[Discussion] Incentive System

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[Discussion] Incentive System

Postby xander » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:16 pm

Last month, I suggested that the UI has some problems. This month, I would like to suggest that the incentive system is broken (consider this a polemic). Essentially, I find it frustrating that success is measured only in terms of valuation, and that every decision you make is measured with this one-dimensional ruler. Because everything centers around valuation, the goal of the game is, ultimately, to make as much money as possible. As many people have noted, this leads to there being very few optimal paths to success. I appreciate that some effort has been made to reward players for things that are not directly related to valuation (the "Days w/o Incident" bonus is what I have in mind), but I think that the reward is measured with dollars feels really gamey to me, and doesn't make that much sense. At the end of the day, tying everything to the metric of dollars seems to be antithetical to the idea that there should be many possible modes of success (e.g. right-wing hell hole vs bleeding-heart resort), since different modes of success should not necessarily be measured with the same ruler.

There are probably a lot of different ways to address this (and perhaps y'all don't even think that it is a problem), but here is an idea that I had: we can keep the current system, but let's add a layer which measures the political orientation of your prison. Because I don't want to come up with a new term for it, call this your prison's "Neuromancer" rating (with apologies to IV and Uplink). If your prison is full of armed guards and you provide long periods of isolation for minor infractions, you get a right-wing rating; while if you have a lot of classrooms and high quality meals, you get a left-wing rating. There are probably a lot of variables that could be rolled into this rating.

How does this affect the game? If you begin by developing a right-wing prison, then your choices about how to continue development should be somewhat limited. If your right-wing rating surpasses as certain level, then you are no longer eligible to receive and education grant (for instance). Perhaps armed guards would only be available to prisons with a certain right-wing rating. Maybe group therapy is only an option for prisons with a certain left-wing rating. Become enough of a hippy and get the option to buy an orchard on which to build a new prison when you sell off the current prison. Become enough of a fascist and get the option to build in an industrial town where your manufactured goods sell for more. Again, I can see a lot of little perks and rewards (and penalties) that could be offered to players that seek to create a certain kind of prison.

The goal of such a system would be to create incentives for players to experiment with different modes of, and paths to, success. Does it work? Are there other ideas? Is this a solution in search of a problem? What do you all think?

xander
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Rafe » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:27 pm

Well if they are going to do something like this then they are going to have to address suppression because the foot speed that prisoners move when suppressed can seriously impair your prisons ability to meet certain needs on time.

I remember that the developers stated that if you suppress your prison population too much it will impair their ability to function in society after they get out which will ultimately affect the success of the program. Suppression would need to be re-conceptualized.

I experimented with having a harsh prison policy at one point but the game gives you no feedback about how prisoners are responding to the threat of certain punitive outcomes if they misbehave. Consider the left-wing prison where your Chief can inform you - every second - that prisons are unhappy with a graphic at the top of the screen. Prisoners wake up, they are pissed, they file into the showers and immediately their agitation comes down.

That sort of feedback needs to exist with prisoners when you have a harsh right-wing, or paternal rather than maternal policy. Maybe institute some antagonistic measurement to happiness/aggression like fear or anxiety. Still meeting needs is a complex process. Hunger, exercise, freedom. All these sum up to help you avoid agitation and that is where the gameplay is. If we simply have a meter based on fear/anxiety vs complacency/apathy will the gameplay be as rich if the way we impose this is a show of force with armed guards or harsh penalties for misconduct? I don't think that part of the game is that fleshed out to provide the same magnitude of gameplay as the left-wing needs satiation.

The left wing policy requires you to think about so much more and requires you to make use of practically all the features of the game.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Registron » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:14 am

Maybe as your prison becomes more "right-wing", you'd be getting more and more dangerous, hard to deal with criminals, with the positives of not having to spend money on reforms and decent food, while left wing prisons could cost more yet prisoners are easier to deal with.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:11 am

