- Continuous (some per day forever) or
- Non-continuous (only when cells are ready)
I feel like neither of these options really hits the sweet spot. I like the idea of having some pressure to keep on expanding, but the issue with Continuous Intake is the "forever" part. The game is played on a finite grid, eventually you're going to just plain run out of places to put more prisoners. But they aren't going to stop coming in, not ever. This mode would make more sense if there was a way to "win" the prison, but in an infinite sandbox this mode ends up being a time bomb. No matter how good your prison is, you always know that eventually it's going to be intaked to death.
On the other hand, non-continuous mode has the issue that it takes a crazy long time for prisoners to actually show up once the cells are available. It takes such a long time that multiple people have mistakenly reported a bug, thinking that the prisoners just weren't ever going to arrive.
It would be nice to have some additional options to control here, to strike a balance between the two options and also provide for some different play styles. For example:
- A mode that incentivises rapid intake but doesn't force it -- so let's say every now and then a number of prisoners are sentenced and require accomodation, and you can choose to accept or reject them. The state awards you a bonus based on the number of them you accept, or perhaps go the other way and make it a penalty for rejecting prisoners. There could also be a cumulative bonus/penalty system where rejecting prisoners more often gives a progressively more severe penalty. This would be somewhat like the emergency events in Theme Hospital.
- A mode where the number of prisoners coming in is related to how well the prison is doing. The state is going to want to send you more prisoners if you're doing a really great job of taking care of the ones you already have -- if your prison is on fire and the inmates have gone all Lord of the Flies in there, they probably aren't going to be super keen to send people your way. This would be somewhat like hospital reputation in Theme Hospital, and also like immigration waves in Dwarf Fortress.
- A fixed continuous intake mode that you can tune -- so you could set up a game with a continuous intake of say 5 per day, or 10 per day, or whatever number gives you the right level of tension.
- A continuous mode where the intake starts out high but tapers off as your prison population gets larger, perhaps approaching some target maximum total population. So for example you could set up a game where you'll not receive any more prisoners once you are holding 150 of them. I believe Dwarf Fortress also has an option along these lines.
Thanks for reading.