Help us decide: Debug tools or game features?

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Would you rather see Tools & Cheats next, or shall we stick to the Game Features?

Poll ended at Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:54 pm

Debug tools and cheats next
19
10%
More game features next
165
84%
I want it all, and I want it now
13
7%
 
Total votes: 197
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Chris
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Help us decide: Debug tools or game features?

Postby Chris » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:54 pm

Hello!

We noticed a lot of people commenting on the debug tools and cheats we use in the Alpha 5 video. We suspect there's a lot of people who'd like to get their hands on those things in a future Alpha update, and indeed this was always planned. Some people will like having access so they can play the game differently / more sandboxy without having to worry about money or fighting, others may be into modding and want to control the game better, others still may be programmers who are curious how it all works. Personally I still geek out at pathfinding visualisation and heat maps, but that's just me.

It's all a trade off though - if we spend time getting the tools and cheats ready, everything else will be held up. We can't do it all at once! We will release the tools and cheats eventually but if we prioritise this you will have to wait longer for upcoming game features such as more Emergency Services, proper Zoning support, Escape attempts, Max security prisoners etc.

So at this point in time, would you rather we spent time doing a tools & cheats alpha, or would you rather we spent the time working on more game features?

We understand that some people believe we can do everything at once and that we should simply bundle all the tools and cheats with all the new features in the next alpha, so we've included an option for you too. Everyone else, please think carefully!
Last edited by Chris on Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Saranis » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:28 pm

No question that I want game features more than cheats. Cheats should be the LAST thing added as a fun little bonus to the game. I don't feel its something that should have development time diverted to it from the creation of the actual game features.
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Postby Lance_Lake » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:57 pm

In my opinion, having the cheats can allow us to set up things that might be difficult to do to help with testing.

Personally, I'm in the alpha to help with the testing. Having access to the cheats allows me to set up things like "A fire starts at the same time in 2 separate locations while the power goes out here. Does this prisoner respond correctly?"

Debug tools (or "Cheats" as some people call them) help with this process and personally, I think it will result in better bug reports as well as being able to test them out easily.

I'll take that instead of more features any day.
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Postby Fraeco » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:32 pm

To me that is only partially correct.

Yes you need debug options if you want to catch ALL the bugs. Like what you described. But those things are a rarity.

More game features however implies more bugs, but people will continoulsy be active and "forced" to go through a number of steps to accomplish something. Those are the steps that you'll be skipping. And there's a lot more debugging to be done in that area then testing freak accidents.

You're not going to find lot's of issues if people just pause the game on start, draw out some SuperMax and then just let the game run for hours on end.
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Postby Mas Tnega » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:22 pm

Tough question.

On the one hand, many of the things you would want a debug menu could do could be done through save editing. On the other, I don't believe we have any particularly current, let alone comprehensive save editors and someone would have to keep updating it every version. Editing a save manually would be really tedious for rigging prisoner needs or arming them with random stuff.

I'd feel like a dick for answering with the third choice, so I'd rather not.
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Postby Mark_154 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:28 pm

Hi all, I would love to have access to cheats/de-bug tools, but after thinking hard, i think this would be a good addition to have when game is in the later stages of alpha phase. I voted for more features, if Chris continues the monthy updates to add features and fix major bugs i'd be happy, then before beta relese the cheats/de-bug tools for us to really test it would be good, keep up the good work, shaping into nice game can't wait for alpha 6, Happy christmas everyone.
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Postby Carmelle » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:38 pm

I think a nice happy medium would be the format expected for the save file with alpha releases... this would allow us to build a save game editor and maintain it, which would offer much of the functionality of debug tools (just not in real time), while allowing you guys to focus on implementing features?

Most of the format is descernible from existing save files, sure, but unless you have a save file with a feature you wish to use (for example, a current thread on the topic of fire), the editor would be missing it. Also, it's not necessarily clear what each field for a specific entity does within the save file.

