Opinions Prison Architect

Published on August 12th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley

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Getting stuck in my head

You know the feeling. You wake up in the morning and you have a song stuck in your head.

Not the Hollywood kind, like “I’m walking on Sunshine” or practically anything by Louis Armstrong, no, it’s not something normal.
It’s the theme tune to the Smurfs or a jingle from a rather eye-twitchingly irritating advert on telly. I even have soundtracks to my day at work, usually the whistle song in Robin Hood or one of the various cheesy songs in the Japanese Dragonball and Dragonball Z series, the latter of which is the musical version of a persistent itch located in an area of your back you can’t reach satisfyingly enough as the song is in Japanese, so I’m not even able to sing along.

If ever there was an ‘on-track’ version of this, it’s starting to go a bit off.
Well, I get videogame equivalents of the perpetual song-in-your-head.

It’s not quite as chronic as its counterpart, however it is infinitely more aggravating, partly because it is unfulfilling when you are at work or in the shower, but mostly because it’s usually something that you’re stuck on.

In my current case, it’s the start-up of Prison Architect.

Prison Architect is a game currently on Steam early access, where you manage a prison, namely the architecture and utilities, it’s a cleverly named game as you can see, no room for confusion there. At the start of the game, you are tasked with meeting the initial requirements for just keeping a few prisoners and, with grants and funds, you increase your features and size to accommodate more.  This all sounds relatively simple, eh?

Another game which has been stuck in my head is FTL. I like my characters to all have some level of continuity, it just so happens that on this particular playthrough I named all my characters after people in Alien, and the first crewmember I got was called Jones. Spooky nerdism.

Another game which has been stuck in my head is FTL. I like my characters to all have some level of continuity, it just so happens that on this particular playthrough I named some of my characters after people in Alien, and the first crewmember I got was called Jones. Spooky nerdism.

Well it’s not bloody easy. Given only a modest sum, you are expected to make this stretch across to a multitude of duties, all of which are mostly done half-arsed, either by me or by the people in charge of said duty. For a start, I was warned to build a fence around the prison, as obviously keeping prisoners in is kinda the main objective of the building, apparently this can be easy to forget in all the exuberance of playing this game of fast-paced ecstasy and excitement.

With this in mind I set out and built a fence straight off-the-bat, and not finding any entrance and exit point more suitable and cost-effective, stuck a Jail door on it. Well this is pretty secure already, I thought, There won’t be any prisoners clocking out of here any time soon. Well, not unless my jailers  just let them out that is.

I am not sure why my guards decided that knocking about the doors while prisoners are clambering to get out was a good idea, but do was exactly what they did. Within minutes of starting up the game and grappling some sort of understanding out of the inept and under-done tutorial, I had already had a great escape consisting of about 7 people. My TWO guards (hey, this isn’t Alca-deluxe-traz here) managed to wrangle 6 of them back, albeit with a great deal of blood and unconsciousness happening.

Not having the facilities to deal with any medical mis-happening, the guards and the prisoners both had to just lump the wounds until the next grant, which didn’t happen until many days too late.

So stuck in my head all day, and indeed also part of the night in the form of semi-coherent dreams, I have been wondering about Warden’s offices, supply cupboards and Prisoners’ showers, with little luck on the definitive solution to my criminal problem.

Oh well, I guess… cha-la! head cha-la! nah nee no naa nee no nane na…

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