My First Prison

17 08 2016

Handcuffs

Let me just start off by letting you know that I have never actually been to Prison. I have had a few tours around Lancaster Castle and once designed a prison map in Unreal Tournament 2004, but no, I have never actually been locked up in some prison somewhere. What the above title is actually phrasing is this:

Prison Architect

Since about September 2014, one game on Steam I have always found myself returning to play one way or another is Prison Architect; a game where you; the player receives the opportunity to build and run your own prison. Why you would actually want to is really up to you to decipher, but as a game goes, this actually rather fun and one I have played on and off for 200+ hours now; it’s the one game I have spent more time playing than anything else in my Steam Library. Anyway, to cut a long story short, about this time last year I began (voluntarily) writing for a Video Games website, and though was rather fun and really enjoyable; my time there on the whole was actually quite short, and one thing I really wanted to write for the website was a guide from an experienced player on how to build, or at least start your first prison in Prison Architect. So, a few weeks ago I re-installed Prison Architect (again), and set to work capturing some images, and coming up with a plan as how best to explain/demonstrate how to go about getting your foot on the ladder in the prison construction world (I should just note that while the game does have some scenarios to help you get started, most the in-game scenarios are only rather for learning about specific situations).

PA2

When you launch a brand new prison, you will discover that all there is, is a large plot of land dominated mostly by trees. As the game begins a couple of lorry’s will come down the nearby road ferrying workmen and materials free of charge to go into building your new prison from scratch. To begin with you have a few free things but not much, and in total have no more than $30,035, a strange amount yes, but that’s what you have to work with. My first tip is to pause the game speed, as you will need some time to think about how you want to approach the construction. You may also want to turn your prisoner intake to closed (click on the box below the clock and a menu will open with several options including Staff, Grants, Prisoners and Intake to name but a few you can click on, choose intake and set to closed), just so you don’t receive any convicts out of the blue when your prison is not ready yet. Now, to business:

PA12

The first thing I want you to consider is that the game title says Prison Architect, obviously. While the game may be about construction and then later administration of a Prison, to begin with I would only take notice of the word Architect. Before any building’s construction is started, an Architect has to plan out the building. Probably the game’s most useful tool is the Planning tool on the lower toolbar. This button will give you access to some drawing tools, use these to design your prison. Using the drawing/planning tool is a great way to start off any prison. Use this tool to decide where the walls are going to be, where the walls to your rooms are going to be, how it’s all going to fit together. You can decide to design your entire Prison right here right now if you want to, but right now let’s focus on the basics.

PA4

Like any great plan, there needs to be direction and an outcome. With an empty plot of land, you can pretty much do anything you want; but to get your prison going, you are going to need some basics and a checklist. In your first few games, the one thing that is more your friend than anything else, is the Grants page, on here there is a list of objectives which provide and reward you with money for starting and completing them. In this instance, what you want is the option to build a basic detention centre. So firstly open the page (click on the money sign at the top of the page for quick opening) and choose that grant, to which you will be awarded some more money. Now that you have a little bit more cash and a plan, it’s now time to draw then build your prison.

PA11

What I would start with more than anything else is to draw a square around the perimeter of your land so that you can at least have a scope of where the outer perimeter wall is to be. Now for some reason, the game won’t allow you to build a wall on the very outer edge of the current plot of land, so if you design it to be one square in, around, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. As with most of the games planning and construction tools, choose a location to where to start from, then quite simply click, hold and drag out as far as you want, then let go. Then, if you go to the top of the map next to the road, and on the left hand side of the map, attached to the wall, plan out where you are going to build your storage room and power plants. Now as ever with this tutorial, you can build where ever you want to, it’s just that from my experience, if you allow your prisoners to be delivered on the very edge of the map, they have more chance to escape once delivered. The more middle the delivery point is, the more you may be able to prevent escapes. When designing the store-room, a good thin-ish rectangle I find is a good way to do it, and then next to that, build a similar sized, but not as long rectangle to be the power room. The storage room as suggested is where you store your materials, and the power room is where power for the prison, (plus water too if you do it like me) is supplied from.

PA13Once you have planned those out, it may be a good idea, to build a new delivery spot next to the road, but outside the storage room just for easy delivery and storage. Just like any building designation in the game, all you do is click and hold on a part of land or a building where you want it to be then dragging it to its optimum size and space. From that point forward, that area is designated a delivery zone, and will remain so unless changed. Any other delivery areas should wisely be removed by the same process but right clicking and holding instead of left clicking and holding. On this map, I have also done the same for Garbage and Exports at the bottom of the map, this is just so Garbage and Exports can be dealt with and removed quicker. Once you have those designs in place, you can then get your workers to earn their pay checks, by choosing the Foundations icon, then selecting the brick wall option, then holding and dragging over the spaces you have designed, then letting go when it has reached its optimum space. Then (remembering to un-pause the game to allow it of course) all you do is let your workers get to work building that section of your Prison.

