Prison Architect

Prison Architect studio Introversion has unveiled a new game called Order of Magnitude, and I played it at EGX Rezzed today.

It's a space colonisation game set as Earth becomes uninhabitable and humankind is forced to make a go of it on the moon. To begin with this involves building structures focused on basic survival: shelters, algae farms (for food), and oxygen harvesters for air. But the longer you survive, as with all games of this kind, the more advanced you become, and soon you will be recycling your waste into water (yuck) and fertiliser and growing potatoes from it. Do you want to come over for dinner?

There are different minerals to target and mine, and different scientific procedures to employ - Introversion hasn't shirked on the science.

Read more…

Mark of the Ninja

Update: Another batch of top-shelf indies have made their way into GOG's sale, including quite a few horror games. Here are some of the best: 

Original story follows. At the time of writing, all deals included in the original story are still live.  

Original story:

A bunch of good indie games are cheap on GOG right now. Nearest I can tell, there's no discernible pattern or schedule to these deals, but the discounts are steep and the games are great, so no complaints can be made. Here are some of the standouts: 

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info.  

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Have You Played? >is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.>

Prison Architect delivers all the satisfaction of a traditional Bullfrog-style management game. You place walls, lay pipes and wires, and soon slip into a zen state familiar to anyone who played Theme Park. What makes the game special is the simulation of the game’s people, which reminds you over and over that you’re not building Disneyland. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

two-point-hospital-1

As you may already have spotted, Theme Hospital joins the legions of 90s PC games being blessed with 21st century spiritual sequels. The Sega-published Two Point Hospital is the first game from Two Point Studios, the new endeavour from Bullfrog and Lionhead alumni Gary Carr and Mark Webley, Their plan, ultimately, is to follow-up Hospital with a clutch of other theme/sim/management games set in the same world – picking up, perhaps, where the Peter Molyneux-founded Bullfrog left off when EA closed them down.

I chatted to Carr, Webley and Two Point technical director Ben Hymers (himself an ex-Lionheader) about why they’re returning to Theme Hospital, why now, the importance of humour to it, what’s the same and what’s different, how the audience has changed since 1997, how they’ve been inspired by Prison Architect, Planet Coaster and Twin Peaks, and their plans for that world of sim games. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

theme-park-2

The Simpsons, Aardman Animations, Twin Peaks, Prison Architect and, quite naturally, Theme Hospital – these are the major inspirations behind Two Point Hospital, an upcoming sim/management game from some of the folk responsible for Bullfrog’s Theme glory years. Two Point Hospital, a combination of management and comedy in a fantasy healthcare centre, is due for release – via publishers Sega – later this year, and the first trailer is below. I also had a big chat with lead devs and Bullfrog/Lionhead veterans Gary Carr and Mark Webley about the game over here. (more…)

Prison Architect

Prison Architect's latest update lets you control your prison warden, and that small change has a massive impact on the way you play. Rather than the normal all-seeing viewpoint, the whole map is covered by a fog of war, save for whatever your warden would be able to see with their own two eyes. Anything around a corner is hidden and can't be interacted with, so if you want to upgrade your maximum security wing you're going to have to walk there first. Gulp.

You WASD around the prison and can pick up objects, including weapons and body armour to protect yourself from inmate attack, which seems almost inevitable. If you don't want to get your hands dirty then you can recruit guards to your personal protection squad. They'll keep you safe but cost more money. 

I think it's a really clever addition. It will inevitably lead to slower expansion because you'll be constantly wary of getting injured, and you can turn on permadeath mode if you want to ramp up the difficulty even higher.

Elsewhere, the update adds floor signage, which is a handy way to direct prisoners and staff down particular paths and control foot traffic. They'll follow the directions unless there's a much quicker way to get where they're going.

You can read the full change log, including lists of bug fixes and balance updates, here.

And if you haven't yet bought the game but like the look of it, it's discounted heavily for the Christmas sales: pick it up for £5/$7.50 on Steam and GOG.

Prison Architect - Valve
Save 75% on Prison Architect during this week's Midweek Madness*!'

