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[Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you want?

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:27 am
by SonofSuperJoe
While I'm currently in love with Prison Architect in so many ways, I wonder if there's ever going to be something to ultimately aim for in it. I saw another thread about making the game "more interesting when not building" and it seemed to me that the underlying complaint was something larger, that there's little ultimate end to PA, and without this end, there's a sense that once you're done building, you're kind of done with the game.

Dungeon Keeper (and it's semi-ripoff/spinoff Evil Genius) is the early progenitor of the "Build a somewhat morally dark locale but with good humor" sub-genre that Prison Architect seems to mostly inhabit (obviously there's some Dwarf Fortress mixed in there too), and it didn't have this problem. In Dungeon Keeper (and Evil Genius), you had a goal to work toward - destroying all the kingdoms (in EG you committed global terror until unleashing a doomsday weapon) that presented a tangible end goal to keep moving toward amidst all of the building, expanding, and manipulating the AI of your minions. The stuff that was "more interesting when not building" in those games were these goals that you kept plugging away at (while defending from invading heroes who tried to stop you). But of course, in a way, the ends were the not only the ultimate goals of the games, they were the entire purpose behind those games existing from the very concept's origin - when you play an evil mastermind the only possible goal will always be "Take over the world", naturally. Without that, those games would have no other purpose.

Prison Architect has no such obvious end to work at. At least not yet. Perhaps there will eventually be a series of levels/scenarios like the opening tutorial "Edward" level where this exists and folks who want a sense of completeness can go, but I don't know what happened with that feature or if the devs are still working on "campaign" content or not. Does anyone have any other information on this?

Right now the game is far more sandbox and far more "Theme Hospital/Rollercoaster Tycoon, but with Convicts!" than it is Dungeon Keeper/Evil Genius. I'm not sure if there's really any possible end-game other than "Prevent Total Failure" in the current iteration of the game.

So mostly, I want to know what other people (and the devs) think on this. Does the game need an end (and thus, an "End-game")? What do you imagine that end being?

However, I do have one idea (with some related concepts) that might be a potential good "End Game scenario":

- The Inspection -

Selling your Prison sort of seems like it's supposed to be the End Game right now. Get your Prison to a high enough value, then sell it off for potentially millions of dollars and theoretically, if you sold it for enough, you'd get a screen of your Architect retiring to some island somewhere surrounded by his piles of cash and gorgeous women, sipping a drink with an Umbrella in it and winking at the camera. Except right now the only thing that could prevent a sale was if you had a death or escape in the past in-game day, and you get your money and you start over with the money you had on another new prison.

But what if it were harder to sell?

Why then, you might have a potential real end game scenario.

To that end, selling your prison could have more caveats before you could proceed.

First, it needs to be turning a pretty high DAILY Profit for it to be up for potential sale. Naturally, no one else would buy a property if they didn't expect a good return on their investment. A difficulty selection at the start will determine the required daily Profit needed to be potentially sell-able, and the amount of land space available would be another determining factor as to the amount of Daily profit required. This would likely essentially force players to take on and optimize their prison for at least some large percentage of Max-Sex prisoners and the associated management problems they bring.

Next, your recidivism rate must be on the lower side. At least 50% or less, but depending on the difficulty, the margin would be lower.

Then, once all these requirements are met - your difficulty selected and land adjusted Daily Profit threshold has been reached, and you also haven't had a death or escape in the last day - you click the big "SELL" button in the Valuation tab, and you put the player into a new mode - Inspection Mode.

In this, once you attempt to sell your Prison, an Inspector comes in early in the morning and takes a tour of the premises. In this mode you cannot control anything other than the camera and you can no longer interfere or intervene with your prison. No helping movement paths by manually opening doors, no calling in emergency services, no speeding up the timescale - just watching the Inspector inspect. It's essentially a test by the game of just how well you've automated your prison, and how under control you've managed to get your prison up to that point.

