If I've learned anything from prison dramas, it's that sometimes a stern talking to just doesn't do the trick. You also need plenty of hard-work, a commitment to understand your prisoners, and a rousing and inspirational third-act speech, in which you learn that, actually, it was them teaching you all along. Alternatively, you need guns. For Prison Architect's seventeenth alpha update, Introversion have gone for the second option.
A scenario: somebody builds the biggest prison imaginable, fills it full of the most hardened criminals, then, through careful management, has it turning a regular profit. Are they proud of their achievement? No. All they really wanted was to run a jail full of clowns. By default, Prison Architect doesn't contain clowns, which I think we can all agree is a shame. Luckily for our fictional warden, this latest update for the prison management sim codifies mod support, making it easier for them - or other clown hating players - to reskin the game's prisoners.
Over 250,000 inmates are now being held by Prison Architect, according to the latest sales figures for Introversion's still-in-alpha management sim. That's an impressive amount of people, and an even more impressive amount of revenue: $8,001,530 as of writing. SATIRE MODE ACTIVATED: It turns out the news wasn't lying when it said the prison system was one of the world's fastest growing industries.
Prison Architect has sold 124,691 copies and made a gross revenue of £2,679,730 ($4,031,925). If you’re one of the remaining major videogame publishers, that’s pocket change, but if you’re Introversion it’s more money in ten months of alpha sales than your previous four games made in over 12 years. If you’re Chris Delay, the game’s lead designer and programmer, it’s the opportunity to start a family. And if you’re the three founders - Chris, plus college friends Mark Morris and Tom Arundel - it’s the difference between being comfortably wealthy and living in fear of spending time in a real prison.
“Tom was convinced that we were going to go to jail,” says Chris. “He was convinced that we were going to go to jail because he thought that for most of 2010 we’d been trading insolvently, which means trading knowing that there’s no chance you’re going to survive.”
Prison Architect is the game that saved Introversion, one of gaming’s most interesting and longest-serving indie developers, but if you’re a gamer then it also represents a bunch of other, similarly excellent things.
Introversion have released a new build of crim sim Prison Architect. Alpha 13 gives inmates the ability to tunnel out of your jail, which - and I'm just guessing here - sounds like something they might want to do. As always, Chris Delay and Mark Morris have created a video update taking you through the cells, buildings and underground holes of the game's latest version.
The orange jump-suited felons of Prison Architect have escaped, and are causing havoc around the home of the Humble Weekly Sale. It's Introversion's turn this week, with a pay-what-you-want offer that will secure their back catalogue, including Uplink, DEFCON, Darwinia, and Multiwinia. And, for the next few hours, you can pay $20 to get their early access prison management sim for 33% off its regular price.
Introversion have released a new build of jail management sim Prison Architect. Alpha 11 beings land expansion, prisoner release dates, an improved build menu and a timelapse video mode. Mark Morris and Chris Delay have created a video running through these changes, while also providing musings about misheard Slipknot lyrics. It's a public service that you just don't get from other game developers.
Despite still being in alpha, Introversion's Prison Architect has managed to shave, de-louse and lock up over 100,000 players, raising (according to the website) a not-too-shabby $3,256,895 for its creators. It seems crime does pay after all - just not for the criminals.
With every update to Introversion's Prison Architect, the lives of its incarcerated 'guests' become that little more harrowing. The alpha 10 patch is only slightly different - it instead gives your prisoners a way to express their increasing displeasure. Unfortunately, rather than anger management sessions, or rehabilitative education, their new means of release is good old fashioned rioting.
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.
The latest Prison Architect update celebrates the incarceration management sim's recent milestones by inserting the faces, names and bios of all backers who've pledged the required amounts. Players who've paid at least $50 can find themselves in the new Name in the Game option, and request to have themselves transferred to their jail.
Which means you can now watch helplessly as you're shanked in your own prison. Weird.
Introversion's Prison Architect has tapped into a previously unknown collective desire to boss around hardened criminals without fear of retribution. The management sim, currently being sold as a pre-release alpha through the developer's website, has now raised over $1,000,000 in sales.