I always thought that, in addition to any gameplay changes, a nice visual change would be awesome. The more 'hell hole-y; your prison, the darker and danker it looked e.g: the grass looks dead, white walls become grey, lights emit a yellowed light, guards look beefier and meaner etc etc, while the 'nicer' you ran your prison the 'cleaner' it looked e.g: grass had flowers, walls were a pleasent blue colour, guards looks friendlier etc etc. It would be a gradual effect.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Person012345 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:00 am

xander wrote:Last month, I suggested that the UI has some problems. This month, I would like to suggest that the incentive system is broken (consider this a polemic). Essentially, I find it frustrating that success is measured only in terms of valuation, and that every decision you make is measured with this one-dimensional ruler. Because everything centers around valuation, the goal of the game is, ultimately, to make as much money as possible. As many people have noted, this leads to there being very few optimal paths to success. I appreciate that some effort has been made to reward players for things that are not directly related to valuation (the "Days w/o Incident" bonus is what I have in mind), but I think that the reward is measured with dollars feels really gamey to me, and doesn't make that much sense. At the end of the day, tying everything to the metric of dollars seems to be antithetical to the idea that there should be many possible modes of success (e.g. right-wing hell hole vs bleeding-heart resort), since different modes of success should not necessarily be measured with the same ruler.

There are probably a lot of different ways to address this (and perhaps y'all don't even think that it is a problem), but here is an idea that I had: we can keep the current system, but let's add a layer which measures the political orientation of your prison. Because I don't want to come up with a new term for it, call this your prison's "Neuromancer" rating (with apologies to IV and Uplink). If your prison is full of armed guards and you provide long periods of isolation for minor infractions, you get a right-wing rating; while if you have a lot of classrooms and high quality meals, you get a left-wing rating. There are probably a lot of variables that could be rolled into this rating.

How does this affect the game? If you begin by developing a right-wing prison, then your choices about how to continue development should be somewhat limited. If your right-wing rating surpasses as certain level, then you are no longer eligible to receive and education grant (for instance). Perhaps armed guards would only be available to prisons with a certain right-wing rating. Maybe group therapy is only an option for prisons with a certain left-wing rating. Become enough of a hippy and get the option to buy an orchard on which to build a new prison when you sell off the current prison. Become enough of a fascist and get the option to build in an industrial town where your manufactured goods sell for more. Again, I can see a lot of little perks and rewards (and penalties) that could be offered to players that seek to create a certain kind of prison.

The goal of such a system would be to create incentives for players to experiment with different modes of, and paths to, success. Does it work? Are there other ideas? Is this a solution in search of a problem? What do you all think?

xander

If people want to try inoptimal paths to "success" (though I don't understand why you think that valuation is the only measure of success) they will. If they don't they won't.

More options and mechanics and rewards to make different routes more viable is good though.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:15 am

If there is a single optimal path to success, why would I play the game? I could just watch a lets play of someone else doing it and get the same experience.

And currently, money is the only valuation of my prison, other then bragging rights.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Person012345 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:06 am

5hifty wrote:If there is a single optimal path to success, why would I play the game? I could just watch a lets play of someone else doing it and get the same experience.

Wat. This is wrong in every way. From implying that there is only one route to success in PA, to assuming that just because there is one route there is nothing at all to be experienced in the gameplay. Both of these are so very wrong and I feel sad for you if you actually believe them to be true.

And currently, money is the only valuation of my prison, other then bragging rights.

Except that I don't really give the slightest f--k about how much the game values your (or my) prison at, it's not relevant to anything at all. That's a completely lolworthy measure of "success". In fact, viewing the game in this way is extremely lolworthy.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:28 am

Person012345 wrote:
5hifty wrote:And currently, money is the only valuation of my prison, other then bragging rights.

Except that I don't really give the slightest f--k about how much the game values your (or my) prison at, it's not relevant to anything at all. That's a completely lolworthy measure of "success". In fact, viewing the game in this way is extremely lolworthy.


So you want a 'game' where you just have a toybox full of pieces? How will the game progress once it is complete if it doesn't evaluate your prison somehow? Currently it evaluates the monitory value of your prison and that's it. So that would mean the current campaign would consist of 'make this much money to move on, no further requirements. Once you have done that, sell it and make a new one, which will also be judged solely on its net worth'. Great game.

Person012345 wrote:
5hifty wrote:If there is a single optimal path to success, why would I play the game? I could just watch a lets play of someone else doing it and get the same experience.