In Inspection Mode, the inspector enters every available room and passes a general judgement. They have 12 hours and in order for the prison to be sold they must be able to get into the vast majority of the prison, something like 85-95% of it. If there are too many delays along the path, the prison can't be sold. Likewise, they're judging each room on cleanliness and value of all of the rooms, and these must also receive high marks. They judge on safety, and there can be no easy escape routes, and no obvious fire hazards. But most importantly, they judge based on how under control the prisoners are.

If there's too much available contraband - they won't authorize the sale. If there are too many prisoners liable to go off at a moment's notice because they're not suppressed enough or not happy enough - then they won't authorize the sale. If they see too many minor "incidents" during their inspection or if a major incident - a Riot, Escape Attempt (or success) or a Death - occurs while they're on site they not only won't authorize the sale, but you'll actually receive that incident's financial penalty ($50,000 is how much they're valued at currently in the valuation screen) once they leave. Worst of all, if the Inspector somehow dies during their inspection, then you immediately get the Criminal Negligence Failure condition and it's GAME OVER for you.

If the Inspector comes and goes, and nothing goes wrong and the prison is ultimately under so much of a complete control that it literally manages itself without human interference AND it's profitable to run - the Prison Architect Inc. CEO calls and congratulates you on designing such a superb establishment, and the company buys the prison (and its design) from you; they plan on mass producing this prison throughout the country! Then you get a screen of your Architect retiring with some variance depending on the amount of money made during the sale ( a few hundred thousand - a decent retirement at a modest home, a million dollars - a swanky retirement in a nice place, multiple millions of dollars - lavish private island), and a final judgement screen based off of your Prison Grading screen which denotes your ultimate legacy as a kind benefactor who rehabilitated millions of convicts with his lovely Care-Bear hug motel, a ruthless autocrat who caused every prison in the world to become a micro police state that scared the crime rate down, or (if you have a mixed rating between authoritarian and rehabilitation poles and/or a particularly high daily profit intake) a smart businessman who was known as creating the most economical prisons ever known.

You then get a final score based on the total value, and the inspector's report, some credits, and the score gets put on a leaderboard with your username.

That seems like it's something, although I'll admit it's just a fancy expansion of what's pretty much already in the game. But it's something more definite at least.

What all does everyone else want to see/expect?

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:32 pm
by crabby
Sounds really good to me... I always expected Prison Architect to be like Theme Hospital in that it's the journey rather than the end game that's important... But having additional caveats sounds great! And I still feel scenarios could work quite a lot like theme hospital with land, planning, competition, crime waves all being part of the core scenarios.

Great read, thanks for sharing.


Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:01 am
by zbyrne
I am very curious about a potential end game, but considering there's no obvious choice it's hard to imagine what it could be. Prisons after all tend to stick around for a while. Mountjoy Prison in my native Dublin was opened in 1850, and remains operational - obviously it's been improved and updated over time, but still. Perhaps the game might after a certain period become increasingly difficult. Whilst that might sound "gamey", to arbitrarily make the game harder, it could perhaps be explained - we are dealing with private/for profit prisons, so perhaps corporate could demand more profit and thus making it increasingly harder to successfully run your institution, and with less money the more problematic your prisoners become etc. etc., until the prison is eventually shut down when the CEO is done in allowing for human rights violations.

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:38 am
by keanzu
I suggested an end game here:


but it got no traction.

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:08 am
by officerc
Actually I like both of your suggestions :)

And both seem doable to me. But you shouldn't know who is this special prisoner. Otherwise you would treat him differently than others. Just after his release you get some message.

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:27 am
by SonofSuperJoe
keanzu wrote:I suggested an end game here:


but it got no traction.

That's an interesting idea, special unique prisoners.

I especially find it interesting because there's like a thousand ways one could go with it. On the one hand there's your idea where the prisoners are sort of little "Edwards" with their own back stories and endings. Like it was already suggested, that idea would probably only work if you weren't able to know who these unique prisoners were; that way the player couldn't game the system in order to specifically make their experiences better/worse than the rest of the population. But then of course, the uniqueness of those prisoners would fade away, and perhaps gaming the system for these unique prisoners would actually be the fairly fitting gameplay mechanic that an "end-game" would sort of be all about. You'd just be getting occasional stories that show up over the course of your game that seemingly came from nowhere, and while that would be kind of cool, it would feel fairly random and uncontrollable. The player probably would mostly feel confusion if they started getting a bunch of "bad ends" that they didn't feel like they had enough knowledge to counter them.