PA5

While that is happening, it may be time to let you know how to put Objects in your Prison. On the lower toolbar, there is an objects button, opening this will allow you to see the range of objects you can put in your prison. To do this, all you do is select the one you want, and click on wherever you want it installed to install it. I say this now, as while your rooms get built, you will need to put some doors in to allow construction to be completed; so as your workmen get to work, choose some doors to put in, for this I would suggest using Staff Doors, then rotate them using the ‘R key’ if you need to, then place them directly over a wall, and click them into position. It’s the same with all objects, (although, only doors need to be placed on walls), and, once those buildings are completed, you will need to fill in any gaps where walls should be; and then using your new object adding skills, install your power generator, some capacitors directly next to the generator, and nearby a water pumping machine, plus some cables to power the room lights, and the pumping machine.

PA6

Now that you have the basics, things get a bit quicker from here (he says confidently). Nearby to your new delivery site, start planning where your inmates will be living, eating, exercising and showering when the first batch turn up. For this you will need to plan and build where you are going to build your Holding Cell, Shower, Yard, Canteen and Kitchen.

PA7

My advice would be, to build the holding cell practically right next to your delivery spot, as this way prisoners can be admitted quickly into your prison system without too much of a hitch. The Holding Cell needs to be pretty big as it needs to accommodate plenty of prisoners at least just until some proper cells are ready for them. Next to that, or at least nearby, build a small shower block, and a small canteen. Remember the Yard needs to be outdoors, but also still needs to be entirely surrounded to prevent escapes. Some things these new rooms and yard will require include Benches, Tables, Serving Tables, Shower Heads and of course Toilets. Installing all of these objects is the same as before, but for a toilet to work it needs Water. To do this you will need to connect pipes from the Pumping Station to your Toilets. It works the same way as laying electrical cables and most objects though, so it’s pretty easy. Then just as before, let the builders do their job and designate room space just as before.

PA8

Doing a kitchen is pretty similar; however, I would locate it near the storage room, one for Staff safety, and two, for ease of cooking. From here on, building rooms and installing objects gets pretty samey really. Just build it and plug them all in. From there, all you need to do is hire some guards to handle with the cons, and some cooks to handle the food. To do this, choose the staff tool on the tool page, pick the required person, and then click them into life. Once you have met all the requirements of the grant, you will receive some more cash plus have all the basics to start your prison and receive prisoners, so, set your prison to the required level of prisoner intake and then get ready to punish some cons.

PA9

From here on it pretty much comes down to whatever you want to do with your prison. If you run short on cash or need some direction, pick a grant and get to work. If you want you can personalise your prison with some floor materials or add some fun things for both staff and prisoners, but from here, it’s all really up to you. So, I hope this was both understandable and helpful, as you go out into the big wide world of Prison Construction, Management and Architecture.

PA1

GENEPOOL





Building The Raid

4 05 2016

TR3

For over a year now, it has become evidently clear that there are 2 things I really like. One (given by the status of how much time I have played on it) of them is the PC Game Prison Architect (by Introversion Software). The other one (given by how much I have talked about it) is the Indonesian Action Film The Raid. As a fan of both I thought it might be fun to combine the two. Now, for those of you who know what the two things involve, you may be wondering how I combine a game about building Prisons with an Action film series that mostly takes place in an urban setting. Well, that answer is pretty easy to answer as it happens. Quite a lot of the first act of The Raid 2 takes place in a Prison. Basically, during the first act, there is a fight in the prison yard, when taking a look at the shots surrounding the yard, such as the shape of the prison surrounding the yard, plus the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) is inside a prison cell, such small details like that gave me plenty of ideas as how to construct a prison in Prison Architect to look like that Prison.

One of the main ideas with a game like Prison Architect is to let your mind flow and almost make a work of art, but seeing as building the prison is only half the battle as you get caught up in prison Management and Administration also, I thought that building a prison based on a Prison I saw in a film would be a good idea. I thought that such shapes and designs could help me come up with something relatively basic, but also help me in the running of a prison on the Large Map game setting. Well after 3 attempts; I have come to the conclusion that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. Let me explain. Designing prisons based on ones in either real life or even a film as it is probably a real prison, does not mean that something in the real world is going to work in a game, not to forget that it’s just a design, and that it does not mean also that it will equate to the management and administration of a prison too. Those kinds of things come down to service quality, not bricks and mortar.

