Please don't be a Prison Architect

Although the 1.0 version of ACEO is still some months away, I would like to express my concerns regarding a ‘1.0’ version.

Prison Architect is a game that had been in development by a similar sized studio for a couple of years, when the developers decided to release a 1.0 version. They misunderstood what this would mean for players, and made some crucial mistakes as a result.

Firstly they had two months of bugfixing, acting as a the beta phase, and then released a 1.0 version that still felt unpolished. Although ACEO has a main menu, and is therefore already more polished than Prison Architect was, I am not sure if the game will be stable, smooth and intuitive enough for a 1.0 version soon. There are currently a lot of ‘bugreports’ that originate in players ‘playing the game wrong’, and as long as those reports are coming the game is not intuitive enough.

Secondly they misunderstood that after a version 1.0, the game should be a finished product. After the official release they kept putting in new updates with new mechanics that broke previous savegames and changed the fundamentals of the game. ACEO at version 1.0 should be a finished product and feel like it. Cities Skylines is a good example where version 1.0 was a very nice and stable product with later DLC’s (downloadable CONTENT) which added content to the game, without breaking the structure.

Finally, the developers of Prison Architect figured that a re-release, a version 2.0 would be a way to re-do their launch. With the game still lacking the polishing and intuitive play and branded as a 2.0 version, with the content that was expected of a sequel, the relaunch went even worse than the original launch and they sold the IP. It is a shame that they weren’t able to turn Prison Architect into what it could have been, something which I would link to their plan surrounding the release.

There are different ways to run your company, and you should decide what best fits your style. Whether you wish to finalise ACEO and release an updated sequel with big new features every few years like Transport Fever does, or just continuously add content to an existing structure, like in Cities Skylines or GTA Online is completely up to you. Whatever you want to do, please just don’t rush into a release. Or in the words of the Factorio team, “the game is ready when the game is ready”.

5 Likes

Interesting point, although I think the possibility of that happening to ACEO is much lower. I’d say one of the reasons of a not so great 1.0 release was that Prison Architect was already very popular during the alpha stage, which gave Introversion too much confidence thus making the release botched. But because ACEO isn’t as much popular, I think Olof, Fredrik and the rest of the team will be much more careful in making the full release the best it can.

Maybe not the structure, but one update of the game changed the use of resources in a way that it suddenly became unplayable. I had to buy a new computer.
On the other hand, still when they release some new extension, there is always some add-on for free, I like that, it’s nice.

True. It’s indicating that the game somehow is not able to get its point across.

I think Alpha 34 should help with this.