Wat. This is wrong in every way. From implying that there is only one route to success in PA, to assuming that just because there is one route there is nothing at all to be experienced in the gameplay. Both of these are so very wrong and I feel sad for you if you actually believe them to be true.


For starts I was stating that there is only one route to success, I was implying that if in the finished game there was only one route to success, why would I bother using any substandard routes? Straight off the bat, if they do allow you to make either a left wing or right wing prison there should be AT LEAST 2 equal routes to success, which would have different game-play/style elements to it. If there is a single optimal way to build and administer your prison, the game will have very limited replayability.
Last edited by 5hifty on Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Jailer » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:28 am

Hmm - left/right wing prisons are hard to 'measure' - and also it adds a political viewpoint to the game that one might not want there. Is rightwing better than leftwing? Let's leave it to the players of the game so that the developers do not steer them in any direction..

A better solution might be to score the reformed prisoners -
On intake a prisoner has an internal status (I assume) of X risk/misbehaviour.
On release a prisoner has an internal status of Y risk/misbehaviour.

If X > Y then the prisoner is reformed a bit and can be scored - for example by adding valuation to the prison just like 'days without incident'.
If Y < X then prisoner might be institutionalized and can be negatively scored.

Note that this is only measured on release of the prisoner, as mid-sentence measurement would prob lead to too many cheating/exploiting opportunities.

This means that there is more value to having your prisoners participate in work programs, psych sessions and educational classes -
a) You get money/points for it (prison valuation)
b) The social success of your prison (reform prisoners) is measurable and visible
c) There are more incentives for the players to use the costly reform programs (as I currently find them more of an artificial bottleneck for the workshop income)
d) Another option for grants (reform 10 prisoners; after 50 days 70% of release prisoners is reformed)
e) Player bonds more with the prisoners as they are less 2 dimensional - trying to reform the one that is due for release in 3 days for example
f) More insight in how many prisoners have gone through your prison - currently I cannot see how many have been released throughout the game.

my 2 cents
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:34 am

Jailer wrote:Hmm - left/right wing prisons are hard to 'measure' - and also it adds a political viewpoint to the game that one might not want there. Is rightwing better than leftwing? Let's leave it to the players of the game so that the developers do not steer them in any direction.


I was really only using it as an example. I could have easily said 'carebare TV in every room, everyone is happy all the time and thats why my prisoners dont riot' prison VS 'taser everyone into submission, armed guards in everyroom, look the wrong way and my guards will beat you into the ground' prison,, but the general consensus of this forum designates them 'left wing/right wing'. Also it was quicker to type.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Person012345 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:04 am

5hifty wrote:So you want a 'game' where you just have a toybox full of pieces? How will the game progress once it is complete if it doesn't evaluate your prison somehow? Currently it evaluates the monitory value of your prison and that's it. So that would mean the current campaign would consist of 'make this much money to move on, no further requirements. Once you have done that, sell it and make a new one, which will also be judged solely on its net worth'. Great game.

Why yes, it is a great game.

I don't share your view on win conditions. I don't play games just so I can win them. There doesn't need to be a win condition. My favourite and longest lasting games don't have any win conditions (but they do have failure conditions, there should always be failure conditions). Sure, go ahead and add some more metrics for measuring your prisonpeen and I'll continue not to give a damn. And you'll still minmax the system to get the biggest peen no doubt. If there's any cutoff "you're winner" point then I will become extremely disgruntled.

For starts I wasn't implying that there is only one route to success, I was stating that if in the finished game there was only one route to success, why would I bother using any substandard routes? Straight off the bat, if they do allow you to make either a left wing or right wing prison there should be AT LEAST 2 equal routes to success, which would have different game-play/style elements to it. If there is a single optimal way to build and administer your prison, the game will have very limited replayability.

