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Video Game: Prison Architect

Prison Architect is a management simulator created by Introversion Software, of Uplink, Darwinia and DEFCON fame.

Inspired by the likes of Dungeon Keeper, the idea behind this game is to lay out the plans for the buildings of a profitable and sustainable prison, capable of providing a caring environment for a variable amount of prisoners, while retaining a stable income from both government grants and manufacturing objects such as license plates.

As the game is in an indefinitely long Alpha period, there's still quite a lot of lag issues, bugs, missing features and pathfinding problems amongst other Artificial Stupidity, but as always, there's the ever-enticing process of adding new features that Introversion are indulging in, which has earned the game a strong following even at this early stage.

The pre-order for the game comes with alpha access HERE.

Prison Architect provides examples of:

  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the Execution Room tutorial the wife and her lover are butt naked but lack genitals.
  • Berserk Button: If you leave a gap in your prison wall, usually while constructing an extension, some prisoners tend to destroy whatever doors are in their path to escape. With their bare hands.
  • Clipboard of Authority: Key staff members can be seen holding one of these up when unlocking something through the Bureaucracy page.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Minimum security prisoners are grey, normal are orange, and maximum security prisoners are red.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Capacitors, if your current electricity demand outweighs your power capacity.
  • Creator Cameo: Chris Delay and Mark Morris both appear as prisoners in the game.
  • Death Row: The player is instantly asked to construct an execution room for a single prisoner. As the tutorial.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: A minor crime people can be sent to your jail for is 'video game piracy'.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Well, contraband and escape tunnel-detecting, at least.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Up until Alpha 12, unless you install metal detectors in appropriate places, contraband was an example of this, as the least costly way to tell if a prisoner is carrying some kind of contraband is if you spot them holding it out in front of them for a very brief moment. After Alpha 12, the only way to detect contraband was to set up metal detectors and set appropriate guard dog patrols, and let the staff take care of the rest.
  • Gorn: Entire rooms can be turned red if a serious fight breaks out in an enclosed space, and not just because severely-damaged objects turn red.
  • Guide Dang It: The game is still in Alpha stages and lacks extensive documentation; the game's tutorial doesn't cover aspects such as mission-based government grants and prison labour, so first time players will definitely end up in a dodgy financial situation faster than others.
    • The option to choose when prisoners arrive seems like a broken option until you find out that the "Open/Closed" button on the Prisoners page does that when this option is enabled. Going through the game without figuring out how to manually control prisoner intake this way can result in space woes, and subsequently, financial woes.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: One of the possible items of contraband a guard can confiscate from prisoners.
  • Hellhole Prison: Can be achieved, but given that this tends to result in rioting, object destruction and frequent deaths and injury, it's not recommended without having plenty of Sinister Surveillance equipment and a horde of guards to back it up.
  • Instant Expert: Finally averted by the Alpha 18 release. Before, a new busload of prisoners could be dropped into a workshop full of saws and heavy machinery and immediately start pressing out plates. Now prisoners must complete a Workshop safety course to work in the workshop. Prisoners also have to complete a kitchen hygiene course in order to work in the kitchen.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: And indeed exterior, given the emphasis on layout and size.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure:
  • Lock Down: Can be triggered whenever necessary. There is also the option to trigger "bangup", which has a similar, less forceful function for sending only willing prisoners back to their cells or the holding cell.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The exact reason why people are so eager to mention bugs involving prisoners using the shower, particularly the two mentioned in Good Bad Bugs on the YMMV page.
  • New Game+: There is an option to "sell" your prison and start a new game with significantly more funds based on your previous prison's value. It is still possible to continue playing your old prison after selling it, however.
  • Nobody Poops: Played straight for your staff and visitors, averted for your prisoners.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Though there are probably more examples, at the very least Billy Mays is a possible prisoner.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The given in-universe reason for the existence of the game's Tech Tree.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Prisoners' needs include exercise - this can be fulfilled with a yard to walk or jog around in, or weightlifting equipment. As of Alpha 10, their exercise doesn't yet influence their combat abilities.
  • Prison Riot: One can happen if the player isn't careful. It ain't pretty.
  • Punishment Box: The solitary confinement cells.
  • Shipped in Shackles: All prisoners arriving at your new prison are this until escorted to either their cell or the holding cell.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Hence why armed guards tend to favour them.
  • Shout-Out: Certain prisoner biographies draw references to Andromeda Research Corporation and their plans to unleash a virus on the world.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Alpha 23 adds logic circuits that are made to automate certain actions like opening doors from a control room or at certain times of day. The addition of logic breaks and programmable circuits on the other hand are purely there to let you make your own logic arrays with.
  • Spiritual Successor: Word of God frequently cites Dungeon Keeper, but the resemblance to Theme Hospital is more obvious. Either way, the Bullfrog influence is pretty apparent.
    • Fans of both games have referred to it as "Dwarf Fortress with graphics, IN PRISON!" (With varying degrees of cynicism depending on which side of the fence you stand.)
  • Stun Guns: Introduced in Alpha 18 as a usable weapon against violent inmates. While it causes slight damage, what matters is that the prisoners are incapacitated.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Edward, the main character of the tutorial.
    • No Sympathy: One of the guards sees him as a two-bit thug though.
  • Tech Tree: The Bureaucracy page.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Armed guards are this by default, until authorised to do so.
  • Time Lapse: Introduced in Alpha 13, where one can record the prison as its constructed, and play it all back at a faster rate.
  • Tunnel King: Every prisoner as of Alpha 13 has the ability to attempt escape by way of digging a tunnel out of their cells using tools stolen from places such as the canteen.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: One of the failure conditions introduced in Alpha 20 has the prison manager (i.e. The player) arrested and kept in his own prison until a certain period of time has passed, or if he somehow manages to outsmart his own security system and escape.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You could always run a prison that cared for inmates needs, and it was recommended that you play in such a way to prevent riots and fights. Now with Alpha 18 released, you can set up programs to rehabilitate prisoners and help them reintegrate into society. You never see the end result of such programs on the outside, but the thought is nice.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Many rooms have a minimum size requirement for them to operate at all. This is not true when it comes to the solitary confinement cells.
  • Wall of Weapons: The gun racks, introduced in Alpha 17 with the armed guards.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Hiring janitorial staff for both indoor and outdoor cleaning work requires the two be unlocked separately, and only then after unlocking the option to hire a foreman. Again, justified by the Tech Tree being part of an Obstructive Bureaucracy. Regulations demand separate certifications and foremen on staff as a prerequisite for hiring janitorial staff.

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