Prison Architect Done And Dusted, Scanner Sombre Next

Cell-building sim Prison Architect [official site] has received its last update and the creators are taking a break before they come back to work on their next game, cave explorer Scanner Sombre. They’ll still be doing the odd patch and providing bug support, they say, but this is the last batch of content to be added, resulting in version 2.0. And it’s a bit of an old-fashioned addition, because it adds the ability to use cheats.

Players will now be able to enable cheats when making a new map, offering things like a spawn button that instantly creates whatever you want. You can’t get achievements or sell stuff for profit on a cheat-enabled map, though, it’s just for kicks. These updates have always had a video attached, so here it is this month (if you want to see a montage of how much has been added over the 6 years of development, skip to about 32:10).

Prison Architect was first announced a million years ago in 2011 when Introversion told everyone they were putting another game, urban heist simulator Subversion, on the back burner. It was an unexpected move at the time but it has worked out well for them in the end, what with 2 million people having donned the cap of a warden in Prison Architect, according to their figures.

Their next game is going to be an expansion of their recent prototype, Scanner Sombre – an exploratory game about being stuck in a dank cave with nothing but LIDAR to guide you. It’s very different. This is how Pip described it.

You spawn in a cave with a fire burning in the middle. There’s a scanner gun which you pick up before heading off down a pitch black tunnel. The scanner is kind of reminiscent of one of those handheld barcode scanners and shoots a cone of laser beams off into the darkness. When these beams hit a surface they leave a pinprick of colour so the more you use the scanner, the more concentrated the speckles become on a surface, creating a more and more detailed outline of the environment.

But they do also have another prototype, bomb-defusal wotsit Wrong Wire. And John had a go at being an anti-bomb man and puzzled through the wires and circuitry.

The developers are “going dark” for now, they say. But say we’ll probably know more about Scanner Sombre in a few months time.


  1. legopirate27 says:

    Great news! I tried the sample version back in the Spring and really enjoyed Scanner Sombre’s moody aesthetic and neat method of environmental exploration. Can’t wait to see more ideas grow from here!

  2. The Dark One says:

    Excited to see other games adopting the grungy point cloud aesthetic that Duskers used so well.

  3. mtomto says:

    I love Prison Architect because it reminds me of the good old 90s top-down management games – I can spend hours and hours in that game. But Scanner Sombre is probably the last game on earth I would touch. It looks more like a tech demo than an actual game…

    I get that Introversion wanna try some new things because they have been stuck with PA for years, but I highly doubt that it will be a success from a business point of view. But I guess they can afford it with the success of PA – selling for over 10 million dollars.

    If they announced Scanner Sombre 1. april, I would probably say that it was the most obvious Aprils fool – but they didn’t, and it wasn’t :)

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “It looks more like a tech demo than an actual game…”

      Well they haven’t actually made it yet, so that’s exactly what it is?

    • C0llic says:

      Well, lets be fair here, what you’ve seen so far is a proof concept demo. A tech demo in other words..

  4. TehK says:

    I’m going to miss those video updates. They were genuinely funny.

    • C0llic says:

      I agree. They felt like a genuine treat. I’m proud to have backed them from alpha 1.

    • JB says:

      I enjoyed them too, and thankfully they say in the video that the videos are only stopping for a couple of months, all being well!

  5. InternetBatman says:

    Introversion and Doublefine feel like artists collectives more than companies. Constantly at risk, frequently producing interesting things, sometimes producing experiments that fail. I wonder if there will be a word for these types of companies in the future.

    • C0llic says:

      It’s sad too me that studios like IV feel like an exception. Most game studios operate exactly like them up until when they’re bought up and absorbed into a huge corporate entity.

      On a related note, Amplitude, a very promising studio, have just had that happen. Let’s hope they end up okay.

  6. LewdPenguin says:

    Was interested in this when RPS first wrote about it a few months ago, now we just have to hope it actually gets done and they don’t end up bouncing off the concept and heading off to do something else before finishing it.
    As for what I’m hoping for, a not-too-long exploration experience that doesn’t feel the need to stretch itself out overly. Chances are the visual effect can’t hold up a huge game, and I’d hate for the experience to suffer through awkward constraints such as giving you harsh battery life limits on the scanner or some such obvious gimmick inserted to stretch playtime out for the sake of it. It might well end up being just an hour or two walking simulator with a neat visual hook, and that’s all it needs to be so far as I’m concerned.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I agree. Two trends that trouble me, and are starting to grind my gears:

      1) A game should be continually worked on until the end of time
      2) You should be able to enjoy playing the game until the end of time

      I know it’s an easy target, but I do think it’s a generational thing. Those of us that existed before early access and open worlds were quite content paying £39.99 for an 8 hour experience that didn’t change one iota from the day it was published. ERly access itself has democratised games in a way that’s leading to everything being a content-warehouse multiplayer loot farming build-em-up (Neeeeds Vive support!!!11!).

      Don’t get me wrong, the gaming landscape has never been broader, and I could buy a new game I love every single day and never run out of options… but spend any time on steam comment areas or forums and the attitude (and outright entitlement) is staggering. Kids buy games expecting them to become a hobby in themselves, and don’t seem to understand the concept of a game being finished.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Before open worlds. Do you mean before 1984 then? ?
        I don’t think many complains when a game is alright out of the box. Early Access sets different expectations since they invite the customers to co-create the game.

        I’ve existed since the 80’s and know all too well the £39.99 or whatever equivalence was here for a linear NES or SNES game that had replay value for months. In reality it was just 40 minutes stretched over months of retrying against an extremely unbalanced, glitchy and unfair game.

        Then there were good purchases lasting for actual 100’s of hours through massive replay value and being filled to the brim with things to find. Especially when I got an Amiga and discovered things like Civilizations, Xcom, Syndicate etc.

        Games that were already developed to their complete v1.0 potential on the disk in the box. Until the eventual sequel or expansion.

        No early access dumped in a ditch as “totally-v1.0-as-promised-guys” because sales petered out halfway through development (definitely not an accusation against Introversion but plenty of other Early Accessers, DF-9, Towns, Gnomoria).

        Also, the Steam forums are muppet town on ritalin.