Of course, if compiling this sort of document would take too long then I'd rather just have the focus be on features... but the way I see it is that, there would be an initial upfront creation of the document for an upcoming alpha, and then it would be just updating for each alpha afterwards...the community could then maintain the save game editor ourselves (or might not even need to if we know the format, could just do manual edits, whatever).
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Postby furrot » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:59 pm

I don't think the cheats menu is needed right now. People will just end up creating non-standard conditions that bug out and delay real development. I agree that it would be awesome to geek out and see all of the inner workings but I'd like to see more time invested in the "mid-game" as right now it's a slow collapse once the basic are set up.

I can see my prisoners starting into the AI patterns for riots and my prisons should be descending into chaos but the worst I get is that bum rush out the front door, which is neither fun or compelling right now. The emergency services and more detailed escape attempts such as tunnelling are really the only things that could breath more life into the mid game and start setting up consequences to how prisons are designed.

I think the only thing people are looking for in a debug menu right now are disasters and un-finished features. I'd rather see the game be improved and let prisoners steal and use lighters to cause chaos then do it myself. Debug menus are not very Dwarven ;)
Last edited by furrot on Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mas Tnega » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:28 pm

furrot wrote:I don't think the cheats menu is needed right now. People will just end up creating non-standard conditions that bug out and delay real development.
That's the thing. Most of the bugs will ignored unless:
(a) They crash the game or render the save unusable, OR
(b) They're germane to the most important question to ask in alpha: "Is there something wrong with this feature?".
AND
(c) They're caused by game states that you can realistically achieve through legitimate play.

There's a reason there are so many unresolved bugs. It's because they're not really all that important at this stage.


I think the one thing people are looking for in a debug menu right now are disasters and un-finished features.
More like setting up two opposite prison wings, putting the entrance in the middle, raising everyone's needs to obscene levels and seeing (a) if they meet in the middle and (b) what they do if they meet at the same time.
It's a much more fun experiment when gangs are implemented.
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Postby Azarath » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:01 pm

I agree with Mas, we can already edit files to give money, edit the prison etc, what we cant do is add new features, so for me, new features is what I'd like to see next. Plus, it'd be all well and good testing current ones to hell, only for new features to come along and break old ones ;)
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Postby furrot » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:18 pm

Mas I can't tell if your post is agreeing with me or not.

My main point is (and it not meant to be taken harshly) that there is not enough fun things to do in the game for the standard gameplay to worry about something as advanced as a debug menu. Bugs are the lowest concern overall.

There's not a strong reason to be able to edit their needs when they are unable to act on those needs appropriately yet. (ie. riots) Like you said, it's more fun if there is something that can happen.
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Postby thekev506 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:25 pm

Features, please! Better to develop the core mechanics more before bringing something like a debug menu in.
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Postby Mas Tnega » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:43 am

furrot wrote:Mas I can't tell if your post is agreeing with me or not.
I'm saying the only delay the debug tools will cause is in the time spent developing them. I'm feeling very neutral on the thing overall and am trying to reason out which side might be better so I might be misinterpreting things while projecting my thoughts.

The question in my mind that I need to answer really is "Could debug tools prove a fundamental flaw in Prison Architect's features' yet?". And yeah, thinking about it, the answer I've got is "Not to an extent I'd choose it over features".
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Game features all the way!

Postby GraveeKing » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:12 am

I don't think it'd be worth making the tools and cheats now anyway personally, it may be a nice idea and could appeal to some but...
Surely it'd be more worth it when there's a good chunk of features to tool up, right now there's more of a limit on how much you can add to 'mod' with so it seems almost not worth it at all.

Either way keep up the good work!
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Postby Saranis » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:56 pm

I thought Azarath brought up a very good point, there are already ways for players to give themselves tons of money, as well as Mods that allow instabuild. I know there would be a lot of other things included in a debug menu, but right now those two should suffice for testing new features.

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