Build and manage a maximum security prison. Includes Story Mode and Escape Mode!

*Offer ends Thursday at 4PM Pacific Time
Dec 19, 2017
Prison Architect - Chris
Prison Architect Update 13 has been released. Non-steam users can download the latest version from the builds page here:
http://www.prison-architect.com/builds.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y59MvTIuWFY

STEAM USERS: This update is on the steam branch 'beta', meaning it will not automatically download. You must manually switch to that branch to see this new version.
- Right click on Prison Architect in your games list
- Click 'Properties'
- Click 'Betas'
- Select 'beta' from the list. (Restart steam if it doesn't show up)
- The update will then download.


= Warden Mode
You can now play as the warden inside the prison you are building!
Enable this from a new option in the New Prison screen.
Most of the user interface is the same, but you can also walk around using the WASD keys (and shift to sprint)
You can press TAB to toggle to Action mode. From here you can control the equipment you are carrying, and recruit body guards.
Try not to get attacked by your unruly prisoners! But if you do, you will be taken care of by your medical staff.

- Fog of war: You cannot see around corners, so be careful.
The one exception is that you CAN see through any CCTV cameras you have installed.

- Arm yourself
- You can pick up objects commonly found in each room to protect yourself. Think a knife from the kitchen or a taser from the armoury.
- You can collect body armour from the armoury for some extra protection.
- You cannot simply attack prisoners without provocation. But if you are attacked you are free to defend yourself.

- Protection Squad
- Recruit guards to your personal protection squad by right clicking on them from the Action interface (tab)
- These guards will follow you around and protect you from any unruly prisoners.
- Bodyguards don't come cheap. They will add a significant cost to your daily upkeep.

- Permadeath
- Play in Permadeath mode and you will have to rely on the security and medical infrastructure of your prison even more.
- If you die in Permadeath mode that's it, Game Over.


= Floor Signage
- New tools are available in the Deployment menu to provide floor signage for Prisoners and everyone else
- Floor Signage provides a way for you to give hints to people as to which way they should travel around your prison. People
tend to follow the directions unless a much easier/shorter route is available.
- Misbehaving prisoners, doctors on the way to heal someone, and all type of Emergency callout units ignore the floor signage.
Everyone will also ignore the directions if there is a riot occuring.
- To paint lines, simply select one of the new tools, and left-click and drag in the direction you want people to go. Right-click
and drag to remove paint.


= New Attract screen
The game now opens with a new attract screen, slowly panning around your recent saved prisons (or the bundled prisons if you have no saves).
Press any key or click the mouse to bring up the Main Menu.
This should be a better first screen than simply being dumped on a new empty plot of land.


- Modding
- Script Debugger Window
- Added: When highlighting a scripted object in the script drop down menu, the camera will now move to that object to help see
which script will be selected.
- Fixed: Script names were hard to make sense of. Names in the drop down menu are now a lot shorter and easier to discern.
- Fixed: The window wouldn't correctly open to the selected scripted object, or to a scripted object that threw an error.
- Allowed more object variables to be used by scripts.


= Balance changes
- Removed the cap of 20 prisoners working in a single large room at a time. The new cap is 100.
- Prisoners have received a boost to their academic skill rating based on their security category.
This means it is slightly easier to have prisoners pass the education programs.
- The Foundation Education and General Education reform programs have had the number of sessions halved from 10 and 20 to 5 and 10 respectively.
- The Library now requires a certain academic skill rating rather than specifically requiring the Foundation Education program.
This makes the Library usable sooner.
- Added a new need, Luxuries, which is satisfied by goods sold in the shop. Prisoners who have satisfied this need are less likely to cause trouble.
- You now gain a commision from goods sold in your shop. At the end of each day, you'll receive a bonus payment based on how many goods were sold in your shop.
- Prisoners who go too long without being assigned to a cell will now have a marker pointing to them for easy identification.
- You can now end all punishments on a prisoner from their rapsheet, not just permanent ones.