Another possibility is similar, but instead of making the unique (let's call them "Unique Legendary" Prisoners, to denote their rarity, kind of like from MMO's) simply interactive case studies, each one could represent a heightened form of challenge to prison management.

So instead of just stories, each is also a challenge. A challenge the player has to meet in order to see the legendary actually serve out their term rather than end up dead or escaped. Say, one is particularly adept at escaping through tunnels and hiding it. Another is a protester that goes on a hunger strike and could die from starvation. Another is an innocent man who's been targeted by the mafia for death, and needs a certain number of visits with their lawyer before their case can be overturned, which means they need to get mixed in with the normal population frequently. Another is a crime boss leader or mafia leader that is great at rallying other prisoners to their side and instigating huge riots. Another is an expert at sneaking in contraband and creating their own little prison empire of dealing it out to your other inmates. Another is a serial killer that will sneakily hunt down and murder all sorts of inmates and staff. One is a former artist who needs serious rehabilitation in the workshop in order to not have them commit suicide. So on an so forth. They each have a unique story, but each is also a unique challenge.

Maybe they're kind of like super criminals, except they're not all necessarily actually criminals (I mean, they are if they're in jail, but some could be wrongfully convicted "Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption" types). Each has a highly unique set of abilities and traits that no other prisoner gets and has to be countered in very specific ways in order to see them serve out their terms. There could be a large pool of these prisoners for each game to draw from, but the player will only ever actually see a few spawn into any one game in order to encourage re-playability.

The interesting thing is that this "legendary con" idea (or the "Storied con" idea you mentioned if that's better) and the "prison sale as ending" idea need not be mutually exclusive.

I'm brought back to Evil Genius again, where not only did the player have to eventually take over the world, but the fact that the game also had the player encountered the most resistance in that game from special super Agents (since the game was a James Bond villain simulator, these were mostly super powered secret agents that tried to stop you) that each had a unique set of abilities and had to be defeated in very specific ways. The end game scenario was a set thing, but the Super Agents were fairly random (not in their names or numbers, but in their AI driven behavior) interference that the player had to deal with at any pace they saw fit to, and a good chunk of the game was in figuring out how to defeat them rather than just the normal secret agents and soldiers you had to thwart. The player could try to ignore them and just trigger all of their "take over the world" goals, but it would be very difficult if they didn't go out of their way to stop the super agents.

These special prisoners could sort of be like that - there's some other end game, but the special prisoners are a bit of an intermittent but somewhat constant thing the player also has to deal with. That seems like a best of both worlds kind of thing.

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:13 am
by lunaticneko
I think multiple endings would be nice. In Papers Please you can end game in many different ways, including helping the rebellion, staying firm with your communist government, defecting to another country with or without your family, or somehow end up jailed or dead.

I suggest that both special prisoners and inspectors have roles in the game. Special prisoners would test your handling of situations, while inspectors would grade your prison. Maybe we can also grade a prison based on other aspects, such as general cleanliness, in-prison employment (not necessarily reform), etc.

While they don't necessarily take you to the credit screen, I think "superobjectives" would be nice. They would be hard to achieve, but reward you with a sense of accomplishment and tangible success.

Many good victory conditions can be achieved in one game that I would like to suggest:
- Monetary Victory: Sell the prison for at least 50x the initial investment. You will get additional bonus to sale value for the next prison.
- Quality: After a manual inspection based on way more than what you get in current grading screen, become an A++-graded prison for three consecutive weeks (or inspection period). You will get additional bonus to sale value for this prison.
- The Showdown: Prevent a staged, well-planned mass riot or breakout that randomly happens once you have more than 400 maxsec with at least 10 legendaries. Armed agents from outside may assist in the breakout, shooting and killing guards and unarmed staff with impunity. If you can thwart the riot, involved prisoners may lose an aggressive trait and the government will trust you more, granting more prisoners. Some prisoners may pick up a "defeated" status effect that decreases likelihood to cause a trouble, but does not harm other functions. Killing outside agents do not count as a prison death, as it is clearly a self-defense.
- Conversion: Issued by the Churches, convert at least 90% inmates to Delayians or Morrisians (two mock "primary" religion names that I used in some other posts in this forum). The Church that you choose to worship will send you a large amount of money and lets you place a special chapel building that would be staffed with a chaplain for free.