What do you even mean by this? Of course there will be one "optimal" route, at least for you. There will be one way that you find easier to run a "successful" (by whatever standard you're using here) prison using. This is surely impossible to avoid. You would use the "other" routes because it increases replayability and is fun. Like I said, making all the routes viable is certainly good (I don't think running a right wing prison is all that viable at this point because of the way education is dependent on mood and workshops are dependent on education) but they don't all have to be perfectly equal. Not all options in reality are perfectly equal either, that's how things are. Deal with it.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:21 am

Person012345 wrote:What do you even mean by this? Of course there will be one "optimal" route, at least for you. There will be one way that you find easier to run a "successful" (by whatever standard you're using here) prison using. This is surely impossible to avoid. You would use the "other" routes because it increases replayability and is fun. Like I said, making all the routes viable is certainly good (I don't think running a right wing prison is all that viable at this point because of the way education is dependent on mood and workshops are dependent on education) but they don't all have to be perfectly equal. Not all options in reality are perfectly equal either, that's how things are. Deal with it.


Well I already have a few prison designs that use different elements to complete the different goals for each prison that I have set. Example, one prison has all the creature comforts that I am currently able to provide, and has limited guard on prisoner interactions, and in another I have given the prisoners nothing more then the bare necessity and control then through the use of force. So already in the unfinished game I have 2 different optimal routes to achieve my goal. Based off the many videos I have watched of the IV team describing the direction that they are taking the game, having multiple ways to complete your prison is in their design,

Person012345 wrote:Why yes, it is a great game.

Not a game. Its a toy. Much like xander said, an erector set is a toy. By pitting you against a time limit, another player or any other way to 'judge' the player, it becomes a game.

Person012345 wrote:I don't share your view on win conditions. I don't play games just so I can win them. There doesn't need to be a win condition. My favourite and longest lasting games don't have any win conditions (but they do have failure conditions, there should always be failure conditions). Sure, go ahead and add some more metrics for measuring your prisonpeen and I'll continue not to give a damn. And you'll still minmax the system to get the biggest peen no doubt. If there's any cutoff "you're winner" point then I will become extremely disgruntled..


You do realize that this game will have a campaign? How does your never ending game fit into this? Its not about 'prisonpeen', its about offering some way for the player to advance in the game.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby Person012345 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:41 am

You're one of those people huh.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby 5hifty » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:31 pm

Fine. Ignore my entire argument except:

You do realize that this game will have a campaign? How does your never ending, never evaluated, never rated, with no victory conditions game fit into this?

I think what you want is sandbox mode. I'm sure they'll have that too.

It's like banging a tennis ball against a brick wall, which can be fun. It can be fun, but it's not a game. What you want is a partner to return the ball.
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Re: [Discussion] Incentive System

Postby xander » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:15 pm

Person012345, your opinion that the current incentive system is perfect has been noted. I am quite certain that no one is going to convince you that anything needs to change, and I am quite certain that you are not going to convince me that the current incarnation of the incentive system is not broken. My goal was to engender a discussion of how the incentive system might be changed to deepen game. You seem happy with a box of Legos. I would prefer to play a game that has goals and rewards. Different strokes, right? If you don't want to contribute to a discussion on how to gamify things, that's great! But posting in this thread to explain why those of us that want to play a game with varied rewards and penalties and routes to success are wrong seems unproductive. I am not going to tell you to stop posting, since I have no control over what you do, but please think about what you are trying to accomplish.

-----

Jailer: Left-wing/right-wing may not be exactly the right thing to call it. That being said, the game already has a notion of meeting the prisoners' needs vs suppressing them. I am suggesting that the game further emphasize this distinction by offering incentives for choosing certain paths. It needn't even be a binary right vs left kind of scale. For instance, suppose that have a lot of armed guards running around and assign long hours of solitary confinement for relatively minor infractions. In this case, the game might offer you the opportunity to participate in a study meant to assess the effect of long-term isolation on inmates. Accepting this offer could give a reward of some kind (currently, money is the only possible reward), and might also prevent you from getting other offers (like an offer to study the effect of large, cushy cells on prisoners).

One can also see how some kind of binary scale could lead to failure scenarios: suppose that keeping prisoners highly suppressed really is effective (it isn't currently, because suppressed prisoners move so slowly, but that seems to run counter to IV's intentions). This makes it easy to run the prison and may keep the tough-on-crime crowd happy (note that I am not calling them the right-wing crowd, so we could, perhaps, escape that dichotomy), but recidivism is high and the prison-as-reformation constituency may get upset. Make them mad enough, and they will vote to close you down. On the other hand, if you run too much of a Club Fed resort prison, the tough-on-crime folk may vote to shut down your prison.

xander

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