= Bug Fixes
- Fixed an issue causing Workmen to regularly move shop goods back and forth between the Shop and Storage.
- Fixed: Dogs of fired handlers would occassionally maul some unsuspecting prisoner to death for no reason. Bad dog!
- Fixed: Number of staff resting with staff needs enabled is now updated correctly
- Fixed: Some objective markers for non-English languages appearing in English, they will now be translated correctly
- Fixed: Sectorisation of mixed regular and family cell blocks will no longer split the regular cells into separate sectors.

0011500: [Other] No French label for "missing access to canteen" (John)
0011498: [Other] French translation error in the first campaign (John)
0007501: [AI & Behaviour] Addictions cannot be removed. (PROVED) (Icepick)
0011494: [AI & Behaviour] Work/Lockdup and Work/Free time FREEDOM problem (Icepick)
0011486: [AI & Behaviour] Staff Not Addressing "Rest" Need on Breaks (Icepick)
0011482: [AI & Behaviour] Staff Need Bug (Icepick)
0011324: [Gameplay] Staff Canteen Does Not Have Trays and Staff Cannot Eat (Icepick)
0011151: [Control & User Interface] The new script debugger is not quite useful (elDiablo)
0010989: [Gameplay] Guard Dogs Kill When Fired (Icepick)
0010469: [Mod System] Command Bar only allows one command before breaking. (elDiablo)
0011480: [Mod System] entity.DeathType, .MurderWeapon and .MurdererType not accessible (elDiablo)
0008737: [Control & User Interface] Unable to end temporary punishments (Icepick)
0011509: [Gameplay] Mothers tunneling out of their prison (Icepick)
0011508: [Gameplay] Prisoners sometimes route outside without misbehaving the prison letting them escape (Icepick)
0011505: [Control & User Interface] Number of resting staff members is not adequatly updated (lim_ak)
0011499: [Other] No French label for "Capacitor" (lim_ak)
0011474: [Graphics] Sprite misalignment in 64 bit version (lim_ak)
Jun 22, 2017
Prison Architect - Chris
Prison Architect Update 12 has been released!

This update is on the steam branch 'beta', meaning it will not automatically download. You must manually switch to that branch to see this new version.
- Right click on Prison Architect in your games list
- Click 'Properties'
- Click 'Betas'
- Select 'beta' from the list. (Restart steam if it doesn't show up)
- The update will then download.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6FmOacal6Q


= Staff Needs (continued)

- New staff break behaviour
- Staff will now take a break when they feel they need to, providing there are enough guards idling
- No more than 10% of your staff will take a break at any time
- Staff will stay on their break until their needs are taken care of, but will give up eventually if nothing is available

- Fixes to staff needs provisions:
- Staff Rooms and Staff Canteens are now assigned a nearby kitchen in the Food Logistics view, just like any normal Canteen.
- Chefs from that chosen kitchen will handle stacking and cleaning food trays.
- The assigned kitchen can be overridden manually as normal.
- More food trays and staff meals will be ordered automatically when you have staff needs enabled
- Stopped chefs from stacking dirty food trays with stacks that were miles away in a different canteen
- Fixed tons of issues with staff not using providers when on their breaks
- Fixed serious issues with food trays not been cleaned and replaced when in staff canteens

- The staff tooltip widget in the top bar now shows ALL guard types, including dog handlers, snipers and armed guards

- Staff Morale
- Affected by happy staff versus unhappy staff,
- Affected by long term staff deaths
- Affected by currently injured
- Affected by salary

- Staff wages
- Upkeep now specified in materials.txt
- Pay rises possible from Policy screen

- Staff will go on strike if morale falls to 0%, and demand a large pay rise to return to work

- Chefs/Gardeners/Janitors now have needs

- Tunnel searching
You can now issue the command 'search for tunnels' from any cell toilet.
This will search all toilets in the block for escape tunnels.


= Steam Cloud saves
- You can now use the cross-platform Steam Cloud to store your prison and campaign save games.
- Simply toggle the checkbox on the save screen in order to enable/disable this feature.
- The save window will show which save games are on the cloud with a handy icon.
- Save games made when Steam Cloud is disabled will be saved on your local machine only.