And more defeat conditions, which may be game-ending or simply reduces your experience:
- Warden's Death: If the Warden dies, all hope is lost. The game is automatically over when the Warden dies an untimely death.
- Morguegate: Letting too many unsolved deaths pass by kills the reputation of the prison. The government will be reluctant to allow you to get more prisoners.
- Quality: The longer your prison stays in failing grade (F, or optionally E or D), the more your prison value suffers.
- Written Off: If your prison is heavily destroyed, losing at least 60% assets in a single incident (by rioting, fire, etc.), the CEO will fire you for poor performance and failing to uphold the expectations of corporate shareholders.
- Voted Off: If you own less than 51% of your prison and the grading is skirting the line, you perform controversial actions, or otherwise dissatisfy the other shareholders, they may vote you out of the company. If you own at least 51% then you are invulnerable to firing, but expect valuation to suffer.
- Human Experiments: If you perform human experiments in the prison and it is reported, prepare to get busted. Food experiment is controversial. Lawyers can reduce the impact of negative consequences of unethical actions.
- Weak Warden: If prisoners make a demand (increase food, more free time, etc.) during a riot and you comply, all prisoners (even those uninvolved) are buffed permanently and may gain a trait.

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:39 am
by czar mohab
Most of the points addressed are valid, good, strong ideas that may gain traction in the future as an end-game environment is established.

I, however, want to address the second part of the question in the thread title, "What do you want?" I want equilibrium.

I want a prison that accommodates however many prisoners it takes to reach a point where the number of prisoners coming in is roughly equal to the number of prisoners going out (however that might be). But I want to go all the way, past the three main security types - I want to equalize on max sec, starting from min sec.

Let me break it down some: Start on a map and keep intake on min sec. Build cells and intake until equalized, then switch to min/med and repeat until med equalizes then drop min; repeating until med equalizes again. Then repeat with med/max and finally just max. To accommodate those in min and med that get all stab happy the future supermax wing will be just a regular max sec block until the max secs arrive - and there'll be a PC wing as well for that eventuality.

It is a pretty simple concept - build enough prison to house, feed, employ, wash, etc. all those max sec baddies, and no matter how many come on the trucks every day there's always just enough room. I want to go for 20 or so game days like this and go "yup, that's it, I won."

However, the game doesn't yet support this amount of infrastructure, guards, cooks, etc. let alone the prisoners. Everything is going in the right direction for it so far but we are still a way off. We'll get there one day.

The Czar

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:53 pm
by Odinator
I like the idea of an Inspector showing up.. maybe not even 'end-game' - it's when your prison value gets re-evaluated, and you get fined for cleanliness, etc.

You don't know when they'll show up, just know that it's every year. Also, while the inspector is walking around you can't build/construct things.

I think the game needs more 'random elements' like that to keep it lively. Still waiting patiently on Diseases and Gang Fights =]

Re: [Suggestion/Question] What's the End-Game? What do you w

Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:12 pm
by CJH
Odinator wrote:I like the idea of an Inspector showing up.. maybe not even 'end-game' - it's when your prison value gets re-evaluated, and you get fined for cleanliness, etc.

You don't know when they'll show up, just know that it's every year. Also, while the inspector is walking around you can't build/construct things.

I think the game needs more 'random elements' like that to keep it lively. Still waiting patiently on Diseases and Gang Fights =]

Yes I'm also waiting like crazy since alpha 9 for gangs xD. I think we need to riot a little so the devs get reminded about gangs being implemented. If we don't get gangs soon I'm afraid all hamsters in the world are going to jump inside a microwave etc etc to be continued. And who would want that?