"What an incredible milestone! We are incredibly thankful to everyone who has joined us so far," tweeted Introversion. So far, 30,404 people have bought one of the various alpha packages, raising a total of $1,021,675 (approx. £652,000).
Introversion have released a new build of Prison Architect, implementing a categorisation system to let you know who's naughty and who's not quite as naughty. But still pretty naughty in the grand scheme of things. This is a prison, after all.
Coloured uniforms have been introduced to mark a prisoner's risk level, with grey signifying low, yellow for medium, and red for "grade A bat-shit lunatic". While this lets you house the most violence-prone inmates in a separate wing of your prison, Introversion's Chris Delay explains that there's some nuance to how the system works.
A couple years ago we gathered three shadowed men in our secret, extremely leet lair to discuss 2001's Uplink, the film-inspired hacking sim by Introversion Software. In 2006, Uplink came to Steam, where it's still humming away today for $10 (or only $2.49 during the Holiday Sale!). Though it's over 10 years old (and actually takes place almost three years ago in 2010) and our panel had a few issues with it, there's a strong case to be made for retreading the rise from script kiddie to black hat hacker one more time.
As a game designer and co-founder of Introversion, Chris Delay is a respected, successful indie developer. He and his partners, Mark Morris and Tom Arundel, won the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival for their virus-infected strategy game, Darwinia. They’ve haunted a thousand multiplayer servers with the spectre of global thermonuclear war in Defcon. They’ve also established themselves as a cornerstone of the independent developer community.
But before all that, there was just Chris and an idea.
Introversion have released a new version of Prison Architect that improves a selection of existing tools, fixes numerous bugs and adds firemen. The changes are explained by Prison Architect's producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay in their video update.
Minecon wasn’t only about Minecraft. Mojang were good enough to invite along the bright lights of the indie dev scene to give a series of inspiring, funny lectures, describing how they got into the business and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Taking to the stage in chronological order: Hello Games, purveyors of deceptively chirpy stunt-biking game Joe Danger; C418, Minecraft’s maestro of electronica; Introversion, creators of Uplink, Darwinia and the tremendously tempting crowdfunded clink-sim, Prison Architect; Suspicious Developments, aka Tom Francis, aka maker of Gunpoint, aka PC Gamer writer, aka man sitting two metres two my right as I type this and looking rather dashing too, I might add; Mike Bithell, the dev behind clever platformer Thomas Was Alone; and Mode 7, creators of simultaneous turnbased-tactics masterpiece Frozen Synapse.
Hit the jump for the videos of each talk, and watch out for our PCG-helmed indie dev round-table which we'll publish in the next few days.
Prison Architect development continues to progress with the release of Alpha 3, available now to those who participated in Introversion's rather successful alpha buy-in scheme. This update adds a fog of war that will close in on any areas that aren't manned by a guard, or overlooked by a security camera. The mouse can illuminate a limited area, but not enough to easily catch a swift shiv transaction between savvy inmates. Chris Delay and Mark Morris suggest that fog of war is a set-up for some interesting additions in future updates.
Find out more about alpha 3 in the latest Prison Architect video, posted on the Introversion forums, and imprisoned right here.
Introversion have posted a breakdown of the first month of sales for the Prison Architect alpha released in September, and it's done very well indeed. As this wiggly money graph explains, 10,172 purchasers contributed towards a haul of $361,780 amassed in four weeks.
Introversion's gorgeous-looking sim Prison Architect is out now! Sort of. A range of Kickstarter-style rewards has been made available, with $30 getting you access to a current alpha of the game itself. The real question, of course, is whether this game is fit for a place among the law-abiding citizens of polite society. The answer to which is a lackadaisical “Probably not?” Not only is the alpha feature incomplete, it's also a bit buggy. The good news is, you'll be able to shape its development.
But why now? And what's their end goal with the game? A big ol' interview with Mark Morris and Chris Delay awaits you after the jump.