- 3d mode improved

- The following will be suspended during riots, or during staff strikes:
- Delivery of daily supplies
- Garbage collection
- Exports collection
- Prisoner intake
- Collection of dead bodies


= Weather (continued)
- New weather icon in top toolbar

- 'Overcast' visual effect now only applies to outdoors (which will look greyed out)
- 'Heatwave' visual effect only applies to outdoors (which will look very bright)
- Rebalanced all weather probabilities, making 'clear skies' more common, rain/overcast/snow less common
- Weather now has a chance to change every 12 hours (previously 24 hours)

= BUG FIXES
- Fixed : Riot Guards refused to fight when in prisoner controlled sectors
- Fixed : Emergency staff sometimes "fell" out of their vehicle long before it arrived at the Deliveries zone
- Fixed : All new prisoners are not assigned parole times properly. This remains the case until save/reload.
- Fixed : Added pages to CI menu to prevent it running off the screen


= MORE BUG FIXES
0011379: [Save & Load] Prisoner Needs Table in savegame are stored twice (lim_ak)
0011173: [Control & User Interface] Japanese Text not wrapping (lim_ak)
0011346: [AI & Behaviour] Staff Canteen starved of trays (Chris)
0011393: [AI & Behaviour] Riot police got stuck in riot zone (Chris)
0011402: [AI & Behaviour] Staff not eating meals, staff canteens not used (Chris)
0011369: [AI & Behaviour] Security won't eat (Chris)
0010925: [AI & Behaviour] Riot guards refuse to move (Chris)
0011371: [AI & Behaviour] Armed Guards don't move (Chris)
0011394: [AI & Behaviour] Staff Meals improperly distributed (Chris)
0011364: [AI & Behaviour] Riot guards instantly leave Riot van when they arrive (Chris)


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Prison Architect

I've been privately lamenting the lack of PC game demos lately. There was a time when demos were commonplace: a chunk of a brand new game you could try out for free before you bought the full game. Demos gave us a chance not only see what a game had to offer and whether or not we enjoyed it, but also allowed us to continually tweak the settings and try different graphics options to see how our PCs handled it. Plus, instead of waiting months for a sale to try the game without a lot of risk, you could play right when the game came out, while everyone else was still talking about it.

While I was at PDXCon this past weekend I spent a few minutes talking with Kim Nordstrom, former general manager of Swedish game company King and current leader of Paradox Interactive's mobile initiative. We chatted about PC and mobile games, and especially about Introversion's Prison Architect, which is making an unlikely appearance on mobile platforms with Paradox as the publisher. Nordstrom's plan for Prison Architect provide a few lessons PC games could learn from with its unusual, almost shareware-era approach to pricing.

Mobility

Big, meaty mobile games have a challenge when it comes to sales. The roots of mobile are in free games, or exceedingly cheap ones: 99 cents, maybe a couple of dollars. Pricing a mobile game at $15 or $20 is a dubious prospect, which is why so many are free-to-play with microtransactions: get the game into players' hands first, and try to get money out of them later. The issue is that 'microtransaction' has become something of a dirty word, and that's mostly true on PC as well. While there are a number of great free-to-play games on PC like Dota 2 and League of Legends, there are scores more that have left us highly suspicious of the F2P model, with gated progress and gameplay designed around making you so damn impatient you'll pay just to advance at a reasonable pace.

On mobile, Prison Architect will cost around $15. That feels like a fair price for what you get—it's a complex management simulation and a great game, one of my favorites from 2015—but Nordstrom knows simply plopping it on mobile stores with that price tag probably won’t fly. So it will be free to download, and unlocking the complete game lands somewhere between free-to-play and full-price.

"It's not a free-to-play with microtransactions, nothing like that, it caps at $15 right now," Nordstrom told me. "But we basically just made it so anyone can install it, and it's a try before you buy."

