Prison Architect's latest update is a particularly important one, adding remote access systems to Introversion's prison management sim. As we know from movies and TV, no prison worth its salt would be complete without a big security room switch that opens all the cell doors at once. That's finally a possibility in Alpha 23, which will now allow players to connect doors to remote switches, or to set it so that they'll only open at a specific time of day, say 14:37. You probably have your own favourite time of day. CCTV has also been reworked a bit to fit in with the new system.
"What shall we add this time?" the members of Introversion Software asked themselves. At least, they did in this fictional dramatisation of the creation of Prison Architect's new update. "How about something nice for a change," said one developer, "like some attractive new flowers, or a really lovely baking minigame." Everyone pondered this bold new direction, and the possibility of a much-needed break from the misery of incarceration simulation. "Or," said another, "we could add heroin."
Can you guess which way they went?
I'm starting to think you could go back through the history of Introversion's alpha release videos, and map out the increasing eccentricities of Mark Morris and Chris Delay as they continue to work on the game. This time: philosophical musings on toilet queues lead into an exploration of the latest update's features, which include dogs, extensive optimisation, and the sale of prisons.
Welcome to Stabshank, a maximum security penitentiary that I’m about to flood with murderers, thieves, videogame pirates and other ruthless criminal scum. The best way to play Prison Architect is to start with calmer, less stabby minimum security prisoners, then bring in the psychopaths when your security is more solid, but I won’t be doing that. I’m going to fill my basic lowcapacity prison with some really, really bad people and a skeleton crew of guards.
As each truck of convicts rolls in, I’m going to pick one and follow them. I want to see how deep the simulation goes, and whether their crimes dictate their behaviour. I’ll track their lives until they die, escape or are otherwise incapacitated.
I won’t be installing metal detectors at the front gate or in the canteen, so any contraband – shivs, drugs, forks, etc – will be freely circulating. I don’t want Stabshank to be too efficient or secure. I want these guys to get angry, because the angrier they get, the more likely they are to do something interesting. By which I mean stabbing.
The latest update for Introversion's Prison Architect is all about contraband. Prisoners - already notorious for their love of the illicit - will attempt to steal things from rooms that contain any one of a number of different categories, including alcohol, drugs, weapons and, for some reason, toilet brushes. It's a good thing prisons are better stocked than our office: all they'd be able to pinch would be discarded coffee cups, chocolate snacks and copies of The Sims 3: Showtime.
Prison Architect has received its first update since being transferred to Steam's high-security Early Access wing. The Alpha9 patch is out now, and brings some big new features - including prisoner employment, laundries, workshops and family visitation. Introversion's Mark Morris and Chris Delay run through the additions, while simultaneously assuring that prisoners "can't hydraulically press the heads of other prisoners... yet." That's probably the most alarming feature tease in the history of management sims.
Introversion's slammer-sim Prison Architect has kept a pre-release alpha for purchasers through its official website for some time now, even racking up a cool million from buyers eager to push around teeny convicts in what amounts to a penal ant-farm. The various purchase tiers are now on Steam for immediate play, and it makes up a part of the first set of in-progress games offering immediate buy-in access to pre-release versions through Steam's new Early Access system.
Inversion co-founder Mark Morris recently spoke with VG247 about his decision to bus slammer-sim Prison Architect over to the PC instead of Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network, citing the prohibitive cost of acquiring test kits to meet quality standards and telling Microsoft and Sony to "piss off" after calling them "second-class customers."