Prison Admin

On my first attempt to build The Raid, I started out normally. By this I mean I started designing out the look and shape of the prison using the in-game planning tool. This acts like something as like a blueprint sketch, where you can plan out where the walls and objects within your prison are going to go before you start building them. As I wanted to get it right, that was the best Idea. I planned out where Cells were going to be, where showers, solitary, yard, canteens, and other various rooms were going to be, and then I gradually built it bit by bit. In the game, you can acquire grants that provide you with money for completion of a task. It’s a useful feature as the first few prisons you build in the game are likely to have the use of them as money to begin with is short. When a prison is complete you can then go and sell it, and receive money in aid of constructing your next prison. Well, having done quite a few prisons by this point, I had quite a lot to use. In the end, when I did complete the prison, I was nearly out of usable grants, but from what I remember I still had plenty of ownership of my prison. One other way of making money you see is to sell shares in your prison for large amounts of cash, this will reduce your overall ownership of the prison, but it’s a great way of making a lot of money really fast. The other way of doing it quickly is to open your prison early and receive cash injections for the arrival of inmates. Anyway, by the time I thought it was complete; I had near to no money at all or ways to get money. And then things got worse. A fire broke out, and it just engulfed an area of my prison that was strangely made out of rock. Prisoners now had an easy escape route, plus I had no money to fix it, so I abandoned that Prison in the hope that one day I would learn from my mistakes and build a better version.

The Raid 2

Well, recently, back in about February, on the final night of BBC Three as it happens, after a while of not playing this game, I decided to re-install it. After a few games and time to try out some of its new elements such as women prisoners and a finally working Execution facility I decided to try and rebuild The Raid. I went through the same old thing again; design then build bit by bit. One thing about this time I remember though was that I was able to secure a large amount of money and get a lot done before opening it. However, I have sort of forgotten what happened, but given the pictures I took, I believe it had something to do with a Riot. If you look at the canteen area on the below picture, you can see a large area shaded Red, that shows that in that room a riot is taking place, so it’s sort of more like The Raid films, but not exactly great for prison designing. And given by how much money I had, I can bet I was not able to survive. I think in the end, I gave up. I did not stop playing or uninstall the game; I just deleted that save file and start all over again.

The Raid 2 Riot

So, with my having yet another go at building The Raid, I played a few more games in the hope of building up to that again, well I have had one more go. I did things differently this time however. Given by the success I have discovered in imprisoning women as they appear to not riot as much as Men, I thought I would give it a go as a women’s prison. Same thing again, designed it by sketching it out, and then built it from the ground up. This time however, I did not have as much money, so I had to be quick when I did have money. I slowly but surely built up the first bit, and it was going relatively ok.

The Raid 3

Then a riot broke out, and another if my memory is correct. It became clear, that building The Raid was never going to be an easy task. Over the last few games I had actually come up with new ideas on how to design a prison and those ones actually worked out ok, but as the design for this one was so much different, it was not going to be as straight forward. I tried to do things differently by having two separate large canteens instead of one big one, but it was becoming ever clearer, that this Raid was going to plummet before it was even near finished. So just before I wrote this post up, I sold it, and deleted the save before uninstalling the game. Well, I have played on it for nearly 200 hours now (189 to be exact, my most played game on Steam), so maybe it’s time to move on and try something else for a bit. I am not a sore loser or anything, it’s just clear to me that building The Raid time and time again is probably not going to work.

The Raid 3

If anything, this project has taught me, never to design anything in a game based on something in real life. They are two different realities, life and video games, and it’s clear the two are not meant to mix (not unless I get re-inspired when The Raid 3 comes out). Thinking about it, the signs should have been clear. I mean, how many times Video Games and Movies mixed…..have and came out positively. Not to sway your opportunities if you want to try to build The Raid, give it ago, let me know how you get on.

The Raid 3

Now, let’s end on a reflective piece of music.

GENEPOOL (please have a read of my review of The Raid).





Top 5 Steam Early Access Games That I Want To Play

15 10 2014

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

For a couple of years now, Steam has supported its early access option. Early Access is an option and opportunity for gamers to play games on Steam that are still being developed. The idea being that you can buy the game, play it and let the developer know of problems you spot when playing the game. It gives the developers the option of having the game tested for bugs and fixes while the gamers get to play the game sooner, providing that they know that the game is not finished. While a nice little idea it may be, I am not all that for it as I don’t really fancy playing a buggy game or have consistent issues while playing it as well as possible performance problems for my PC. Despite this though, my Top 5 Games on my Steam wish list are Early Access games and while there are many more other Early Access games I want to play like Kerbal Space Program, these for me stand out as the ones I really want to play.