Nordstrom holds out his hands a few inches apart, then widens them as he describes how the game unlocks more content for those who purchase it in chunks. "And the game size is this big, we offer you this much for free, and then we're very clear on if you pay whatever dollars, you get the sandbox, if you pay [more] you get the chapters, and if you pay the full price you get the full game."

So, you get to play a portion of the game as much as you want for free, just like a PC demo. Inside the game itself there's a store that lets you unlock the rest of the features at certain price points. While that sounds suspiciously like microtransactions, there's a difference: the total amount you can spend is capped. You won't be nickel-and-dimed forever. If you decide to spend money, you'll know exactly how much, in advance, it will cost you, and once you've spent it, you're done. You own everything, and you're never prompted or even tempted to spend more.

The demo, man

As Tyler concluded recently, big-publisher games can cost a lot on PC, especially when you factor in their many special editions, and that along with having no way to try a game before buying it has kept me away from a lot of games in the past few years. With Steam refunds, you can play a game for two hours before returning it or deciding to keep it but as we pointed out recently with Prey, which had a console demo but irritatingly none on PC, that's nothing like a proper demo at all. (The reason given by Prey's co-creative director Raphael Colantonio was "It's just a resource assignment thing. We couldn't do a demo on both the console and on the PC, we had to choose.")

Sometimes there are free weekends for games, which are great, but that's usually well after launch (this weekend’s Rising Storm 2 beta excepted) and usually long after people are actively talking about the game and your friends are still playing it. I've never bought a game just for a pre-order bonus, because pre-purchasing isn't a great idea and the bonuses aren't much to speak of (what am I really going to do with a digital art book, besides either flip through it once and forget it, or completely forget to flip through it at all). And pre-orders don’t always include a discount, so there's rarely any real reason to pre-purchase anything.

We do get a few demos nowadays, but we need more, and more games with something like Prison Architect's mobile model.

We do get a few demos nowadays—though most often they don't arrive as a game is released, such as Dishonored 2's demo which came months after launch—but we need more, and more games with something like Prison Architect's mobile model. If Deus Ex: Mankind Divided had been downloadable for free on day one, with a nice chunk of it playable indefinitely (like Prison Architect's mobile version), players who were undecided about purchasing it for $60 could have gotten a good long look at what it has to offer. It would have given players like me time to play with a selection of augs and try out different playstyles. And it would've provided us with a good chance tweak the settings to see how well the it ran on our PCs, something the two-hour Steam refund window simply doesn't allow for (and really shouldn't be used for anyway).

If a potential customer such as myself ultimately decides not to buy the rest, what does the publisher really lose? I know creating game demos means more work, and that it's not as simple as cutting off a slice of the game and plopping it in a folder. But in addition to demos being beneficial to gamers, developers and publishers can gain valuable information from making free demos available. As Kim Nordstrom told me, there's value not just in the sales a company makes but in having information about the sales they didn't make.

"The problem is that we as a company, we would never learn if we [had] a $4.99 price point in a storefront, or even a $14.99, because we wouldn't know," Nordstrom said. "We would just know who bought it, [but] we wouldn't know who didn't [buy] it."

Information on who didn't buy your game is useful. How many people were interested enough to download it but were turned off by something in the opening hours? How many people were willing to pay some, but not all, of the full price? Plus, it could whet the appetite of some customers who would then buy later during a sale instead of simply forgetting about it. This strikes me as a net positive for both developers and players.

Even if people don't buy Prison Architect on mobile after trying it for free, Nordstrom says, "...they'll play the game and if they enjoy it they might get interested in the company, or the brand, or Introversion's games, and such. And they might spread it in terms of [word of mouth], and some people say 'Holy crap, this is a great game, I'm going to buy it.'"

For publishers and developers, demos put a game in front of more players on launch day, provides them with additional information on how their game is being played and received, and can increase interest in their games even if not everyone who tries them, buys them. They can even get more technical feedback if their game is having problems on launch day. For players, they're given a chance to sample more new games, to properly try before they buy, and less incentive to abuse Steam's refund policy or wait months for a sale. PC demos are good for everyone, and it's time for them to make a comeback. 

...

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