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Prison Architect [official site] technically left early access ten months ago but developers Introversion Software have kept updating their build-o-management game as before. Now they’re finally almost done. After the upcoming release of version 2.0, Introversion plan to call it a day and – aside from fixing bugs which pop up – focus on new things like their pretty cave-scanning game. V2.0 will properly launch next month but you can try a preview version today if you fancy playing with tricky events like food poisoning and mass tunnelling.
After years spent making Prison Architect, then updating it pretty much every month after release, Introversion is ready to move on. The icing on the cake (the cake has a file in it, because prison) is a huge new update that revamps the UI, while making changes to the way modding works and adding more, well, just more. Prison Architect will continue to be supported after version 2.0, but the team is finally moving onto pastures new. Specifically, onto one or both of the prototypes the developer recently put to a public vote.
But before that, there's the little matter of version 2.0, which the team discuss in great length in a new update video.
2.0 hasn't officially launched yet, but you can opt in to the beta on Steam by following the instructions in the YouTube video description. Here's a big list of what's included in the update.
What about that next game, then? Well, have a watch of this footage of first-person cave-explore-'em-up Scanner Sombre, and of bomb defusal title Wrong Wire, two prototypes Introversion showed off recently (skip to 26:05).
Introversion's next game will build on one of those prototypes, BUT WHICH ONE. I got the impression that Scanner Sombre was next up, from the previous video, but I'd be happy with either.
Prison Architect's hidden 3D mode was discovered the other week, and with the cat firmly out of the bag, developer Introversion said there may be updates on the way to the experimental mode. Said updates are now here as part of the grandly titled Update 5, which also adds hot water boilers, hot water pipes and, yes, hot water to the prison management sim. No wonder your prisoners have been trying to flee this whole time: they've had to make do with tepid showers.
Of the 3D view, Introversion says that it's "improved 3d mode with new shapes, new shaders operating on all objects, and better wall geometry", but that it "remains very experimental", so use at your own risk.
You'll need a boiler, hot water pipes, and a direct electrical connection to funnel hot water to your inmates, but it does come with a few benefits.
"When supplied with hot water, showers will also reduce a prisoner's Warmth need. When supplied only with cold water will apply a Frigid effect, which acts as a kind of short-term suppression while also spiking their Warmth and comfort needs."
There are other additions and fixes included in the update, detailed here, or if you're not in the mood for reading, you could watch this video:
Prison Architect left Early Access back in October of last year, but that hasn't stopped Introversion Software from continuing to deliver monthly content updates to the game. And recently, a rather significant new feature has been discovered that was never in the patch notes; a hidden button that renders out your prison and all of its denizens in 3D, allowing you to zoom in and get a rather unique look at what's always been a flat, top-down game.
I reached out to Introversion's lead designer Chris Delay to see what he could tell me about this seemingly new addition to the game, and it turns out it's been in there longer than anyone realized. "We are astonished it took this long for the secret to be found!" Delay said. "3D Mode has been present in the public version of [Prison Architect] since v1.0, so that s October 2015—almost six months. We actually believed it would be discovered in days initially."
But evidently, it took much longer than days. Delay mentioned that the first public post he saw about it was from Steam user Rico on the game's Steam forum late last week. But the post went largely unnoticed, and the feature remained rather hidden, until TheLogical Lowdown posted a video of the feature (embedded above) a couple days later, which then picked up steam on the /r/Games subreddit.
However, a big question remained; what was the 3D mode for? Delay told me they started working on it during the Alpha as an experimental visualization. "It was basically a massive engine hack that gave a fascinating alternative view on your prison—literally looking at it from a new angle. We never managed to bring it up to a decent quality sufficient to actually say 'This is now an official feature.'" Despite not being happy with how 3D mode was turning out, Introversion decided to secretly put it into the 1.0 release of Prison Architect for players to stumble upon. "We did think it was very cool, hence hiding it as an easter egg for people to discover. Why let such an awesome, albeit completely unfinished feature, go to waste?"
When we had Delay and Introversion producer Mark Morris on The PC Gamer Show last September, they both expressed their excitement for VR and mentioned that they were already playing around with it, so I thought maybe this 3D mode had roots in making Prison Architect more appealing (or at all usable) in VR—but Delay said that wasn't the case. "Yes we do have a Vive kit and yes we are totally in love with it and VR in general. I don t think the 3D in our secret mode quite stacks up to the quality required for VR, but it would definitely be cool to look down on a wargaming table that had a Prison built on it, all animated and alive." Whether or not that was their intention, it'd be great to see a modder make this new mode work in VR eventually.
Delay also made it clear that 3D mode was nothing to be alarmed by for those who prefer how Prison Architect looks now, saying "we don t see it replacing the main game view. That said, we will probably do some improvements to 3D mode now that it s been discovered." Five months is a long time to wait to update a new feature but, like Delay, I'm pretty amazed it's gone by unnoticed for this long in the first place.
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.