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We got a chance to play Prison Architect's new 'Escape Mode' with Introversion Software co-founders Chris Delay and Mark Morris on this week's PC Gamer Show, and I was impressed with how much it flips the game on its head. After being a building game for 36 months of early access, Escape Mode lets you take control of individual characters, fire guns, and personally do everything else you've only been able to view at a distance until now. Watch the video above to see Delay give us a hands-on look at the chaos that can ensue. Prison Architect will be leaving early access, along with Escape Mode, on October 6th.
Note: The thumbnail image used for this video is from Introversion's previous game Darwinia, not any new project.
Today on The PC Gamer Show, our weekly livestreamed podcast, Introversion Software's co-founder Mark Morris told us their next game would almost definitely be ready for VR. "I think it would be almost inconceivable that our next game would not be playable in VR," Morris said, but was careful to point out that he doesn't think it will be exclusive to VR as the technology is still "too bleeding edge." What that game is and how much longer they'll be updating Prison Architect, which leaves early access next Tuesday, is still unknown—but both him and fellow co-founder Chris Delay are very excited about VR's prospects.
You can watch the video above to see him explain his thoughts on their next game, and you'll be able to hear their full thoughts on VR when we post the show later today, including Morris and Delay discussing some of their early prototypes for the HTC Vive headset.
I thought I was done writing about Prison Architect [official site] updates when Introversion announced that the prison management sim would leave early access on October 6th. Yet here I am again, because at this weekend’s EGX, Chris Delay and Mark Morris demoed some of the features that will be new to v1.0 – including a new escape mode.
Prison Architect is leaving Early Access in October—October 6 to be exact. However, Introversion's prison management sim isn't going to slip quietly out without raising the alarms: its story is being expanded with a new four-chapter campaign, while the game is getting a brand new mode upon release.
The new Escape mode turns the game upside down, putting the player in the role of an inmate trying to flee from one of the thousands of player-made prisons already uploaded to the Steam Workshop.
"It started life as one of the endgame scenarios," designer Chris Delay explained to Eurogamer at this weekend's EGX, "where if you did so badly at the game you could be convicted of corporate manslaughter if there are too many deaths in your prison. And it was a joke. I made it so that you arrived at your prison on a prison bus in handcuffs - you've been put in jail at your own prison. But you couldn't do anything; that was the end of it. It was just a joke.
"In the background we've been fleshing it out gradually until it's a whole game mode in its own right now. Anything the prisoners can do in the game, you can do, so you can steal knives from the kitchen, you can make digging implements in the workshop, you can dig escape tunnels, you can recruit other prisoners to join up and form a little posse."
Those four story chapters, meanwhile, will serve as a tutorial to the main sandbox mode. Here's a bit more on that, and the new Escape mode, from the press release:
"Prison Architect opens with the story of Edward, a man facing the electric chair for committing a crime of passion. Introversion have extended this with four additional chapters focusing on different characters and aspects of prison life. From Mafia Dons to power-crazed senators, Prison Architect brings these characters to life. Introversion teamed up with award-winning professional writer Chris Hastings to produce an enthralling tale of corruption and human misery set against the background of the modern prison industrial complex.
"Escape Mode sees the traditional Prison Architect gameplay turned on its head. Take control of an individual prisoner, load any of the tens of thousands of prisons uploaded to the Steam Workshop and get on with the important business of escaping. Earn experience points by shanking a guard, form up a posse of rough-necks and head to the armory to shoot your way out or steal some tools from the workshop and start digging a tunnel hidden behind a picture of Raquel Welch."
Here's Introversion detailing the new features in an EGX presentation from the weekend:
The seemingly endless expanse of alpha updates that make up our coverage of Prison Architect [official site] – we’re up to Update 36 now, friends! – is coming to an end. It’s true, these collective hands of rock and paper will no longer know the gentle touch of Introversion Software’s regular patches. As we draw closer to its eventual October launch, the final Alpha update reads as follows:
Alpha 36 represents the end of three years of Prison Architect's alpha. As we found out last month, Prison Architect V1 will be available in October, and while the game will continue to receive updates they'll no longer be alpha updates, which means an end to these alpha update videos (with the exception of a special live V1 launch video planned for EGX in late September).
This final alpha update includes the new "random event system", which the developers describe as like the random events in SimCity but not as "stupid". Examples include fire. Rather than have individual cookers set to catch fire once per set period of time, which in a big prison would lead to almost constant fires, the random event system sits apart from the rest of the simulation and just decides every now and then to create a fire, for example in a kitchen or power station.
As with gangs, which were introduced in another recent update, the random event system is optional. It's designed to make things more challenging, and so is set up to only induce events when you're doing relatively well. Players will need to keep possible events in mind and do things like install sprinklers, keep their power stations running relatively low, etc.
Check out the 35-minute update video if you want to find out more about the kind of random events you can expect, like the viruses that make people look like zombies.
Prison Architect has been caged up in Early Access since September 2012. After more than three years of hard time, it'll finally be let loose into society for an official release this October.
I wasn't kidding about the hard time, either. Introversion has released the Alpha 35 build of their prison management sim, greatly expanding upon the gang system. Prisoners can now form protection rackets, and gang leaders will instruct soldiers to acquire new territory throughout the prison. You can see the new system in action via Introversion's latest update video.
It's been a while since I last checked in with Prison Architect, but even then it seemed like a solid simulation. Hopefully the next few months will round out its feature set to create a brilliantly bleak look at prison administration.