Folk Tale

5. Folk Tale – Back in 2007 when I first got my PC I played a relatively new game at the time called The Settlers: Rise of an Empire. I liked the look of it as it had a daft looking cartoon element and I also liked the idea of how the game works with each little person doing a job and having to collect things to make things. Folk Tale looks a lot like The Settlers in how the player builds a town and helps it expand while the little AI people go about their daily lives, doing jobs to help other people do jobs and so on. On top of that, the game has a cartoon based look retaining a certain level of novelty and daftness without getting too serious. The fantasy based setting also means the game is not being held down by factual based historical facts which can slow games like this down and lose a bit of their imagination. From the looks of the trailer, it looks a lot like a combination of Age of Empires and Battle for Middle Earth with a taste of Settlers. While I don’t know much about this game as much as I do others, I really like the look of it and look forward to playing it at some point.

Godus

4. Godus – Inspired by games like Populous and Dungeon Keeper and designed by the same designer as those Games (Peter Molyneux), Project Godus is a brand new God Game where the player helps a little settlement build up into a village, then a town and possibly even a nation. The player shapes the land while the AI people build their own settlement. Godus to me looks brilliant. It looks like the kind of game where instead of building the settlement, you provide the tools to construct it and let someone else do the rest. To me it looks like the game REUS where you control the creation of resources and let those live in the world shape it with what you give them. Even though I still know very little about it, I think it looks rather funky and fun and the in-game systems that the game provides I really do like the look of including watching the little people build their town.

War For The Overworld

3. War For The Overworld – Back in the late 90’s when Dungeon Keeper 2 came out, I remember the in-game trailer for Dungeon Keeper 3, and it looked absolutely Amazing. Many years passed and it didn’t happen, I hoped and dreamed for over 10 years that one day Dungeon Keeper 3 would happen. But it still didn’t. Then a couple of years ago, I saw War For The Overworld (WFTO) being advertised on Kickstarter (in an e-mail from another Kickstarter game on this list). I took a quick glimpse at it, and fell in love with it. It’s not just a case of the game ‘looking like Dungeon Keeper’, in all respects it is Dungeon Keeper. The way there is a Dungeon Heart, the way creatures dig out rooms, the way rooms and walls look and the diversity of creatures on show. At long last Dungeon Keeper was coming back. I was hooked and since then have been getting regular emails on the project. While it is not completely Dungeon Keeper, I am really excited to the release of this game, which has been announced as sometime in early to mid-2015; so not long to wait until I can actually play it, and not only that, but the original voice for DK and DK2, Richard Ridings is returning to voice this game too. I just hope the satire that Dungeon Keeper had remains in this game.

Prison Architect

2. Prison Architect – From the creators of the incredible DEFCON, Prison Architect looks incredible. While inspired by games like Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper, to me it has the look of Rollercoaster Tycoon. I like games that look daft and cartoony; to me that makes them look more accessible and allows retention of creativity and imagination. The cartoon look of Prison Architect is brilliant. But it’s not just the look of this game that I like. I like the idea too. The idea of running a prison and the systems that are needed to be put in place to run it, and not just in construction, but in management too, making this game a lot like both RCT and Evil Genius too. While it may be still in production and thus several years away from actual non early access release, this is a game that I almost did buy as I want to play it so much, and on top of that, the current bugs in the game make it look funny to play too. With both a great design and look combined with a great niche idea, Prison Architect is easily one of the games well worth looking out for.

MAIA

1. M.A.I.A. – Out of all the games on this list though M.A.I.A. (Maia) is the most mysterious. It’s my interest in this game which led to me discovering WFTO, but this game looks puzzling. It’s design and look make it clear to be an RTS/Management game in a similar style to games like Theme Hospital, Startopia and Evil Genius with players building their own space base (I’m assuming) while also placing objects and systems in order to run it. Sounds simple, but I bet it isn’t. The thing is, most of my knowledge stems from some video footage, some in-game images and some text information. But apart from that I am still unsure of what his game is going to be like. But from what I know and see, it is a game I want to play as it combines all the things I like about games like this while also being put in a setting that has not really been done before. Combining that with an element of Sci-fi/Survival Horror that is somewhat visible in the games look and effects, and this game should be amazing, possibly even Legendary. I’ll just need to wait until it is ready to be played to find out, but I’m ready and looking forward to it.

GENEPOOL








%d bloggers like this: