Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you love games like SimCity, the city simulation game, Rollercoaster Tycoon, and OpenTTD, a transportation tycoon game, then you’ll love Prison Architect. This prison management game lets you build your own prison from the ground up and make sure that prisoners behave during their stay.
It’s a game that can easily suck many hours away from you, so it’s worth trying out if you haven’t already. In this video, I’ll give you a very brief overview of the game, and then give you five tips that you can use to improve your prisons.
Be aware that unless you don’t mind doing some major demolition and rebuilding to existing prisons, it’s a good idea to keep these tips in mind as you’re planning out your prison from the start.
Kickstart Your Cash Flow
When you create a new prison, it’s important to get off to a good start. This can be accomplished by receiving money quickly, using only a little bit at first to create a positive cash flow, and then saving money in the long run.
You can accomplish the first one by going through the available grants and choosing ones that you can accomplish relatively quickly. Many of these pay you a portion in advance, which is money you’ll need to get started with building your prison.
The next step can be accomplished by starting small, and slowly expanding your prison piece by piece. You can always pause the game and plan out your prison, but when you resume, only build small portions at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be out of money in no time if you build an entire complex in one go.
The last part can be accomplished by creating a storage room early on, and should ideally be the first room you create for your prison. Items that you no longer need will either lie around or get trashed, so it’s better for your bank balance if it goes to a storage room. Then, you can just retrieve from your stock rather than buy a new unit of whatever item you need.
Use That Strip of Land
If you haven’t noticed already, there’s a small strip of land on the right side of the road in your map. That little bit of land isn’t there just to look pretty — it’s land that you can actually use.
Of course you’re free to do whatever you please with that bit of land, but a good idea would be to place a storage room there. If you use most of it, there’s a lot of space available for a storage room, and then it’ll leave more space in your main prison area.
You can even place your utilities here if you like.
Once you buy land expansions next to that bit of land, you can place offices there as well. The administrators that you’ll hire don’t do anything besides roam around in their offices all day and night, so there’s no point in sticking them in the main portion of land when you could instead use that space for your prison.
Proximity = Efficiency
Proximity of your various rooms is important. Primarily, placing them in the correct location can make prison chores a lot more efficient, and better efficiency is always something to strive for.
Make sure that the staff room (where staff can rest up) is centrally located so they won’t have to walk all the way across the prison to reach it.
Once you have workshops in place, make sure that it is close to the Deliveries area or vice versa. This will reduce the amount of distance needed to get the items from the Deliveries area over to the workshop.
Finally, make sure that the laundry room is close to cells so that collected laundry can be quickly delivered to the laundry room and clean clothes can be quickly distributed back to the cells.
Use Metal Detectors To Help With Contraband
Contraband can become a major issue in a prison if you’re not careful. If prisoners have large amounts of contraband in their possession, it’ll make them more likely to attempt an escape or attack/riot.
To combat this, it’s very important to install metal detectors at various locations around your prison. Good locations include doors into or out of a cell block, the doors into or out of the canteen, and the area where prisoners go into or out of the yard (which is more important if your prisoners have to go through the yard to get into their cells).
Also, don’t be afraid to force the guards to check suspicious prisoners and their cells whenever they’ve done something bad. It’s also a good idea to occasionally conduct a shakedown, which means that all prisoners and their cells are checked for contraband. Just don’t conduct them too often or innocent prisoners will get upset.
Research Multiple Topics At Once
Nothing gets you to the good stuff of running a prison more like a super-charged research agenda. The good thing is, you can research more than one thing at the same time! In fact, each administrator can research one thing at a time on their own, so you can have all five administrators researching a topic at once.
That’s great news, because who wouldn’t want to be able to use armored guards, dogs, and tasers sooner rather than later? I know I do!
Hopefully these five rather broad tips have given you some awesome ideas for your prison, or maybe they’ve just made a portion of gameplay a lot easier for you. In any case, I love the game and I hope that you’ll love it more with these tips in mind. It even came in as one of our top five recommended Early Access games from Steam!
If you want any more tips, it’s a great idea to check out the Tips and Tricks wiki page for Prison Architect. My personal recommendation is to check out the Security section as that’s another area of high importance for a prison.
What’s your ideal prison layout? Any other tips that you think are important enough for others to know? Share with us in the comments!