My First Prison

17 08 2016


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).


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Do You Like My Picture?

13 05 2015

Loch Ness Monster Thunderstorm

This past Sunday, just before and after a Fellowship Meal at church, I drew a picture of the Loch Ness Monster in a Thunderstorm. I was basically just standing around near what is now the former bookstall, and I saw some paper, felt tip pens and a clipboard. Just out of the corner of my mind I wanted to draw a picture. So I took my writing pen and used it to draw the picture at the top of this post.

Loch Ness Monster

I did not originally intend to draw the Loch Ness Monster. What was going through my mind at the time were those excellent shots during the opening and early to mid-parts of the 2014 Godzilla film, with Godzilla’s spines protruding out of the water like a shark fin. I actually quite like that effect and the accompanying soundtrack, and since the film’s release have watched those scenes every now and then. When I was about to draw the picture, that was what I wanted to draw; a landscape picture of the spines rising out of the water and moving along. However I could not figure out how to do it.

I had an idea, but to get the right impression, it needed some kind of form below the spines, but still risen out of the water. Instead I just drew the neck, body and tail of the Loch Ness Monster rising out of the water, just because really; and then added spines on the back. I decided not to give the Monster a face as I did not know how to present it. While the Monster has not necessarily been presented with spines in the past, I thought giving it some in my picture would give the creature a much darker look. The thunder-storm came as wanting to have something more in the picture while still presenting it as dark as possible. As for providing colour, I decided in the end to keep it minimal, just have a water effect and colour for the creature’s body. That was still rather simple though. The neck, tail and body of the creature was done using a standard pencil, while the water was a blue, brown (because I thought it was black) and purple felt tip and my drawing pen. While it is still very minimal, I think it works.


I actually quite enjoyed drawing my little picture. I already have some ideas for other pictures, although I am not really considering becoming an artist. I just fancy drawing some more pictures like this, ones with monsters in of course, but possibly with some other things going on. I quite like the idea of having a creature hiding behind a Nuclear Explosion (not necessarily Godzilla, but that could be an option). I still fancy producing Godzilla’s spines rising out of the water at some point; but I am not going to rush it. Instead I am just going to enjoy my picture, and enjoy the next time I produce one.

Godzilla Beach


When I Think Of Orange, I Think Of Cockroaches

17 12 2014


Yes, it’s a bit of an odd statement, but true. You know how certain colours trigger in the mind as certain objects; so Blue is water, Green is grass, Red is blood and Pink is lipstick. Well for me, Orange is Cockroaches. So when I see orange or do something which involves the colour of orange I immediately think of Cockroaches. I was playing a game of Perudo 2 or 3 weeks ago and when the choice of colours was either Orange or Yellow, I chose orange and mentioned Cockroaches. So, you are probably wondering why I think of Cockroaches. Well, it is  rather easy to explain.


Basically back in the mid 1990’s, when Channel 4 used to show Godzilla films every now and again (which they sadly have not done since about 2001/2002 and no channel in the UK seems to air the original Japanese films), one night they had a triple bill of films from the 1970’s. Godzilla vs Megalon, Godzilla vs Gigan and Terror of MechaGodzilla. The first one I watched was Godzilla vs Gigan, quite a dark and terrifying entry in the series. The plot goes along the lines of a children’s based theme park is constructed with the centrepiece being a tower that looks like Godzilla. An artist is hired to work for the company that owns it but is drawn into a conspiracy involving some missing tapes and the owner’s attempts to make world peace. After getting the tapes back, the owners use them to call and control King Ghidorah and Gigan to destroy the world. All of this however has not gone unnoticed by Godzilla and Anguirus who arrive in the nick of time to defeat the galactic threat and save the day.

Godzilla vs Gigan (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1972)

By this point you’re still probably wondering what all this has to do with Orange and Cockroaches. Well, the owners of the children’s based theme park are Alien Cockroaches from another world who have taken the form of humans as a form of uniform, and on top of that, they both wear orange suits. Even the henchmen have orange neck chiefs. And it wasn’t like a general orange, no; it was the same shade, striking fiery orange. Since then, when I have thought about or have seen the colour the colour orange, my mind has instantly drawn a connection to that film and the villainous, alien cockroaches from Godzilla vs Gigan. Now I don’t actually know much about why it was the colour orange. It has been a number of years since I last saw the film, so there may be an explanation in there somewhere. I wonder if Cockroaches actually have an affinity with the colour orange, who knows? But thanks to that film, for me anyway, I instantly think of Cockroaches when I think of or see the colour orange.



Top 10 Eurovision Song Contest Songs (Part 1)

7 05 2014

ESC Logo

I love the Eurovision Song Contest. Since I first took an interest in 2004, it has been one of the staple viewings for me personally of the year. From the moment that one is on, and a winner is crowned, I am already starting to get excited for the next contest the following year. It is an amazing spectacle to watch and I love the variety of not just the songs themselves, many bands and artists of which I have become a fan of since their appearance but also the show itself, and there have been many times when the music and the show have been on equal footing together, producing an amazing show (and with a minor thanks to me, three songs I have voted for went onto winning the year they entered). As 10 years have passed since I first started watching, as well as the next contest being this coming Saturday, I thought I would celebrate by choosing my top 10 favourite songs from the last 10 years of The Eurovision Song Contest.

