Prison Architect Has A ‘Hidden’ 3D Mode

Prison Architect has been adding extra dimensions to its simulation of prisons for years now, but this is a big one: it now has a 3D mode. The option is semi-hidden but can be activated by a small ‘TT’ button in the bottom left of the game’s “Extras” menu. It doesn’t require any mods, but it will convert your existing 2D prison into a three-dimensional representation of same, complete with prisoners, furniture, vehicles and a camera that can swoop and dive among the corridors. You’ll find a video and more details below.

A number of users seemed to stumble across the mod, but here’s the first or one of the first videos of it in action from YouTube user TheLogical Lowdown:

There are plenty parts of the mode that are unfinished. Showerheads are modelled but appear on the ground, there is no toilet model, and in general it seems harder to parse than the default 2D mode. It’s a neat way to view your own handiwork however after hours of building a prison, even if it doesn’t look like a comfortable method for directly playing the game.

The first hints of the mode were found as far back as four months ago, when Reddit user BlueOrange775 noticed that there was a bunch of 3D models bundled with the game. That suggests that the mode has been in development since not long after the game hit version 1.0. You can read our review of that build here.

Users were initially reporting that in order to access the 3D mode you had to activate the game’s performance beta, but that wasn’t the case for me. If you boot up the game and the ‘TT’ button isn’t there, you can try activating the beta by right-clicking on the Prison Architect application in Steam, going to Properties, then the Betas tab, and selecting ‘performancetest’ from the dropdown menu.

The header image is by Reddit user heydudejustasec. You can find more screenshots here.

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  1. Simon_Scott says:

    Suspect this is intended for the escape mode.

    • TheLogical Lowdown says:

      I think it was for them to play with their new HTC Vive. They got a Vive in like August and then this came about in October, just took this long to find it.

  2. dwm says:

    I don’t think that’s a “tt”; rather, I’m pretty sure that’s a reference to the 1995 film, “The Net” (link to

    In it, the heroine (played by Sandra Bullock) came across a conspiracy involving π (pi) symbols hidden in the corner of web-pages…

  3. klops says:

    I don’t actually enjoy Prison Architect much BUT:

    I really like the developers’ style. How they don’t vomit out all their dreams and overexited possibilities of the game in the sales speech, but start a working concept from the basic blocks first and then add detail and extra. Oh, you have dogs now? Oh, you did an escape mode? Oh, you’re working on a 3D mode. Nice! Also they had a great way of showing how the development had advanced with their videos.

  4. Bostec says:

    I know that ‘TT’ button, isn’t it in The Net? I love that film!

  5. gbrading says:

    That’s super cool; according to the devs they’ve had this hidden in the game for 5 months! Surprised it took the community that long to spot this.

  6. TheLogical Lowdown says:

    Holy crap… Featured by Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Life = Complete. Thats my gem of a video! lol.

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      Well done.

      Now go and buy a new fucking microphone :D

      • TheLogical Lowdown says:

        LOL. I am 2 states away from home doing a turbine swap on a King Air 200 and did this on a Samsung Series 3 laptop with the built in mic. Apologies. Guess i could have waited 2 weeks till i was home to tell everyone.

  7. Pantalaimon says:

    A cool little Dungeon Keeper throwback. I don’t know how they managed to sit on this for five months!

    I can’t remember now if they ever mentioned it, but I hope this paves the way for future building on other z-levels. Not that the game *lacks* that aspect, and certainly it does come with a bit of cpu cost due to pathfinding and things, but it would be a boon for creative building.

  8. noodlecake says:

    Pretty neat. I think the 2D version looks nicer, but it’s a cool little addition and it’s amazing that they kept a lid on it. I imagine they had fun leaving it there as something people could discover by accident.

  9. Sin Vega says:

    Wow, this sounds like the kind of thing that would be completely untrue but a nonetheless persistent, legendary “secret mode” from a game in the 90s.

    It’s a little bit sad that those things were basically wiped out by the internet. But anyway.