never be made by publishers who can finish a game in 18 months. Do you see EA releasing anything like PA or KSP?

      Sometimes we don’t know when we’ve got it good.

    • Jac says:

      Somewhere there is an alternate universe where this game is being funded by a publisher. That version of you is a happy person as you are unaware of each and every update due to the fact that it was not funded by the public.

  2. WiggumEsquilax says:

    Chris Delay is such a downer.

  3. David Bliff says:

    Should it be worrying how deep they’re trying to make this, seeing as how the vast majority of players will never use these? I haven’t played in a while, but the last time I did there was still a lot of work to be done on approachability and balance. Do they have contracts beyond the initial one yet?

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Engine first, content later… that’s how it goes in development.

      Those features look great. I’d be really interested in this game with a pallet swap (change of theme). It would make a great [anything] simulator really.

      • Jerppa says:

        We have Goat Simulator and Rock Simulator, so someone really should make Anything Simulator.

        • MatthausGames says:

          We have an Anything Simulator, we call it Garry’s Mod.

    • bills6693 says:

      Re: I haven’t played in a while, but the last time I did there was still a lot of work to be done on approachability and balance. Do they have contracts beyond the initial one yet?

      They have actually done quite a bit of good. The biggest improvement was probably changing finance and adding more contracts. There are now a few dozen contracts. You can take only some at a time, and they offer varying rewards for varying tasks. They really help a lot.

      They also made you get some of your money every hour rather than a lump at midnight, that helps a lot more than you might think and keeps things interesting.

      Also they added prison labor, manufacturing, classes etc. Its a great way to make more money to expand your prison, and do something with your prisoners other than ‘hold’ them until they are released.

      Overall I’d say its come a long way from what it sounds like you played, and there is certainly fun to be had in playing it some more. I recommend you give it another go, have some fun, then wait 6 months for enough improvements to do the same again… frustrating it takes this long, but at least its fun at its current stage.

    • Leb says:

      I play PA pretty casually every other patch or so. This is not “too deep.” All it takes is the opening of a wiki page or watching of a youtube video to learn some basic applications of these gates in games and have some cool “camera spots prisoner, door opens” situations.

      Personally I am no programmer, but I enjoy this kind of stuff in games as it is very rewarding to figure out how to implement. I look forward to seeing what people do with these, and replicating and building upon them.

      And, as others have pointed out, PA has come a long way in terms of accessibility. Hell if you are really intimidated, the workshop even has starter prisons that have a basic layout for you to play with, rather than needing to start from scratch

    • P.Funk says:

      This is the kind of complexity every sandbox game should have. This allows user conceived solutions to gameplay issues that the developer has to only support in theory without even considering the applications.

      Look at the things people can do in Minecraft with redstone. Mojang didn’t need to add an elevator to Minecraft, I just built one. The problem of getting from bedrock to the mountain top green house was solved by user ingenuity.

      How many issues could you solve in a complex game like this with stuff do you think? This is about creating a system that functions a certain. With logic gates you end up with lots of cool things that would only ever be possible otherwise if they’re specifically built into the interface.

      I’m excited. This game just shot up into must buy for me now.

    • Robostove says:

      Don’t forget that you can also build a computer within Minecraft. Adding circuitry to a game naturally allows incredibly complex creations. It’s not a massive amount of work for the developer, and it’ll be a lot of fun for those who choose to dabble with it.

      This system also looks a bit easier to use than Minecraft’s wonky redstone rules.

  4. WiggumEsquilax says:

    Footballs are overpowered. Introversion please nerf.

  5. Michael Fogg says:

    >>>Nand, Nor, and Xor

    Sounds like somebody’s preferred pronouns on their tumblr

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      By this you mean you would prefer things to just be “true” and have no other logical combinations to concern yourself with?

  6. lordfrikk says:

    Starting countdown until the first automated prison is built.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    To be fair, they do say the logic circuits are just for fun and not really a core idea. Chris is just a bit of a mentalist :D

  8. Jerppa says:

    How long has it been in “alpha”?

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Since September 25th 2012.

    • Doganpc says:

      How long was Minecraft in development? Let go of this necessitating demand of “finished”. High profile PC games haven’t been “finished” in over a decade. Bugged releases, missing features, leftover code… I don’t see much of a difference between ‘Release and Patch’ (if it sells well enough) and “early access”

  9. bokater says:

    “I dread to imagine what dehumanising mechanisms might be built around intimates.”

    I don’t know, that might be a turn-on for some. But I think you may have meant a different word.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist teasing.

  10. Reapy says:

    I haven’t bought PA yet, not sure if I will, but damn me, I could listen to these two talk to each other for hours on end. Love these monthly updates for that reason.

  11. Curratum says:

    I only clicked on this article because the screenshot somehow reminded me of Spacechem.

  12. Frye2k11 says:

    Logic is overrated. And underrated.

  13. YeGoblynQueenne says:

    Prison Architect now has And, Or, Not, Nand, Nor, and Xor logic gates, which broadly means you can build computer components.

    Ohhh, me, me, sir, please, I know this one, can I? Can I?

    You don’t need all those gates. You can build any combinatorial logic circuit with just Nand or Nor gates.

    Do I get a gold star now? Please? Yes? Gold star?

    • leomoty says:

      Agreed, however it is so cheap to implement the logic gates, I don’t think he even cared what was the minimal subset needed.