Now choosing the top 10 was hard, I already knew the top 5, but the other 5 more so, and the thing is there have been many amazing songs over the last 10 years. So, just so that those songs may get a mention as well, here are the songs that didn’t get into my top 10, but deserve a mention as well (and click on the name to hear the song): Germany 2010, Denmark 2013, Norway 2013, Ukraine 2007, Belarus 2009, Moldova 2010, Netherlands 2006, Moldova 2007, Denmark 2010United Kingdom 2006 Iceland 2012, Lithuania 2006, Romania 2006, United Kingdom 2011, France 2010Malta 2006, Croatia 2006, Poland 2006, Spain 2007, (I know most of them are from 2006, but it was a pretty good year).


10. Sweden 2012 – LoreenEuphoria: While I initially voted for Iceland, there was something great about this song. It was more than just singing, it was also dancing, two things that don’t really mix at Eurovision from what I have seen, in that they are rare together. The song had a mix of disco along with some more natural elements to it, particularly the way Loreen danced in her bare feet, meaning that she could perform in a more natural state to her, but also meant that it had a more natural world feel about it. The song itself had great moments in the chorus and was almost three songs in one, the verse, the chorus and the pause before the end. The dance works in co-operation with beat of the music and the lighting also as well as some of the end snow effects. It is hard to explain this song other than being mysterious, but also incredibly enjoyable. This was definitely something different to both the usual and anything else presented before. Maybe that’s the meaning of it, the song is meant to be mysterious? For what is a song contest, Euphoria is both a celebration of Dance as well as music, but also a celebration of what can be achieved when they are brought together.

Elena Paparizou

9. Greece 2005 – Elena PaparizouMy Number One: In all honesty I did not notice this song until 2006. I remember watching it win in 2005, but did not notice until 2006, and I liked it, a lot. The song has a very traditional sound about it, the instruments that make up the track sound authentic and traditional and even the dance has a traditional, perhaps country dancing look about it. But there is an aura with this song, the singing is well performed and easily understood. It is a love song at heart with the singer talking to someone, stating what they are to her, but it isn’t a slow song, it is really upbeat, and one that you almost want to join in, both the song and the dance and it is a song that once you have heard it a few times, you will struggle to not only forget, but to also to join in with it.

Elnur and Samir

8. Azerbaijan 2008 – Elnur and SamirDay After Day: 2008 saw the debut of a country that would shake up Eurovision every year after its arrival. Since 2009 Azerbaijan has always finished in the top 5, coming third in 2009, second in 2013 and winning in 2011. But it was in 2008, their first year, that they arrived, and produced a song that went to number 8, very easily. Day After Day is an unusual song where as it tells a story instead of being about something all the way through. It is a classic, setting with an almost Fairytale styled theme and setting over the long duel of the sides of Good and Evil. On the good side, the parts are sung almost operatic while still conventional pop, where as on the evil side, it is not so operatic, almost more normal, but the overall message that good will always win over evil is very much clear by the end. the song has a strong chorus which will is easy to join in, and will make you want to join in, and along with its well designed and strong presentation, Day After Day is one song that cannot be overlooked.

Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov

7. Bulgaria 2007 – Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan YankoulovWater: 2007 was a great year for the contest. Such a great amount of diversity from all who participated, and the arena was nicely designed and the overall show was brilliantly presented. One song stood out for me in particular, it had a mix of loudness, speed, slow at times, brilliant dancing and singing and a presentation that was unlike anything else that year. The song was more a piece of music than a song, like Euphoria is more like a piece of dancing instead of a song. The main form of instrument was the use of constant percussion which sounded very tribal in its essence and the vocals that there were used in tandem with it, worked as such. The talent that Stoyan and Todorova poses in both their chosen and instrument and vocals is quite clearly seen, and while they may not have won, their talent and piece was so obvious in it’s showing that it helped them get into the Top 5; Bulgaria’s best result to date. I look forward to the possibility of them entering again someday.


6. Finland 2008 – TeräsbetoniMissä Miehet Ratsastaa: It is a common feature for songs at Eurovision to be sung in English, as it is the most spoken language in the world. But on an occasion you will get someone singing in a different language altogether, and not just bits here and there, but all the time. Now depending on your own language, these occasions can be hard to join in with, but it is possible. Also, Eurovision over the years has featured mostly Pop orientated pieces, not much Rock or Metal, but when a band does so, it can lead to some success in the contest. Now mixing both these points together is hard, but when the song is as catchy as this one, you will want to join in, in the language they are singing the song in. In 2006, one of the contests most unluckiest countries, Finland won for the first time, and with a record score using a song that was quite definitely Rock (and lead to me voting for them for four years in a row). in 2008, they decided to try and repeat this success with this. Missä Miehet Ratsastaa, translated to ‘Where The Men Ride’ is the song Finland used in 2008. A definite Rock, more like Metal song performed by native Power Metal Band Teräsbetoni whose look and lyrics are a lot like Manowar but whose sound is more like Faroese Folk Metal Band Týr. The song itself is actually very catchy and when the chorus comes in you will just want to sing it with them, in Finnish (Like I do, I pretty much know the entire song off by heart). As for its look and presentation, it’s something you are unlikely to forget anytime soon, but in now way is it off-putting and the design of the whole thing including the guitars themselves is beautifully done. The song is brilliantly played and orchestrated but with most of your attention turning to the both brilliant Vocalist and Bass player; Jarkko Ahola leading the song. For a contest that most of the time is filled with mostly Pop, it’s good to see something from the world of Rock and Metal, and when it is at a quality as good as this, it doesn’t disappoint (unlike YouTube who won’t let me put the video up on here, please click the below picture to hear the song).

Terasbetoni Video (Please Click To Watch Video)

GENEPOOL (That’s it for part 1, check back on Friday for the Top 5).

TV Ad Meltdown 4 – Wallace Having A Shower

27 01 2014


You can tell it’s cold without him saying so. If it was hot, he would probably melt.


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